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The new Suzuki Swift Is Lighter and More Fuel Efficient

Could be a solid alternative to the Polo and Fiesta

Although not the best looking and most practical car out there, the Suzuki Swift has been a popular choice in some European market thanks to its affordable sticker and cheap maintenance. It has fallen a bit too far behind the competition in recent years, but the new-generation Swift that just made its European debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show should put Suzuki back on the map in the challenging subcompact hatchback segment.

As we learned back in December 2016 when the car made its global debut in Japan, the new Swift is a big step forward in terms of styling, following in the footsteps for the similarly sized Baleno. The hatchback also rides on new underpinnings that are about 15 percent lighter and provide better driving dynamics and help improve fuel economy.

The dated styling of the previous Swift is finally gone, replaced by modern features and an overall sportier stance. The smaller headlamps, the larger grille, and the dynamic looking front bumper give the Swift a front fascia that can stand out next to any other competitor in this segment. Although simple, the rear section feels fresh and practical at the same time, with the wider tailgate providing easier access to the trunk.

The cabin is also a big improvement over the previous design. The larger infotainment screen, the round A/C vents and the sportier instrument cluster make the Swift a nice place to spend time in. Tech includes a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay connectivity, maps, music, and USB port.

As usual, motivation is provided by small-displacement engines, starting with the 1.2-liter Dualijet rated at 89 horsepower and 89 pound-feet. The 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Boosterjet with 109 horses and 125 pound-feet is available in the more expensive trims. Just like the Baleno, the Swift uses the SHVS mild hybrid system with lower emissions. Suzuki also introduced a revised version of its AllGrip Auto four-wheel-drive system, which transfers additional torque to the rear wheels when required via a viscous coupling.

Pricing is not yet available, but the new Swift goes on sale in the U.K. on June 1st.

Continue reading for the full story.

2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

More power, enhanced range, faster recharging

The third-generation Smart ForTwo arrived in 2014 with significant changes over its predecessor. Co-developed with French carmaker Renault, it received a more traditional exterior design with a longer front hood, a revamped interior, and three new engines. Much like its predecessor, it also spawned a convertible and AMG version, and at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Smart unveiled an all-electric variant.

Called the ForTwo Electric Drive (or ED), the emission-free car uses a brand-new electric drivetrain with enhanced output and increased range. For the first time, the electric motor is also offered in the convertible versions, making the ForTwo the only electric cabriolet on the market. What’s more, because the same drivetrain is also available in the larger ForFour model, Smart is the only car manufacturer to offer its entire model range with both combustion engines and battery-electric drive. Not that it would be difficult having just two vehicles, but it’s still a noteworthy achievement.

The new ForTwo Electric Drive will arrive in the United States in 2017. The coupe version will debut in the spring, while the cabriolet model will hit dealerships in the summer. Until that happens, let’s have a closer look at the smallest EV on the market and how it stacks up compared to its predecessor and main competitors.

Continue reading to learn more about the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

2017 Electra Meccanica Solo

It’s a cool three-wheel car from Canada with decent electric range

Coming straight out of Canada is a new and innovative take on the EV that is aimed at making EV ownership simple, fun, and affordable. Meet the Electra Meccanica SOLO. Powered by an all-electric drivetrain and riding on three wheels, this funky little city car is the work of Jerry Kroll, formally of KleenSpeed Technologies, and Henry Reisner, the President of Intermeccanica Inc. Featuring a striking exterior design, an interior suited for just one person, and an 84-horsepower electric motor, this EV isn’t aimed at combating the Tesla Model S, or even the Nissan Leaf. Instead of attempting to replace your gas-guzzling family hauler, the SOLO is all about personal transportation and making your daily commute simple and efficient.

When speaking of the Solo, Henry Reisner, who is also the COO of Electra Meccanica, said, “It has appeal for driving enthusiasts, practical commuters, and the environmentally conscious. We believe the SOLO will become the commuter vehicle of choice for the masses. The vehicle is non-­polluting, very economical to operate, and people will have a heck of a good time driving it too.”

Now, by saying “heck of a good time,” he’s not insinuating that you’ll outrun most of the sports cars out there, but it does hit 62 mph in about eight seconds, which really isn’t bad for a car with one-wheel drive and 84 horsepower, right? On top of this, it also has pretty modern technology inside that includes an LCD instrument cluster, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity, and there’s even a rear-view camera system. It’s really not that bad for a vehicle with a sub-$20,000 price tag. But, there’s a lot more to talk about than the few tidbits we’ve discussed here, so let’s dive on into the world’s newest, single-seater, EV.

