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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Sep 14, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


By Contributing Editor CHUCK DAPOZ

Frankfurt Part 4: Non-European Brands


Chrysler 300C Touring (Concept vehicle) Chrysler Group again made a statement about its commitment to markets outside of North American by unveiling the Chrysler 300C Touring, a concept station wagon version of the 300C, which was introduced in April at the New York International Auto Show. The 300C marks Chrysler's entry into the European E segment of rear-wheel-driver cars, 40% of which are wagons. Not surprisingly, the mechanicals and features of both cars are identical, including the 300-hp 5.7L HEMI V8, suspension and interior appointments. However, one added capability for the 300C Touring is the availability of all-wheel drive. The 300C and 300C Touring are schedule to go into production in late 2004. They'll be sold only outside of North America, which should strengthen Chrysler's image as a global brand


Daewoo Lacetti (Production vehicle) The Daewoo Lacetti is targeted at young, price-conscious buyers. It's a five-door, front-wheel-drive compact hatchback. Three engines are available, with displacements of 1.4L, 1.6L and 1.8L. The largest one clocks zero to 62 mph in 9.5 seconds. Four-wheel disc brakes and four-channel ABS are standard. The Lacetti will reach European showrooms in February.


Ford Visos (Concept vehicle) Ford rolled out its first purely European concept vehicle in many years, the Visos. Though the designers say they pulled a few design cues from Fords of the past, the Visos is not at all retro. Proportions are of a classic a 2+2 sport coupe. The B-pillar is hidden behind tinted glass, adding to the car's sleekness. The doors extend into the roofline, and the roof itself lifts up and folds inward, providing easy access to the rear seats. The engine is a six-cylinder bi-turbo, pumping 350 hp to all four of the 20-inch tires. Of course the Visos is a showcase for technology, incorporating what Ford calls "Active Surfacing" for example automatically deploying a rear spoiler, rear diffuser and front splitter when the car reaches about 55 mph. Inside, most dials and switches have been replaced by a high-definition LCD monitor in the center console. "We didn't want a pie-in-the-sky vehicle" said Chris Bird, Ford of Europe Design Director. From the outset, the Visos was intended as a feasible design, providing a hint of things to come from Ford.


Hyundai CCS (Concept vehicle) The Hyundai CCS (Coupe Cabriolet Study) is a striking convertible, a collaboration of Hyundai's Frankfurt-based Research and Development Center with convertible specialist Karmann. The roof not only moves away or folds into place at the touch of a button, it also includes an innovative sliding glass roof panel that can retract over the rear window. And with the roof folded, there's still cargo room in the trunk. The powerplant is the same one used in the Hyundai Coupe, a 2.7L V6 making 165 hp. Hyundai say the CCS is a concept vehicle, but it wants to gage public reaction and may take it into production. No word on whether it might head to the US.


Lexus LS430 (Production vehicle) On the outside, the new, third-generation Lexus LS430 is little changed, but inside and under the skin are impressive innovations. The 4.3L V8 develops 281 hp. Combined with an all-new electronically controlled six-speed auto transmission with sequential shift mode, it powers the Lexus flagship from zero to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds. Both luxury and advanced technology is found throughout the new LS. For example, its Intelligent Adaptive Front-lighting System improves night visibility by pointing the low-beam headlight toward the inside of a curve, based on vehicle speed, steering angle and other factors. The Lexus Parking Assist Monitor is effectively a video camera mounted in the rear license plate garnish; when the vehicle is in reverse, an image appears on the navigation display screen showing low-level objects. The rear seats are power-adjusted with pre-set memory functions. Bluetooth technology? Yep. Temperature-controlled front seats that both warm and cool? Of course. You get the point.


Mazda3 (Production vehicle) The new Mazda3 was unveiled in Frankfurt, and production is already underway in Japan, where it will be badged Axela, a combination of "accelerate" and "excellent." (We don't make this up. We just report it.) The Mazda3 shares a platform with the new Volvo S40 and European Ford Focus, with the vehicles sharing 60% of their components. The sharing of engineering know-how between the three Ford Motor Company brands looks like it's benefiting all vehicles. For example, Volvo's safety technology may provide the Mazda3 with a five-star safety rating. Two engines are available, a 2.0L delivering 148 hp and a 2.3L producing 160 hp. The Mazda3 goes on sale later this year in Europe as well as the US. Look for a base price of less than $15,000.


Mazda Kusabi (Concept vehicle) The Mazda Kusabi is a lightweight, diesel-powered sports car based on the Mazda2 platform, and it may show the design direction Mazda takes future products. In Japanese, kusabi means, "wedge," but it can also mean "making way for something new." Internally at Mazda until a few weeks ago, it was called the "Flattop." One look tells you why. The rear hatch opens conventionally, but the left and right halves can also open from the side, gull-wing style. The engine is a 1.6L common-rail diesel.


Mitsubishi i (Concept vehicle) The Mitsubishi i is a drivable concept vehicle and represents a radical small car it plans to launch in Japan in 2005. The name is derived from "myself and "love" ("ai" means love in Japanese), and also for "innovation" "imagination" and "intelligence." Mitsubishi claims the i offers the interior room of the next-larger segment. The designers and engineers made passive safety a priority, not only for passengers but also pedestrians. A 68-hp, three-cylinder 1.0L engine is mated to a CVT, driving the rear wheels. Acceleration is zero to 62 mph in 10.9 seconds. In its press materials Mitsubishi uses the slogan, "With i, being economical is fun."


Nissan Dunehawk (Concept vehicle) The Nissan Dunehawk is a mid-size SUV-minivan crossover, and perhaps a vision of where SUV design is headed. It offers seating for seven and versatile storage. The Dunehawk is equipped with a second generation of Nissan's ALL MODE 4x4 system, first seen on the X-TRAIL, and promises genuine off-roading ability with first-rate on-road performance. Nissan is not saying whether the Dunehawk is headed for production, but the company has previously promised two new 4x4s by 2005. Perhaps this is a sneak-peek at the next Pathfinder.

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