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Sun, Sep 14, 2003
The LACar Editorial Staff
THE BIG SHOW CONTINUES
By Contributing Editor
Part 3: Non-German European Brands
166 (Production vehicle)
The Alfa 166 is the new flagship of the Alfa lineup - and another example
of a manufacturer claiming to have combined a sedan with a coupe. While Alfa's
new advertising slogan is "Beauty is not enough" expressing the importance
of content over style, it nonetheless promoted design of the 166 over engineering
or performance. Four gas engines are available, the most powerful a 3.2L, 24-valve
V6 that produces 240 hp, and two turbodiesels. The new Alfa 166 goes on sale
Martin DB9 (Production vehicle)
Aston Martin unveiled the all-new DB9, which will replace the DB7 as the brand's
volume model, though volume is a relative term you aspire to sell 5,000 units
a year. Under the hood is a 5.9L V12 pumping 450 hp. While that's almost
anemic compared with power coming from some of the German uber-cars, the DB9
weighs in at 3,767 pounds, nearly 1,000 pounds less than some of its competitors,
such as the Mercedes-Benz CL coupe, allowing it to rocket to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds
with a six-speed manual and a flat five seconds with its ZF automatic. The body
and frame are all aluminum, with the fenders and decklid made of composite.
The hand-built DB9 will be available in the US next summer, priced around $160,000,
following its spring launch in Europe.
C-Airlounge (Concept vehicle)
The CitroÃƒÂ«n C-Airlounge is a design exercise in aerodynamic efficiency,
achieving a Cd of 0.26. Its 3.0L V6 develops 210 hp, driving an automatic transmission
with gear-changing paddles on the steering wheel. At sustained highway speeds,
the suspension lowers the vehicle to improve stability. The interior is minimalist
and nearly all white - even the pile carpet is white - with red accents.
The C-Airlounge has five individual seats, though the rear middle seat can retract
onto the floor, allowing the other two rear seats to move into a true 2+2 configuration.
Panda (Production vehicle)
If you're looking for basic, affordable transportation, the four-passenger
Fiat Panda could be for you. The first Panda was launched in 1980, and since
then more than five million have been sold. Two gasoline engines are available
on the updated version, a 1.1L and a 1.2L, developing 54 and 60 hp respectively,
and there's also a 1.3L diesel, the smallest, most advanced of Fiat's
second-generation Multijet direct injection diesels, producing 70 hp. The new
Panda goes on sale this month, beginning at about $8,900.
X-Type Estate (Production vehicle)
Jaguar launched its first-ever station wagon, the X-Type Estate. It has unique
body panels rear from the B-pillars, and Jaguar is boasting about the car's
versatility and, especially, interior space. With the rear seats folded down,
the X-Type Estate offers greater usable volume than its two primary competitors,
the BMW 3-Series Touring and the Mercedes C-Class Estate. The rear seat can
be configured to provide seating for one, two or three passengers, depending
on how much luggage space is required. In addition to the two gasoline engines
offered in the US, 2.5L and 3.0L V6s, a 2.0L diesel is also available. The gas
engines will be mated with Jaguar's Traction-4 all-wheel drive. The new
X-Type Estate goes on sale in Europe in the spring. There are no plans for US
R-D6 (Concept vehicle)
Jaguar also introduced a concept car, the R-D6. This shapely four-seater is
based on a shortened version of the new aluminum-chassis XJ, and like the XJ
it uses aluminum and composites for the body. The R-D6 weighs in at just 3,300
pounds. The engine is the 2.7L, twin-turbocharger V6 diesel that will be introduced
in the 2004 S-Type next year. It uses the latest, high-pressure, common-rail
direct injection, generating 230 hp and a massive 369 lb-ft. Zero-to-60 time
is less than six seconds. R-D6 rides on 21-inch wheels, machined from solid
aluminum, with ultra-low-profile Pirelli 255/30 R21s in front and 275/30 R21s
in back. There are no plans for production, but Jaguar says the R-D6 further
develops its design direction and hints at products to come.
