• Suzuk Baleno 5-door hatchback goes on sale

    March 14, 2016

    Suzuki has released the production version of its Baleno compact, a five-door hatchback shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year.

    While only the motorcycle arm of the company continues to do business in the US, the automotive division is still highly successful in Japan, Europe and southern Asia. The production version is based on the iK-2 concept shown at Geneva a year ago and remains fairly faithful to the show car.

    At launch, the car will come with a 1.2-liter, 90-horsepower DualJet inline-four. The engine has an atypical fuel injection system that consists of two injectors at each cylinder, designed to fill the cylinder for a cleaner burn to lower emissions, as well as reducing the overall operating temperature for better efficiency. The naturally aspirated DualJet is mated to a continuously-variable transmission and is rated at 58 mpg on the Japanese testing cycle.

    A second option will be the 1.0-liter BoosterJet, a turbocharged direct-injection engine. While the mileage drops to 47 mpg, drivers get a boost in power to 110 horsepower and an upgrade to a 6-speed automatic. The BoosterJet will go on sale May 13.

    The Baleno’s lineage can be traced back to the Cultus, a model sold in the US as the Esteem. The car will be built in India by Suzuki-Maruti and imported to Japan and Europe. Prices for the DualJet start at just above 1.4 million yen, which translates to approximately 12,430 US dollars. Suzuki has no plans for sale in the US.

  • Nissan creates glow-in-the-dark Juke

    March 14, 2016

    Nissan has found perhaps the perfect use for the Juke’s already funky styling: a canvas for even funkier glow-in-the-dark art.

    Nissan Australia recently took a pair of new Juke crossovers to White Nights, a 12-hour, dusk-to-dawn, Melbourne-area art and music festival. The cars were first dipped glow-in-the-dark paint. Then two artist were invited to use black paint and markers to create what is perhaps the ultimate dorm room black-light poster.

    Artist Chris Le used the glowing Juke to pay homage to a Japanese TV series called Monkey Magic, which was popular in Australia in the 1970s. He titled his illustration Journey to the West, the Chinese fable of the Monkey King on which the TV program was based.

    The second team of artists, Josh Meyer and Josh Brown, call themselves Snake Hole. Perhaps expected, they drew snakes. “Our initial impression when we saw the JUKE was it had snake-like characteristics,” Snake Hole explained. “The grill, headlights and long smooth lines resonated immediately with us.”

    Throughout the event, onlookers were encouraged to participate by using lights from their mobile phones to draw on the cars’ light-absorbent surfaces. The project, of course, has its own hashtag, #glowjuke, if you’d like to follow along. Or, just watch the video below.

  • 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS getting nearly 700 hp?

    March 14, 2016

    Porsche has started testing a new high-performance version of the 911.

    Called 911 GT2 RS, the coupe is based on the 2017 911 Turbo that was presented earlier this year in Detroit. It’s equipped with an evolution of the Turbo’s twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six engine tweaked to deliver nearly 700 horsepower and about 550 lb-ft. of torque. The 160 extra ponies are expected to pelt the GT2 RS from zero to 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of nearly 200 mph.

    Staying true to tradition, rear-wheel drive will be the only configuration offered. It’s too early to tell whether the coupe will ship with a purist-approved manual transmission or with a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic unit.

    The extra power will be complemented by a model-specific body kit, an aggressive-looking quad-exit exhaust system, and suspension components borrowed from the GT3 RS. Additionally, Porsche will remove as much weight as possible from the Turbo by stripping down the interior and using lightweight materials.

    If the rumors are accurate, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS will be introduced in late 2017, and it will go on sale as a 2018 model shortly after. It will cost significantly more than the 911 Turbo, which currently carries a base price of $159,200.

    Rendering by Top Speed.

  • Second-gen Dacia Duster coming next year

    March 14, 2016

    Dacia has confirmed it will introduce the second generation of its popular Duster SUV next year.

    Official details are vague at best, but rumors indicate the next Duster will likely shift to the modular CMF platform found under Renault’s Talisman, Megane, Scenic, and Espace models, as well as Nissan’s Qashqai and Rogue crossovers. The new architecture will make the Duster noticeably longer than the current model (pictured), and it will allow Dacia to expand the lineup with a seven-seater model for the first time.

    Mechanically, the Duster will continue to use gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines borrowed from the Renault parts bin. A manual transmission and front-wheel drive will come standard, and buyers will be able to pay extra for an automatic transmission or four-wheel drive. The next Duster will be at least as capable off-road as the current version thanks in part to a generous amount of ground clearance.

    More details about the second-generation Dacia Duster will emerge in the coming months, and the SUV is tentatively scheduled to greet the public for the first time at next year’s edition of the Geneva Auto Show. Built in its home country of Romania, it will go on sale across Europe a few weeks after its debut.

    Photos by Ronan Glon.