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LA goes car-crazy!

Sexy 'Stang: The Mustang by Giugiaro wowed LA show crowds.

General News logo1 Dec 2006


THE Los Angeles motor show is normally considered a low-key event that precedes the mega North American International Auto Show in Detroit early in January.

However, more car-makers are using the Californian event to showcase vehicles that otherwise would get lost in the raft of model releases that are part of the bigger Detroit event.

This week's LA show experienced 15 world debuts as well as 13 North American debuts for a range of vehicles. Here are some of the key cars on show.

Ford Mustang
WHAT do you get when you combine the creative talents of Italdesign-Giugiaro and the sleek Ford Mustang? The Mustang by Giugiaro.

The sleek, vibrant orange muscle-car has just made its debut at the Los Angeles motor show.

The styling director of Italdesign, Fabrizio Giugiaro, said the concept was a perfect vehicle to express the rawness of Ford’s muscle car.

"When we saw the new Mustang, we knew two things it was the best we’d seen since the original and we had to get our hands on," he said.

The Mustang is a one-of-a-kind concept powered by Ford Racing Technologies.

FRT added a supercharger to the Mustang’s 4.6-litre V8, lifting power from 225kW to 372kW while the chassis has been stiffened and a sports-tuned suspension and 20-inch alloys added. The car is also 25mm lower.

Visually, the one-off Mustang is more compact than the production car, thanks to a reduction of the rear overhang and a signature Giugiaro touch of tapering the rear angles on the car.

The concept is 30mm wider than the standard car at the front and 80mm wider at the rear. Inside there is an expanse of horse hide-covered seats.

On the outside a single curved glass panel bridges the windscreen and rear window. Produced by Solutia of Detroit, the panel is made from a special type of crystal that filters out 100 per cent of UV rays while providing unfettered view.

The doors are hinged at the base of the A-pillar and flip up vertically at the touch of a button.

At the back the tail-lights are in three separate elements, as found on the 1964 Mustang, but reinterpreted into a more dramatic arrow shape that links to the louvre panels, which replaced the rear side windows.

It is the first time the Italian coachbuilder has done a car for the LA show.

Ford Escape
APART from the Mustang, Ford showed off the 2008 Escape, including a hybrid model.

Visually the off-roader gains a more masculine front end, bigger bumper with integrated foglights in keeping with Ford’s large F-Series trucks.

At the back there’s a new bumper, tail-lights and lift up rear hatch glass but the car is essentially the same underneath.

The Escape’s existing Mazda-sourced 115kW/206Nm 2.3-litre four cylinder and the bigger 150kW/261Nm 3.0-litre Duratec V6 carry over.

Inside the interior is new with better storage facilities and new dashboard.

Cabin noise is reduced and the Escape feature’s Ford’s “ice blue” night-time interior lighting while safety has improved with curtain airbags and Ford’s roll stability control system.

The Escape Hybrid continues to be a “full” hybrid, which means it can run on 100 per cent electric power up to about 40km/h, maximising in-city fuel economy.

At low speeds, power is delivered by a permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor, producing 70kW at 5000rpm and 330 volts.

When additional power is required, the Escape Hybrid’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine seamlessly engages, contributing 99kW horsepower at 6000rpm and 168Nm at 4250rpm via its CVT transmission.

This endows the car with a zero to 100km/h time comparable to a 150kW V6 engine and improve urban fuel economy by 75 per cent.

THE Chrysler Group used Los Angeles to preview its new Chrysler Sebring Cabrio, which will be launched here late next year.

Available in the US with either a folding soft-top or metal folding hardtop, Australia is tipped to get the metal hardtop.

Prices are expected to be under $57,000 when the four-seater goes on sale, aiming at the full size 9-3 Saab cabrio, Audi A4 cabrio BMW 3 Series cabrio offerings.

The retractable hardtop folds into three sections and stows in less than 30 seconds.

The electric roof features a remote control operation from the key fob, standard powered tonneau cover and automatic locking.

