AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
At the Beijing Motor Show, Honda revealed two further concept models, which are said by the company to hint at the brand’s future design direction. The first is called the Concept C, with the letter referring to (and we’re not making this up) “Cool,” “Challenge” and “China.”
Looking a bit like an update of the Acura TL, the Concept C is a four-door sedan with a bold grille and sculpted side flanks. It’s quite possibly the most adventurous styling exercise we’ve yet seen on a Honda four-door, concept or production.
At least that’s the case in the U.S. In Europe a production version of this wagon has been on sale for several months, but despite being on display at this year’s New York Auto Show, the official line from Volkswagen was just a study designed to gauge public reaction.
However, given the success of vehicles like Subaru’s Legacy Outback here and even Audi’s AllRoad, it seems like a no-brainer to us for a North American version to be made available to dealers.
However, the powertrain may be of some concern in the American market. The European car is offered with a choice of 2.0-liter diesels (the concept in NY sports the 140 hp version) though making that marketable here would probably require a gas option.
That said, a combination of 4Motion all-wheel drive, raised ride height, electronic locking differentials and decent cargo capacity are bound to strike a chord with a healthy portion of North American vehicle shoppers. We’ll see if VW has anything else to say about it once New York show wraps up.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Passat AllTrack concept
As it stretches its arms out further into new markets, Infiniti is also looking towards the future and from this year’s press conference in Geneva, that might just include a low emissions, mid-engined super sports car.
The stunning Emerg-E concept is Infiniti’s first ever exploration into the idea of a such a vehicle and incorporates a mid-mounted driveline with dual electric motors that enabled it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in around four seconds and from 0-130 mph in around 30. Infiniti says the EMERG-E can travel on pure electric power for a distance of up to 30 miles, after which a range extending, three-cylinder gasoline engine kicks in.
Measuring some 175 inches from nose to tail, the Emerg-E is currently just a concept. That said, two running vehicles are under construction at the Nissan corporate facility in Sunderland, UK, in an effort to provide a more hands-on experience of mid-engined sporty motoring.
All said, it’s shaping up to be nearly a direct rival to the new Acura NSX concept – itself a mid-engined hybrid.
Watch our Infiniti Emerg-E first look video below.
GALLERY: Infiniti Emerg-E
GALLERY: Infiniti Emerg-E
With Tata behind the wheel, Land Rover appears to have a new lease on life, revamping existing products and venturing into markets where it hasn’t gone before.
The Range Rover Evoque, has proved quite the smash hit since its debut in 2010 and has brought new customers into the fold, people who before, probably wouldn’t have considered a Land Rover product. In fact, according to global brand chief John Edwards, some 80 percent of Evoque customers are buyers new to the marque.
So, speaking of niches, where do you go from here? Well, with three and five-door Evoque models currently available, perhaps the next logical step is a convertible. After all, Nissan markets a convertible Murano (the CrossCabriolet) in the US so why not Range Rover?
At present the convertible Evoque is merely a concept, a design study to gauge public response, though the way the automotive industry is these days, with more and more niche products appearing, especially in luxury segments, don’t be surprised if you see it showing up on Rodeo Drive or in South Beach a few years from now.
GALLERY: Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept
Hyundai‘s U.S. CEO John Krafcik has said that “because the brand resonates with families,” and feels “this is a segment where we have the lowest market penetration,” company product planning, at least in the short term, is focused on crossovers, especially seven-seater CUVs which seem to be the hottest thing going right now.
As a result, the possibility of a Hyundai van or pickup isn’t something that’s likely in the cards. That said, given that Hyundai and sister company Kia are attempting to differentiate their lineups to avoid stealing sales from each other, there’s a better chance of the latter introducing a truck, as Kia attempts to become a bit more of a “niche” brand with sportier and slightly more off-beat product offerings. Kia isn’t entirely a stranger to trucks, having unveiled a mid-size concept back in 2004 called the KC-4 Mojave (shown above).
