Tokyo '09: Suzuki Swift Plug-in Hybrid with a Volt-like Drivetrain

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Attending the Tokyo Motor Show, or any international auto show for that matter, without having at least one hybrid prototype model at your stand is almost unthinkable nowadays for any mainstream automaker. The Suzuki brand will display a plug-in hybrid concept version of its successful MINI Swift supermini that features a drive system that works in a similar way to the one used on GM's Chevy Volt.

The hybrid drivetrain of the Suzuki Swift Concept combines a small displacement gasoline engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The concept car is designed primarily to be driven only on electric power.

For short distances, the electric motor is powered by the battery that's charged from a household mains socket. If the battery runs low, then the gasoline engine kicks in not to move the vehicle but to power a generator that in turn charges the battery.

Being a concept an all, Suzuki touched up the Swift Plug-in Hybrid with a different headlight treatment and new wheels on the outside, and a set of lightweight front seats with net-like surfacing and special trim on the inside.




Tokyo '09: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo, an All-Electric Breadvan for the not so Needy

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Now that the i-MiEV hybrid has become a production reality, Mitsubishi is exploring other possibilities to expand the city car's range with the world premiere of the i-MiEV Cargo concept at next month's Tokyo motorshow. The pint-size breadvan with the does away with the hatchback model's rear doors while gaining additional cargo space at the back thanks to a newly designed and taller rear end.

The cube-shaped rear compartment measures 1,350 mm wide by 1,180 mm deep and 1,100 mm high and features a flat floor. According to Mitsubishi, it allows every inch of available space to be utilized - not that there's much to go around...

There are no changes to the drivetrain that consists of a 330-volt lithium-ion battery system located under the floor deck and an electric motor that drives the rear wheels and develops an output of 47kW or 64HP and 180Nm or 132.8-lbs/ft of torque.




VIDEO: 2010 Fiat Punto EVO Presentation Aboard the Decks of Italy's Newest Aircraft Carrier

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Unveiled in a world premiere at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, the 2010 Punto Evo replaces the Grande Punto in Fiat's European passenger car range. Despite the name change, the differences between the two models are limited to a new nose job, some minor cosmetic tweaks at the back, a restyled dashboard and the introduction of two new powerplants to the lineup. The Punto EVO is scheduled to go on sale in mid October. Hit the jump to watch the videos that include footage from the presentation of the car on the decks of Italy's newest aircraft carrier, Cavour, in La Spezia, Italy.






Tokyo '09: Honda Skydeck Concept for a Six-Passenger Hybrid MPV

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Joining the near-production CR-Z hybrid sports coupe and the EV-N electric mini car at Honda's Tokyo Motor Show stand will be the Skydeck, a futuristic-looking hybrid minivan that could be pointing to a production MPV in the near future. While Honda provided us with plenty of pictures of the Skydeck concept, the Japanese company did not disclose many details on the vehicle.

What we do know is that the Skydeck can seat six passengers in three rows of seats and that it makes use of Lamborghini-style scissor doors up front and more conventional sliding doors at the rear. Power is provided by a hybrid drivetrain while the system's batteries are mounted underneath the center console that runs along the two front seat rows.





BREAKING: Penske Terminates Discussions with GM on Saturn After Failing to Agree with Third Party Automaker

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This just in; Saturn will soon be history as Penske Automotive Group (PAG) announced today that it has ceased discussions with General Motors to buy the nameplate, ultimately sealing the fate of the brand. The automotive retailer said that it terminated the talks not because of a disagreement with GM, but due to concerns related to the future supply of vehicles beyond the agreed period it had negotiated with the Detroit maker.

In particular, Penske had negotiated a deal with General Motors to source its vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a specific period of time, after which, the company would source vehicles from another maker under a similar contract-manufacturing agreement.

Penske said that it had negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement with another manufacturer (not GM, a third party), however as it turned out, the unnamed manufacturer's board of directors rejected the agreement.

"Without that agreement, the company has determined that the risks and uncertainties related to the availability of future products prohibit the company from moving forward with this transaction," said Penske in a prepared statement.

GM said that it just learned about Penske's decision to terminate talks noting that the news is "very disappointing" and that it "comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality."

"As a result of PAG's decision, we will be winding down the Saturn brand and dealership network, in accordance with the wind-down agreements that Saturn dealers recently signed with GM. Pursuant to the terms of those agreements, the wind down process will be determined and communicated shortly," said GM's President and CEO, Fritz Henderson.

General Motors said that Saturn customers and owners will continue to be able to buy and service their vehicles at Saturn retailers during this process while when the wind down is complete, they will be able to service their cars at other GM dealerships.

"Today's disappointing news comes at a time when we'd hoped for a successful launch of the Saturn brand into a new chapter. We will be working closely with our dealers to ensure Saturn customers are cared for as we transition them to other GM dealers in the months ahead. I'd also like to thank every GM employee and Saturn retailer who worked so hard to try to make this new beginning happen for Saturn," said Henderson.


Tokyo '09: Subaru Exiga 2.0GT Turbo 7-Seater MPV Tuned by STI

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There are very few things one can do to make Subaru's crossover-MPV-station wagon-thingamajig more pleasing to the eye. It's not that it's horrifically ugly or anything, it's just that it's boring to the point of being annoying... Even Subaru's highly praised STI department seems to have had a difficult job in making the seven-passenger Exiga look more interesting. Then again, STI's cosmetic enhancements on the 2.0 GT Turbo model appear to be limited to a front lip spoiler, side skirts, the new alloy wheels and exhaust tips.

