Posts Tagged ‘concept cars’

Japanese Auto Art: Toyota’s Wooden Roadster

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Of the world’s top 10 largest automobile manufacturing names, Japan currently has six on the list, but only one of those companies has built a fully functional wooden car. Yes, you read that correctly. In an age when chopping down innocent woodland has fallen somewhat out of favor, some bright spark has decided it would be a great time to make a car out of dead trees. Not exactly what springs to mind when you think of “green motoring”.

Toyota Setsuna wooden concept car

Anyway, this particular wooden roadster showcases the beauty of okuri ari — a Japanese housed dovetail technique that requires no nails or screws. Toyota is unveiling this stunning car at Milan Design Week in Italy (April 12 – April 17, 2016). Filled with events, presentations, and exhibitions, the prestigious extravaganza is renowned for revealing forthcoming trends in the world of design. Except, perhaps, the likelihood of wood being the next carbon fiber still seems rather low to this writer.

A modest two-seat roadster, the Setsuna is a concept car that Toyota is tagging as a ‘Time Machine,’ though not for its ability to leap backward or forwards across the space-time continuum. In fact, the underlying focus of the entire campaign Toyota is touting centers around moving away from technology and being more cognizant of how significant and fleeting time is in the real world. Toyota engineer Kenji Tsuji, together with Kota Nezu of znug design, wanted the primary structural element of their design to illustrate aging and the passing of time. Wood, while unconventional, was precisely the material needed to embody their message.

Presumably, the point being that wood ages and decays. Of course, the same sense of the passage of time can also be seen on Japanese family cars from the eighties, as they rust and corrode. But that was a design flaw. This, however, is art.

Setsuna: Time and Timeless

The name Setsuna means “moment” or “instance” in Japanese. With this design, Toyota is appealing to the kind of old-school attachment car owners had with their vehicles over half a century ago.

They are seeking the kind of bond fanatical auto enthusiasts, and club members have for their hot rods. The minds inside Toyota want to tap into that feeling of owning an heirloom, and passing it down through multiple generations. The following are a few examples of just how passionate everyone involved in the project is about how and why the Setsuna is destined to be timeless.

The 100-Year Meter and the Setsuna Emblem

Setting a tone that denotes the “accumulation of moments” in a gradual and consistent manner, these two elements are beautiful examples of form over function. Their purpose is served by the sense they strive to evoke — the feeling of family roots.

The vintage-style meter of brushed aluminum is set in the stunning wood grain dashboard just to the right of the wipe-lacquered wood steering wheel. Two red hands tick off the time of day and the passing of days while a counter at the bottom logs the years as they go by. Perfect for anyone stuck in a Tokyo traffic jam, then.

The car’s emblem, which at first glance looks like a rotary saw blade, is actually a combination of much milder metaphors. The circular pattern is modeled after the rings inside a tree, which represent strength; they also signify a moment unfolding like a flower.

Although, if your eyes are not, in fact, deceiving you and it really is supposed to look like a saw blade, well how appropriate for a car made of wood. The fleeting nature of life as embodied in a wooden car meets its inescapable rendezvous with the circular saw of time, perhaps?

Which wood to choose?

To ensure that the Setsuna lasts as long as its lavish meter, the type of wood used was carefully selected based on where it would be in the car.

Exterior panels: Japanese cedar, known for its flexibility and vivid color along with a wood grain of refined character was a natural choice. Straight-grain panels achieve a sharp and even pattern because the cut is made toward the log’s center. Cross-grain panels have a softer appearance with a more irregular pattern which Toyota lauds as fostering a “quaint and friendly impression.”

Car frame: Supporting the weight of the vehicle and its occupants required an extremely rigid and sturdy variety of wood. The perfect selection was Japanese birch, which is similar to paper birch trees with the signature chalky white bark.

Floorboard: A species of flowering plant commonly used in the art of bonsai or as an ornamental tree, the Japanese Zelkova was chosen for its strength and durability.

Seats: Part of the ginseng family, the Castor Aralia is valued for its timber quality. Growing to nearly 100 feet tall with a 40-inch trunk diameter, this particular species was picked for the smooth texture of the wood. Designers sought to offer a feeling akin to sitting on a wooden park bench — in this case, a leather-covered bench.

