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Scion FR-S is the fastest-selling car in Canada

Scion FS-R

Paul Giamou Photo/Toyota

Toyota's new Scion FR-S sports coupe is the fastest-selling car in Canada as of early August, with two plug-in cars among the top six, according to the latest available J.D. Power and Associates data.

The Chevrolet Volt has the fourth quickest "turn" rate, in industry parlance, with the Nissan Leaf in sixth. The Infiniti JX seven-seat crossover and the Lexus GS took silver and bronze on this podium after the Scion's gold, with top three vehicles on the list all being new to the market within the past few months.

This is typical of new and hot vehicles on the market, said Brian Murphy, senior automotive manager of J.D. Power's Power Information Network (PIN), who suggested that the Subaru BRZ – a mechanical twin of the FR-S – is similarly popular, but had just registered too few sales to make it on to the list, which doesn't include very low-volume vehicles or exotics in its turn rate numbers.

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"I've seen the Volt and Leaf on that fast-turning vehicle list for a while now," said Murphy. "We can't tell from the data whether the auto maker has a limited supply, or if the dealers aren't ordering many, or if the demand is just that high."

A July article about the same list of vehicles on MSN Autos Canada's website reported that there were 15 vehicles in Canada with turn rates of 24 days or less, compared to an industry average of 52 days. Of the top 10 fastest-selling vehicles, all were selling at a turn rate of 19 days or less.

"Anything less than 20 days is basically getting sold once it's taken off the truck," said Murphy in a phone interview this week.

So potential buyers of these vehicles may have to order one and wait a few months to land one, especially if they're looking for a particular colour, with the down side of not knowing what incentives will be in effect when it arrives, according to Murphy, if any.

Other vehicles on the fastest-selling list include the Audi Q7 (fifth), Nissan Rogue (seventh), Buick Verano (eighth), Hyundai Veloster (ninth) and Nissan Murano (10th).

Michael Colleran, Nissan Canada's vice-president of sales, said this week that the company works very hard to balance supply with demand, but the Rogue and Murano numbers are a result of stronger demand than they anticipated this year, while the Leaf situation "reflects the limited supply available to Canada." GM Canada spokesperson Adria MacKenzie says that high customer demand is the main reason for the fast Volt turn times, but also notes that its plug-in halo car is now available across the country, versus in a few cities only at launch.

VW Beetle convertible coming in the spring

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The upcoming Volkswagen Beetle TDI convertible will challenge the Smart fortwo Cabriolet for the title of the most fuel-efficient 2013 droptop – but only in the United States, as Canada will only receive the 2.5-litre gasoline engine when the Beetle droptop debuts near the start of spring 2013.

VW Canada won't offer the TDI model in the Beetle convertible at least for its first model year, the company confirmed this week, with the dated inline-five the only engine confirmed for Canada for the 2013 model year.

And the all-electric version of the Smart two-seat droptop arrives in spring 2013; it will take over the most efficient title that once went to the Tesla Roadster all-electric two-seater until production ceased late last year.

The new Beetle convertible oil-burner achieves city figures of 8.4 L/100 km, and a stingy 5.7 on the highway, for an overall average of 7.4. That overall fuel consumption average is still higher than the gasoline Smart cabriolet's 6.5 L/100 km overall figure, but less on the highway.

New Pathfinder coming this fall

Nissan Canada released details recently on the all-new 2013 Pathfinder SUV that's set to arrive this fall, boasting of a 500-pound weight reduction, a unique second-row tip up and glide seat system that allows access to the standard third row of seats, plus class-leading fuel economy, at least among its relatively thirsty large crossover/SUV three-row rivals.

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The company says the new Pathfinder will achieve best-in-class fuel economy of 10.5 city/7.7 highway/9.3 combined L/100km, respectively, according to NR Canada's optimistic fuel economy ratings, using a similar 3.5-litre V-6 and CVT combo as used in the popular new Infiniti JX35.

In the Pathfinder, it will put out 260 hp, and will be offered with front- or four-wheel-drive. Yes, a front-wheel drive Pathfinder will be available for the first time in Canada, with previous iterations all being 4WD or rear-wheel-drive models.

Its interior has also grown in lock step with its move up the Nissan SUV food chain, with Nissan claiming class-leading passenger space and front head and legroom, as well as the only third-row seat that reclines.

Plug 'n Drive Ontario's EV Day

Toronto's version of New York's Times Square will mark the spot of EV Day, a free electric vehicle show organized by Plug 'n Drive Ontario at Yonge and Dundas Square that will offer test drives of almost every plug-in vehicle available in Canada.

The one-day event runs Aug. 12, from 10 am to 6 pm, with test drives available of the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Toyota's plug-in Prius, and the current Smart fortwo electric prototype. The Fisker Karma and latest Toyota RAV4 EV will also be on display, but won't be available for test drives, according to the not-for-profit EV and environmental awareness group's website for the event,

The Smart EV will be quite different from the one available from dealers in the spring, as it will have a much more powerful motor and larger battery, but will look largely similar to these ones, which were used in the Toronto Hydro Smart Experience pilot program.

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