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Listen to the Nissan Z Proto roar (... and yes, it has a manual transmission)

The model features a six-speed manual transmission.

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor Corporationn

The Nissan Z Proto debuts next week. Ahead of its unveiling, Nissan has rebased a video featuring the noise of the Z Proto's engine. Take a listen below.

While the roar of the engine plays in the background, Nissan shows off images of the model. We see its top-bottom headlight signature up close, the "Z" logo on the sill plate, a six-speed manual transmission, and five double-V spoke wheels finished in a dark gray/black. Wheel caps look to wear the Z logo and there's a fin antenna on the roof of the car.

Hear the Nissan Z Proto roar www.youtube.com

The new Z is one of 12 models Nissan will be unveiling in the next year and a half. When it does come to market, it's anticipated to wear the 2022 Nissan 400Z name. A video posted by the brand earlier this year showcased the model's retro-inspired styling. It is slated to have a twin-turbo V6 under its hood (that's what powers the Infiniti Q50 and Q6 400 Red Sport today. In those cars it gets 400 horsepower and that's a figure that likely plays into the car's fresh name. Look for a NISMO-tuned edition of the model to push 500 horsepower.

Nissan will unveil the Z Proto on September 15 at 7:30 p.m. CDT. Ahead of that, AutomotiveMap did a bit of sleuthing using Photoshop and was able to uncover the looks of the model.

The image isn't perfect, but it is telling.The Z Proto wears a a familiar nose, A-pillar, and fastback design. It's headlights are unique to the Nissan lineup and its back end appears blunted with beefy haunches.

It is expected that the 2022 Z will debut in the sheet metal flesh next year and enter the market in late 2021.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Mazda MX-5 RF is one of the better-rounded sports coupes you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Mazda loves to remind us that it makes the best-selling two-seater sports car in history. The company mentions this in just about every press release it issues on the Miata. It's even certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

With more than a million units sold over the past thirty years, the Miata — or MX-5 in the rest of the world — has been a reliable pick for folks looking for an authentic sports car experience at an affordable price. Lotus founder Colin Chapman said his theory on race car design was to "simplify, then add lightness". Mazda's engineers have remained more-or-less faithful to that idea over the years when it comes to the MX-5.

2020 Mazda MX-5 RF The fierce design and unique drivability of the MX-5 help make it a desirable commodity.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Small cars don't need a ton of power, and they're a joy to drive. The 2020 MX-5 sports a 181-horsepower, 151 lb-ft four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed manual (or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, but what you really want is the manual). My test unit this week — a luxury-focused MX-5 Grand Touring — came with a limited-slip differential, a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, front- and rear-stabilizer bars, and, of course, rear-wheel drive. It's not necessary to understand what all that stuff does to enjoy the car, though it's an impressive list of tech.

There's a running joke in car journalism that when someone asks which car they should buy, the answer is always "Miata" regardless of whether the buyer is a 70-year old retiree or a housewife with three kids. I don't know if that's strictly true, but the MX-5 will put a smile (and a sunburn) on your face regardless of who you are.

My fully-loaded manual transmission Grand Touring RF test unit priced out at a a whopping $35,345, but included a wide array of luxe features like automatic windshield wipers and high beams, leather everything inside the (tiny) cockpit, and a nine-speaker Bose stereo system that included speakers built-in to the headrests so you can hear your tunes even with the top down.

2020 Mazda MX-5 RF The hard top of the MX-5 RF gives the convertible a sleek look.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support is new for 2020, though there's no good place to put your phone. Or a cup of coffee. Or a handbag or really anything else except for two humans. It's really tight in there. The cupholders are two bits of plastic that go behind your elbow on the center armrest, requiring a stretching maneuver that wouldn't be out of place in a yoga studio to retrieve your beverage. There's also a diminutive "glove box" behind the cupholders that's good for holding a tube of sunscreen, your car registration, and very little else.

The trunk isn't spacious but it'll swallow a rollaboard suitcase easily enough, and the RF's hardtop doesn't affect the trunk at all which is a big plus.

