Nissan Qazana concept hits Geneva show

March 4th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan has just released its first images of its Qazana concept that describes itself as an “intelligent, all-wheel drive crossover which is masculine, agile, lean, and designed for the tough city streets.”

The compact crossover appears to be the latest take on the emerging sportscar-styled softroader look populated by genre-benders like the BMW X6. For whatever it’s worth, the Nissan Design Europe team says that they were influenced by the “ideas of a modern day beach buggy and a four-seat motor-bike.” Why this idea didn’t result in a more skeletal open-top off-roadster on massive tyres is unclear, but we think this design has merit on its own regardless. While no one expects a shape quite this radical or any of the motorcycle-inspired interior details to see production, a UK-built smaller counterpart to the smash hit Qashqai has been promised, and the Qazana could well influence the design.

At this point Nissan is staying mum on what sort of powertrain motivates the Qazana concept.

New Mazda MPS all set for launch

March 4th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda MPS fq

The new Mazda MPS is all set to make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week. To boost anticipation more details and photos of one of our favourite hot hatches have just been released.

The super smiley face of the new redesigned Mazda3 has been butched up for MPS duty. The new car sports a bonnet scoop that even a Subaru WRX would be proud to wear, as well as its own unique grille trim, round fog-lamps, a roof-mounted spoiler, rear diffuser and exclusive alloys.

Apparently the new design won’t be joined by a new engine, as the same MZR 2.3L direct-inject, turbocharged four-cylinder will be used at launch though with power slightly increased to around 200kW. The only other bit of tech info circulating is a rumour that involves the Ford Focus RS. The Focus RS uses a special RevoKnuckle suspension system that virtually eliminates the issue of torque steer for the front-wheel-drive hot hatch, and rumour has it the Mazdaspeed3 may also take advantage of this advanced system.

Magna Steyr takes Mila ev to Geneva

March 3rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Magna Steyr Mila ev fq

Sitting among all of the various concept and production-ready vehicles that the major automakers will unveil this week at the Geneva Motor Show is a new concept from auto supplier Magna Steyr called the mila ev. This electric machine was designed from the start to succeed the internal combustion engine, so no compromises stemming from the conversion of a previously-gas-powered vehicle were required. For this reason, Magna says its concept is immediately ready for series production at its own manufacturing plants and could be configured to accept a natural gas, hydrogen fuel cell or hybrid powertrain.

In its finished form, the mile ev uses a five-door hatchback bodystyle and a set of lithium-ion batteries giving it a range of up to 150 kilometers after a 2.5-hour charge. That unit sends electrons to a 67-horsepower electric motor that drives the front wheels. Solar cells embedded on the glass rooftop should provide just a bit more juice for the air-con systems.

Magna already has a bit of experience with EVs, having designed and built a prototype for Ford based on the current Focus platform for this year’s Detroit Auto Show. That work should pay off in 2011 when Ford launches a production version of the machine.

Duster Concept – first from budget brand Dacia

March 3rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Dacia Duster fq

Renault’s low cost Romanian brand, Dacia, will be unveiling its very first concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

Given the interesting name Duster, the concept features a crossover-style body with some unique styling elements like headlights that trail off across the front guards and rear tail-lights that stretch forward across a curving wall of sheetmetal above the rear wheels. Big-ups to Renault designers in Romania and France for creating such a fascinating shape. Contained within is an equally useful interior with a neat modular trick: The front passenger seat slides underneath the driver’s seat on rails, creating enough room to carry a large item like a mountain bike inside the car rather than on top of it.

There are traditional concept car elements that are included like ridiculously large 21-inch wheels, an all-glass roof and rear-hinged back doors, but the Duster’s powertrain is anything but showy. The concept is powered by Renault’s 1.5L dCi four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 105 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Dacia says that’s enough to push the Duster to 100 kph in a limp 9.6 seconds while returning very good fuel economy.

Check back for more updates on the Geneva Motor Show starting tomorrow.

Ferrari preps special 599 GTB models for Geneva Motor Show

March 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Ferrari 599 GTB fqjpg

At next week’s Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari has announced that it will take the wraps off of two new versions of its 599 GTB Fiorano. The first is the long rumored 599 HGTE. Details are scarce on what comprises the Handling GT Evoluzione package at the moment, but the promise is that it will take the already accomplished GT to the next level.

The more interesting car will be the 599XX. This model will apparently only be available to select clients — those with a long history of Ferrari ownership or a tonne of cash. Like the existing FXX version of the Enzo, the 599XX will be a moving laboratory that incorporates technology that Ferrari engineers have been developing on both road and track cars. At this point, Ferrari isn’t saying how many of these cars will be available — or what they will cost — but expections are the standard 599 will look quite affordable by comparison.

I.DE.A ERA concept set to dazzle

February 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

IDEA ERA concept fq

Last year, a little known engineering and consultancy firm based in Turin, Italy named the I.DE.A Institute threw together a concept car in 30 days to celebrate its 30th anniversary. At the Geneva Motor Show starting in a few days, I.DE.A will show that it was more than just a publicity stunt by showing a much more evolved version of the roadster in the form of the ERA concept.

The topless two-door gains a set of gull-wing doors, re-sculpted sides, a two-tier boot line and a tube-frame chassis in an attempt to show off the firm’s design and engineering prowess. Although the interior scaffolding and puffed up grille surround may be an acquired taste, the ERA is set to make a splash at the Geneva show.

Check back for more news about the upcoming Geneva Motor show.

Kia No 3 concept MPV ready for show

February 26th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia no3 fq

At next week’s Geneva Motor Show Kia will show off a new crossover concept dubbed the No 3 and two new variants of the c’eed. The No 3 is a tall five-door hatch based on the c’eed platform. The five-door features a glass roof and a unique diagonal windshield header which stretches from the A-pillar on the passenger side to the B-pillar on the driver side.

The two new c’eed variants are both aimed at reduced fuel consumption. The c’eed ISG is a new regular production model that adds auto-stop-start to the both 1.4- and 1.6-litre versions of the sub-compact sedan, with a claimed boost in urban fuel mileage of around 15%. Kia is also showing a hybrid version of the c’eed that uses the system developed by Hyundai-Kia with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder. The car is part of a test fleet that will be run in Europe this year and averages 49 mpg (US) and emits just 109 g/km of CO2.

Check back for more details of concept cars at next weeks Geneva Motor Show.

Aston Martin DBS Volante details released

February 25th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Aston Martin DBS Volante fq

Details have been released on the 2009 Aston Martin DBS Volante set to debut next week at the Geneva Auto Show.

The drop-top version of Bond’s uber-Aston features a fabric roof that can be retracted in 14 seconds at speeds up to 50 kph and supposedly looks just as good with the top up as the top down. Power is provided by the same 6.0-liter V12 found in the standard DBS, putting out 510 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque to a rear-mounted six-speed manual or “Touchtronic” sequential gearbox. The run to 100 kph is performed in a scant 4.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 307 kph. Aston says it was able to keep the weight down through the use of a lightweight roof mechanism, along with a carbon fibre bonnet, front splitter and trunk lid. The standard carbon ceramic brakes — pulled directly from the fixed-roof DBS — reduce unsprung weight at all four corners and provide the powerful stopping power you’d expect.