Honda OSM concept revealed in the U.K

July 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Honda’s low-emission sportscar study model has been revealed at the British International Motor Show, at ExCeL, London.

The lightweight roadster design study displays one of Honda’s core engineering principles — to design stylish and exciting cars that are also environmentally responsible.

Named the OSM (for Open Study Model), the two-seater joins the confirmed-for-production CR-Z sports hybrid and FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car on the Honda stand at the show.

“We’re trying to show that low emission cars can be attractive,” says Andreas Sittel, Project Leader for OSM. “There is no reason why a car that’s more environmentally friendly can’t look great too — and be sporty and fun to drive.”

The concept for the project was ‘Clean and Dynamic’ — and this direction was followed for both the exterior and interior design, ensuring a joined-up, consistent ‘language’ between the two. One example of this can be seen at the rear of the car, where the body actually extends into the cabin between the seats.

The exterior design is a balance of smooth, rounded curves and sharp lines to provide definition in key areas. The headlights are cleverly integrated into the front end, stretching from the nose to the top of the wheel arches to look more like a part of the original body.

Inside, this uninterrupted, fluid approach is continued, with long sweeping curves extending from both door panels to form a frame for the instrument display. The concept for the dashboard was to avoid creating the traditional block of ‘heavy’ colour and material in front of the driver; in keeping with the clean and lightweight theme. For that reason, the dash is broken into sections, with the most important instruments in direct line-of-sight of the driver.

Key information is displayed in a rounded, enclosed central binnacle, with levels and figures in bright blue on a black background. This matches the trim inside the car, with the seats and door furniture trimmed in a new, gloss-effect blue leather, accompanied by white leather sections, in line with the exterior body colour, a one-off paint called Mystic Pearl.

The driver’s main controls and functions are distributed in an intuitive layout, close at hand on a panel that curves downwards to the right of the driver. A centrally-mounted semi-sequential gear-shift points towards a fun-to-drive transmission, along with paddle shifts either side of the steering wheel. Integrated into the gearshifter itself is a red ignition ‘start’ button, which reinforces the sporty direction of the car.

The Honda OSM was designed by Honda’s R&D facility in Offenbach, Germany. It’s the latest example of the young talent being developed within Honda’s design studios in Europe — following the Honda Small Hybrid Sports Concept (Geneva 2007) and the Accord Tourer Concept (Frankfurt 2007).

At present, the Honda OSM is a design study model, and there are no plans for it to enter production.

1972                The CVCC engine is developed for the Civic — a low-emission petrol engine that meets strict US regulations

1993                Honda wins prestigious World Solar Challenge with the solar-powered Type Dream car

1996                Honda EV Plus electric vehicle — capable of carrying four adults nearly 140miles on a single charge — is presented to the public

1997                We unveil the Civic GX, which runs on natural gas and is available to buy in America. It becomes the world’s cleanest car

1999                Honda launches the Insight — a petrol-electric hybrid car capable of 83mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions of just 80g/km of CO2

2003                Civic IMA hybrid saloon is launched, with CO2 emissions of 116g/km

2006                New Civic Hybrid goes on sale, with fuel economy of 61.4mpg (combined) and emissions of 109g/km

2007                A lightweight hybrid sportscar concept, named CR-Z, is revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show, and a version is confirmed for production

2008                Honda unveils OSM study model at the British International Motor Show.
The hydrogen fuel cell-powered Honda FCX Clarity rolls off the production line in Japan, and leasing of these zero emission vehicles starts in the US

2009                A much more affordable hybrid car from Honda is due to go on sale in the UK in the Spring — making cleaner motoring technology available to more people

Volkswagen lightweight mid-engine Elise-beater on the cards

July 22nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Rumours of a lightweight mid-engine car from VW-Audi continue to circulate and look to climax with the unveiling of a such a Volkswagen at the Los Angeles Motorshow later this year.

There are also rumours that this car could also be the Audi R4, the phantom-like unconfirmed but believed-to-exist model, that has auto-nuts blabbering like alien conspiracy theorists.

A third shot in the dark (that could still hit the target) is that with Porsche owning part of Volkswagen a resurrection of the 914 tag could be on the cards.

Facts will dissolve speculation when the L.A Motorshow opens in November.

