Toyota displays reworked FT-86 II concept (+video)

March 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has just pulled the covers of the second iteration of its FT-86 Concept car at the Geneva Motor Show and claims that it is now almost identical to the upcoming production version. Toyota also took the time to release new images and a couple of video clips to get performance car fans excited about the new RWD sports car set to go on sale next year.

The FT-86 II concept comes packing several styling differences over the original concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

In terms of exterior looks, Toyota’s designers restyled the coupe’s profile by adding a new beltline that starts from the front wheel arch with a slightly odd air vent and finishes off on the tip of the rear window. Toyota also also split the front window and removed the blacked out A-pillar finish that was on the original concept. The rear wheel arches are now more pumped out and there are new side rocker panels.

She’s not particularly sexy at the front end with a new bumper with a larger center grille and droopy eyes that drop down into a thin strip of LED daytime running lights.

At the rear the changes continue, with Toyota revamping the FT-86’s rear end with new pushed out tail lamps and a more pronounced air diffuser flanked by large exhaust pipes on either side. Continue reading “Toyota displays reworked FT-86 II concept (+video)” »

Volkswagen revives Kombi spirit with Bulli concept

March 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volkswagen has just unveiled its latest retro concept the Bulli which represents a modern take on the iconic Kombi.

This isn’t the first time VW has tried to reinvent the Kombi, back in 2001 another retro-inspired concept looked promising but management changes at VW killed the concept before it could be seriously considered for production.

Now, a decade on, VW is positioned very strongly and is trying out the concept again at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. This time around it’s called the Volkswagen Bulli, and like its 2001 predecessor, is designed to look and function like the brand’s famous Kombi. This Geneva concept is powered by an 84kW electric motor drawing charge from a lithium-ion battery pack. When fully charged, the Bulli has a theoretical range of around 300km before needing recharging. When a top up is required, VW says the Bulli can be fully charged in less than an hour.

The Bulli’s metal keeps true to the original Kombi layout and shape, which means a flat load floor and clever use of interior space. There are some modern tricks inside too with VW incorporating an Apple iPad which controls the stereo, navigation, bluetooth and air conditioning from its port on the console. The iPad directly communicates with a Fender USA-designed stereo system, which should pump out some serious beats.

Volkswagen hasn’t released any details on when or if the Bulli will make it into production, but don’t expect anything before 2014 at the earliest. Continue reading “Volkswagen revives Kombi spirit with Bulli concept” »

De Tomaso on comeback trail with SLS luxury sedan

February 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s only hours until the 2011 Geneva Motor Show kicks into gear but De Tomaso has jumped the gun and unleashed a series of images along with a few more details of its new SLS concept car.

SLS is the latest catch phrase for this vehicle segment and apparently stands for ‘Sport Luxury Sedan’. SLS refers to the vehicle type but De Tomaso is planning on giving it’s future production model a more exciting new name that will be announced in Geneva.

DeTomaso’s SLS concept is an interesting proposition, its a high riding luxury sedan much like the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. At launch there is plans for two engines to be offered a 300-horsepower V6 and a 550-horsepower V8. Power is channeled through to all four wheels, and a diesel engine option is planned for the future.

De Tomaso plans to build two more vehicles on the same platform with the ambitious goal of selling a total of 8,000 units per year. The SLS represents a good start for De Tomaso’s comeback it is sensibly styled and well powered. More will be revealed this week in Geneva. Continue reading “De Tomaso on comeback trail with SLS luxury sedan” »

Smart reveals ForSpeed concept – not that speedy

February 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Haven’t heard much from Smart recently? Well, no one has but the Daimler’s mini car makers are still alive and kicking. To prove it Smart is taking an all-electric, roofless version of the Smart ForTwo to the Geneva Motor Show – named the Forspeed concept.

Overall, the Forspeed resembles the Smart Crossblade that was made in limited numbers in the early 2000s. Giving the Forspeed its concept car looks are some fancy taillights, no external door handles and since it’s got no roof, there’s a toneau cover that can either cover the entire interior or just the passenger side if drivers get caught in the rain.