Right hand drive models are expected to be available with a 140kW/259Nm 2.7-litre V6 with six-speed automatic gearbox. A 104kW/310Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine with six-speed manual will also be available.

ALTHOUGH not due to go on sale in Europe until late next year, Volkswagen unveiled its compact 4x4, the Concept Tiguan.

The baby Touareg is expected to arrive in Australia in 2008.

At 4400mm long, 1850mm wide and 1690mm high, it is very similar in size to the Touran compact MPV (4400mm, 1800mm, 1600m), which is not sold here.

The Concept Tiguan’s corporate face and profile is immediately recognisable as a VW.

The dark-anodised metallic grille contrasts with the body colour, while a grid pattern and two dominant cross fins to the left and right of the Volkswagen roundel complete the look.

Another feature is the Concept Tiguan’s tyre design. Developed by Continental, the 19-inch prototype tyres have an orange radial stripe beneath the tyre profile that matches the car’s paint colour. The colour is right through the rubber as a “baked in” component of the tyre’s casing.

The eye-catching anthracite-coloured alloy rims are likely to feature in the production vehicle.

At the rear, the lights look similar to the Eos and Passat, while the steeply sloping tailgate extends down to the bumper.

Inside the cabin’s black, silver and orange trim mirrors the exterior colours.

There is room for five passengers with a sliding rear seat while a panoramic sunroof adds to the impression of space inside.

Under the bonnet, the Tiguan uses a new Bluetec diesel engine, co-developed with Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Bluetec employs a modular concept of different systems to reduce emissions significantly, particularly nitrogen oxides. Using an NOx storage catalyst, nitrogen oxides are cut by up to 90 per cent over existing diesels.

This clean TDI also complies with the world’s strictest emissions standards.

 center imageFrom top: Mustang by Giugiaro, Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, Chrysler Sebring cabrio, Mazda Nagare and Volkswagen Tiguan.

ACCORDING to Mazda, the Nagare – pronounced na-ga-reh – signals a fresh design direction for future Mazdas.

Although the Sassou, Senku, and Kabura started this change, the Nagare takes it to the next level.

Nagare, Japanese for ‘flow’, is the embodiment of motion with its wave like headlights, side panels and tail-lights. The car is the first of a series of designs Mazda will showcase over the next 12 months at the Detroit, Geneva and Tokyo motor shows.

Under the direction of Mazda’s new global design director, Laurens van den Acker, the Nagare looks at where Mazda design may be by 2020.

Franz von Holzhausen, Mazda’s North American Operations’ director of design said the idea of the Nagare was to enhance and intensify Mazda’s driving spirit while redefining a car’s basic proportions.

"Mazda doesn’t produce concept cars to spin its wheels," he said.

"We simply do not create pure flights of fantasy. We develop these ideas to demonstrate what we really intend to build and sell."Visually, the Nagare is sleek and aerodynamically efficient, while the wheels are positioned at all four corners for quick steering response and agile manoeuvrability.

Access to the four-seater is via two double-length doors that hinge forward and up.

The driver is centrally located, like a single-seat sports racer.

Since the driver is positioned under the highest portion of the roof, there’s ample headroom with a comfortably reclined backrest while there’s room in the back for three passengers.

The car is powered by a hydrogen-fueled rotary engine, the same engine that is power a group of RX-8 experimental cars in Japan.

Aston Martin
DEVELOPED from the outset alongside the V8 Vantage coupe, which was launched in 2005, the Roadster shares the unique-to-Aston Martin bonded aluminium vertical horizontal (VH) architecture – the backbone to all modern Aston Martins.

Other sophisticated materials such as lightweight alloys, magnesium and composites are used for the body, further contributing to the car’s low weight and high rigidity.

Despite the additional electric mechanism associated with the Roadster’s convertible roof and the additional body stiffness, there is only a minimal weight gain over the hardtop.

At just 4380mm long, the Roadster is the smallest model in the Aston Martin range.

Like its coupe sibling performance is paramount with a zero to 100km/h time of five seconds and top speed of 280km/h.

The Roadster is mated to either a fast-shifting, six-speed Graziano conventional manual gearbox, or new Sportshift automated manual transmission with paddle shifts.