Of course, as any environmentalist knows, if you want a material that lasts for centuries without decaying, you need look no further than the almost immortal plastic used to make grocery bags.

Put Together Like a Puzzle

The body of the Setsuna is built using 86 wood panels that have been fitted together in a way that enables single panels to be removed and replaced as necessary. Traditional Japanese techniques that use the interlocking methods of housed dovetail joints add to the overall strength and durability of their auto’s wooden body.

With this being a one-off, I assume that crash safety was not uppermost in the designers’ minds. While Japanese wood-framed houses rarely have to endure impacts, it’s not clear what protection the Setsuna would afford its occupants. Having dropped a few jigsaw puzzles on the floor in my time, I suspect it would be very little. And at speeds above walking pace, getting a splinter would be the least of your problems.

Toyota is sure to receive myriad accolades in Milan because their concept car — conceived by clever minds daring to push the boundaries of design — makes a beautiful statement both visually and conceptually. With a single electric motor as its only power source, the prototype can achieve a top speed of 28 mph and travel approximately 16 miles before needing to recharge.

To state the obvious, Toyota has no production plans for the wooden Setsuna. But this is not a bad thing. It’s a hugely flawed design boondoggle that sneers in the face of environmentalism – cutting down trees instead of hugging them.


Subaru XV Design Concept Debuted at 2016 Geneva Show

Posted by Stephen On Friday, March 4th, 2016

Whether it’s speed or performance boundaries that you’re looking to see redefined or it’s innovative technology and luxury that you’re looking to get your fill on, the Geneva Motor Show is where you’ll find all of the above in one exciting place. This is where leaders of the car industry come to show off their latest and greatest concepts in automobiles and every big car company highlights this week on the calendar as the time to present the most advanced vehicles to the world. Among the featured cars for this year’s March Madness, Subaru had a little something to earn bragging rights.

Subaru XV Concept Geneva 2016

For those who don’t remember, Subaru debuted a couple of Impreza concepts at the Tokyo, and Los Angeles car shows last year. The first car was one was a five-door hatch, and the second car was a sedan. However, the Impreza collection also includes the elevated Crosstrek, known as the XV in most other markets. So now at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Subaru presents the first certified preview at the high-riding, next-generation Impreza, by way of this XV Concept.

While the specifics were few, what you see is what you get here. The XV certainly has a more powerful take on the sedan and hatchback models that came before it, in keeping with the Crosstrek’s character. The new concept rides on 19-inch wheels which definitely won’t make it to production, and you can anticipate some sort of boxer four-cylinder engine to drive power to all four wheels.

All in all, the XV Concept does look pretty decent. However, Subaru has a very long history of making eye-catching concept cars that don’t exactly carry their attractiveness over to production. Nonetheless, the existing Crosstrek has a bit of a rugged handsomeness to it, so let’s hope something parallel occurs when this concept ultimately transforms into a production model in the upcoming year.


Honda Active Life Concept at UK Triathalon Show

Posted by Stephen On Friday, January 22nd, 2016

The UK Triathlon Auto Show will take place at ExCel in London this year. It is a three-day event that will be held Feb. 11 through Feb. 14. This is where Honda plans on using this event to debut their Active Life Concept.

Honda Civic Active Life Tourer Concept Car

What appears to be a hatchback Honda Civic Sport Type R plans on having enough room to accommodate two bicycles in its trunk. It had to sacrifice a second seat to do it, but it’s also intended for a targeted audience – which I’m guessing is not families – but is those “active life” triathletes.

The really sweet thing about this car is that it has a retractable arm that will allow you to perform bike repair from the trunk. The toolbox, bottle holder, front wheel holder and the water take all integrated into the side lining.

It comes with a box in the roof – aerodynamically designed and sized perfectly for helmets and shoes – vital accessories for the avid mountain biker.

In photos, the concept car is blue and fades into a silver lining. Although suede and leather are found on the front seats, the Japanese automaker has continued the blue theme on the interior by adding blue stitching to the gearshift and the steering wheel – and then they touched it up with blue piping running through the center and upper outer areas of the two seats and directly into the suede door lining. The black roof interior is typical of a Honda Civic.

They may not be debuting this concept at the auto show, but is not the first time that this design has been presented. It made its first appearance at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The entire vehicle receives its inspiration from the Honda Civic Tourer estate – the same vehicle that is able to swallow up to 1668 liters of trunk space when the rear seats are folded down.

