Thursday, April 29, 2010

Valmet Eva

This is the first image of the Eva, a new concept from Valmet Automotive. Currently responsible for manufacturing the Porsche Boxster and Cayman models, the Finnish supplier is also an engineering and manufacturing partner for the forthcoming Fisker Karma. This new concept is claimed to represent the company's ecological vehicle technologies.

Featuring a lightweight body structure combined with innovative electric and recharging systems from energy firm Fortum, the 2+2 seat electric city car is able to achieve a range of up to 160km on a single charge, according to the company.

Inside, the new car is equipped with a pioneering HMI that employs mobile handset connectivity, thanks to the company's cooperation with Nokia.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ford Focus RS500

Taking the already potent RS as a base, the RS500 features a revised engine that will really get fast Ford fans talking. The Volvo-sourced turbocharged 2.5-litre has been tweaked by UK-based tuner Mountune. The result is a power output boosted to 345bhp – a 15 per cent increase from standard. Plus, torque has risen from 440Nm to 460Nm, to give the engine yet more mid-range punch.

To squeeze out all the extra power, the RS500 is equipped with an enlarged intercooler, which feeds colder, denser air into the engine. A larger exhaust downpipe and new fuel pump have been fitted to keep up with the unit’s higher performance demands.

In addition, the engine management system has been recalibrated to optimise the delivery of power for maximum pace. As a result, the sprint from 0-62mph now takes only 5.6 seconds – three-tenths faster than the standard car – while top speed is up from 163mph to 165mph.

Other than the engine changes, there have been very few modifications to the car’s chassis. The RevoKnuckle front suspension system – which reduces torque steer – remains the same, as does the Quaife limited-slip differential. The brakes are also carried over, although the calipers are painted red to help set the RS500 apart from lesser models. Ford has retained the 19-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels, too, but given them a metallic black finish.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bertone Pandion

These are the first pictures of Stile Bertone's Pandion concept, leaked out onto the web ahead of its eagerly anticipated debut at next month's Geneva motor show.

Based on Alfa's breathtakingly beautiful 8C Competizione, the Pandion is a 2+2 seat vehicle whose name is derived from a mythical Greek king (the name is also used to describe birds of prey such as the Osprey). Judging from these low-res photos, the dominating design element is its large glass canopy and characterful DLO that blends into the front and rear wheel arches.

Just as rival design house Pininfarina has created an Alfa Romeo based concept for the forthcoming Swiss show, Stile Bertone's show car will celebrate the Italian carmaker's 100th birthday. We'll bring you more details and our own exclusive images.

Friday, April 23, 2010

2010 Toyota Venza

This is a nice iteration of the modern station wagon. It's roomy, comfortable and has a fairly strong powerplant.

The interior is reasonably quiet, with just a little bit of noise seeping in on the expressway. The view of the road is nice, and the interior dials easy to read and colorful. I did think the heater/AC unit wasn't really intuitive. It seemed like I was always looking for what to push and then at another screen to see what was happening. I'm sure you'd get used to it though. There's also a ton of legroom and headroom in the second row, and the seats angle back for more comfort. I'm sure the kids would love that on a road trip. The cabin looks nice enough, but I wasn't wild about some of the materials.

The actual driving is fine for people hauling, but it won't thrill you. The brakes are a bit squishy and there's a lot of pedal travel before it really begins to bite. I wasn't a fan. Acceleration was more than adequate for expressway cruising, and it never felt underpowered to me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mercedes-Benz F800

Mercedes-Benz will unveil the F800 Style concept at Geneva next month. A reinterpretation of the typical Mercedes design idiom, the concept points towards the future design direction for the Stuttgart-based automaker and is also speculated to preview the next generation CLS.

Created through close international cooperation between the technical research and advanced engineering departments and the advanced design studios in Sindelfingen, Germany, and Como, Italy, the F800 research vehicle is a technological showcase as well as an aesthetic study. Powered by a plug-in hybrid or a fuel-cell electric drivetrain, the concept measures 4750mm in length, is 1938mm wide and 1430mm tall. It has a 2924mm-long wheelbase.

The interior, crafted at Mercedes' Advanced Design Studio in Como, Italy, features an array of lightweight materials of contrasting tactility. Natural wood surfaces and Alcantara have been used throughout to create a luxurious, cosseting environment while a magnesium shell envelops the seats. Fine netting is stretched across a carbon fiber laminate seatback.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Opel Flextreme GT/E

Opel is set to unveil the Flextreme GT/E extended-range electric vehicle concept at this year's Geneva motor show. Cloaked in an aerodynamic body that showcases the future design direction of the brand, the Flextreme GT/E achieves a projected 0.22 Cd.

