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Auto blogFri, 01 Nov 2013 11:57:00 EST
When I first started in this whole automotive journalism biz, I held a sort of hodgepodge receptionist/gopher/production assistant role, and each morning as the staff filed in, I'd ask them how they liked whatever car they were assigned to drive the previous night. Most of my colleagues would regale me with anecdotes about how good or bad a vehicle was, but one co-worker, every single morning, would answer my query with the exact same phrase: "It was fine."
I always assumed this was just a brush-off, an "ask me again after I've had a cup of coffee" sort of response. But then I found myself in a similar moment of brevity following the launch of the 2014 Nissan Rogue earlier this week. After returning home, a friend asked me what I thought of the new Rogue, and I replied, word for word, "It was fine."
And, well, it was. Nothing worth wasting exclamation points over, good or bad. Aside from something like the interesting-to-drive Mazda CX-5 or funky-looking Jeep Cherokee, nothing in this class really tries to set the world on fire. And that, right there, is fine. Nissan doesn't need to do anything crazy with its second-generation Rogue. It just needs to offer a well-equipped crossover that's handsome, functional, efficient and priced right - sticking to the same formula that made the first-generation model so successful while offering the latest crop of creature comforts in a more modern package.
A few years back, when Daimler was looking for a partner to spread the cost of development of small cars, it agreed to collaborate with Nissan on future products, such as vehicle platforms and drivetrains. The latest development in the collaboration concerns the assembly of small luxury cars for Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz at a Nissan plant in Mexico, two unnamed sources told Reuters.
The plant in question, Aguascalientes, is a $2 billion project that will open later this year next to an existing Nissan factory. The upcoming Infiniti Q30 four-door hatchback is expected to be built there, possibly alongside the Mercedes GLA-Class, which is one of several candidates Mercedes is considering to build at this facility, Reuters reports. The GLA will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month, and initial production of the model will take place in Germany. The Q30 could follow a similar path, with assembly starting at Nissan's Sunderland plant in the UK, and then expanding to Aguascalientes later on.
The underlying platform of the Q30 and GLA, codenamed New Generation Compact Car (NGCC), was developed by Daimler. The Q30 would be the first Infiniti produced under the automakers' agreement. Last year, Nissan agreed to make engines that would find their way into Mercedes and Infiniti vehicles.
The streets of New York City might be filling up with a lot more Nissans in the next few years. A New York appeals court ruled that the city's mandate to replace old taxis with a fleet entirely made up of the Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow was legal. The decision overturned a previous ruling that decided The Big Apple couldn't force cabbies to all purchase the same vehicle.
Justice David B. Saxe wrote the court's opinion saying the Taxi of Tomorrow is a "legally appropriate response to the agency's statutory obligation to produce a 21st-century taxicab consistent with the broad interests and perspectives that the agency is charged with protecting," according to Bloomberg. The Greater New York Taxi Association, the plaintiff in the case, could still possibly attempt a second appeal.
Nissan originally won the 10-year contract estimated to be worth about $1 billion in 2011, beating out Ford and a Turkish company. Under the Taxi of Tomorrow plan, all New York cabbies would have to switch to the NV200 within three of five years of the van going into service, and it would replace the 16 vehicles previously authorized as taxis. In 2013, the mandate received multiple challenges though, including an attempted ban by cab drivers because the replacement wasn't a hybrid. In a separate case, state Supreme Court judge Schlomo Hagler decided that there was nothing in the city charter that forced a taxi driver to choose a specific vehicle. This was the case that was just overturned. In the meantime, the automaker has been selling the NV200 to New York cabbies at prices around $29,700.