Just Car Blog
Combining electric propulsion with a performance orientation is a delicate balance. Tesla managed to pull it off to some success. Audi has toyed with the idea with its E-Tron concepts. And some have been experimenting with bringing F1′s KERS regenerative braking system to road-going sports cars.
Just a few weeks ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda showed off a tempting little package called the EV-STER. The concept spoke of a zippy little ride around town, all on electric power. Now, reports are indicating that, based on positive feedback from the show, Honda has already decided to green-light the project and put it into production. Sources suggest it will be ready sometime in the new year ahead, and could offer a more conventional gasoline engine in addition to the electric powertrain.
Of course none of this is to say that Honda would bring the production EV-STER to the North American market, but we’ll be excited if it gets built at all.
|Nissan showing Extrem new crossover||
The Nissan Extrem concept is indeed a “high character” concept and, as the Japanese automaker says, “a radical concept car aimed squarely at young (and young-at-heart) car enthusiasts keen to make a statement.”
Wraparound glass and a “see-through” A-pillar reminiscent of Volvo’s Safety Car Concept (circa 2001) are interesting features that could enhance safety, while overlapping body panels “create a feeling of layered armored toughness.”
Such a vehicle could definitely compete with the similarly styled Veloster from Hyundai. But with its higher ground clearance and possible all-wheel-drive, the Extreme could offer a light-use off-road alternative. If anything, the Extrem is arguably most similar to Nissan’s own Juke, albeit with fewer doors.
The Extrem concept is built on Nissan’s V-platform, which is also used on its March supermini, albeit with larger dimensions. The Extrem is larger in every exterior dimension except wheelbase, as it retains the March’s 96.4-inch track.
According to Nissan, power “would come” from the company’s 1.6-liter, direct injection, turbocharged engine – an engine also seen in the Juke.
|Seven-passenger VW Taigun CUV||
Seven-passenger VW CUV last week, we also mentioned the possibility of a new sub-Tiguan crossover, and we may have gotten our first look at such a vehicle courtesy of this Volkswagen Taigun Concept that is debuting at the São Paulo motor show.
Although the Taigun Concept suggests that VW has all but given up on imbuing its new vehicles with comprehensible names, this new softroader also looks to balance practicality and fuel economy. With a slightly smaller footprint than the current Golf, the Taigun actually has more interior space (including more front headroom), but it’s the powertrain that could really make this B-segment CUV standout if it sees production. Using a small gasoline 1.0-liter direct-injected and turbocharged three-cylinder under the hood, the Taigun Concept still has pretty respectable small car numbers, generating 108 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. However, the true beauty of this engine is that VW puts its fuel economy numbers at 4.7 liters per 100 kilometers – around 50 miles per gallon on the EU cycle.
Even the styling of the Taigun shows that VW’s current design language looks good on just about any size, with its boxy shape and short overhangs, but the automaker says that it is using Brazil’s emerging auto show to gauge interest for such a vehicle before making any decisions as to whether or not to put it into production.
|Bertone Nuccio Concept||
The Nuccio concept, showed off by Bertone as a rolling model at the Geneva Motor Show and then as a road-ready car at the Beijing Motor Show is in talks to be sold. An update on the Lancia Stratos Zero concept from the seventies and powered by a 4.3-liter Ferrari V8 with 480 horsepower, the Nuccio was a 15,000-hour exercise in what the company’s historical language could look like today.
That styling has changed a little from the Geneva concept, befitting its new-found usability. The single, narrow LED headlight has been replaced by two more conventional units, and the windscreen is now a more realistic size. The larger side mirrors are also more usable.
Named after the late Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone, one of the company’s most famous designers, the Nuccio concept car also celebrates the design firm’s 100th anniversary this year.
Bertone is responsible for some of the world’s most famous vehicles–the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghini Countach and several Alfa Romeos and Citroëns have passed over the drawing board at Bertone before hitting the streets.
|Two-door BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe||
With the launch of the BMW 4 Series coupe, we can officially say goodbye to the two-door 3 Series. BMW is moving its coupe and convertible models up one digit (like the 5 Series/6 Series relationship); when the next-generation 1 Series launches in the States, it will actually be called the 2 Series. And while there are certainly a lot of 3 Series aspects to this new 4er, BMW says the new car has given the new model its own individual character and a standalone design.
