Toronto teen charged with stunt driving after running 240 km/h on local highway

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The Ontario Provincial Police pulled over a black Nissan GT-R on Monday evening after recording it blasting across Toronto’s Highway 407 at a whopping 240 km/h. That works out to 150 mph for our American readers. The limit on that stretch of road is 100 km/h.

The driver was 18 year old Vince Lisi. The young man has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, stunt driving and failure to surrender driver’s license. Under Ontario’s laws, the fines can up to $10,000. Lisi’s car (Dad’s car?) has been impounded and his license has been seized and suspended for a week.
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IMPA Test Days 2012: Part I

If it’s late September, it can only mean one thing-the annual International Motor Press Association’s annual two-day Test Days event. This is The Garage’s fifth trek to this event. Test Days is open to IMPA members only, but is a massive event, bringing together a large group of manufacturers with an impressive showing of cars. This was Test Days’ second year in the beautiful Catskill Mountain area of New York State. For two days the event was hosted by the professional staff at Monticello Motor Club, a private, members-only race track. Think of it as a country club, but instead of swinging a golf club, you’re pounding your sports car on a track.

Test Days is divided into two distinct sessions. Day one has us enjoying a wide variety of cars on the scenic, winding roads of the Catskills. Day two is track day, where we get to unleash the cars at Monticello’s fantastic race course. During both days, a rigorous off-road course was available. On day one, I kept to the tarmac. Here’s a sampling of the cars I drove, all of which can be seen in the photo gallery at the end of this post.

On a crisp autumn day in the Catskills, the weather was picture perfect. Taking my time in picking my first car to drive, I made a promise to stick to cars I normally don’t get my hands on. I started with the Range Rover Evoque. I love the looks of the Evoque, and it was a comfortable ride, but my doors weren’t blown away. With a 2.0L direct injected turbo four making 240hp, the Evoque was adequate, but not particularly as fast as its sporty profile suggests. And with an as tested price tag of over $54,000USD, I have a problem with that. I’ll take a BMW X1 with the twin-turbo inline six with the M Sport Package and laugh all the way to the bank.

A little let down by the Evoque, it was time to turn my attention to something more interesting. Well, the 2013 Corvette Grand Sport (pictured above) seemed suitable. With the roof off, nothing but me and the open road ahead, the Corvette was positively glorious. Powered by a 6.2L V-8 knocking out 436hp paired to a six-speed manual, the ‘Vette was the perfect driving companion. Turning from a stop sign it was all to easy, and hilariously fun to kick out the tail on take-off. The Corvette will be whatever you want it to be, as she is happy to be driven hard, or simply loaf along. And whatever your choice, she is so easy to drive and very forgiving. Our heavily optioned Grand Sport rang in at just under $71,000, but for what you get it is still a great performance buy.

It is events like Test Days that sometimes give other cars an unfair advantage. After enjoying the Corvette, I jumped into a 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster. Top down, gorgeous day, I take off in the Z, and well…I’m bored. Had I picked a Prius, I’d likely be praising the 370Z (as I did in 2009). The Nissan Z had no faults to point out, but the Roadster had such a calm demeanor that I did not recall from driving the hardtop. No doubt a fine car, but the Corvette was a very tough act to follow.

If any car really surprised me that day, it had to have been the Jaguar XJ Supersport. While fellow car journalists stood in line for V-8 powered AMG Mercedes, and M-powered BMW’s, the Jaguar was sitting all by itself, so I figured ‘Why not?’ What I found was an exceptionally comfortable Jaguar. Oh and quite a fast one. Powered by a 5.0L supercharged V-8, this leviathan launches like a beast starving for asphalt, and for all the refinement, offers a glorious V-8 bellow to boot. If there was one wrinkle in the car, when I opened the sunroof, there was an annoying creaking sound. Had I just spent the $112,000 price of admission, I would not be pleased. That aside, the XJ Supersport is a luxuriously lined rocket ship. For a car company who thought it was best served waxing nostalgic about the 1960’s for decades, with the XJ Supersport firmly points to the future direction of Jaguar in the 21st century. Just fix the damn creaky sunroof.

And well, yes, if there is a Nissan GT-R at my disposal, I am going to drive it. This was the Black Edition, packing an impressive 545hp. This was my second time at the wheel of a GT-R. The capabilities of the car are sky high, far greater than a mere mortal like me could possibly achieve. The prodigious power, lightning-quick shifts and remarkable grip are accomplished with little drama, apart from the G’s you’re feeling in the deeply sculptured sport seats. The GT-R’s performance is astonishing, but it is done so with virtually no emotion. If you’ve read reviews comparing the GT-R to a video game, that assessment is right. And for nearly $108,000, I don’t just want to go fast or have perfect grip, I want to feel something.

