Nissan’s convertible EV, Mercedes trims its lineup, Harley shares up


Nissan unveils Max-Out EV convertible

Intake: As part of Nissan Futures, an event “showcasing how Nissan is shaping the future of sustainable mobility and innovative design” at its headquarters in Japan, the company has unveiled a concept model of its Max-Out EV convertible. The model was previously shown in virtual form as part of the Nissan Ambition 2030 event in November 2021. The Max-Out—which will be on display for the duration of the event—embodies “Nissan’s ambition to support greater access to both sustainable and innovative mobility.” No details were offered regarding the car.

Exhaust: The Max-Out may be a long shot for production, but the fact that Nissan went to the trouble of building a concept nearly 17 months after the virtual model was displayed gives us hope. There has to be a market for EV convertibles, and whoever does it first and best should be rewarded with a positive reception. — Steven Cole Smith

Mercedes plans drastic lineup reduction, wagons and coupes on chopping block

2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon rear three-quarter angle
Matthew Tierney

Intake: In a quest to move even higher upmarket and increase profitability, Mercedes-Benz is planning to drastically reduce its product lineup in the coming years, according to a new report from Car and Driver. Just 14 of 33 existing body styles across the U.S. and European lineups will endure. A few cuts of note: C-Class and E-Class convertibles and coupes will bow out sometime between 2023 and 2024, replaced by a pair of CLE-class two-doors that straddle the middle ground between the two lines. The bulbous coupe-like SUVs are also nearing their end. There are a handful of stylish all-electric cars coming, including a new SL, a new four-door coupe, and a new AMG GT coupe. Greater emphasis will be placed on the more profitable AMG and Maybach class cars, and Mercedes’ hyper-exclusive Mythos series will also see a handful of new models in the coming years. There’s talk of a 300SL Gullwing reincarnation, a four-door G-Class pickup, and even a new speedster based on the SL.

Exhaust: The beloved E-Class, which is the only line that we can get as a wagon here in the states as either the E63 AMG or the E 450 All Terrain, will debut its new generation later this year, but that will be the final generation, set to end production in 2030. It’s sad to see so many interesting models on the chopping block, but Mercedes’ lineup was perhaps too segmented, and trying to fill this many niches eats away at profitability. From a dollars-and-cents standpoint, this all makes sense. You’ll forgive us if we’re a bit saddened by the news, however. — Nathan Petroelje

Skoda’s big skid sets new world records

Intake: A Skoda crossover has entered the record books after drifting continuously for 4.568 miles across a frozen lake in Sweden. The Skoda Enyaq iV VRS SUV can now claim to have achieved “The Longest Continuous Vehicle Drift on Ice” and “The Longest Continuous Vehicle Drift on Ice (electric vehicle).” Watched over by a representative from Guinness World Records, British journalist Dickie Meaden was able to slide the Skoda for over 15 minutes, beating a previous record set in China in 2022 by Wang Dongjang in a Subaru WRX. The only modification made to the 300-hp electric record-setter was the fitting of studded winter tires, and over five days of sub-zero testing, more than 18 hours were spent drifting.

Exhaust: Skoda still has a long way to go to achieve the overall EV drift record of 26.2 miles set by a Porsche Taycan on a German skid pad in 2022, but it’s still quite an achievement. Evo’s Meaden and Skoda previously paired up in 2011 to set a Southern Californian Timing Association (SCTA) Land Speed Record for a 2.0-liter forced induction production car at 227.080 mph at Bonneville in an Octavia vRS sedan. How times have changed. — Nik Berg

Harley riding a wave to higher shares

Brandan Gillogly

Intake: Harley-Davidson reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit today, said Reuters. Shares in the company rose nine percent in pre-market trade after the results were released. Harley said it expects revenue to grow in 2023. The manufacturer has either beaten or met Wall Street earnings forecasts for the previous seven quarters, “benefiting from strong demand for leisure purchases despite high inflation dampening consumer confidence.”

Exhaust: Bike manufacturers have suffered from supply chain issues and chip shortages just like auto manufacturers, but it seems the Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson is successfully riding the wave of consumer interest in outdoor recreational activities. — SCS

Radical upgrades its most popular model

Intake: Radical Motorsport, the U.K.’s largest race car manufacturer, has upgraded its popular SR10 to SR10 XXR specifications.  As a popular motorsports country club and track day car, Radical has sold over 100 SR10s since the model’s introduction in 2020, with United States-based customers making up 70 percent of all orders. The 425-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter engine by Radical Performance Engines remains, and new features include an LMP-inspired center fin, lightweight alloy wheels, and high-intensity front light clusters. For drivers looking for even more weight reduction, a new carbon splitter and diffuser package is available as an option.

Exhaust: Joe Anwyll, Radical Motorsport CEO, said: The SR10 is the “fastest-selling model in our history, and a favorite with U.S. customers in particular, so we’ve been working hard to cherry-pick the best XXR model line upgrades and adding them to our best-selling car.” — SCS

Kawasaki debuts ZX4-RR KRT, giving the U.S. small-displacement four-cylinders again

2024 Kawasaki ZX-4RR KRT press image

Intake: In an unexpected announcement, Kawasaki announced yesterday that it will be bringing the new ZX-4RR KRT to U.S. dealers. The heart of this little terror is a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve inline-four displacing 399cc. The bore and stroke of this new engine match the last 400cc inline-four Kawi sold back in 1990. Pricing has been announced at $9,699 and deliveries are expected to start this spring.

Exhaust: Kawasaki is really asking buyers to put their money where their mouth is by bringing the ZX-4RR KRT to the states, considering it sits just under the price point of the ZX-6R. Interestingly, some features that are missing from the ZX-6R, like a quick-shifter (something the riding community keeps asking for) appear on the ZX-4RR KRT as standard. Could this convince some buyers to downsize displacement in search of faster laps? It’s likely a tough sell, but we are happy to have the option and are excited to see and hear a modern 400cc inline-four on U.S. streets and tracks. — Kyle Smith

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    while there have been some EV design winners…..there sure as heck been a lot more losers. My prediction is, the user experience will probably be as poor initially as several of the released designs.


    I dig the Nissan. I like that they fully embraced a futuristic look, rather than try to harken back to ICE. I’d drive it.

    Put me in the “Yes” column for the Nissan. It’s sleek and curvy without looking like a safety pod, and futuristic enough that you don’t expect it to sound like a ICE car. The seats look like they’re upside down and facing the wrong way but Rob Siegel knows how to retrofit Recaros.

    That trip to Bonneville by evo mag remains etched in my memory. I was 8 when that issue came out. I couldn’t fathom a car doing 100, let alone 227. Suffice to say I watched ALL the YouTube videos they had put up of the record attempt. So cool.

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