HONDA unveiled two concepts, the Remix small sport concept and the Step Bus.

The Remix gives some clues as to what the new two-seater CR-X sports coupe could look like.

It features a wrap-around canopy that adds a fighter jet-feel to the driving experience.

The small coupe is the result of Honda's advanced design studio in Southern California.

Although a pure design concept the car follows Honda’s in-house requirements of being front-wheel drive, with a VVT-i four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox.

The quirky light green metallic five-passenger Step Bus is a completely different genre, representing the ultimate expression of Honda packaging with a mid-engine design and a fully maximised and quickly adaptable interior.

The highly configurable, high-tech interior is aimed at city folk with sliding sliding front doors for tight spaces, a cavernous interior and next-generation satellite navigation system.

“Following the traditional Honda theme of ‘man maximum, machine minimum’, the Step Bus seeks to create the largest possible interior with the smallest possible exterior,” according to the senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co, John Mendel.

Not surprisingly the Step Bus was the result of Honda’s Wako - wacko? - design centre in Saitama prefecture, Japan.

Purely a styling concept, the vehicle uses a mid-engine, rear wheel drive platform with a small displacement engine.

HONDA'S premium US brand, Acura, unveiled the Advanced Sedan Concept toillustrate its commitment to modern design and cutting-edge style.

The Advanced Sedan Concept is the purest expression of advanced design,performance and luxury, highlighted by its powerful, wide stance and deeplysculpted surfaces.

According to Honda, "the primary goal of this design study was to create asophisticated, refined sedan with a mysterious presence".

The concept's generous exterior proportions suggest that a large, powerfulengine lurks beneath the surface.

The exterior exhibits a strong US-inspired look, with chunky wheel-archescontributing a muscular look, along with a slimline window area.

Although ultra-modern in its design, the concept retains the classicsilhouette associated with a flagship sedan.

Low to the ground, the concept is anchored by large 22-inch front and23-inch rear wheels which are mounted to custom billet-machined, polishedaluminium wheels. Powerful brake discs and callipers accent the wheels andlarge ducts direct cooling air to the components.

The roof is constructed entirely of tinted glass.

The bonnet is accented with pronounced character lines that culminate in theaggressive five-sided grille, which contributes to the sedan's boldpresence.

The commanding grille is made from polished aluminium and features a cutcrystal Acura emblem.

The narrow headlights also double as air intakes and are positioned low onthe bumper.

At the back the car has a flush mounted rear bumper, dual exhausts andhigh-mounted jewelled tail-lights pushed out to the edge of the bumperHyundai
LOOKING more like an army vehicle than an SUV, the two-door Hyundai Hellion’s concept explores how new organic structural forms could look on future Hyundai SUVs.

Visually the four-wheel drive has a wide stance with piercing headlights angled towards a bold grille with a prominent bonnet scoop and exposed latches to access the engine bay.

The windscreen is steeply raked to provide a more sporty character.

Front and rear bumpers are finished in a darker, durable wrinkle-finish paint supported by aluminium skid plates.

At the back the bold design theme continues with the tail-lights flowing from the greenhouse, dual exhausts and wheel flares cantilevered off the rear quarter glass.

A camouflage patterned canvas soft-top roof adds some individualisation.

The exterior is finished in Dakar Gold paint with 20-inch two-piece alloys coated in Teflon to resist build-up of the elements.

Inside the cabin boasts satellite navigation, wireless internet, overhead console housing a drop-down LCD entertainment system for rear-seat passengers.

Again the camouflage pattern is used inside for the race-inspired sports seats. Seat-mounted “backpacks” can be accessed via push-button releases.

The seats themselves are also equipped with in-car water bottles. A removable, refillable reservoir inside each seat replaces the common cupholder. A pump-assisted tube is attached to each seat to allow all passengers to get a drink on the move.

The car is powered by a 175kW/450Nm 3.0-litre V6 common-rail turbo diesel mated to a six-speed shift-by-wire automatic. Electronic stability control and adaptive cruise control are also evident.

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