I drove into Ellensville, New York late on what had been a stormy night in a new Hyundai Elantra Coupe the night before. Even with GPS, I got a little lost. Nearly midnight, this low slung four door pulls up while I am studying the route guidance. It’s a fellow from press fleet management company STI at the wheel of a Fisker Karma, a company who provides several of the cars you see me review at The Garage. So, Fisker is here? And yes, I wanted to sample one.

If a Fisker Karma guided me to the resort IMPA was using, my test drive of the Karma was somewhat misguided. Spotting one of the two Fisker’s available to drive, I hopped in, started her up, and rolled away, with Fisker’s PR staff just feet away. I proceeded about 20′ straight ahead, where again I needed clearance from IMPA staff to leave the parking area in a press car. I was waved on. So, after a test drive, I was shocked when a Fisker PR person marched up to me to inform me there was a waiting list for the Karma, and someone was supposed to accompany me. I apologized, but I don’t understand why Fisker and IMPA simply let me drive away.

I do wish I had an engineer with me. Granted, the Fisker had been driven up from northern New Jersey the night before, and the resort had no plug-in facility for plug-in hybrids. So power was from the 260hp gas engine, and whatever energy the batteries could capture under braking. It was late in the day, batteries depleted, the Fisker did not feel all that fast. With climate control set to 68 degrees F, A/C on, the car struggled to deliver cool air to the cabin. The car was plenty comfortable up front, but the rear seat, which only seats two, was pretty tight, especially for a car this size. Materials were of good quality, but owners of comparably priced BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz’s will look at the the Karma and dismiss it as high-end kit car.

That’s a tall order for a car that starts at $96,000 with an unproven track record, not to mention the debacle at Consumer Reports where their loaner had to be towed away. Yes, the car is drop dead gorgeous, especially in person. In electric mode, the Karma emits an eery sound to make you aware of its presence. If you’ve watched Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and recall the sound of the Empire’s shuttle, it’s sort of like that.

But I will reserve final judgement of the Fisker Karma if I ever have the chance to properly review one. It’s similar to when The Garage reviewed the Chevy Volt. It really took a week of living with the Volt to understand it, and I suspect the Karma is no different. Driving a Volt with little to no battery juice does not paint a realistic picture, and the same is the case with the Karma.

And on that note, it was time to call it a day and make the half hour drive back to the resort. Final thoughts? The Range Rover Evoque as equipped would have been fine, if only priced about $10,000 less. The Fisker Karma is an unknown quantity, having not experienced it properly. The 370Z Roadster’s relaxed nature came as a surprise. The Jaguar XJ Supersport is an unsung hero car at the top of the luxury sport sedan food chain. But the hero car for the day was without a doubt the Corvette Grand Sport. Not the highest tech, nor most powerful car, nor expensive, but the Corvette pushed all the right buttons. Loud, raw, and brutally fast when you want it, or calm and comfortable as well, the Corvette represented the best of both worlds.

Please stay tuned for Part II of my commentary on IMPA Test Days where I tackle the race track and the most brutal off-road driving I’ve ever done. And I hope you enjoyed riding shotgun with me!

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Auto Express pits Nissan Juke R against GT-R on track

There are few things cooler than a real skunkworks concept car. Essentially that means a bunch of car manufacturer’s engineers go underground and build their ultimate version of a road car, often without the knowledge of their superiors. Such was the case with the Nissan Juke R, which was mated with a GT-R to create the most ungodly crossover known to motoring kind.

Since the unveiling, there are few cars that auto journos have wanted to drive. The good folks at Auto Express have managed to get an afternoon with the matte black beastie and put it to the test against Godzilla. The track time battle is surprisingly close and you can see it after the break.

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Targa Newfoundland Leg 3 Results

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The 2009 edition of Targa Newfoundland is well under way and while the on route action must be fast and furious, the results and stories are a bit slower to appear. I’m going to assume the lack of hi speed internet in many parts of The Rock slow the transfer of information somewhat.

At the end of yesterday’s stage, the overall and Classic division lead was held by Glen Clarke and Andy Proudfoot in a Porsche 911. Sitting atop the Modern category is Rally legend Steven Millen and R & T scribe Mike Monticello who are in 6th place overall in the Nissan GT-R. Canadian rally stud Frank Sprongl leads the Open class in the monster Uber Quattro and sit in 9th overall.

