Good Oil: Viper loses sting and everything
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The Dodge Viper is dead. Long live the Dodge Viper.
Fiat Chrysler Automotive will permanently close the dedicated Dodge Viper assembly plant this month; an announcement that follows hot on the heels of the news that the mentalist American sports car will be terminated. Well, we suppose the announcements would hardly have come the other way around now, would they?
The sportscar has been on death row for a while now. Despite its impressive performance figures, hardly anyone is buying it: FCA sold 630 Vipers during 2016, down by 8.7 per cent on 2015's total.
But, it isn't a simple case of there being fewer gun-totin', flag-wavin' cashed-up Good Ol' Boys keen on this particular slice of American motoring heritage. Truth is, the hand-built Viper doesn't meet new safety regulations that come into effect on September 1.
It has done the Lazarus act before, most notably during the Global Financial Crisis, although this time it doesn't feel as though there will be an epilogue.
Still, although the Viper has become something of an outmoded, arcane slice of motoring culture in a hybridised world, part of us would like to see it rise again.
Designer Fabio Martins' concept for a near-future police car is basically the opposite of what the nameplate suggests it might look like. In fact, the cruiser -- designed around an unspecified small Volkswagen -- is supposed to promote the friendlier, less-confrontational side of future urban policing.
Its creator suggests it will be agile and powerful on the motorway, but manoeuvrable and compact in city centres.
By the look of it, it ticks the second of those boxes. But without any engine specifics mentioned, we're sceptical about its ability to keep up with a speeding V8. It doesn't look big enough to house a four-cylinder turbo, let alone anything offering extra firepower.
Excuse us while we stifle a yawn, but it appears the big effort at the drawing board has been made to improve patrolman ergonomics, with specially designed fatigue-mitigating seats for more comfort on those lengthy stakeouts, and glass allowing for 360-degree visibility.
A bit like that rather lovely Alfa Romeo Giulia police car concept we came across a month or two ago, the beacon lights on the Interceptor are integrated into the roof, giving the police bean-counters a better night's sleep by causing less air resistance and using less fuel.
But they're still bright enough to be seen.
Overall, the Interceptor concept looks cool in a "community policing" way.
Although can we suggest a change of name?
Imagine protesters hearing that "police Interceptors are on their way!". Surely they would throw bricks through windows.
Hooray It's nearly Swift Sport O clock
It's nearly time for a new Suzuki Swift Sport, which is, we surely don't need to underline, a Good Thing Indeed.
The Japanese firm has been relatively secretive about the range-topping junior hot hatch, as you'd expect.
However, as we steamroll closer to this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, the odd detail floats to the surface, mainly in the form of teaser photos of different bits of the car (the image you're seeing alongside is just a computer render that joins several dots and shouldn't be taken as gospel).
Those piccies do tell us that the next-gen Swift Sport will feature a redesigned front valance with a splitter and a new front grille. New side skirts and a black diffuser at the back look to complete the make-over magic for Suzuki. It also looks like the Sport will feature its own set of natty alloy wheels that we haven't seen on other iterations of the diminutive car.
Pundits can only guess at the engine, although deploying the 1.4-litre four-cylinder Boosterjet turbo petrol as found in the Vitara Turbo would seem the obvious move. Whether it'll be re-tuned for more peak power than the 103kW available in the Vitara remains to be seen. Mind you, the Swift Sport will be a bit lighter than the Vitara, so the same engine with the same number of horses should still provide for lively performance.
As long as there is still a manual trannie available in the Swift Sport model mix when the car arrives here next year, we'll be happy campers indeed.