What Would a smart SUV Be Called? We’ll Soon Find Out

The naming strategy for smart isn’t hard to figure out. Its subcompact vehicle, which seats two, is known as the ‘fortwo.’

While predictable and fairly generic, it’s at least better than many of the alpha-numeric monikers other automakers are slapping onto the rear ends of their cars. Sure, smart could’ve imitated Saab’s 9-3 and called its car the 4-2, but it opted to keep things simple and let the name tell consumers exactly what the car is for.

It works.

So when smart announces more models coming down the pipe, it’s not hard to guess what the names will be.

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Which Would You Choose: Jail Time or Having Your Dream Car Crushed?

Nissan Skyline Big Bird

An innocent bystander shall never suffer for the crime of another.

That seems like perfectly logical common sense, right? But what if that perfectly innocent bystander is a 1995 Nissan Skyline and the punishment is a date with the crusher?

Authorities in Wisconsin seem to have no respect for greatness, or compassion for the innocent, as they have punished a man for attempting to sell gray-market vehicles here by sentencing a 1995 and a 1996 Skyline to death. And yes, there were much better ways to handle this.

First, the story:

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Datsun Returns, and Some Ask Why

1983 Datsun Sentra

Nissan announced this week that it was reviving the Datsun brand to represent the company in developing markets—namely India, Indonesia and Russia—beginning in 2014. Datsun cars became Nissans in 1981-’82.

The company plans to put $400 million into modernizing its Indonesia facility and tripling its dealerships in Southeast Asia. This lucrative market has been dominated by Toyota and is growing rapidly. One report predicts auto sales in Indonesia will rise by 50 percent in five years.

For those in the U.S., memories of Datsun cars can encompass everything from the 1982 Sentra pictured above (one of which was owned by my son, who says it was the absolute worst-handling car he ever drove) to the 240Z280Z cars that were loved by many.

So Nissan will recreate Datsun as a low-end brand to capture some of the burgeoning minicar-subcompact market in developing countries. The question is why did they resurrect the old name?

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Nissan Juke-R Proves a Point: Fast Makes Up for Small and Ugly

The Nissan Juke, in its stock form as a small crossover, defines the word “distinctive.”

Nothing else on the road looks like it. It’s small and bulbous but efficient and sure-footed. Its headlights poke out above the hood like a crocodile’s eyes breaking the surface of the water. Some might call it a playful look, others regard it as downright ugly. Its 1.6-liter direct-injected inline-4 turbo puts out 188-hp. Paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, some might even say the Juke is a fun, spirited drive. With the standard CVT transmission, though, it’s like piloting a car propelled by rubber bands.

As I always like to say, 188-hp is OK. But 485 is better.

Introducing the Nissan Juke-R: a vehicle all automakers should imitate at least once.

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Cars We’ll Miss, and Some We Won’t, in 2012

BMW Active Hybrid X6

New years always promise to bring big changes. The year 2012 will be no different, with some changes sure to be good and some…not so much. One thing for sure, 2012 will arrive very soon, but some cars won’t live to see the end of it.

The Detroit Free Press put together a list of cars that will fade away during the course of the next year. Some of the cars will be sorely missed, while others should have crossed over to the great junkyard in the sky years ago.

Keep reading for a list of the cars that didn’t make the cut to exist past 2012.

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Green Update: Chrysler and Nissan Commit to Impossible Green Goals

A hybrid for this car?

The tougher U.S. fuel economy (CAFE) standards have forced some radical rethinking by two of the world’s largest auto companies.

They really have no other choice, as long as the government commits to the flawed idea of CAFE, with all its loopholes, contradictions and costs of enforcement.

The 54.5-mpg requirement for passenger cars by 2025 (really around 40 mpg per EPA window sticker) has forced Chrysler to start making and selling hybrids and diesels. In 2013, the Chrysler 300 (above) will have a hybrid version, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee will offer diesel. The Fiat 500 EV will be coming next year.

Last year, Chrysler trailed all 14 major carmakers with a 19.2-mpg average. Regarding CAFE, CEO Sergio Marchionne has said, “I have no other way of getting to 2025 numbers than by going to hybrids.” He is also hopeful that CNG infrastructure will take hold.

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