• Tokyo preview: Suzuki Ignis, Ignis-TRAIL concept

    October 5, 2015
    Suzuki will travel to the Tokyo Motor Show to introduce a new city car called Ignis, and a thinly-veiled concept dubbed Ignis-TRAIL that shows what a more rugged-looking version of the hatchback could look like.

    The Ignis was previewed by a heritage-laced concept called iM-4 that was shown to the public earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. Its boasts an attractive design with a grille that stretches the entire width of the front end, headlights accented by U-shaped LED daytime running lights, and retro-inspired imitation vents stamped into the C-pillars.

    Inside, the Ignis offers an uncluttered cockpit with a tablet-like touch screen in the middle of the center console and a simple analog instrument cluster. Body-colored trim pieces on the center console and on the door panels add a premium touch to the overall ambiance.

    Technical details have not been published yet. However, an earlier report claims the list of available engines will include a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder and bigger 1.2-liter four-cylinder unit borrowed from the Swift hatchback. Front-wheel drive will come standard, and four-wheel drive will be available at an extra cost.

    The Ignis-TRAIL concept builds on the four-wheel drive model with a slightly raised ground clearance, protective black trim around the wheel arches, roof rails and a white paint job with contrasting red accents. The interior is largely standard Ignis fare save for special seats and a two-tone steering wheel.

    What’s next?

    Although it’s once again billed as a concept, the Suzuki Ignis is expected land in showrooms across Japan shortly after its debut in Tokyo. It might also be sold in a handful of neighboring countries, but whether it will be offered in Europe is anyone’s guess at this point. Similarly, Suzuki hasn’t revealed what the future holds for the Ignis-TRAIL concept.

    In Tokyo, the Ignis and the Ignis-TRAIL will share the spotlight with two concepts, a tiny truck called Mighty Deck and a boxy minivan dubbed Air Triser.

  • Opel to show modern-day GT coupe next year?

    October 5, 2015
    General Motors’ Germany-based Opel division will unveil a sporty concept at next year’s edition of the Geneva Motor Show, a new report finds.

    The concept will be called GT, a name that Opel first used on a coupe that was launched in 1968 and briefly sold in the United States through Buick dealers. The GT was axed in 1973, but the moniker was dusted off in 2007 for Opel’s version of the Saturn Sky.

    Opel’s next concept won’t share any styling cues with the topless model. Instead, it will be billed as a tribute to the original GT and its design will be loosely inspired by the Experimental GT concept (pictured) that the company presented at the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show. The similarities between the two will be vague at best, and the coupe won’t feature a full-on retro-styled look like the Volkswagen Beetle.

    The GT will ride on the same front-wheel drive platform as the new Golf-fighting Astra hatchback that was introduced a couple of months ago. Mechanically, it will be offered with three- and four-cylinder gasoline- and diesel-burning engines pulled out of the Opel parts bin. A manual transmission will come standard, and an automatic will be offered at an extra cost.

    If the rumor turns out to be true, more details about Opel’s modern-day GT will emerge early next year. Designed to take on the Audi TT, the coupe is tentatively scheduled to go on sale in 2017, and British magazine Auto Express reports a convertible model aimed at the TT Roadster might land in 2018. Whether Buick will get its own version of the GT largely depends on how the public and the press reacts to the concept that will be shown in Switzerland.

  • Mitsubishi sends off Lancer Evolution with Final Edition assembly video

    October 5, 2015

    Mitsubishi Motors has released a video showing the final days of Lancer Evolution production.

    The short film opens with pallets of sheetmetal being delivered to the company’s Mizushima plant, located on the southern coast of western Japan. From there, workers forklift the steel and aluminum into the stamping shop, where presses turn them into doors, hoods and fenders. Next, at the body assembly shop, robots weld the stamped body panels together to form the unibody of the car. Once that’s done, the shells are painted before moving onto the final assembling shop.