And not one to miss a chance to push their brand on the younger audience, Honda plans on affording children ages 5 to 11 the opportunity to try their hand at a motorcycle for the first time. The bike will be a standard 50cc bike and will be supervised by experienced trainers. After all, even youngsters need to learn the basics in a controlled and safe environment.


Nissan Officially Kills Our IDx Dream

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Nissan IDx Concepts

It’s a sad day.

Remember the Nissan IDx concepts we originally saw a couple years ago at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show?

At the time, Nissan told us that they were definitely going to make the cars as long as enough fans got behind the design. They didn’t specify a production date or anything like that, but they did make two different iterations of the concept – the Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept and the IDx NISMO Concept.

Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept

After the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, the automotive blogosphere went wild. Everyone loved these two retro sports car concepts. Just as Nissan intended, they “exemplified Nissan’s fresh approach to contemplating car design and kindled a fire in the hearts of people fond of the good old days of high-performance cars.” Nissan didn’t even try to build hype for the cars; there was no pre-show teasers or press campaigns or anything like that. The two concepts literally showed up in Tokyo out of nowhere and charmed the world.

Then, two months after the cars were shown in Tokyo, Nissan officials came out saying that they’d heard the loud praises of their fan base… They virtually promised that there would be a production model coming from the two concept cars. In our coverage, we optimistically hoped to see some sort of prototype in the first half of 2014.

And yet, here we are.

Nissan IDx NISMO Concept

At the beginning of this year, Nissan told us they still had the IDx cars on the table, but that they were “shifting priorities” to volume cars. Now, we’re almost halfway through 2015, and Nissan has finally come out and admitted that they will NOT be developing production models from the IDx Concepts.

The news comes from an interview between The Truth About Cars and Nissan NA’s VP of Product Planning, Pierre Loing. In the interview, he lamented, “The IDx is an interesting project; a show car that received good reception. But, to go from concept to production, the reality always kicks in.”

Indeed it does, Nissan. Indeed it does.

Apparently, the problem is that both IDx Concepts were designed and developed for a compact rear-wheel drive platform… Something that neither Nissan nor their sister company, Renault, currently have available in any of their production models. Or at least, not in a size small enough for a low-displacement coupe. They have several front-wheel drive platforms available, and the much larger platform they use for the 370Z, but that would require a total redevelopment of the IDx models.

That means that the only way the IDx can happen is if Nissan devotes substantial resources to developing and manufacturing an all-new platform for a car that, sure, the public loves, but ultimately wouldn’t sell in any real volume. Just look at the likes of the Scion FR-S… It’s a great little sports car that had great reception, but three years after its launch, sales are already starting to wane.

Be sure to pour one out for the officially axed IDx sports car this weekend.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2009 Nissan Fairlady Z NISMO

2009 Nissan Fairlady Z

If we can’t have a new IDx retro car, we can at the very least celebrate the sports cars that Nissan does have available. Although the GT-R is probably the first Nissan sports car that pops into most folks’ minds, the Fairlady Z has been a long-time favorite as well.

2009 Nissan Fairlady Z rear

As you can see, the Fairlady Z (aka. the 370Z) certainly isn’t a retro-styled car, but it still looks great and drives great too.

2009 Nissan Fairlady Z interior

This particular find is for a 2009 MY and has been tuned up by NISMO. It’s also in pretty good shape with an overall rating of 4. You can get more details from the auction sheet translation below.

2009 Nissan Fairlady Z auction sheet

Interior B, exterior B, Nismo Version, first registered October 2009, six-speed manual gearbox, AAC, one owner, Carwings compatible navigation system and digital TV, half-leather seats, original 19 inch alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, intelligent key, pushbutton starter, original CD, reversing rearview camera, seats scratched, wheels scratched, door mirrors scratched, front windshield scratched, interior grime and scratches, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map


Suzuki iM-4 Concept Confirmed for Production

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, May 16th, 2015

2015 Suzuki iM-4 Concept news

Remember the Suzuki iM-4 Concept we saw earlier this year at the 2015 Geneva motor show? It was shown alongside the iK-2 Concept. Well, according to a recent report from Automotive Express, Suzuki executives have finally given the official go-ahead for production. That means the 4×4 crossover concept will hit the market in production form either at the end of 2017 or at the beginning of 2018, offered as a 2018 MY in both cases.

