Tag: prototypes

By on November 6, 2019

Ford’s whetting electric appetites at SEMA this week with its new Mustang Lithium prototype. Officially a one-off model for the show, the automaker said it was present to prove how utterly dope future electric performance vehicles will be. Good timing, too, as the debut of Ford’s all-electric, Mustang-inspired crossover is almost upon us.

Ignoring the timing in relation to the Mach E, it’s mildly curious that the brand would first preview the prototype at an aftermarket trade show. But it’s worth noting that the electric Mustang actually cobbles together quite a few parts from various catalogs. The manufacturer informs us that Lithium is equipped with Ford Performance’s Track Handling Pack and Brembo brakes sourced from the Shelby GT350R ⁠— though they’re the tamest inclusions by far.  (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2019

Subaru has teased the prototype for its second-generation Levorg, confirming the model will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 23rd — alongside the WRX STI EJ20 Final Edition. However, it’s not the commemorative EJ20 we’re interested in. As the Levorg shares its heritage with the Legacy, Impreza, and WRX, the model will likely to preview the group’s evolved styling.

While the Viziv Performance Concept was also supposed to do that, its radical design seems a bit ambitious for the sixth-generation WRX that’s supposed to debut next year. Meanwhile, Subaru’s latest Levorg teasers appear to showcase a production adjacent automobile. Any physical changes the wagon undergoes prior to production are likely to be minor. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2019

Naming a car is difficult. All the best predatory animals have been taken and getting creative often results in the certain parts of the world thinking you’ve intentionally named your car something hilarious. Chevrolet’s Nova is the classic example, but modern automobiles still run into trouble. Hyundai’s Kona falls on Portuguese ears as the most vulgar synonym for vagina (an oddly common theme among car monikers) and Audi’s e-Tron translates roughly into French as “turd.” It’s no wonder so many automakers simply forgo issuing real names, opting instead for an alphanumeric jumble.

When Volkswagen began previewing concept versions of its electrified ID lineup, models used a bizarre naming strategy. Maybe titles like Roomzz, Buzz, Crozz, and Vizzion sound better in German, but they didn’t play well here. VW’s solution to the problem has been to simply assign their production counterparts with a number — and it’s looking like that will be continue to be the case.

While the brand was showcasing the new ID.3 hatchback at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, it also teased a follow-up model that will actually make its way stateside. Originally dubbed the Crozz, the car is now named simply “ID.4.”  (Read More…)

By on July 2, 2019

Honda has released a few new details regarding its upcoming, and adorable, electric runabout. Based on the Urban EV concept we saw debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017, the Honde E has endured some minor changes. Rounder than before, the vehicle’s headlamps are no longer partially obfuscated by the hood. The tail lights have also been converted to circles, giving the car a slightly goofy — but not unpleasant — external demeanor.

Having opened the (refundable) reservation booklet in May, Honda promised a quintet of color options and a standard side-mounted camera mirror system that effectively makes the model impossible to get in the United States. For now, the Japanese automaker seems content targeting European city dwellers who need more than a bicycle to get around or just happen to be in the market for a cute little electric car that might be a lot of fun to drive. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2019

Back in 2017, Honda debuted its adorable Urban EV Concept, a vehicle that ended up becoming the belle of the Frankfurt Auto Show. Its cheeky design was suitably modern while still adhering to traditional automotive models. In fact, the car seems styled in a manner that’s intentionally reminiscent of the first-generation Civic.

Having already promised a production version for the European market, Honda has issued an update on the vehicle’s progress. The automaker recently confirmed it will show a new prototype of the Urban EV at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March, ahead of a production model slated to debut later this year. It also provided a teaser sketch of the model (above), proving that Honda doesn’t want to alter the cute little car more than it needs to.  (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2018

Electric cars are a polarizing matter among automotive enthusiasts. While a small group of ardent EV loyalists exist, a large portion of car people look at them with varying levels of contempt. However, let’s not kid ourselves, electrification is an inevitability. Even if EVs don’t proliferate like rabbits in springtime, standard powertrains will continue to evolve and electric automobiles will account for some of the most extreme performance models on the road.

