Concept cars always amuse an auto show crowds with notions of what the future of motoring has in store. With most automakers recovering from their pre-recession belt tightening, the auto show is once again a place where imagination is welcomed to shine. Through my recent pilgrimage to the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow, I caught a glance at the future ideas of auto manufacturers.
While there were no concept cars making global premieres at the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow, this year’s sampling of modern design and engineering was an up-close awakening.
Loosely derived from the C-X75 concept that commemorated Jaguar‘s 75th anniversary, the C-X16 is a more production-polished design that continues to explore advanced powertrains integration with their sports cars. Instead of employing the radical gasoline/electric turbine powertrain of the C-X75, the Jaguar C-X16 utilizes a conventional supercharged 3-liter V-6 engine in concert with an electric drive system. Jaguar predicts this arrangement can equate to 0 to 62-mile per hour acceleration of 4.4 seconds and a top speed potential of 186 miles per hour. Electric power is available through a steering wheel-mounted boost button providing a shear blast of momentum.
A stunning aluminum-bodied vehicle built with Jaguar’s design DNA, the Neutron White CX-16 projects the classic elegance associated with the British brand. Inside, a Vermillion Red two-seat interior is said to be lay out like an airplane cockpit with toggle and joystick controls easily accessible to the driver. The Jaguar C-X16 also adds carbon fiber and aluminum trim pieces inside for a full race car inspired experience.
Several years back, Volkswagen has to admit they lost touch with the virtues that made their brand the first truly successful imported car to North America in the 1960s and 1970s. Attempting to insert themselves within a premium car marketplace close to their own Audi product line-up, Volkswagen fans grew wary of the “VW” badge based on elevated prices and suspect quality. Since the 2009 introduction of the new Golf, Volkswagen has renovated their image further with more affordable Jetta and Passat sedan. Revisiting the Microbus design and premise, Volkswagen gives the new generation of automotive enthusiasts a taste of old school van styling.
The second concept based on the original Microbus in a decade, the Volkswagen Bulli premiered last year as a unique compact vehicle study. Only 3.99 meters (157.09 inches) in total length, the use of Volkswagen’s historical van silhouette assures a specious interior. Fitted with an experimental electric powerplant, the Bulli displays flexibility of accommodating a vast arrangement of other efficient powertrains.
It’s entirely questionable what the future of the Bulli has in store. President and CEO of Volkswagen Canada John White’s words on the Bulli concept stated “…its future looks bright indeed.” Will the concept vehicle become the direction for a new production car or become a recollection rarely recalled in the future (similar to the flower power generation’s acknowledgement of themselves in the 1960s).
First shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show by Kia, the four-door, rear-wheel drive GT concept vehicle represents a forward look into the South Korea automaker’s future designs and technologies.
A 396-horsepower sport sedan, the Kia GT concept mirrors the styling stance designers of the Audi A7 and the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class took in creating a four-door coupe-type appearance. Based on a long 112.6-inch, the GT concept’s exterior lines elegantly roll along the triangular headlamps and flow overtop of a sports car racing roof. The wide wheelbase also assists in passenger room inside of a four-seat cabin accessed through front and rear hinged doors. According to the manufacturer’s press conference at the 2012 Canadian International Auto Show, the Kia GT Concept is wrapped in sheetmetal also draws inspiration from the European sports cars of the late 1960s and 1970s.
Always tough to gauge how seriously a car brand accepts its design studies, recently received renderings indicate that Kia is indeed focused on directing the GT concept on to a production line. Sketches of a rear-wheel drive Kia sedan even bare a striking resemblance to the GT concept car.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept
Taking three years to reach the Canadian Auto Show circuit since its debut at the 2009 Chicago exhibition, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept is still a cutting-edge design. A show car built to respect Corvette’s past, the Stingray Concept explores some drastic touches that may astonish current fans of the American sports car in either a positive or a negative way.
Strong hints of the 1963 to 1967 version of the Chevrolet Corvette is detailed through the bulging fender and by the split rear window of the Stingray Concept but the vehicle remains ultra-modern in overall design. Much like other exotic supercars that insist on greeting motorists with flamboyance, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept incorporates scissor-opening doors. Featuring a high-tech interior compartment for two occupants, the powertrain is also quite evolved said to be a high-power gasoline/electric hybrid setup.
With a new Chevrolet Corvette on the way, the popularity of the Corvette Stingray Concept will be realized by the adoption of styling cues. From analysis of pre-debut renderings for the C7 Corvette, the Stingray Concept appears to have been a worthwhile endeavour.
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive
Sports cars are known to invoke some of the purest sensations of human and driving machine working in unison. Making its North American debut at the 2012 Canadian International Auto Show, the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive roadster show car demonstrates how the German auto company pictures the near spiritual interaction of unlikely pairing in a 21st century connected world. A sparkling spectacle of German motoring design, the 20-inch wheels and fiber optics of the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive draws attention to a new theory of how a vehicle can interact with people as well as environment.
A concept vehicle created for furnishing occupants with a highly sensual driving experience, the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive promotes a heavily intuitive electronic connection to the world. For the driver, the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive avails an advanced heads-up display that can be programmed with a rich assortment of driving data. An augmented reality view is available to the motorist projecting 3-dimensional icons of the road ahead. A Passenger Information Display on the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive provides extensive information access for everything from navigation to music. The BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept roadster’s further interacts with surroundings thanks to a cloud computing supported Emotion Browser that finds and relays relevant information on locations and destinations.
Poor Acura! Entering North America as the first Japanese luxury car badge, the Honda-owned has been struggling to find an ace in the hole against Lexus and Infiniti in recent years. A premium car division looking for an image, Acura chose to revive their most beloved nameplate at the 2012 North American International Auto Show as a show car on the verge of production. Seven years since the last Acura NSX supercar pleased the exotic car enthusiasts as Japanese engineering taken to the limits of performance, the 2012 concept car rekindles the excitement of the revered original.
A charming silver supercar shape, the Acura NSX concept was near show stopping at the 2012 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. A low, aerodynamic figure, the 2012 concept car version of the Acura NSX conceals Super Handling all-Wheel Drive, dual-clutch transmission and a hybrid powertrain combining a direct-injected six-cylinder engine with two electric motors. The 400-horsepower Acura NSX premiere on the auto show circuit has been a run away success for the Honda-derived product. Acura will be hoping that the NSX supercar’s enthusiasm and gawks at the Toronto auto exhibit will translate into sales demand.
Information source: American Honda Motor Company, BMW AG, General Motors, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia Motors America, Volkswagen AG
Photo and video source: Chris Nagy