However, due to shrinking demand for smaller trucks and fluctuating gas prices, the Mojave was left stillborn. Nonetheless, with the recently unveiled utility themed Soulster concept creating a buzz and Kia more firmly established as a legitimate player in the U.S. volume vehicle segment, could the idea of a pickup be floated again?
With the retirement of the Ford Ranger and fuel prices creeping upwards, the idea perhaps makes more sense now than it did in 2004, especially as today, Kia also has far more resources and engineering expertise at its disposal.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
A concept minivan, little information was available on it at the show. All we could get from Chrysler was that the 700C is “a styling exercise, designed to gauge public reaction.”
When Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne toured the Windsor assembly plant which builds the current Dodge Grand Caravan and Town & Country models, he talked about “big plans for the future,” though declined to reveal much more.
With minivan sales still a staple part of the Chrysler’s business in North America, yet the segment for the most part suffering from a lack of new investment, perhaps the time has come to reinvent the concept of what a minivan should be.
And if the Chrysler 700C concept is any indication, that might just result in the most exciting people mover seen in more than a quarter of a century.
GALLERY: Chrysler 700C
Continuing with a look at some of the “themed” pickup trucks on display at this year’s SEMA show, we bring you the Toyota Oakley Surf Tacoma.
This one, as you might imagine was done in conjunction with famed surfing company Oakley and to quote Toyota’s official press release “has the ability to live at the beach and go anywhere in search of mega waves; from the coast of Baja to the cold water of Santa Cruz, California.”
Features include a purpose-built racking system for storing surfboards, bags and other equipment, plus a modified pickup bed with storage for wetsuits, plus an ice chest and barbeque grill. There’s even a retractable canopy so you and a few of your surfing friends can enjoy a cold drink and a hot meal in the shade, while a built in shower system means you can get rid of all that salt from wave riding before chowing down.
Inside, the cab boasts Wet Okole Hawaii seat covers with custom embroidery, plus Topstitch on the door panels, carpet and headliner. There’s also a thumping Kicker Audio system and of course a signature Oakely icon.
While the Tacoma’s stock V6 is a decently potent engine, for a SEMA show truck, a little excess was called for and Toyota engineers bolted on a supercharger kit from the company’s TRD parts catalog, resulting in 304 hp. Other performance mods include a Flowmaster free flowing stainless exhaust, plus suspension upgrades in the shape of an Icon Stage 3 lift kit; Billet front upper control arms, special coil over front springs and new leaf springs out back. Wheels are black finished Walker Evans 17 x 8-inch bead lock units mounted on BF Goodrich 285/75-17 all-terrain tires.
Outside, the truck is finished in menacing black with contrasting white Oakley graphics and logs, plus Vision X front driving lights, a custom front bumper incorporating a winch and under vehicle skid plates.
Once it’s duties at SEMA is over, the Oakley Surf Tacoma will begin a new lease of live, being taken to each and every Oakley Surfing competition in the land; not a bad idea by all accounts.
GALLERY: Oakley Surf Tacoma
Back in March, at the Geneva Auto Show, 2010 Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Infiniti‘s Chief Creative Officer, Shiro Nakamura got chatting.
The topic of discussion was a faster and better performing version of the company’s premium crossover utility; the V8 powered FX50. Now, some six months later at the Frankfurt Auto Show, what began as a chat has emerged as a concept representing Infiniti’s most exclusive and best performing SUV yet, the aptly named FX50 Sebastian Vettel Version.
The reigning F1 champ currently uses an FX as regular transportation, but wanted to see how much further the envelope could be pushed in terms of performance. “I drive a lot in Germany on motorways that have no speed limits and have enjoyed my FX around the Nürburgring Nordschleife,” he said. “Driving at high speed where safe and legal is part of my life. As well as a higher top speed I wanted even better stability in my FX, and that meant working on the aerodynamics. It is a tribute to the excellence of the standard FX that achieving all my targets required so few changes.”