As a quick refresher course, the iM-4 Concept we saw in Geneva had a number of cool features that we hope to see in the eventual production model. For one, the retro-styled design is actually very eye-catching, and we hope to see the concept’s quirky aesthetic carried over to production. The concept was shown in Geneva with a new 1.2L DUALJET engine and an all-new platform unique to any other Suzuki models. It also used a SHVS hybrid system, but AE said that a hybrid production model isn’t guaranteed.

2015 Suzuki iK-2 Concept news

In the meantime, Suzuki plans to roll out a new Suzuki Swift and Suzuki Swift Sport for the 2017MY, although a definite launch date hasn’t been set. All we know is that they’ll be much like today’s Swift models, but lighter and with a bit more oomph in the Sport model. These cars will NOT be based on the iK-2 Concept though… The iK-2 will come to market as a slightly longer hatch to appease the consistent customer complaints of the Swift not having enough rear legroom.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2015 Suzuki Jimny

2015 Suzuki Jimny

Interestingly, we’d suspected that the iM-4 may come to market as a replacement for the near-twenty year-old Suzuki Jimny. Turns out, Suzuki is planning to launch a new generation of the Jimny sometime in the next few years, but it the iM-4 won’t be that car. Instead, the new Jimny will maintain the same customer intent as the current one – a back-to-basics off-road-ready crossover built on a ladder chassis and AWD.

To give you an idea of what that might look like, what we see here is a 2015 Suzuki Jimny in literally perfect condition. The seats are even wrapped, with only 3 km on the odometer.

2015 Suzuki Jimny rear

It’s easy to see what makes the Jimny so appealing… It’s rugged, clean and extremely capable. This particular Jimny is one of the kei car variants, which means it runs on a small, highly efficient 660cc engine.

2015 Suzuki Jimny interior

With well-rounded interior amenities, a surprising amount of cabin space, a ruggedly retro look and some stylish custom wheels, this auction find is one worth bookmarking. Get more details via the auction sheet translation below:

2015 Suzuki Jimny auction sheet

Grade S, interior A, first registered January 2015, Jimny Land Venture model, 5-speed manual, AC, ABA emissions code, dual airbags, ABS, 4WD, electrical retraction mechanism on mirrors, heated mirrors, indicator door mirrors, keyless entry, smoked glass windows, special chrome grill, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, no stereo fitted, part-time 4WD, special water repellant seats with heaters, special seat covers, leather steering wheel (with stereo switches), special dark silver alloy wheels, front under decorative part, LED ring fog lights, marks as per map


Production Nissan Lannia Coming to Auto Shanghai

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Nissan Lannie teaser

While the 2015 New York Auto Show technically concluded the spring auto season, our friends in China are just warming up. Barely a week after the NY Auto Show’s opening, automakers are already starting to tease new cars and concepts for the upcoming 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. Our first teaser for the event is one from Nissan for their production-spec Nissan Lannia. Nissan has kindly provided both an image preview (above) and a video teaser (below) to get us hyped:

The Nissan Lannia was originally shown all the way back at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show as the Nissan Friend-ME Concept – a social-centric car that integrated social media and entertainment technology into the cabin for all four occupants. Then, at last year’s Beijing Auto Show (the shows in Shanghai and Beijing alternate years), Nissan showed us a full-fledged Lannia Concept.

Now, after two years of “what if”, it looks like Nissan’s newest youth-targeted car is ready to break onto dealership floors in China. After the car’s official debut later this month, it’s expected to go on sale as a 2016 model in the second half of this year.

What’s special about the Lannia is that this will be the first car Nissan has built and developed exclusively for the Chinese market. More specifically, they’re targeting the younger generation of drivers between ages 20 and 33 or so.

That means the Lannia won’t be available anywhere outside of China when it launches later this year, but former Nissan CPO Andy Palmer had hinted that it may eventually make its way into international markets. Either way, we expect the new Nissan Lannia to look a lot like the 2016 Nissan Maxima that made its own official debut just last week in New York, albeit with a more muscular front clip and a more youth-targeted interior. However, the V-motion front grille and boomerang headlights look like they’ll remain the same.

