The Nissan Z gets delayed, Dodge makes the Hornet official, AMG drops a four-banger in the C 43. All this on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Nissan Hits Some DelayZ
As someone who owned and loved an Infiniti G35, it’s been a long, long, long, long, long wait for the new Nissan Z. The old 370Z went on sale in 2009, some 13 years ago. To get a sense of how different the world was then, The Hangover had just came out, The Black Eyed Peas spent 26 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts with Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling, the economy was in the throes of a recession and MySpace was still (barely) a viable social network. Z fans have been waiting forever for this new car, and it looks like certain fans will now be waiting a little bit longer.
See, Nissan has claimed in a press release that its domestic car production in Japan plunged 44 percent in March. COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions were cited as the driving factors for this production plummet which crushed output of new Zs and the new Ariya electric crossover. According to Automotive News, the launch of the highly anticipated sports coupe has been pushed back from sometime this spring to sometime this summer. The last time I checked, summer in the northern hemisphere ends on September 22, and it would be a damn shame for Z-car enthusiasts to miss summer in their new sports cars.
What’s more, the already-delayed Ariya electric crossover has been delayed yet again. It won’t launch in America until fall, a bit of a downer for electric crossover shoppers looking for more variety in the market. Still, it’s likely worth holding tight for the new Z. After all, when was the last time that three pedals and 400 horsepower hasn’t been worth the wait?
Dodge Makes A Buzz
It may have been 45 years since we’ve seen the Hornet nameplate on a production vehicle, but the timing feels right for Dodge. Yes, Dodge’s CEO Tim Kuniskis has let slip that Dodge’s new entry-level model is officially going to be a compact vehicle called the Hornet, and it has every possible chance of being really good. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press, among other outlets, Kuniskis said Tuesday, “I think we’ve actually even said that when we get back into the small compact space this summer when we launch the Hornet, we will have a PHEV or variant of that.” Come to think of it Tim, I don’t think you’ve previously said explicitly that the Hornet was on its way, but good on you for breaking the news.
So what exactly is the Hornet? Like seemingly everything else on the road these days, it’s a compact crossover – albeit one that’ll supposedly carry Italian roots. A few months ago, a fairly legit-looking factory floor leak surfaced of a Dodge-branded crossover that looks a lot like the Alfa Romeo Tonale compact crossover. That’s good news, as ever Alfa Romeo that’s come to America since the 8C Spider has been absolutely brilliant to drive. If this is indeed the Hornet, hopefully Dodge retains some zesty chassis tuning and turns out a proper competitor to the Mazda CX-5 for people with responsibilities who want their compact crossover to be enjoyable to drive. Expect more details on the Hornet to arrive this summer as it’s expected to debut in August.
Less Hammer, More Scalpel
Fifteen years ago, AMGs were big, dumb, goofy German muscle cars with massive V8s or turbocharged V12s. They may not have been as sharp as BMW’s M cars, but who cares when you could summon massive amounts of tire smoke with just a twitch of the loud pedal? Now though, AMG actually seems to care about handling. Case in point, the new C 43. The latest iteration of the baby AMG C-Class drops two cylinders of weight off the nose and adds some tricky active handling hardware to hopefully provide a sharper driving experience.
That’s right, the new C 43 packs a mere two-liter four-cylinder engine. However, like in the SL 43, this turbocharged engine is boosted to the moon for an output of 402 horsepower at 6,750 RPM and 369 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,000 RPM. Even though AMG has sandwiched an electric motor inside the turbocharger to cut lag, the C 43 should feel like a peaky, old-school turbo car. Power goes to the ground through a carryover nine-speed automatic gearbox and a rear biased all-wheel-drive system with a default 31:69 (nice) front-to-rear torque split, good for a quoted 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) time of 4.6 seconds. For anyone keeping track, that’s two tenths of a second slower than BMW quotes for their M340i xDrive, though AMG hopes to catch the M-lite Bimmer in the bends.
That’s because the new C 43 features active four-wheel-steering as standard, something we’ve never really seen in the compact luxury segment. Sure, the Volvo 850 of the 1990s had passive rear-wheel-steering built into its rear suspension bushing deflection, but an active system should take nimbleness to the next level. Also standard on the C 43 are adaptive dampers, a nifty feature that’s optional on most competitors. Dial the dampers rock-hard for an autocross event, then cruise home over broken pavement in comfort mode. Neat stuff. If I’m being honest though, these adaptive dampers and that four-wheel-steering system must be really good if AMG wants to make the C 43 feel substantially more nimble than its competitors.
See, Mercedes-AMG quotes the C 43’s curb weight at 1,765 kg or around 3,891 pounds. While that sounds monumentally awful, that’s an EU curb weight with 75 kg added to the true curb weight to account for a driver. Figure a true DIN curb weight of around 1,688 kg or 3,721 pounds. Still, BMW uses the same EU curb weight measure, which means that this four-cylinder C 43 only weighs 77 pounds less than a full-fat six-cylinder all-wheel-drive BMW M340i xDrive. That’s not bad but definitely not great. I guess all that four-wheel-steering and all-wheel-drive hardware adds up. Also mildly disappointing is the lack of any mention of a limited-slip rear differential in the C 43’s press materials, a bit of a shame as competitors from the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and BMW M340i get trick electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differentials. That being said, the new C 43 still looks fabulously luxurious and elegantly subtle. If the idea of a sort-of grown-up turbocharged four-cylinder performance car appeals to you, expect the new C 43 to go on sale late this year.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. With supply chain delays maintaining such a constant presence, I’d love to know how they’ve impacted you. Maybe your new car is delayed, maybe the last part needed for your project car is out of stock, maybe you’ve been trying to buy a PS5, maybe the supply chain issues have inspired you to keep your daily driver around for a bit longer. Whatever happens to be the case, I’d love to hear from you.
Lead photo credit: Nissan