Whereas Vettel is used to having a team of engineers build a car around his specific requirements, for the FX SV, being able to provide his own input towards a production-based vehicle was a refreshing change of pace. Weighing considerably less than the standard FX50 and powered by a 5.0-liter V8 generating 420 horsepower, the Sebastian Vettel version boasts true supercar performance, with seating for the family.
“It’s a Infiniti I am very proud to have my name on,” he declared. “It is all I hoped for: 300km/h (186 mph) top speed, plenty of downforce – and I can still fit my mountain bike in the back. Plus it is totally exclusive – and as an Infiniti driver, myself; that’s important.”
GALLERY: Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel Version
Conceived as a stylish, urban vehicle aimed at younger buyers, it boasts a range of some 60 miles and is apparently capable of 75 mph, making it suitable for highway use.
Despite the trendy styling, Opel/Vauxhall claims practicality is a major theme of the concept, due to efficient packaging and a tandem seat layout. Thanks to lightweight construction, it also promises to be agile and fun to drive. There are even rumors circulating that the vehicle could possibly make production.
More details on the car will be revealed during the Opel/Vauxhall Press Conference at the show on September 13th.
It’s not often these days that an auto manufacturer reveals a luxuriously trimmed van, but at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show: Mercedes-Benz plans to do just that, by unveiling this, the V-Class Viano Vision Pearl.
Despite being hard to pronounce, this ‘design concept’ as the company puts it, aims to showcase just what is actually possible with the V-class. The central theme for the VVP revolves around that of a ‘sporting yacht,’ so you’ll find a wood floor, plenty of brushed aluminum trim and upholstery finished in ‘nautical’ colors, in this case white/gray leather.
Other touches include a BeoSound Viano Bang & Olufsen sound system, chromatically tinted windows and onboard Wide-Local Area Network communication access for people on the go.
On the outside, the VVP, makes a statement, by adopting ‘magno gray pearl’ a matt type hue, similar to Mercedes’ Designo paint and standard alloy wheels.
In an official press release, Mercedes-Benz said that the Viano Vision Pearl is designed to reflect that today, most people no longer travel just to get somewhere; instead the travel itself ’is part of the experience.’ Volker Mohrnhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, went even further, stating that [the VVP] is not merely a functional van, but also a stylishly designed living space.” Perhaps he and M-B can provide a few tips to the struggling airline industry, which seems to have forgotten that aspect of traveling.
It’s becoming somewhat of a tradition. The Moab Easter Safari, an annual get together for Jeep fans is also a good opportunity for the brand to showcase upcoming vehicles and ideas.
At this year’s event, which runs from April 16-24; Jeep has said that it will be unveiling six new machines, including a Wrangler based Renegade and Porkchop (seen here as an artist’s rendering).
As for the others, no additional information has yet been released, though don’t be surprised to see some hopped up versions of the current Grand Cherokee as well. Jeep says more details will be revealed later this month.
GALLERY: Jeep Moab Easter Safari Concepts
If you’ve ever attended the SEMA show, then you’re probably no doubt aware of the sizable number of customized trucks parked out in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the week long aftermarket extravaganza.
This year, among them will be a very special Toyota Tacoma – the X-Runner RTR. In what perhaps represents a modern take on the original muscle truck concept, stuffing a big engine in a smaller vehicle, the RTR (which stands for Ready To Race); features an iForce 5.7-liter V8 dropped between the frame rails of a current Tacoma. Rated at 381 horsepower (the same as in the production Tundra) it should be able to move this rig from 0-60 mph in around six seconds, though Toyota is quick to point out, that save for a modified exhaust system to clear the Tacoma’s frame, the engine is essentially stock. As per SEMA tradition, however, expect the outside and interior to be fitted with plenty of TRD accessories (a 2008 X-Runner concept is shown in the photos, since images of the new truck were not available at post time).
This year’s SEMA trade expo, runs from November 2-5 and as it stands, the Tacoma X-Runner RTR will likely be a star among truck enthusiasts attending the event. All we’ve got say when it comes to the muscle truck concept is – Ford and GM, are you listening?
AutoGuide will bring you full SEMA Coverage starting November 2nd.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]