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Seoul show: Chevrolet does it Mi-ray

Korean roadster: Mi-ray concept highlights 100 years of Chevrolet and GM Korea's engineering capability.

Futuristic Chevrolet roadster concept offers cutting-edge hybrid tech just for Korea

31 Mar 2011

DAEWOO is dead and, as if to underline the fact Chevrolet has replaced it as The General’s principal brand in South Korea, the US car-maker staged the global debut of a futuristic hybrid-powered Chevy sportscar at the Seoul motor show this week.

Powered by an advanced “mid-electric” drivetrain and wrapped in an equally cutting-edge open-top roadster body, the compact two-seater Mi-ray – which means ‘future’ in Korean – can be driven purely on electric power via its front wheels or with the extra urge of a turbocharged petrol engine that delivers power to its rear wheels.

The unique powertrain concept, which reverses the drive configuration previously seen in a number of other petrol-electric hybrid models and is claimed to maximise both performance and fuel-efficicency, resides beneath the vehicle’s occupants.

It comprises two front-mounted 15kW electric motors – powered by a 1.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is recharged via a regenerative braking system - which deliver brisk, zero-emissions acceleration via the front wheels during normal.

When extra performance is called for, however, the Mi-ray employs a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine to drive its rear wheels, turning the edgy new concept car into an on-demand all-wheel drive sportscar.

Making the surprising new Mi-ray concept even more tantalising, GM says the car’s internal combustion engine is matched with a quick-shifting, fuel-saving dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Apart from highlighting the importance of the Chevrolet brand – which celebrates it centenary this year - to GM in Korea, the lightweight Mi-ray concept, which wears carbonfibre-reinforced plastic bodywork on an aluminium chassis, also exists to demonstrate GM Korea’s design and engineering capability.

Styled at GM’s Advanced Design Studio in Seoul, the US car-maker’s global ‘homeroom’ for small-car development, GM says the Mi-ray pays homage to Chevrolet’s sportscar heritage by borrowing a number of design cues from landmark models like the 1963 Monza SS and 1962 Corvair Super Spyder.

GM Korea’s first concept car also brandished Le Mans racer-style scissor doors, massively flared front wheel-arches that create a Z-shape by intersecting with a sharp bodyside crease, LED headlights and staggered 20 and 21-inch front and rear wheels.

Inside the space-aged spyder concept’s dual-cockpit cabin, which is surrounded by a single low-slung pillarless windscreen that wraps around the front and sides of the vehicle, there is a jet aircraft-style central start button, front to rear ambient lighting and asymmetrically positioned seats.

Though it may never see the light of a Chevrolet – let alone Holden – showroom, the Mi-ray was revealed in Korea on the same day GM released the first teaser image of Chevrolet’s all-new Malibu mid-size sedan, which has been confirmed to replace Holden’s lacklustre Epica in Australia next year.

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