Fulvia (Concept vehicle)
The Lancia Fulvia is a brave attempt at reviving the legendary car of the same
name, which was introduced in 1964 and won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1972. The
dimensions of this three-box Fulvia concept are nearly identical to the original,
though the track has been widened. All of the body panels are aluminum, resulting
in a vehicle weight of 2,182 pounds. Power comes from a 140-hp 1.8L engine,
which moves the Fulvia to 62 mph in 8.6 seconds.
Quattroporte (Production vehicle)
The flagship of the Maserati line, the Quattroporte, is back after a two-year
absence, now with a Pininfarina skin. This is a big luxury car with a spacious
cabin. At a length of 200 inches, it's longer than the base Mercedes S-Class
and could be a credible competitor to other large sedans, such as the BMW 7
Series, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. The engine is a 4.2L 400-hp V8, which is mated
to a sophisticated five-speed electro-hydraulic gearbox. It's an automatic,
but paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow manual shifting. The interior
is adorned not only with rich leather and wood but also the latest in technology,
including navigation. Prices start at $100,000.
407 Elixir (Concept vehicle)
The Peugeot 407 Elixir is called a concept vehicle, but even though it's
a two-door, we wonder if it hints at the successor for current 406 upper-middle
family sedan. It has a long hood, steeply angled windshield flowing into a glass
roof, and a rear that is not quite a coupe, hatchback or traditional wagon.
The roofline remains relatively high at the back, with the tailgate dropping
steeply. Inside is 2+2 configuration, with four identical, adjustable seats.
Wheels are 21 inches. The engine is a 2.7L six-cylinder diesel producing 200
hp and tied to a Porsche Triptronic System sequential gearbox, with a gear lever
allowing either automatic operation or manual shifting.
9-3 SPORT-HATCH CONCEPT
9-3 Sport-Hatch Concept (Concept vehicle)
With the 9-3 Sport-Hatch Concept, Saab declares its intention to enter the midsize
wagon segment for the first time. It's a five-door, sport-oriented four-seater
that crosses a hatchback with a station wagon. It has a glass roof, and in place
of traditional station wagon roof bars are recessed load-fixing points. The
power tailgate includes a clever mount for a bike: a bike's front fork
attaches to a bracket on the roof that allows the tailgate to open with a bike
attached. The 2.0L turbocharged engine produces 250 hp, driving 20-inch wheels.
Altea (Production vehicle)
VW's Spanish brand, SEAT, took the wraps off of the Altea, which it calls
a prototype but also says it will go on sale next year. The Altea is the first
SEAT product developed within the Audi Brand Group, which was created in early
2002. It's an aerodynamic, four-passenger mono-space based on the Audi
A3 front-drive platform. SEAT calls the Altea an MSV, for Multi Sport Vehicle
- in other words, a crossover. The 2.0L engine produces 150 hp and moves
the Altea to 62 mph in 9.8 seconds on 19-inch wheels.
S40 (Production vehicle)
Although the new Volvo S40 is based on the Mazda3 platform, it has a distinct
and large-car feel. At its launch, later this year, three engines will be available:
two versions of a 2.5L five-cylinder powerplant, producing 140 and 170 hp, and
an entirely new 2.0L turbocharged diesel, developed with Peugeot, that generates
136 hp. Next year a turbocharged version of the 2.5L gas engine will be introduced,
increasing output to 220 hp, and it will be available with all-wheel drive.
In addition, 1.6L and 1.8L gas engines will also become available next year,
along with a 1.6L turbodiesel. The new S40 is shorter than its predecessor,
but at the same time it's wider and taller, creating more interior space.
The chassis technology was based on larger Volvo models, including the S40's
multilink rear suspension. US sales get underway at the end of the year, shortly
after the European launch.
Part 4: Non-European Brands
Chrysler 300C Touring (Concept vehicle)
Daewoo Lacetti (Production vehicle)
Ford Visos (Concept vehicle)
Hyundai CCS (Concept vehicle)
Lexus LS430 (Production vehicle)
Mazda3 (Production vehicle)
Mazda Kusabi (Concept vehicle)
Mitsubishi i (Concept vehicle)
Nissan Dunehawk (Concept vehicle)
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