While the Shanghai Auto Show is an event targeted exclusively at the Chinese market, keep in mind that the Lannia’s target market – Chinese drivers aged 20 to 30 – is currently about 240 million strong. The entire US only holds about 320 million people, so this is certainly a market worth investing in for the world’s second largest Japanese automaker.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Volkswagen Passat

2014 Volkswagen Passat

There’s no doubt that Volkswagen is the automaker with the strongest hold on the Chinese market. In January of this year, the top five best-sellers in the China were all Volkswagen models. If Nissan wants to build a significant presence in China, they’ll have to go through Volkswagen first.

2014 Volkswagen Passat rear

The Volkswagen Passat has always been an extremely strong-seller in China, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the flawless combination of aggressive sports appeal and refined finesse –perfect for the ambitious Chinese business class.

2014 Volkswagen Passat interior

To learn more about this Japanese car auction find, get a full translation of the auction sheet below:

2014 Volkswagen Passat auction sheet

“Interior A, exterior condition A, first registered March 2014, TSI Comfortline Bluemotion, DBA emissions code, FAT, HI headlights, original alloy wheels, official dealer RHD import, AAC, model year unknown, wheels scratched, interior grime and scratches, minor scratches, marks as per map”


This Subaru STI Performance Concept Looks Awesome

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, April 4th, 2015

2015 Subaru STI Performance Concept

Somehow, we completely missed the fact that Subaru had a sweet new concept car planned for the 2015 New York Auto Show in our rundown of NY cars to look out for earlier this week. But, we’re not complaining – this Subaru STI Performance Concept is one of the best surprises we’ve had all year!

2015 Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

Let’s start with intent. Subaru tells us that the STI Performance Concept is meant to “showcase the engineering prowess and tuning capability of STI.” Apparently this concept heralds an attempts to expand their performance sub-brand in the US market. Over the next couple years, they plan to pay a lot more attention to upgraded tuner parts and special performance editions. As far as performance editions go, we’re thrilled they’ve started with the BRZ.

We should make a quick disclaimer here though… This car isn’t meant to be the BRZ STI we’ve all been waiting for. It might be, but Subaru isn’t presenting it that way in New York. Instead, as the name STI Performance Concept implies, it really is meant to be all about the STI brand, not the BRZ car.

Unfortunately, Subaru declined to share any hard specs about this new STI Performance Concept. All they told us is that the concept “features enhancements for chassis, body, and air intake/exhaust systems,” and that the “Concept’s engine is based on the racing engine from the Subaru BRZ Super GT race car.”

Subaru BRZ Performance Concept

Even though it’s a little disappointing that the STI Performance Concept isn’t a prototype for an actual model, we can still hope that this means a BRZ STI is in the not-too-distant future. And either way, we love everything about this concept. The black mesh STI grille with that silver textured insert is crisp, the hallmark STI red accents are eye-catching, the chrome alloys are bold and exciting, and of course you can’t miss that ginormous carbon fiber rear spoiler.

From the back, you can see that Subaru’s added what looks to be carbon fiber rear diffusers and a twin sports exhaust, and even the side skirts look to be made from carbon fiber.

Subaru STI Performance Concept interior

The interior is equally impressive. We love the simple all-black color scheme with only a few red accents. The seats look heavily sculpted for plenty of grip and are upholstered in what looks like a mixture of leather and suede. Looking at the dash, you can make out the “Race Widget” on the color LCD, as well as switches for different driving modes above the air conditioning controls.

Subaru STI Performance Concept dashboard

In Japan, Subaru’s STI performance models revolve around the BRZ, Forester and of course the WRX STI. We can’t wait to see those cars (and hopefully more models) develop a bigger presence for STI in the US. Click here to read the full press release.


Wrapping Up the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Posted by Stephen On Friday, March 13th, 2015

The 2015 Geneva Motor Show officially closes its doors this weekend on March 15, and most of the Internet had moved on by mid-last week. However, there are a few really cool concepts we have yet to highlight, so today we’re going to do a quick wrap-up to make sure you get to see everything.

Infiniti QX30 Concept

Infiniti QX30 Concept unveiling

We had really high hopes for the Infiniti QX30 Concept after the B-roll teaser we saw just a couple days before the event. Sure enough, the premium compact crossover that Infiniti showed off in Geneva was arguably one of the best-looking cars of the show.

What we really love about the Infiniti QX30, though, is that it’s a truly European model. For many years, both Nissan and Infiniti struggled to identify exactly what European drivers wanted out of their vehicles. Over the past five years, the Japanese automaker has really found their footing.