It may have speed in its name but the Forspeed is not a rocket ship. It uses a 30kW electric motor to take it from standing to 60kph in 5.5 seconds and can reach a top speed of 120kph if you want to wait that long. If you need a little extra oomph there is a boost button on the dash offers another 5kW. The powertrain also consists of an Electric Drive that is shared with the Fortwo ED.

Range for the Forspeed is estimated to be around 135 kilometers, with an 80-percent charge possible in 45 minutes. Continue reading “Smart reveals ForSpeed concept – not that speedy” »

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept showcases latest tech (+video)

February 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has shown off the first images of its Vision ConnectedDrive concept, ahead of a official debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

The roadster design concept is a base to showcase BMW’s advanced driver assistance and mobility networking systems to demonstrate what is possible now and what will be possible in the future.

In terms of design it’s a radical machine which uses BMW’s “layering” approach that breaks up large surfaces with lines and detailing to give a more organic appearance. The concept features a wide grille, huge air intakes, frameless windscreen, and a transparent area running down the bonnet that symbolises the “driver’s focus on the road ahead and on the concentration of information that is flowing in the opposite direction, towards him.” The concept also has electro- mechanical retracting doors which give a nod to the Z1.

Inside, the cabin is divided by a flowing center console which houses many of the conventional controls. In front of the driver is a fully programmable instrument cluster which makes use of a heads-up display that shows various vehicle information. But wait, there’s more, smartphones will instantly link to the vehicle as soon as you enter the cabin. This will mean drivers have full access to all of their apps, messages and address books. While all that doesn’t sound so space age, the system also boasts an augmented reality interface which can be shown on the head-up display and used to automatically drive the car without human interaction. That might sound unbelievable but according to BMW, one day you could go to a restaurant, exit the car, and the vehicle would use the internet to locate a parking garage, drive to it, and park itself. The applications for this sort of technology are near limitless, instead of going to the restaurant you could just send the car to pick up your dinner while you sit at home watching TV. Brilliant.

The concept’s drivetrain remains a mystery for now, but it is expected to be all electric. More will be revealed next month, leading up to the Geneva Show till then check out a promo video and some images in the gallery below.  Continue reading “BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept showcases latest tech (+video)” »

Nissan reveals futuristic Esflow concept (+video)

February 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan has revealed details on its latest concept vehicle, an eco-friendly sports car concept called the Esflow. This space-age-styled concept is set for a debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show next month.

The released batch of images show a vehicle with traditional sports car proportions, but with economy and ecology on its mind there may be no big burnouts and drag racing on the cards.

The Esflow uses similar technology used in the popular production Leaf EV hatchback. However, the concept makes use of a separate motor to turn each rear wheel and can sprint 0-100kph in under five seconds. The laminated lithium batteries are fitted low down in the vehicle to keep the centre of gravity low and can achieve 240 km on a charge. While the energy storage system may be heavy it is offset by an rollbar-integrated aluminum chassis and a composite shell.

It seems very unlikely a high-tech, high-cost machine like the Esflow will reach production but it’s good to see electric tech finding its way into Nissan’s sportier offerings. While the Leaf might be the current champion for Nissans EV program, the future could see the Japanese brand lead the way in affordable electric sports cars.

Check out a short promo video and images of the Esflow concept below. Continue reading “Nissan reveals futuristic Esflow concept (+video)” »

Ssangyong Actyon SUT 1 concept is Korea’s latest ute

February 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With the recent success of Kia and Hyundai it’s all too easy to assume that they are the only Korean carmakers out there. But it’s not that simple with Ssangyong now making a play for some of the action.

To show what they can do Ssangyong has just revealed the first sketches of its upcoming concept vehicle set for a Geneva Motor Show debut. Named the SUT 1 this Korean ute is a concept in name only and is set to go on sale in international markets from early next year. With Ssangyong dealerships reopening in NZ we may see it here in 2012.

If it comes to NZ, it could be available with manual or automatic transmissions, in either two- or four-wheel drive, mated to a 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces with 114kW of power and 360Nm available. Maximum torque will be available from just1,500rpm. Continue reading “Ssangyong Actyon SUT 1 concept is Korea’s latest ute” »