Though GM has only revealed sketches and teaser shots of the new car at this time, the five-door concept's exterior design carries over a lot of elements from its conventionally-powered siblings, such as the wing-shaped LED head- and taillamps and characterful side blade. In profile, the car's arching roofline emphasizes its pronounced shoulder, while the stubbed C-pillars call to mind the 'flying buttresses' seen on Bertone's BAT Aerodinamica concepts and Jason Castriota's recent Mantide.

The four-seat cabin is accessed via light sensors in lieu of door handles, which open the concept's rear-hinged rear doors. The fixed glass panel above the occupants is adaptive, allowing sunlight to warm the interior in the cold of winter, but darkening for coolness in summer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Honda 3R-C

Honda's new 3R-C concept, a single seat battery-powered electric vehicle, is set to make its world debut at the Geneva motor show next week. It will take center stage at the stand alongside the EV-N show car, U3-X electric personal mobility vehicle and the FCX Clarity, the Japanese automaker's fuel-cell electric vehicle.

Created by European designers working at Honda's Research and Design facility in Milan, the three-wheeled 3R-C concept envisions a future minimal urban transport vehicle for one person. The battery electric drivetrain is mounted low in the three wheeled chassis, keeping the center of gravity low and improving stability.

With a clear canopy that doubles as a protective windshield and covers the driver's seat while the vehicle is parked, the 3R-C's designers also created a flexible cover that surrounds the upper torso to reduce exposure and improve comfort. The three-wheeled concept also features a 'safety shell' seat with high sides – to reduce the threat from side impact – and a lockable storage area ahead of the driver.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche will reveal the second generation Cayenne at the Geneva motor show next week. Longer and lighter than its predecessor, the new SUV is more powerful yet more fuel efficient than the model it replaces. It will also be available with a hybrid powertrain for the first time.

Though the changes appear to be subtle, the new Cayenne's design is now more closely aligned to that of other Porsche models. The front face employs similar headlamps as the Cayman and the LEDs, tucked into the upper corners of the gaping airdam, are akin to those on the recent 911. The rear end, however, with its taillamps bleeding over onto the rear fender, have an innate Japanese-like design quality. We hope they will be better experienced in the metal.

Along with the 48mm increase in length, the new car's wheelbase has also been extended by 40mm, offering occupants more space and variability inside. The most significant enhancement within the interior is the center console – with its upright gearshift lever – rising up to the front, lending a more sporting character to the cockpit.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lexus CT

Lexus is poised to reveal the CT 200h at the Geneva motor show next week. The new car is the first compact model from Toyota's luxury brand, and it will also be the first full hybrid vehicle launched in that segment.

Previewed by the LF-Ch concept Lexus unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, the production CT 200h design is an evolution of Lexus's L-finesse design philosophy. It also reflects the design language of its larger siblings in its front face, roofline and slingshot window graphic. The exterior design is said to maximize aerodynamic efficiency through the corners and fender design, while the taillamp design displays the L-shaped motif that Lexus first introduced on the current LS model.

The interior features contrasting use of metallic finishes and dark, soft-touch surfaces. The asymmetrical dashboard design seen in the LF-Ch show car – split into an upper 'display zone' and a lower 'operation zone' – low driving position and 2600mm wheelbase have all been effectively transferred into the production design.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Citroën Survolt

French automaker Citroën revealed the Survolt concept at the Geneva motor show today. The showcar is a fresh take on the electric vehicle, an exploration initiated with the Revolte concept car revealed at last year's Frankfurt motor show.

The Survolt takes the genetic material of Revolte and adds an extroverted sports dimension to the mix in a 3.85m long, 1.87m wide and 1.20m high package.

Inside, the Survolt's cockpit was designed like a floating cell, combining luxury and sporting themes. Its flowing yet technical design was created around the two occupants, while a generous glazed area overhead enables light to filter in, creating a sensation of space.

Is this the sports car of the future? We certainly hope so.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nissan Micra

Nissan revealed the fourth generation Micra at the 80th Geneva motor show last week. The all-new car has been designed in Japan, will be built on Nissan's all-new V-platform, and will be sold in 160 countries worldwide.