Compared to the current 3 Series coupe, the 4 Series concept rides on a two-inch-longer wheelbase, adds 1.7 inches of width, and is just over half an inch shorter in height. The whole thing looks very sculpted and sleek, and there are plenty of design elements from the larger 6 Series, as well. The full-LED headlamps and aggressive lower fascia will certainly grab your attention, but if we’re honest, some of us prefer the simpler, cleaner lines of past 3 Series models versus this somewhat overly stylized new coupe. From the rear, however, this thing is damn pretty.
The interior certainly looks good, too – premium leather is slathered on nearly every surface, and the overall design is modern and plush. A lot of what we see here is similar to the larger 6 Series, again, but that isn’t a bad thing. Specific details have not been divulged for the production 4 Series, but expect a full suite of technological goodies to be packed inside the cabin, as well.
|Volkswagen brings Buggy Up! concept||
Typically an automaker releases information on its latest concept cars. But when you get this Volkswagen have a few surprises up its sleeve that were neither previewed beforehand nor unveiled at the VW Group event the night before the Messe opened its doors to the gathered press.
Not only did Volkswagen unveil the new production Up! city car, it also showcased a whole mess of Up-based concept cars as well. Drawing its inspiration from the iconic Meyers Manx and other such Beetle-based beach buggies, the Buggy Up! concept takes the new urban hatchback’s mechanical bits and covers them in a new shape that has no doors. Instead, there’s a waterproof cockpit with two neoprene bucket seats, drain holes, a grab-handle for the passenger, a removable infotainment module and a fabric roof. The hatchback, meanwhile, has been replaced with a trunklid that splits to fold up and down for easy access.
|Cosworth Building ‘Ultimate Performance’ Genesis Coupe For SEMA||
In case you needed another reason to make a pilgrimage to Las Vegas for this year’s SEMA show, here it is: Hyundai has teamed up with new development partner Cosworth to create what it’s billing as the “ultimate” Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Called the Cosworth Genesis Racing Series (CGRS), the satin blue coupe is designed to deliver performance gains without sacrificing driveability, making it the best compromise between a street car and a track day car.
Starting with Hyundai’s 3.8-liter V-6, Cosworth adds its own intake and exhaust systems, installs its own ECU programming and improves thermal management to boost output to 389 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. That’s a gain of 41 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque compared to a stock 3.8-liter Genesis Coupe.
Further enhancing performance, the CGRS gets a Cosworth big brake system and a Cosworth performance suspension. Details on either upgrade are lacking, and Cosworth is best known for its engine tuning, so we suspect the suspension and brake upgrades come from a third-party manufacturer.
Aside from the in-your-face satin blue paint, exterior changes are subtle to preserve the Genesis Coupe’s styling. Add-ons include a new front bumper with brake cooling ducts, a front splitter, side skirts, a diffuser, a trunk spoiler, unique wheels and Cosworth logos. Unlike many SEMA concepts, this is one you could drive to work without embarrassment.
Inside, the CGRS gets a Cosworth-logo steering wheel, shift knob, machined pedals and shift boot. Further styling tweaks include two-tone seats and a two-tone interior treatment.
We hope this is the start of a lasting relationship between the two companies, because a Cosworth-engined production Genesis Coupe would certainly get our attention.
At the 2008 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini unveiled the striking sedan concept as a way to preview a new model line for the brand, but since then, nothing has come to fruition. AutoWeek sat down with Lamborghini CEO Stefan Winkelmann, who shed some light on the decision to move forward with a sport-utility vehicle rather than a rakish sedan.
Given the fact that the production Urus isn’t slated to hit the market until around 2015, that means a Lamborghini sedan will likely be even farther out. Nearly four years later, we’re still quite fond of the 2008 concept, but we aren’t sure if we can hold our breath for another five-ish years.
|Lamborghini Aventador J Geneva star conceived||
This year’s Geneva Motor Show served up a scintillating buffet of vehicles, but the Lamborghini Aventador J may very well have been our favorite. With no roof, no windshield and all of the insane running gear of the standard Aventador, the roadster is the embodiment of exotic. Designer Filippo Perini told TG he first sketched up the Aventador J in mid-January after CEO Stephan Winkelmann asked his crew to to come up with something special for Geneva.