2017 Smart Fortwo Sport Package by Brabus

The little car that could is about to get a little sportier

The Smart Fortwo is a funky little city car that has a rear-mounted engine, two seats, and a hatch. To put it simply, it’s nothing more than a cockpit on wheels, but in busy, crowded cities, the car is perfect for those who can manage to fit in it. Originally introduced in 1998, the car has seen two generational changes with the most recent coming in the 2014 model year. For 2016, Smart introduced the convertible or Cabriolet variant that ditched the rear hatch for a retractable top. For the most part, the Fortwo is a pretty simple car. It is available with two different three-cylinder engines that deliver between 71 and 90 horses and can be equipped with a five-speed manual or a dual clutch automatic.

For such a tiny car, the interior is actually rather spacious, and it has a certain level of luxury too. Now, with the 2017 model year right around the corner, Brabus is offering a new Sport package for the Fortwo Coupe and Cabriolet that promises to bring a new level of customization to Smart customers everywhere. It is said to bring “unique styling and a sportier driving experience,” but it is a micro city car, so I’m not really sure I’m comfortable using words like “sport” in that context.

Of course, I’m pretty critical about what automakers and do to their vehicles, so before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s take a good look at this new sport package and what it brings to the table.

Keep reading to learn about Brabus’ new Sport package for the 2017 Smart Fortwo

2016 Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car

We knew Mercedes was working on an electric car but this is ridiculous

If you’re a golfer or someone who lives in a senior suburban community, you’re well aware that golf carts, for the most part, have carried on practically unchanged for years. Sure, they have gained radios and more advanced electric drivetrains, but the general design and capabilities have been unaltered. All that could very well change in the near future and, if so, it will happen at the hands of none other than Mercedes-Benz and Garia. That’s right, the luxury manufacturer has gone out of its way to design a “golf car” prototype that will move into series production should it garner enough interest from the market and general public.

For those of you who don’t know, Garia is actually a well-known golf cart manufacturer, and will actually be in charge of production. The company is building two prototypes of this “golf car” now and will be responsible for the for the series production in the future. The golf car that you see here was penned by MB designers, Daimler’s Think & Act Tank Business Innovation, and Garia itself. It all started back in 2013 when MB asked the public to submit their own designs for a Mercedes-Benz golf cart. It took a few years for MB to come up with its own design, but here we are.

Dr. Jens Thiemer, the Vice President of Marketing for Mercedes Cars, said, “With the Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car we are offering a high-end golf cart which is absolutely unique and was specifically developed for sporting golfers and the sport they enjoy."

With that said, let’s take a good look at what could be the next evolutionary stage of the golf cart and see just what Mercedes has in mind.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car.

2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet

The new Fortwo Cabriolet is said to be the most affordable convertible on the market

Smart took the automotive world by surprise when it unveiled the ForTwo Cabrio at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show . A year later, the Germans launched the smallest production cabriolet , taking the micro car industry into a new era. It’s been 15 years since then and Smart has revealed the third-generation ForTwo Cabrio, which is set to break cover officially at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Based on the third-gen 2015 Smart ForTwo we already saw in 2014, the ForTwo Cabrio has been redesigned from the ground up. The styling is all-new inside and out, the chassis has been rebuilt for greater comfort, while the drivetrains are both more powerful and fuel-efficient.

"Our new smart cabrio really exudes joie de vivre in the city – which is what our brand stands for", said Dr. Annette Winkler, head of the Smart brand. "I am sure that we will delight our present 220,000 cabrio customers and win lots of new fans with this successful lifestyle icon."

The micro convertible will arrive on U.S. soil in the first half of 2016, a few months after it goes on sale in Europe. By the time it hits showrooms on this side of the Atlantic, it will join the ForTwo coupe, set to reach U.S. soil at the end of September 2015, and the 2015 Smart Fortwo Brabus Tailor Made program the brand announced earlier this year.

Update 06-29-2016: Mercedes has announced pricing for the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio. Check out the prices section below for details.

Continue reading to learn more about Smart ForTwo Cabrio.

2016 Ford Ka+

Ford’s smallest hatchback gets a comprehensive makeover

The third-generation Ford Ka was unveiled in November 2013 in Brazil. It was launched about a year later in the same country in both hatchback and sedan body styles. Unlike its predecessor, which shared underpinnings with the Fiat 500, the third-gen Ka is based on Ford’s global B platform, also used by the Fiesta. Available in various markets in South America and Africa since 2015, the supermini is being sold in Europe as well starting 2016.