Mazda Kazamai Concept will be debuted in Moscow

July 16th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Mazda has confirmed it will unveil an all-new concept — a sporty, compact crossover vehicle, called the Mazda Kazamai — at the Moscow International Automobile Salon (MIAS) on Tuesday 26 August.

Kazamai, which means “swirling crosswinds” in Japanese, expresses the image of a stylish and compact crossover.  The concept is based on Mazda’s long-term vision for technology development ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom’ which aims to provide a unique balance between sporty driving fun, and superior environmental and safety performance.

The evolving Mazda design language ‘Nagare’ is evident on Kazamai’s exterior, with panel lines inspired by crosswinds in nature which evoke visual lightness, fused with aerodynamic proportions.  The bold five-point grille, accentuated front wheelarches and sleek roof line, combined with large 22-inch diameter wheels, endow Kazamai with high emotional appeal.

Sporty to look at, Kazamai is designed to be spirited and fun to drive, with compact dimensions.  The concept’s four-wheel drive Mazda powertrain will consist of a next-generation direct-injection engine and a newly-developed transmission.  It is also aerodynamically efficient, with an evolved lightweight and robust body structure that also contributes to the vehicle’s dynamics and safety.

Created especially for the Moscow International Automobile Salon, Kazamai gives a good indication of where Mazda is going with a possible future compact crossover.

In Russia’s growing automotive market, compact SUVs are the second-largest segment, representing about 13 percent of all new car sales.  Consequently, the 2008 MIAS will also mark the Russian debut of Mazda’s CX-9 SUV, which was crowned 2008 North American Truck of the Year in February.

Mitsubishi Concept-cX: Future Outlander?

July 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The Concept-cX will be shown as the new ‘baby Outlander’ combining over 70-years of four wheel drive experience with an innovative global environmental strategy. The Concept-cX, when launched, will be the showcase for the CO² friendly all-new Euro 5 Clean Diesel family of engines to be launched in 2009 as well a number of other green technologies.

The new engine is planned to have class-topping power output and Euro 5 emissions performance include a new high-efficiency turbocharger and high-efficiency combustion characteristics developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Motors.

Sharp in design and in dynamics, Mitsubishi’s Concept-cX boasts an excellent environmental performance to be seen in the low fuel consumption and emission levels achieved by its 100 kW (136 ps) @ 4,000 rpm / 280 Nm @ 2,000 rpm next generation 1.8-litre Clean Diesel DOHC 16 valve 4 cylinder engine.

Amongst other technologies, it features a variable geometry (VG) turbocharger — to generate optimum boost pressure for all engine loads — as well as DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) and DOC (Diesel Oxidation Catalyst). The 1.8 litre Clean Diesel engine is mated to Mitsubishi Motors’ Twin Clutch SST technology.

Concept-cX’s further green credentials include eco-friendly “Green Plastics”, MMC’s proprietary plant-based resin technology – made from bamboo and other plant-based resins, used for interior trim materials, such as floor mats, door trim, tail gate trim and seat back panels.

Its on-road abilities are further enhanced by the use of Mitsubishi’s sophisticated AWC (All Wheel Control) technology, similar in essence to the device successfully introduced with the new Outlander.

Volkswagen to display three concepts: Past, Present and Future

July 11th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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A trio of Volkswagen concept vehicles are set to make their UK debut at The Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Scirocco GT24 concept is a sister vehicle to the race cars which not only won their class at the recent Nürburgring 24 hour race but also finished 11th overall out of over 200 starters among far more exotic machinery.  Sharing the same drivetrain, carbon panels and 325 PS 2.0-litre TSI engine the Scirocco GT24 adds a series of detail changes to the interior including leather bucket seats and a rear-facing camera to record the expression on the passenger’s face as the car races up the notorious Goodwood Hill.

Making a total of six runs up the hill over the three days, The Festival of Speed marks the first time the Scirocco GT24 has been driven in the UK.

From the recent past the innovative W12 Coupe concept first seen in 1997 will make an appearance in the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ area.  Serving as a research vehicle designed to prove the strength and durability of the W12 engine, an example of the W12 Coupe lapped the Nardo test track in October 2001 for 24 hours, covering a total of 4,402 miles at an average speed of 183 mph to set a world speed record.

Looking forward, the up! concept vehicle will feature in the Goodwood Technology Pavilion — dedicated to innovative vehicles.  Unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year the up! acts as inspiration for a new range of highly efficient small cars from Volkswagen currently in development.