Follow the link below to view the full results and you’ll notice that sometimes it isn’t all about brute force. Sometimes being on time counts more than all out speed. Even still, you can be sure that guys like Millen and Sprongl are going to put on a hell of a show for the fans!

Targa results leg 3

This cool shot of Millen & Monticello is courtesy of Warwick Patterson. We’ll have more of Warwick’s shots soon when he can get connected to some hi speed.

In the Presence of Greatness…I Felt Nothing (An Editorial)

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I live in a small city on the shore in Connecticut-I consider it a middle-class city with a diverse taste in cars. Come summer, when Cruise Night at the beach is in full swing with classic and muscle cars, I know of garages within walking distance holding vintage Ferraris and Porsches. You can easily see nearly any type of car here if you look hard enough. 

This week, while side-stepping a congested Route 1, I saw coming towards me a white, blocky object. We approached a stop sign, and it was a white Nissan GT-R. The car that supposedly can whoop a Porsche 911 Turbo on the ‘Ring. “Automobiles” Automobile of the Year. Jaw dropping performance. I’m staring at this majestic piece of engineering excellence, the most potent car from all of Japan, and…nothing. I didn’t break into a sweat. My heart rate remained normal. I rolled down my window. As he pulled away, the exhaust note did nothing for me. I checked my rearview mirrors for another look, certain I must have missed SOMETHING. 
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Minor Tweaks for 2010 Nissan GT-R

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Nissan is introducing the 2010 GT-R early (this March) with some minor, but noteworthy changes. First up: Power. Five more horsepower, bringing the grand total to 485. Transmission: new programming for better clutch engagement promises improved drivability, and quicker acceleration with Vehicle Dynamic Control switched on. Brakes: more rigid brake lines for greater durability. Suspension: redesigned Bilstein shocks, and revised spring and damper rates. 

Considering that the GT-R has been on sale since July 2008, that’s a lot of tinkering by Nissan, and a sign to all competitors that the company is serious on the continual development of the car. You know, sort of like Porsche’s philosophy with its cars. 

These improvements come at a cost, however. The base GT-R now stickers at $80,790USD, while the GT-R Premium costs $83,040. That is a whopping $3,950 more than the 2009 GT-R. Two options and two accessories are available: A Cold Weather Package (no charge), and Special Super Silver Paint ($3,000). An iPod converter is yours for $400, and carpeted floor mats will run you $280. Before you sharpen your pencil to write an angry letter to Nissan, hear this. On the $130,000 Porsche 911 Turbo, carpeted floor mats are also an option-but come at the comparatively bargain price of $140.

2009 International Car of the Year winners announced

At a gala dinner last night in Detroit, Road and Travel Magazine announced the winners of the 2009 International Car & Truck of the Year awards. Established in 1996, the annual award is judged by a panel of 16 nationally renowned automotive journalists and is given to the vehicle which most identify their target lifestyle and image.

The winners are:

2009 International Car of the Year: Nissan GT-R

See the winning truck after the break
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Video: Jay Leno takes on Godzilla

Jay Leno is a lucky guy. Not only has he built a career doing something he loves, but he’s earned the right to gain access to the world’s coolest cars. What more could a guy want? In this latest video release from the Big Dog Garage, Jay gets to put the 2009 Nissan GT-R through it’s paces. He may have been on the street, but just watch how quickly Godzilla snaps Leno’s sizable melon back when he stamps on the loud pedal!

Where will you buy your GT-R?

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For many Canadian Nissan enthusiasts it almost seems like a dream. The legendary GT-R, Godzilla, will soon be available at our dealerships. Not some ratty old JDM import either, the real deal. The 2009 Nissan GT-R.

Earlier today, Nissan Canada announced which dealerships have been selected to retail the GT-R here. If you’ve just got to have your very own monster, now you know where you can put down your deposit from coast to coast.

For those of you who just want to oogle the beast, you can do that too!

Vancouver
West Coast Nissan
Regency Nissan
Jonker Nissan
Richmond Nissan
Morrey Nissan of Coquitlam
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Lock your doors & hide the kids: Godzilla is loose on the streets of Toronto

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Canadian print media guy and friend of The Garage, Laurance Yap had a pretty special opportunity last night. He got to take Godzilla for a tour of downtown Toronto, the lucky bastard!!! For those of you who don’t understand the monster movie reference, the current Godzilla is the new Nissan GT-R. The biggest, baddest machine to hit our shores in, well, ever!

More pics after the break
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