    The setting then shifts to the powertrain plant in Shiga, where a combination of workers and heavy machinery assemble the 2.0-liter turbocharged four. After assembly, the powertrains are tested and shipped to the Mizushima plant for final assembly. Once workers install interiors, suspensions, and remaining bits of trim, the cars are prepped for shipping.

    The video will surely tug at the heartstrings of any performance car enthusiast, as it represents the end of an era for Mitsubishi’s street legal rally racer. The Japanese market will receive 1,000 Final Edition models, while the US will receive an additional 1,600. A host of visual upgrades will mark the Final Editions, along with a “small bump” in horsepower. Though Mitsubishi officials have not disclosed what that figure is, it could be the 308 horsepower rating of the Japanese version.

  • Tokyo preview: 2016 Toyota Crown

    October 5, 2015

    Celebrating 60 years of continuous sales, the Toyota Crown has received a host of updates in a mid-generational refresh.

    Though not available in the US since 1972, the Toyota Crown is a mainstay of the company’s home market lineup. It splits the size difference between a Camry and an Avalon, but is, crucially, rear-wheel-drive instead of front.

    The mid-cycle revision adds Toyota’s direct-injection 2.0-liter turbo, recently launched in the US in the Lexus IS and GS 200t. Producing a slightly lower 232 horsepower (compared to 241 in US tune, though it promises the same 258 pound-foot of torque), it is offered exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

    An AWD version is still available, paired with a 6-speed auto. A hybrid version continues with the drivetrain unchanged, same as the one offered on the Lexus GS Hybrid, offered in both rear- and all-wheel-drive.

    The Crown also features what Toyota says is the world’s first production Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) integration. On cars equipped with ITS Connect, drivers will be alerted to potential hazards during right turns (equivalent to left turns in the US). ITS will warn drivers of red lights if approaching an intersection without easing off the accelerator, and will also count down the seconds to a green light.

    ITS can also communicate with other cars equipped with the system, offering an advanced version of speed-matching radar cruise control. It also notifies the driver when an ITS-equipped emergency vehicle is approaching.

    Further refinements include additional structural rigidity due to increased adhesive and spot welds in the manufacturing process, re-tuned shock absorbers and newly spec’ed bushings, and updates to the adaptive suspension and electronic steering systems. Elsewhere, changes are mostly cosmetic, in the front and rear fascias, taillights, and the addition of bi-beam LED headlights.

    The 60th anniversary Toyota Crown will be displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

  • Tokyo preview: Suzuki Mighty Deck concept

    October 5, 2015
    Suzuki will travel to the Tokyo Motor Show to introduce a new concept called Mighty Deck.

    Because it was designed as a kei car, the Mighty Deck stands out as one of the smallest pickups on the planet. It stretches just 133 inches long, 57 inches wide and 60 inches tall, and it offers space for two passengers in a cockpit that looks surprisingly roomy considering the pickup’s Lilliputian footprint.

    Designers put a major emphasis on practicality. In its regular configuration, the Mighty Deck is a pickup with a compact cargo bed that’s accessed via a small tailgate. The separation between the bed and the passenger compartment can be removed when the driver needs to carry long, bulky item, a design solution that’s reminiscent of the Chevrolet Avalanche. Finally, the bed floor can be raised by a few inches in order to create a lockable storage compartment.

    Power comes from a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes approximately 63 horsepower, the maximum allowed by kei car regulations. The three-pot is bolted to an automatic transmission, but Suzuki hasn’t revealed if the concept is front- or all-wheel drive.

    What the future holds for the Mighty Deck concept is anyone’s guess at this point. It seems a little outlandish for production, but the Mighty Boy that Suzuki built during the 1980s was very similar to the Mighty Deck (at least on paper), so the show car could one day see the light that awaits at the end of the production line. If it’s built, it’s not likely to go on sale outside of Japan.

    The Mighty Deck won’t be the only new model on the Suzuki stand in Tokyo. The company is also bringing a handful of new concepts and production cars including an experimental van called Air Triser and the production version of the heritage-laced iM-4 concept that was presented in Geneva earlier this year.