The Japanese automaker's Spartan press release notes that that the STI-prepped Exiga 2.0 GT Turbo has also received some minor interior upgrades while the under the skin, the vehicle's chassis has been "fine-tuned" to further improve handling. The 'Exiga Tuned by STI' is scheduled to go on sale in Japan after the Tokyo Motor Show.




Audi Showcases A5 Coupe Prototype with Aluminium Body, Weighs 110kg / 240 lbs Less than the Regular Model

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Making further use of its aluminium Audi Space Frame (ASF) concept, Audi has presented a special A5 Coupe prototype that has sheds 110kg or 240 pounds over the standard steel-bodied production car with a 2.0-liter TFSI. This was achieved by swapping steel for advanced aluminium and carbon fibre construction. Audi says that the aluminium A5 prototype has a kerb weight of 1,310kg (2,888 lbs), versus a total of 1,420kg (3,130 lbs) for the equivalent steel-bodied series production model.

This means that with the 211HP 2.0-litre turbocharged FSI engine, the A5 Prototype achieves a power-to-weight ratio of 161HP per tonne. For comparison, the 'standard' A5 Coupe 3.2 FSI V6 quattro with 265HP that weighs in at 1,540kg, is only slightly better at 172PS per tonne.

"The lightweight design of the test car not only enables a smaller engine to supplement a larger one with no impact on performance and gains in economy and emissions, but also has a knock-on effect on ancillaries such as the brakes and transmission, which can also be reduced in size and weight," said Audi.

"It also enables the car to change direction noticeably more keenly and nimbly and, thanks to the reduction in unsprung weight, to ride with even more refinement," the company added.

Even though the aluminium A5 Coupe Prototype isn't intended to make production, we suspect that the next generation model will most likely benefit from this lightweight concept.


Tokyo '09: Subaru Impreza WRX STI A-Line with Carbon Roof and... 5-Speed Auto

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For most enthusiasts, all-interest in the new Impreza WRX STI A-Line Carbon that will premiere at the Tokyo Show is probably lost upon reading the words "5-speed auto" but apparently Subaru figures that there's a crowd out there that's interested in a high-performance sport hatch with an automatic transmission. Bizarrely, the Legacy-sourced auto box in this model is combined with a carbon fiber roof that Subaru says helps reduce weight and lower the center of gravity for improved handling and performance. The two together don't make much sense, but whatev.

In addition, the special edition model's interior has been dressed in a suede fabric that covers most parts of the cabin including the dashboard top and the Recaro bucket seats.

The new Subaru Impreza WRX STI A-Line Carbon is scheduled to go on sale in the Japanese market sometime after the show.




Tokyo '09: Honda Revives 1960s N360 Mini with EV-N All-Electric Concept

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Set to make its world debut alongside the near-production CR-Z Hybrid Sports Coupe at Honda's Tokyo Motor Show stand next month is the EV-N battery-powered concept mini car.

While those familiar with European models may see a pinch of Autobianchi A112 and bit of Fiat 500 (the new one) in the EV-N, fact is that Honda's inspiration for the styling came from its own N360, a tiny kei car of the late 1960s that was powered by a motorcycle-based, 354cc, air-cooled 2-cylinder engine producing 31HP at 8,500 rpm.

2010 Nissan Altima Coupe: Facelifted Model Fully Revealed and Priced

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The subtly refreshed 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe was officially revealed today. In a nutshell, the Japanese automaker's two-door model receives minor cosmetic tweaks, new available colors and upgraded option packages while the 3.5 SR model designation replaces the previous 3.5 SE. The most obvious changes for the 2010 model year concern the redesigned front end that gains a sculpted bonnet with a pronounced 'bump' in the center, newly styled projector beam headlights, a different treatment for the grille and a new bumper design with three air inlets instead of one.

The refreshed 17-inch alloy wheel designs (18-inch with Michelin P235/45R18 tires for the 3.5 SR models) and the three new available colors (Crimson Black, Navy Blue and Ocean Gray) pretty much complete the list with the exterior updates.

The Coupe's cabin has been refreshed with revised interior fabrics and finishers, a new red leather-appointed interior color selection and a revised Blonde interior color while the instrument cluster has been tweaked to incorporate a new white illumination color.

Nissan says that the most important news inside for the 2010 Altima Coupe is a new premium audio system that includes a 4.3-inch color display, USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, MP3/WMA CD-ROM playback and XM Satellite Radio. Furthermore, this package also includes a RearView Monitor.

Also new for the 2010 model year is a next-generation Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with 6.5-inch VGA color display, USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System with audio streaming, 9.3GB Music Box for music storage and playback, advanced map data including speed limit advisories, Zagat restaurant guide, XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather and an RCA input for auxiliary audio/video connectivity.

As with the 2009MY, the new Altima Coupe is available with two gasoline engines, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 175HP and 180 lb-ft of peak torque, and a 3.5-liter V6 with 270HP and 258 lb-ft. Both engines are offered with a choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or Nissan's Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).

Prices -excluding applicable tax, title and license fees- for the 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe range from $22,400 to $29,600.


2010 Altima Coupe

Engine/Trans.

M.S.R.P.

Altima Coupe 2.5 S

2.5L I4 6MT

$22,440 USD

Altima Coupe 2.5 S

2.5L I4 CVT

$22,940 USD

Altima Coupe 3.5 SR

3.5L V6 CVT

$27,270 USD

Altima Coupe 3.5 SR

3.5 V6 6MT

$29,600 USD