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Auto blogThu, 13 Mar 2014 17:58:00 EST
Nobody does cars on the cheap quite like the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The former part of the equation already has its Dacia brand of cost-effective, no-frills vehicles that have become a favorite of Top Gear co-host James May, and last summer, the latter revived its Datsun nameplate for a budget brand of its own.
The reborn Datsun launched in India this past July with its Go hatchback, returned in September with the Go+ minivan and revealed the Redi-Go concept just last month. And now it's given us our first look at an upcoming budget sedan developed specifically for the Russian market.
The as-yet unnamed vehicle (which we'll bet will incorporate the word "go" into its nameplate somehow) is set to debut on April 4, where it will launch the Datsun brand in Russia. Few details are available at this point, but the low-cost sedan was designed in Japan to offer Russian drivers "an engaging driving experience, peace of mind ownership and accessibility at the right and transparent price, with a competitive Total Cost of Ownership."
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but in racing, where something as simple as a car's shape can lead to a competitive advantage, imitation can be a big no-no. That reality is being played out right now, with the DeltaWing prototype and the Nissan ZEOD RC. The two cars, as you can see from the images above, bear a striking resemblance to each other. They're so similar, in fact, that Dr. Don Panoz, one of the big names behind the DeltaWing program, is assigning some legal eagles to investigate any patent infringement.
The similarity shouldn't be a shock, though. Both cars are penned by Ben Bowlby, and the DeltaWing - which will be arriving as a coupe in the very near future - had Nissan branding and power for a not-insignificant amount of time. But for Panoz, the ZEOD RC's resemblance is just a bit too much, as he told Autoweek, "It's been interesting to watch people from Nissan trying to dodge the question, but the fact is that in their own press release they admit that the configuration of the ZEOD is the same as the DeltaWing. And we do have patents, in fact another one was just issued last week. We are in discussions with our legal advisors and we'll see what happens."
Frankly, it's not difficult to see what Panoz means. The general shape of the ZEOD RC, with its wide rear track and narrow front track arrangement - not to mention the headlights mounted over the rear wheel arches and any arrangements not visible under the body - are so reminiscent of the DeltaWing that differences like the shape of its closed cockpit and more upright front end might not prove different enough to avert Panoz's legal action. We'll stay with this one and let you know as more becomes available.
Mercedes-Benz Titan. Mercedes-Benz Frontier. Mercedes-Benz pickup truck. None of these things roll off the tongue particularly well. We'd like to think that's the reason Daimler opted to kill the idea of rebadged Titan and Frontier pickups from corporate ally Nissan. In reality, the execution before the Frankfurt Motor Show was due to more complicated issues.
Yes, Mercedes, byword for German luxury, style and quality, would have slapped a three-pointed star on a pair of Japanese pickup trucks that have failed to resonate with consumers in the world's largest truck market. That slapping of badges isn't much of an exaggeration, at least on the outside. According to the report from Road & Track, the truck's front clip would have been tweaked, but beyond that, the sheetmetal would have been unchanged. The interior would have received a more thorough going-over by the team at Mercedes, while the suspension and noise, vibration and harshness tuning would have also received significant attention.
The trucks would have ended up being sold through the light-commercial branch of Mercedes-Benz - the same folks that will happily sell you a Sprinter van - had the deal gone through. Issues arose, though, first with the engines. Mercedes wanted a wider range of powertrains to allow it to tune models for specific markets, while Nissan said it couldn't engineer the wide variety of engines that MB wanted to drop under the hood. For the smaller truck, meanwhile, MB was interested in a hybrid or plug-in variant, according to R&T, although this was also shot down by Nissan.