Sponsors of TCC's 2001
NY Auto Show
LEAP OF FAITH
2001 Suzuki SX Concept
. Suzuki demonstrated to the New
York auto show press that, if you want real fireworks, you have to use
fireworks. Suzuki motorcycle racing champ Travis
Pastrana leaped over Suzuki’s newest concept, the SX activity vehicle, while his
jump-off ramps went ablaze. Oh, the car itself, you ask? The SX is a
supercharged four-cylinder, 220-hp, all-wheel drive wagon, sort of a bad-ass
Pontiac Vibe. Suzuki’s very squarely aiming the SX concept at “active-lifestyle
women,” but the screaming-yellow brake calipers told a different story. A
production version of the SX is coming in the fall.
CIVIC LESSON. Honda’s not forgotten its most rabid fans.
Even if it’s not called a CRX, the latest edition of the Honda Civic Si should
be enough to appease the most discerning of zealots. The ’02 Si is a
British-built Civic three-door with “European styling, hatchback utility, and SI
performance,” according to Honda execs. Its 2.0-liter I-VTEC four-cylinder spins
out 160 hp. Aside from the hatch styling – it’s now the only three-door Civic
you can buy in the States -- you
can also spot the Si by its mesh grille, sport seats, and silver-faced gauges. A
nifty console-mounted gearshift is said to be inspired by rally racing. Honda is
pegging 0-60 mph runs at 7.5 seconds, is predicting five-star safety ratings,
and will make side airbags optional for the as-yet-unpriced Civic Si.
. Nissan has already accomplished half of the goals it set out for itself
under the revival plan it unveiled in October 1999. That according to Nissan’s
Brazilian-born CEO, Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn and Nissan were honored by stock firm
Morgan Stanley for having the biggest improvement in its stock last year, the
automaker’s share price doubling since the Nissan Revival Plan was announced.
During a subsequent appearance at the New York Auto Show, Ghosn stressed that
Nissan is “not ready to cast off the image…as the underdog.” The worst danger,
he warned, is developing “a sense of complacency.”
’02 ALTIMA BOWS.
Nissan has seen the light when it comes to true midsize sedans: the
’02 Altima is growing bigger and frankly, more interesting to look at. To build
the attractive new Altima, Nissan grew the car’s wheelbase to 110.2 inches, and
stretched it to 191.5 inches long. They say it’s bigger than the current Camry
and Accord inside, and by pegging the Audi A4 and VW Passat as some handling
benchmarks, have refashioned the anonymous compact into more of a driver’s car.
Two engines will be available: a 180-hp four-cylinder and a 240-hp six-cylinder
based on the current Maxima engine. A five-speed manual or a four-speed
automatic can be had. Four-wheel disc
brakes on all models and a V-6-equipped SE model with 215/55 rear tires tops the
model range. We’ll have a full report on the new Altima later this
Not just one new product, but five from Mitsubishi at the New York
Show. The Diamante gets a light restyling and a new VRX model with a rear wing;
both the VRX and the standard car sport Mitsubishi’s new twin-grille nose
styling. The bigger news, says Mitsubishi, is the company’s new Lancer sedan, a
four-door economy sedan with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The base model is
the ES, well equipped with air conditioning and a CD player; the LS gets a
four-speed automatic transmission and keyless entry. The O-Z Rally edition gets
special air dams, a black interior with white-faced gauges, and O-Z alloy wheels
for a hot-rod look.