In case you’re wondering why it took so long for the small hatch to cross the pond, it’s because Ford had to create a version that complies with European safety standards. For instance, the original model developed in Brazil didn’t have standard airbags and lacked many of the features European drivers are accustomed to. Thus Ford created the Ka+, which was introduced in Latin America in late 2015 and it is now being offered in certain markets across the Old Continent. The Ka+ is in many aspects identical to the standard Ka. What makes it stand out are the added convenience features, the two front airbags, and a retuned chassis for European roads.

“Choosing a compact car should not mean having to compromise,” said Darren Palmer, small car vehicle line director at Ford of Europe. “Our all-new Ka+ lives up to the high standards set by our Ford Fiesta, B-MAX and EcoSport compact cars by delivering the style, space, advanced technology and refinement that customers want.”

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Ford Ka+.

2017 BMW i3 94 AH

More range for Bimmer’s compact all-electric transportation bubble

Originally launched in late 2013, the BMW i3 has stood tall amongst the competition thanks to its premium European packaging and high-end technology. However, standards in the segment are on the rise, especially when it comes to affordability and range per charge. To address this, the Bavarians are introducing a new model series for the i3 called the 94 Ah, which offers an upgraded battery, and consequently, more miles between plug-in sessions. To complement the extra range, the new model also gets a fresh exterior color and a few added features for the interior.

Of course, the biggest news is the 94 Ah’s improved lithium-ion battery, which gets 50 percent higher capacity compared to the regular model, and according to “independent BMW testing cycles,” up to 114 miles of emission-free driving with each full charge.

Some will undoubtedly cry foul, as the first i3 offered up to 123 miles in Eco Pro + mode. So where’s the difference? The 94 Ah’s range was determined in “everyday conditions,” which means Comfort driving mode with the climate control activated, suggesting much more range is possible if you max/min all the settings and drive like a hyper miler (the previous model returned only 81 miles in Comfort mode).

Exactly how many miles is possible when the 94 Ah is pushed to the limit is not yet known, but for now, read on to see how BMW is keeping pace in the world of EVs.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 BMW i3 94 AH.

Modified Smart Fortwo Gets Dirty: Video

A small off-roader with big capability

The Smart Fortwo isn’t exactly complicated – in fact, it’s one of the most basic modern vehicles on the road. But it’s that simplicity that makes it a fantastic canvas for tuners and the mechanically minded. This video is a great example of that, demonstrating what you get when you take the two-seat kei car and add a little off-roader personality.

Ok, maybe the word “little” isn’t exactly appropriate here. Sure, the car is small, but the modifications are extensive. Posted to YouTube by user “Mr George,” background on the go-anywhere super orb comes via a link to Drive2.ru, which provides a brief rundown on what went into creating the custom mud-churner.

The owner (identified by Yahoo UK as 29-year-old Gerogiy Kosilov from the Ukraine) saw the Smart’ s trailblazing potential when he discovered it came with a rear-mounted turbo diesel engine. Sure, it’s only a 0.8-liter inline three-cylinder with 41 horsepower, but properly applied, Kosilov knew the lightweight Smart had what it took to conquer the great outdoors.

The suspension was modified with components from Honda, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen, providing a full 360 mm (14 inches) of ground clearance. Big tires, new bodywork, skid plates, better brakes, and a larger radiator were also added, while all extraneous components were tossed to reduce weight. A whole lotta fabrication later, and the result is an uber-ATV with doors, a roof, and an outta-my-way attitude.

Hit play to see the thing in action in this one-minute, 40-second video of big angles, huge ruts, deep puddles, and grimy mud.

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Review

Tuner-car looks for Hyundai’s funky hatchback

There’s a secret recipe to creating a successful sporty compact coupe. It’s all about striking just the right balance, between attitude, style, practicality, performance and economy. The Hyundai Veloster Turbo aims to hit that perfect balance, while still remaining affordable enough for the average entry-level buyer.

Of course, the bar for "entry-level" has been moved up in recent years, thanks to dramatic improvements in quality and materials for price-leading cars. The Veloster has risen with the tide as well; it’s rolling with a high-efficiency, high-output engine, excellent interior materials and even high-fashion matte paint jobs, in certain models. The Veloster Turbo Rally Edition adds a level of exclusivity to the scheme, with a production run of 1200, improved handling and high-visibility styling. That’s not a bad deal for just over $20,000.

Affordable, sporty compacts that aren’t just hot-hatched versions of existing economy cars are surprisingly thin on the ground; the Veloster and Scion tC are just about the only ones in this price bracket. With so little competition, does the Veloster Turbo have to work that hard?

Continue reading for the full story.


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