We’ve already seen what Tesla can do if given enough money. The Model S P100D can already hit 60 mph in just over 2 seconds — putting extravagantly priced, flamboyant supercars to shame.

More vehicles are coming to fit this mold. Porsche has been working on a rival for Tesla’s sedan for a while now, and recently released the specs. While the Germans seem to have developed a strong performer, ready to feed plenty of internal combustion vehicles a crow supper, it doesn’t appear to be quite as fast as Tesla’s best. Either that, or Porsche is downplaying the Taycan’s (formerly the Mission E) technical specifications.  (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2018

Gran Turismo is arguably the first video game franchise to appeal to car enthusiasts en masse. While Sega’s Out Run had us sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari Testarossa as early as 1987 and Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed let us abuse a handful of exotics by 1994, Polyphony Digital hit us with 140 licensed reproductions of real-world automobiles in 1997. Two years later, Gran Turismo 2 upped the ante with 650 new and used cars, even more tracks, and extensive modifications. This kicked off a bizarre symbiotic relationship between game developers and automakers.

Advancements in technology allowed burgeoning car fans to virtually experience their favorite rides, as well as new models they’d never even heard of. Developers took notice of the GT success story, as did manufacturers, which recognized the usefulness of these games as an incredibly potent marketing tool. Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have all developed concept vehicles that debuted inside a video game, Ford briefed Turn 10 Studios so it could nail the GT’s specs in Forza 6 before the car even finished development, Toyota offered a free demo disc of Gran Turismo 4 as part of its 2004 model brochure, and Porsche unveiled the GT2 RS during the Forza Motorsport 7 press announcement at last year’s E3 conference.

While corporate partnerships between automakers and game developers are nothing new, it’s exceedingly rare to see a vehicle intended exclusively for the digital realm drive off the screen and onto the racetrack. But that’s exactly what Audi has done with the E-Tron Vision Gran Turismo.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2018

Mazda Skyactiv-X prototype

In an era where just about every automaker is talking about electrification of its powertrains to some extent or another, Mazda is taking a different tack — remaining heavily focused on the good ol’ internal combustion engine.

This doesn’t mean electrification isn’t part of the company’s future powertrain strategy – it is – but in the nearer term, the company is working on ways to increase power while boosting fuel economy in its small gas-powered engines.

(Before we get to that, yes, the company’s long-promised diesel is still coming to America, though there’s still no official date.)

In order to show off its new tech, Mazda invited journalists to its research and development HQ in Irvine, California to drive prototypes outfitted with the Skyactiv-X engine.

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2017

2019 Acura RDX Prototype
This week, Acura teased the prototype of its third-generation RDX ahead of its world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Claiming its to be the “most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade,” the brand believes it will usher in a “new era” for the company.

While the shadowy images hint at more aggressive and angular styling, the RDX needs more than a pretty face to compete in an increasingly crowded segment. It seems as if every luxury automaker fields a midsize crossover these days, though often at higher price points than the RDX. However, Acura isn’t going to bunt here and hope a freshened model boosts this years’ weaker sales. It’s bringing an entirely new platform that’s exclusive to the brand.  (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2017

C-HR R-Tuned SEMA

Intended to be the best of both worlds, crossovers deliver the ruggedness of a sport utility vehicle with the handling characteristics of a sedan. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, we’ve often found them lukewarm — sacrificing the best traits of either segment to deliver something that can bridge the gap between them. If that’s what you’re looking for, then there isn’t much of a problem. But we’ve often thought you’d be better off in a hatchback or a more traditional SUV.

Crossovers do have a role to play, however. I find petite examples particularly adept at city duty. But there aren’t many crossovers offering driving excitement below the $40,000 mark, and none of them are particularly svelte. Toyota seems to understand our plight and, in continuing its attempt to rebrand itself as a bold automaker, decided to make something genuinely thrilling out of the ho-hum C-HR.