Retaining its compact dimensions, the new Micra is slightly longer and marginally lower, while its longer wheelbase enables a 'wheels-at-each-corner' stance. But the latest model also features a distinctive arched DLO, something that is central to its heritage, and a double-layer integrated grille. Makoto Yamane, Associate Product Chief Designer says the Micra's "face had to look stylish and have an air of sophistication to it."

The boomerang-shaped grooves on the roof have a clearly defined purpose too, continues Yamane. Aiming to create the same sense of exterior style inside the car, Nissan has employed a 'connected cocoon' design featuring a dashboard design which takes on a 'twin bubble' theme. This refers to the circular instrumentation binnacle and the similarly shaped glovebox compartment on the passenger side.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seat IBE

In a surprise debut, Seat unveiled the IBE concept at the recent Geneva motor show. Short, low and wide, the concept is claimed to be a compact vehicle optimized for youthful living in urban areas. Measuring 3780mm long, 1800mm wide and with an overall height of just 1220mm, the IBE is more than 250mm shorter than the Spanish automaker's Ibiza hatchback.

The two-door 2+2 seat concept incorporates classically sporty features such as a low hood, long roof line and short front and rear overhangs. Its large 19-inch wheels further serve to underscore the car's powerful, compact look, while LED head- and taillamps allude to the car's electric powertrain.

Monday, April 5, 2010

IDEA Sofia

Turin-based IDEA Institute presented its Sofia showcar at the Geneva show, showcasing a new design direction for a hybrid-powered four-seat sedan. Shown as an exterior model only, the Sofia is a streamlined study with a sculptured hood, fenders that rise above the beltline and a dynamic shoulder leading to a pronounced rear diffuser.

The sedan's lines and shape clearly embody relation to its ERA concept, presented in Geneva last year, but the company claims the showcar was also inspired by the female form. According to IDEA, the Sofia "is Italian to the core: its shape, its look, its elegance and name are instantly recognized as being synonymous with Italian styling and beauty."

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) of Turin will showcase a new concept developed in collaboration with Tesla at the upcoming Geneva motor show. Called the Eye, the new concept was created by 11 students on the university's Transportation Design MA program under the supervision of Tesla's Design Director, Franz von Holzhausen.

Based on an idea by Jorge Andrés Pinilla Fonseca, the fully electric 2+2 -seat concept is a C-segment car for a young, cosmopolitan target demographic. Measuring 4250mm in length and 1800mm wide, the concept stands 1360mm high and has a 2650mm wheelbase. It incorporates a black plexiglass front mask and an innovative roof structure that enables the vehicle to become a semi-open car with a loading bay similar to that of a pickup truck.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Peugeot Hoggar

Peugeot has unveiled the Hoggar, the French automaker's first pickup truck.

Taking its name from Peugeot's 2003 concept car, the Hoggar was designed in Brazil for the Brazilian market. The truck has been conceived and adapted to the local clientele's expectations, the automaker claims, and is intended for a 'mainly male customer base who are looking for a versatile vehicle with a distinctive style'.

The Hoggar is based on the 206 platform and features a load volume of 1151 liters and a payload of up to 742kg. This makes the new vehicle vastly more versatile than the 207 available in European markets. The cockpit, however, is standard 207 fare, with a simple, functional design.

Peugeot will launch the Hoggar in Brazil on 15 May, where it will join other variants in the 207 range. It will be available in three trim levels and be powered by 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter four cylinder engines.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


General Motors, and its Chinese partner SAIC, revealed three two-seat personal mobility concepts in Shanghai today. Called the EN-V - an acronym for Electric Networked-Vehicle - the Xiao (Laugh), Jiao (Pride) and Maio (Magic) models embody different characteristics for future transportation.

The Jiao (top image) was designed at GM Europe while the Miao (bottom left) was created at GM's Advanced Design Studio in California, and the Xiao (bottom right) was designed by GM Holden's design team in Australia. Each design gives each EN-V its own personality: the Jiao takes its influence from bullet trains and Chinese opera masks; the Miao's design cues have been inspired by the consumer electronics industry; and the Xiao features a nautical-inspired design.

Built from carbon fiber, custom-tinted Lexan and acrylic materials, the EN-V features a combination of sensing technology, wireless communication and GPS-based navigation for autonomous operating capability. Its platform has evolved from that of the PUMA prototype that debuted at the 2009 New York auto show