By Steve Laser
With the auto show season shifting into high gear, all eyes turn to Paris for the press preview of the biennial Mondial de l’Automobile. Let’s take a closer look at some of the exciting new concept vehicles that made their debut in the City of Light.
Audi TT Sportback
Here’s another twist on the four-door sports car that actually works. Audi has stretched its petite TT Coupe into a proper (and gorgeous) four-door. While it looks fantastic, as with most concepts of this ilk, it appears that those entering the rear seat need to mind their heads.
Taking its styling inspiration from the A5 and A7 Sportback models, the senior TT teams a 2.0-liter TFSI turbo four engine with a 7-speed S-tronic twin clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Inside, the Audi “virtual cockpit” replaces conventional displays and central MMI monitor. Will they build it? Audi says it’s a “Potential member of the TT family.”
Citroën C4 Cactus Airflow
This French auto maker (that left the U.S. market long ago) is still going strong. It’s recently introduced C4 Cactus crossover is just as quirky and lovable as Citroëns from the past. And to make it even more so, this concept focuses on advanced engineering techniques to help improve fuel economy.
For example, compared to the production model, the concept has reduced weight and improved aerodynamics with variable-geometry components. But the main attraction is its Hybrid Air drivetrain (Yes, it can run on AIR!).
Developed with parent company PSA Peugeot, it features a 3-cylinder gas engine, a compressed air energy storage unit, and a hydraulic pump/motor unit. Three operating modes include Air Power where the compressed air motor takes over from the petrol engine, Gas Power and Combined Power.
Honda Civic Type R
This spicy concept is the latest preview of the production Civic Type R that will go on sale in Europe next year. Motivation for the five-door hot hatch is provided by a turbocharged 2.0-liter i-VTEC four kicking out about 280 horsepower. Honda Motor Europe says it will deliver “Unmatched performance against any previous Type R, including all generations of the Civic, the Integra, Accord and even the NSX.” (Wow!)
With its 7,000-rpm redline and slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, the driver also gets to play with a new +R button that enhances engine, steering and Adaptive Damper response for stints at the track. While it makes us drool with anticipation, the sad part is that it’s unlikely to make the journey to America.
Infiniti Q80 Inspiration
Billed as “A future premium sedan,” Infiniti’s new Q80 Inspiration concept boldly goes where the auto maker hasn’t gone before. Namely, straight into the heart of the growing four-door fastback niche. This low-slung special with portal-style doors packs 500 horses from its hybrid drivetrain.
Infiniti says that the Q80 Inspiration “Previews autonomous driving technology which empowers and enhances the driving experience.” While the auto maker aims to expand its lineup into premium territory, it remains to be seen if a car like this will occupy the top rung or whether they steer toward something a bit more conventional.
We’re wishing that Peugeot would return to the U.S. market and bring Citroën with it. One of the reasons is its outstanding portfolio of concept cars that hint at future products. The one that really caught our eyes is this Quartz crossover.
If the knockout styling doesn’t attract your attention, perhaps the 500 horsepower plug-in hybrid drivetrain will? The 1.6-liter THP 270 powerplant developed by Peugeot Sport is mated to a six-speed gearbox. The front axle is also driven by an 85kW electric motor that charges the 400V battery while the rear axle gets its own 85kW motor.
Serving as a showcase of advanced technology, Renault says this lightweight B-segment concept features “Around 100 new, realistic technological developments designed to be introduced gradually on new production Renaults from now until 2020.”
The “100% Renault” Z.E. Hybrid powertrain with its 1.0-iiter 3-cylinder engine, 400V, 6.7 kWh battery, and clutchless 3-gear transmission is said to be capable of consuming just 1 liter of gas per 100km (about 282 mpg). That’s pretty impressive indeed.
Toyota released photos of its new C-HR concept ahead of the Paris debut, yet this crossover looks even more stunning on the display stand. With curves going in every direction, the sporty and aggressive concept is thought to preview a new small crossover to slot below the RAV4. (Imagine the front clip attached to a taller four-door body and you get the idea.)
Billed as a hybrid-powered compact crossover, C-HR rides on a new platform while adopting an equally new full-parallel hybrid powertrain that Toyota says will “Deliver significantly improved fuel efficiency.” With the popularity of the Nissan Juke and Honda just entering the market with its new HR-V, you can bet that Toyota’s plans will be announced soon.
News sources: Audi, Citroen, Honda, Infiniti, Renault, Toyota. Photos courtesy Newspress UK
Story ©2014 CarNichiWa.com