It’s called the “R-Tuned,” and the manufacturer claims it’s the quickest CUV ever to grace God’s green earth.  (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2017

concept-i

Automotive trade shows serve as a wonderful opportunity for manufacturers and suppliers to showcase upcoming products to the people most interested in them. However, carmakers understand that you have to take time to feed the global hype machine, which usually means tossing a few concept vehicles into the mix. While some of these designs serve as tantalizing preludes to real-deal automobiles, others are fantastical fabrications — representing little more than an interesting idea that will never reach production.

This year’s Tokyo Motor Show saw plenty of vehicles straddling the line between faintly tangible and utterly incorporeal in terms of future production. Sure, we know not every prototype will accurately represent subsequent real-world models. Subaru’s Viziv may not be a dead ringer for the next WRX, but it at least gives us a sense of where the design team is heading. The same is true for Honda’s Sports EV or Mazda’s incredible-looking Vision Coupe and Kai concepts.

However, for every concept car earnestly trying to convey a new design language or highlight upcoming features there is also something so implausible that it leaves you wondering why the manufacturer wheeled it out in the first place. Which brings us to today’s question: are these over-the-top automotive prototypes meaningful or a complete waste of resources? (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2017

MITSUBISHI e-EVOLUTION CONCEPT

Mitsubishi gets a lot of mileage out of its defunct nameplates, but it remains steadfast in its unwillingness to provide enthusiasts with the car they’ve been asking for.

You remember the Lancer Evolution. It’s the car you saw Tommi Mäkinen use to win four consecutive WRC driver’s titles in the late 1990s. It’s the car you clocked the most hours in with your favorite automotive-themed video game. Maybe it was even a car you owned and used to embarrass vehicles well outside of its price range.

That rally-ready sedan is dead now. However, Mitsubishi is taking the Evolution name and adhering it to a fantastical new prototype. Called the e-Evolution, the automaker is serving up a recipe similar to the Eclipse Cross: Borrow a name from a retired model and slap it on an ultra-modern crossover. The difference here is that the new Eclipse is a real automobile while the e-Evolution is a self-indulgent exhibition of semi-real technologies.  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

nismo-leaf

Nissan appears to be considering adorning the Leaf with a NISMO nameplate and appearance. Unveiled on Monday at Nissan’s Futures 3.0 event, the stock 2018 model provides improved performance, range, and less nerdy looks. However, Nissan wants further improve the Leaf’s image with a NISMO-trimmed variant.

Oh goodie.

While we get that economy models can morph into fun-to-drive little darlings, we also scrunched our noses at Toyota’s performance-enhanced GR Prius last month. Not every car can be the next GTI and, if automakers would like to build something that could be, they’ll have to provide us with more than a bodykit and a set of custom wheels.  (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2017

BMW M8

BMW confirmed the crap out of the M8’s existence this weekend, going so far as to provide its own spy shots of a test prototype wearing camouflaged wraps. Being developed alongside the standard 8 Series, the automaker says the M8 will be unveiled in a driving presentation during the Nürburgring 24-hour race.

The brand also stated that development is ongoing for the GTE racer that will herald the return of the company’s Motorsport division to Le Mans. “The BMW M8 GTE development programme for our Le Mans comeback is in full swing,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “Developing a new racing car is always exciting, and in the case of the BMW M8 GTE the anticipation is that much greater still. We can’t reveal any pictures yet, but I can promise you that the BMW M8 GTE will look spectacular. We are planning an initial roll-out for the first half of this year and are looking at giving the car its race debut in the Daytona 24 Hours in late January 2018.”  (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2016

Elio E1A Prototype, Image: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

While it’s still a $200 million dollar question if Elio Motors will raise enough money to start production of its low-cost, high-mile-per-gallon tandem enclosed reverse trike, the automotive startup took a major step towards building vehicles for sale with completing the first (of 23) E series prototype. Elio will use it for testing and refinement of the final production design.

Though it looks very much like the P5, the E series trikes have fully engineered unibody construction made of stamped steel panels, unlike the previous five Elio prototypes that were scratch built with tubed space frames. The E series prototypes aren’t what the industry calls validation builds (there will be a 100 of those assembled at Elio’s Shreveport factory by the end of this year, Elio claims), but they’re very close to production designs. (Read More…)

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