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A Nissan Titan rally to setup the Grey Cup

Toronto, ON – There's nothing more Canadian in sports than the Canadian Football League (CFL). You can talk about hockey or lacrosse, but everything about the CFL is Canadian. Compared to American football, CFL fields are larger and wider, while goalposts are stationed in the front of the end zone (ridiculous, if you ask me, but that's the way it's always been). There's even a term called a 'rouge' known as a single point in the CFL, and unheard of in any other league.

A cornerstone of Nissan's current sponsorship plan has to do with sports, and for the points above, that is exactly why Nissan Canada got involved with the CFL back in 2007. A 10-year relationship has grown beyond giveaways, posters, or simply being the 'official vehicle of the CFL,' and into one that is focused on creating a grassroots football movement throughout the nation.

For the past three years, Nissan Canada, the Nissan dealership network, and the CFL have worked together to form the Nissan Kickoff Project – a project that involves aiding football school programs in need across the country, whether than means jerseys, cleats, helmets, etc. Through the program, the Nissan Kickoff Project has been able to assist more than 75 schools to the tune of $435,000.

For 2016, Nissan Canada wanted to add to its CFL partnership and created an inaugural event called, 'the Rally of the Titans.' To understand more on this, they invited a select group of automotive journalists to not only learn about it, but be involved as well.

The Rally of the Titans kicked off on Nov 12 with 10 Nissan Titan half-ton trucks representing each CFL team (well really nine and one that represents the Grey Cup), and they would visit every mainland province in Canada, totaling more than 9,000 kms. The task was for the West and East regions to group off in teams of two (BC, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg versus Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal and Grey Cup), and compete in challenges daily in different cities for points. The winning team would be announced on Saturday, November 26 ahead of 104th Grey Cup in Toronto.

My challenge on the second last leg was simple: drive the Titan half-ton from Nissan Canada's head office in Mississauga to the University of Toronto's Varsity Stadium. I was provided the keys to the Edmonton Eskimos Titan truck and paired up with Kaitlyn, the Edmonton brand ambassador. We chatted about her rally thus far and certain challenges along the way. She took a liking to the camaraderie felt within the team and exceptional memories that involved food bank deliveries, meeting CFL alumni and one cold polar bear dip.

Upon arrival at Varsity Stadium. It was the journalists turn to compete over a number of skill competitions: 40-yard dash, side-shuffle sprints, kicking and catching. We were all paired up with a CFL coach, mine was Hamilton Ti-Cats receiver and all-around high energy guy Chad Owens.

Yours truly fared well in most of the activities save for a one-handed catch attempt from Owens. But somehow, this competition would come down to a CFL trivia contest, where I was no match for a CFL-guru in attendance.

Win-or-lose, it's all about the journey and the fun times along the way. Those stories derived from the brand ambassadors that piloted these Titans from the furthest west and east regions of Canada. The pride in the CFL and their respective cities/provinces were shown, and I was simply happy to be a part of that.

Nissan Canada will be continuing its efforts in promoting the CFL, the Grey Cup and its Titan pickup throughout the week with kickoff parties at BMO field, concerts at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a Nissan Titan Tailgate from 12-5pm on Sunday before the game begins.

Nissan and Infiniti reveal new engines


It was a big week for engine announcements at Nissan and Infiniti. The Japanese brand wanted to jump the gun ahead of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and revealed what would be under the hood of not only the Nissan Titan, but the Infiniti Q50 as well.

Let's start with the Nissan group and their long-awaited new Titan that previously only had the 5.0-litre Cummins turbo diesel V8 (310 hp and 555 lb.-ft. of torque). The Cummins will now be paired with a 5.6-litre gasoline V8 producing 390 hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque that's matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission, a change from the diesel that gets the six-speed. This new engine is a significant improvement on the last generations 5.6-litre V8 due in large part to direct injection and a higher compression ratio. This new engine option becomes available in the spring.

The Nissan Titan sales start this month, and we expect to see pricing for this new engine come out shortly. Just keep in mind, that there will also be a third powertrain option, that has yet to be revealed.

As for Infiniti, they're getting set to bring in three new engine options for their best-selling vehicle, the Q50 sedan.

The biggest change would be the arrival of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that will have 300 horses and set the highest standard horsepower in its class to go along with 295 lb.-ft. of torque.

Additionally, consumers will have the choice of a base 208-hp 2.0-litre turbo four or the frisky Red Sport edition that shoots up to 400 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. All three options come standard with rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.5-litre hybrid version V6 with a 50-kWh electric motor will be the one mainstay, and offer a fourth choice for consumers.

According to Infiniti, the Q50 will possess a new Direct Adaptive Steering system, which can adjust instantly. On top of that, it will receive a new Dynamic Digital Suspension that can allow the driver to choose between firm, comfort, or sport mode.

The Q50 and QX60 crossover will have a much improved exterior and interior, but we will have to wait for Detroit to see their new looks, along with the all-new 2017 Q60 sport coupe reveal.

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