The ride is firm but pleasant, with a far smoother and more refined ride than the similarly sized Toyota 86. This is the car for people who think comfort is a feature, and are willing to trade a bit of time in the slalom or on the skid pad to not have their spine ruined.

The six-speed manual transmission is a delight, reminding me why it's fun to have a stick shift. Not many folks will use their MX-5 as a commuter car, so there are almost no downsides to the manual tranny. Gear changes are quick and easy, and the clutch is incredibly forgiving. Third gear is particularly wonderful, as is the rev-happy naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G engine that scores an EPA-estimated 26/34/29 city/highway/combined.

2020 Mazda MX-5 RF The interior of the MX-5 is well-designed, but cramped.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The exhaust isn't noisy, but it make a nice burble, particularly with the top down. And I do have to call out that top. The RF — or Retractable Fastback — is the MX-5 to buy. Not only is it stupidly good looking, but you get the best of both worlds: When the top is down, you get 93 million miles of blue sky. But when you put it back up, you're in a sports coupe that's almost quiet and refined.

The roof can open and close in just 13 seconds, though you do need to be stopped for it to operate. It looks especially good in Mazda's Polymetal Gray paint scheme.

2020 Mazda MX-5 RF The Mazda MX-5 RF has the same design attributes as the MX-5, just with a hard top.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

I love convertibles. I love the MX-5. I love the RF. I love 93 million miles of blue sky. And if you go take one for a test drive, I promise you'll love it too.

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The 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition features a thermal orange paint job that it shares with the Acura NSX.

Photo courtesy of Acura
Acura will make a PMC Edition of its best-selling RDX for the 2021 model year. The move comes following successful PMC Edition iterations of the TLX and MDX and forecasts a design change is in the RDX's future.

Named after Acura's Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Ohio, the 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition will be hand-crafted alongside the Acura NSX by master technicians. Just 360 of the range-topping RDX PMC Edition models will be made and carry a sticker price in the low $50,000s. Exact pricing will be announced in the coming weeks.

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition

Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura has given each of the North American market-exclusive models a Thermal Orange Pearl paint job - a color shared with the NSX.

It builds on the top-of-the-line RDX, which includes the RDX Advance Package and RDX A-Spec styling. The model gets exclusive black 20-inch alloy wheels, a body color grille surround, black chrome exhaust finishers, and a gloss black roof, side mirrors, and door handles. All-wheel drive is standard.

Acura has pushed the orange color to the cabin where it appears as color-matched orange stitching for the seats, center console, door panels, steering wheel, and floor mats. The RDX PMC edition features a 10.5-inch color head-up display, 16-way power Sport Seats trimmed in Ebony Milano leather and Ultrasuede, heated steering wheel, and heated outboard rear seats.

Like the NSX, each RDX PMC Edition will be built and handled with care. It starts as a body-in-white shell that arrives at PMC to be finished in its orange paint via a robotic paint system. Multiple base coats enhance the paint's intensity. Next ,a mid-coat of gold and orange mica is applied giving off a pearlescent effect in the sunlight. Finally, four layers of clearcoat are applied to increase the paint's luster and protect the finish. The total time in paint, including curing, is five days.

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition www.youtube.com

Post-paint, PMC master technicians begin hand-assembling the two-row SUV starting with the installation of the drivetrains and chassis components, wiring harnesses, and electronics. Then, the wheels and tires are added. The final step in the process is to fit the vehicle with its unique interior including an individually numbered serial plate affixed to the RDX's center console.

Following assembly, the RDX PMC Edition undergoes an identical quality control process as NSX, which includes a full electronic systems line-end test, expert wheel alignment, dyno run, water-leak test and final paint examination. Before exiting PMC, each vehicle is wrapped in a protective film and loaded onto an enclosed, single-car carrier for transport to an Acura dealer.

Acura has introduced a PMC Edition of the TLX and MDX as they have entered the final year of their design phase. Could a refreshed RDX be on the horizon for 2022? All signs point to yes.

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