Despite the apparent similarities between the Aventador and the new Aventador J, the two models share only a handful of body components, including the front hood, fenders, headlights and rear fenders. Everything else is bespoke just for the concept.
|Opel RAK e electric concept||
Before we delve into the details of the RAK e electric concept, let’s step back in time with a brief historical primer. The oldest industrial division within General Motors’ current portfolio, Opel started as a sewing machine manufacturer way back in 1862. Evolving to the production of bicycles soon after, Opel’s presence in wheeled transportation turned to automobiles in 1899. Now, at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, Opel looks to the future with its debut of the ultra-modern RAK e Concept.
As an experimental design and technical platform, the RAK e is a narrow four-wheeler built around a steel space frame. Built with an eye toward inexpensive materials, the RAK e is a lightweight (838 pounds) concept presented as a vehicle that Opel says even the youngest of buyers could afford.
Propulsion for the RAK e comes from a 49-horsepower electric motor that draws juice from a five-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Range is listed at up to 62 miles and operating costs are claimed to be only one euro per 100 kilometers ($2.19 per 100 miles).
|Here’s What The Subaru BRZ Will (Probably) Look Like||
The Subaru BRZ and it’s platform-sharing cousin, the Toyota FT-86 (or Scion FR-S) won’t be unveiled until the Tokyo Motor Show, which kicks off at the end of this month. Subaru chose to show an “STI concept” of its upcoming BRZ sports coupe, and we suspect that the final product will look a lot like what you see here. The wing may not make production versions (especially in base model trim), and the aero package may be slightly less aggressive, but the basic lines of the car should be nearly identical, and we say that’s a good thing.
Subaru is careful not to reveal many details about the car, and it isn’t yet clear if an STI version will be produced (but we certainly hope so). The engine in the show car is a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter boxer-four, but Subaru isn’t saying what kind of horsepower it will produce. We’ve heard “under 300,” but seriously doubt that Subaru is making that much from a 2.0-liter engine without forced induction. Maybe that’s a sign that a turbocharged STI version is in the works after all.
Here’s what we do know about the BRZ: it’s designed to have a very low center of gravity for optimized handling, and it’s going to be front-engine, rear-drive in layout. Aside from that, anything else is just speculation, so we’ll wait another two weeks for the details.
|Ford’s Evos Concept Reveals The Future Of Ford’s Styling||
I’ll give you the bad news up front: the stunning concept car you see here, the Ford Evos, won’t ever see production. No matter how badly you want to buy one, no amount of letter writing, begging or pleading will get this car into a Ford dealer any time soon. Ford is debuting the Evos at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it will undoubtedly be making the global auto show circuit in the coming year.
Now the good news: the Evos is a styling exercise, meant to represent Ford’s new global design language. You can’t buy the Evos, but every Ford penned from this point forward will borrow (in some cases, heavily) from the styling pioneered on the Evos. The inverted trapezoid grille, dubbed the “new face of Ford,” has already been seen on the upcoming Ford Focus Electric and the much-anticipated Ford Focus ST.
Other design elements that Ford will use moving forward include minimized roof pillars and aerodynamic designs that make the car look “light on its feet,” silhouette innovation to distinguish Ford’s profile from competitors, refined surface styling to add subtle detail (and perceived quality) and minimized headlamps and tailights (which Ford calls “technical graphics”).
Since the Evos is a concept car, it also pushes the boundaries of existing automotive technology. It’s powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain (although no specifications for power or performance were given) and it uses cloud computing to ensure the driver has the same access to information as he would at home or in the office. The Evos monitors a driver’s health as well, and can remind you when you’re too tired to drive or alert you if a sudden medical condition is detected.
While some of the styling elements are a bit over the top (like the four gull-wing doors. for example), overall the Evos is a styling home run for Ford. It appears to be influenced by Aston Martin’s current designs, but copies none of them. Stare at the Evos long enough, and you’ll see new interpretations of existing Ford styling; the bold character lines used on the doors come from the Mustang, and you can see a bit of the current Ford Taurus in the front end.
