Brace yourself. Detroit is coming. Car blogs will be bursting with news and hot takes from frosty southeast Michigan as the North American International Auto Show opens on Monday. Every utterance from any executive will be tweeted, every statement will be parsed, and every press release will be copied and pasted.
Naturally, TTAC will be there in force. And while the numerous reveals of production-ready cars will be the highlight for most, I’m personally looking forward to the concepts. The weird, the funky, or even the batshit crazy — those far-from-production ideas are what make the major auto shows great.
If you’re into Volkswagens – especially of the modified variety – Wörthersee is to you what Sturgis is for Harley riders or Carlisle to Mopar fans. Thousands and thousands of VW fans take over several small, quiet towns around a beautiful mountain lake and turn them into a festival of belly-scraping Volkswagens, Audis, Seats and Škodas.
Honda’s rear-driven products built for two tend to be motorcycles, scooters and ATVs for the most part, but every now and again the company will unveil a roadster whose name begins with an S, and ends with the number of cubic centimeters the engine provides.
Such a car is set to return soon to the showroom floor, and will make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November: The Honda S660.
In festivities on the eve of the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA – International Automobile Exhibition), also known as the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Volkwagen Group took the wraps off of the Audi nanuk quattro concept, an apparent derivative of the Giugiaro Parcour concept shown earlier this year. The nanuk quattro (Audi’s spelling) has AWD and unlike the Parcour it is powered by a diesel engine, turbocharged. The 4,189 lb vehicle is said to be capable of 3.8 second 0-60 runs and a top speed of 190 mph, with overall fuel economy of 30 mpg. The engine is a V10 with twin turbos and TDI and it puts out 544 horsepower, which doesn’t sound that impressive these days, but being a diesel it brings the torque, 738 pounds feet. It features Audi’s next generation of adaptive air suspension with that the driver can adjust up or down through a range of 2.76 inches. Four wheel steering has been making a comeback lately over at Audi’s VW Group stablemate Porsche, and the nanuk features something similar that Audi is calling integral steering. Rear wheels turn up to 9 degrees opposite to the front wheel’s direction to quicken steering at low to medium speeds, helping maneuverability. The wheelbase is effectively shortened by ~100 centimeters (about 40 inches), reducing the turning circle to roughly 10 meters (32.81 ft). At higher speeds, the rears turn up to 2.5 degrees in tandem with the fronts, effectively lengthening the wheelbase by about 140 centimeters which is said to enhance stability.
Maruti Suzuki’s big news at the Delhi Auto Show was the debut of its production compact MPV, the Ertiga. But it wasn’t all staid family-carriers at the Suzuki stand, as the Japanese-Indian automaker also debuted its XA Alpha concept, described in this dramatically-narrated (to put it mildly) video as “The Small God For The Big Future.” Remember the Suzuki Samurai (our global readers will certainly remember the Jimny)? It’s getting ready for its 21st Century makeover… (Read More…)
Some car companies would kill if they would have as many new cars in one year as Volkswagen shows concept cars at the Frankfurt International Auto show. Here is a quick overview. Most of them are offshoots of the new Volkswagen up!, which seems to be Volkswagen’s carmeleon. (Read More…)
Bob Lutz admitted in his book Guts that he “possesses a certain duality of mind,” and he ain’t kidding. After all, how could someone spend a career in an industry built on “the industrial logic of scale” (to borrow a phrase from Sergio Marchionne) while trying to connect new vehicles with the lust centers of the human brain without developing a certain amount of creative schizophrenia? But, as anyone who has ever driven a Pontiac Solstice knows, sometimes compromises are made between the conflicting pulls of lust and practicality… and when those compromises must be made, Lutz tends to err on the side of lust. I confronted him about this tendency in our recent conversation, and rather than accept the criticism, he doubled down on his premise that lust-worthy design is more important than practicality. And he illustrated his point by telling the tale of a long-forgotten concept and its troubled path to production.
If you’re one of those people who can’t stand the glacial styling evolution of the Porsche 911, look away now. Smart’s new Forvision Concept is said to preview some of the look of the next-gen Smart and, well, it’s no radical change. In fact, if you were to strip away all of the “concept-y” features from this thing, you’d be left with something like a current Smart with a fancy bodykit. Oh sure, it’s got “organic solar cells” on the roof and heat-conductive and insulating “e-textile” seat coverings, but this plug-in concept really just proves that Smart is a fixed idea. Though updates will be welcome in the European market where Smart already does well, but unless Smart shows a concept with a lower price, higher efficiency and more satisfying transmission, it’s hard to see the American market losing any sleep over such a “future Smart.”
No, Virginia, that’s not a turbo Eldo, that’s a turbine Eldo
Paul Niedermeyer’s article and more recent book review concerning Chysler’s Turbine car show that Chrysler was savvy to use it as a halo vehicle – its appeal continues to resonate today. Though we’re learning new details all the time, most car enthusiasts know that Chrysler made a turbine powered car in the 1960s. Less well known is the fact that General Motors also had their own turbine program. While Chrysler’s Turbine Car was mostly a short lived PR effort, it happens that GM had a much longer lasting automotive turbine development program, starting in the 1950s and lasting for at least 40 years, without ever coming anywhere near to production. TTAC commenter jmo, alerted us to the existence of a powdered coal fired turbine powered Eldorado that GM developed after the oil crises of the 1970s, and we were hooked.
This is the news from the Lake Wobegon car show, where all the vehicles look beautiful, all the engines are low-emission, and all automotive managers are above average. No wait, this is Geneva, probably the world’s most important car show. The rest of the opening sentence is true, though — at least, that’s what public relations would have you believe. (Read More…)
At the Geneva car show, this year’s bon mot among the journos is: there are two kinds of auto companies, those with problems and those that will have problems in the future. That’s one of the many reasons to take interest in the latest crop of concept cars: today’s concept could just be tomorrow’s catastrophe. Look past the bright lights and posed displays, and you can see visions of designers gone mad, branding gone astray, and a complete lack of any managerial imagination. Luckily, not all is dark on the horizon… (Read More…)