There’s more good news, too: J Mays, Ford’s group vice president of design, tells us to look for a new model release, heavily influenced by the Evos concept, in four months time. That’s just about the right timing for the 2012 North American International Auto Show, and it’s just about when we expect to see the introduction of the Ford Focus ST. We’ll be counting down the days.
|BMW Honors Their 328: Is It A Hit Or A Miss?||
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the BMW 328, considered by many to be the best looking and most successful car in BMW’s early lineup. Designed to emphasize lightweight construction, aerodynamic lines and innovative suspension technology, the BMW 328 Touring Coupe still holds the record for the highest average Mille Miglia speed. To honor this legendary car from BMW’s past, their designers have created a modern interpretation of the 328, dubbed the BMW 328 Hommage.
Thanks to extensive use of modern materials like carbon fiber reinforced plastic, the BMW
Channel Catfish 328 Hommage weighs in at just over 1,700 pounds. Aluminum trim is used throughout the interior, which features leather upholstery to tie back to the original 328. Like the original 328 development vehicles, the 328 Hommage lacks doors, which may not be the most ideal thing from an aerodynamic perspective. BMW’s kidney-shaped grille is unmistakable up front, and is emphasized in tribute to the original 328, one of the first BMW to use the now-iconic design theme.
BMW claims the 328 has an “athletic rear end”, as does the model in the pictures. The rear three-quarter view may be the most visually appealing of all angles, and is certainly less controversial than the front or front three quarter view. I have to say I’m not a big fan of the tribute car’s lines, as the 328 Homage goes beyond “over the top” in styling. For a car that’s supposed to emphasize aerodynamic lines, it probably has the drag coefficient of an apartment building, and I challenge anyone to explain to me how the front end pays tribute to the original 328. I’m not an automotive designer, nor do I play one on TV, but the 328 Hommage simply doesn’t do it for me. What’s your take – epic win or utter fail?
|This Is Scion’s FT-86 (the Scion FR-S)||
The official unveiling of the Scion FR-S is scheduled for later today, but that hasn’t prevented images from turning up on the internet ahead of time. The car that will be revealed in New York today is officially listed as a concept, so read into that what you will. The styling has been toned down a bit from the FT-86 II Concept that Toyota displayed in Geneva, but the latest concept looks a long way from production to me. The blacked out windows say “don’t expect an accurate rendering of a production interior”, while the sharply arched and creased front fenders would be difficult (expensive, actually) to put into production. As Autoblog’s Zach Bowman points out, those enormous wheels will never see production and the side view mirrors can’t meet DOT standards.
So where does that leave the FT-86? The truth is that no one knows. Maybe it will show up on these shores wearing a Toyota badge, or maybe it will show up here as a Scion. Maybe it will look like one of the recent concepts, or maybe it won’t. Maybe it will be released for sales in 2012, but if this is what Toyota is showing us this late in the game, chances of a 2012 intro aren’t good. I’m still holding out hope that Toyota gets this car right, but it gets harder to believe that each and every time I write a story about it.
|Vizualtech To Build The Growler E-Type Tribute||
Swedish design firm Vizualtech has penned a stunning rendition of an updated Jaguar E Type. Called the Growler, Viztech intended the car as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type, but they didn’t plan on the amount of attention they’d receive from their design. Based on customer feedback, the firm is looking at a limited production run of Growlers, each using a carbon fiber chassis with tube frame engine and suspension mounts front and rear. The body itself will be made from composite to keep weight down, and the car will be powered by a Supercharged 5.0 liter V8 lifted from the current Jaguar XKR. In stock trim, this engine makes 510 horsepower, but Vizualtech expects to get 600 horsepower from it by remapping the ECU.
Since a prototype doesn’t yet exist, all performance data is speculative. Vizualtech expects the completed car to weigh in at just 3,410 pounds, so acceleration will be “brisk, very”. Their guess for a 0 to 100 kph time is under four seconds, and I’d be inclined to agree with them. In fact, I’d probably insert the well “well” just before the word “under” in the previous sentence. They don’t speculate on a top speed, but I’m guessing the cars shape would allow the 200 MPH barrier to be exceeded if the owner was brave enough.
As for pricing, keep in mind that each car will be built by hand, over a period of six months, and the final price will depend on the number of orders received. On the low side, it could be as little as $680,000 if enough buyers step up with cash in hand. If only a few take the plunge, the cost could be as high as $1.4 million per car. Even the low end pricing puts it exponentially out of my league, but I still say “build it”; there isn’t enough beauty in this world today, and the Growler would go a long way towards putting that to right.