Infiniti QX30 Concept at the Geneva Motor Show

With those heavily sculpted lower bumpers, 21-inch wheels, and a functional roof rack framing the floating roof, this new premium crossover looks well-primed to take on the best of the best from European automakers. We expect the QX30 to launch shortly after the upcoming Infiniti Q30 hatchback, and our bet is that this premium compact crossover will quickly jump to the top of Infiniti’s European sales.

Goodyear Bh-O3 & Triple Tube Tire Concepts

Goodyear BH-03 and Triple Tube Tire Concepts

Bh-03 tire concept (right) and Triple Tube tire concept (left)

Tire concepts… Kind of weird, right?

That’s what we thought too, but after looking at them we’re honestly shocked these didn’t get more coverage. These innovative Goodyear concept tires are actually really cool! While they definitely won’t make it to production anytime soon, it’s good to see that car manufacturers aren’t the only ones innovating in the automotive industry.

The first tire concept is called the Triple Tube tire. It gets its name from the fact that there are three individual tubes that run around the inside of the tire, which allow the tire to literally change shape depending on the needs of the driver and road conditions.

  • Eco / Safety Mode – All three outer tubes are inflated normally. This is more or less ‘normal’ driving mode.
  • Wet Traction Mode – Here, the center tube is extra-inflated. This causes the car’s weight to be pinpointed to the middle part of the tire, which uses a raised tread to significantly reduce the chance of hydroplaning.
  • Sporty Mode – In this mode, the inboard shoulder tube is deflated (the one closest to the middle of the car), which gives drivers crisp track handling with an optimized contact patch.

The BH-03 concept tire has much more straightforward purpose. It harnesses heat created by normal driving to produce electricity, which can then be routed to the motor of a hybrid or electric car. It’s a simple goal that’s accomplished with nothing short of mechanical genius:

2016 Honda Civic Type-R

2016 Honda Civic Type-R

Honda’s new “racecar for the road” was one of the few production models to make its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. To be fair, we saw more than our share of Honda Civic Type-R concepts and prototypes, so this was certainly a long time coming.

The hot hatch Honda showed in Geneva is the same model that recently broke a Nürburgring record by lapping the track in under eight minutes – 7 minutes, 50.63 seconds to be exact. That’s thanks to an explosive 2.0L turbocharged VTEC engine that outputs 306 bhp and a full 400 Nm (295 ft-lb) of torque.

2016 Honda Civic Type-R interior

From a styling standpoint, the new Honda Civic Type-R is about exactly what we hoped for after seeing the previous prototypes. Honda has kept the car’s extremely aggressive stance intact, complete with a truly epic rear spoiler. And that interior is to die for!


Suzuki iM-4 and iK-2 Concepts Debut in Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Suzuki is making a statement about their place in the European market at this month’s 2015 Geneva Motor Show. They’ve brought two all-new concepts to the event, each one targeted at a highly competitive segment.

The first is a mini 4×4 crossover called the iM-4 Concept, the second is a new hatchback called the iK-2 Concept. Learn more about each one below.

Suzuki iM-4 Concept

We were actually surprised by how clean and composed both of these concept cars look from Suzuki, especially the iM-4.

2015 Suzuki iM-4 Concept

Suzuki’s designated theme for the development of this car was “Shape the Inspiration.” We don’t know where they were getting their inspiration from, but the end result is an eye-catchingly retro, off-road-ready compact SUV that looks like it has a lot to offer.

2015 Suzuki iM-4 Concept rear

Perhaps most importantly, the iM-4 Concept is a hybrid, which instantly separates it from a lot of the other small SUVs on the market. It runs on a 1.2L DUALJET engine paired with an all-new platform and an SHVS hybrid system, allowing for “excellent fuel consumption with low CO2 emissions.”

Suzuki iK-2 Concept

Here we have a brand-new compact hatchback that Suzuki has dubbed the iK-2 Concept.

Unlike the iM-4 Concept, the iK-2 already has a number of well-established competitors that it’ll be facing up against, chief among them probably being the Ford Fiesta. Even at Geneva, the iK-2 is competing with the Nissan Sway Concept for attention.

Suzuki ik-2 Concept

Fortunately, the iK-2 Concept looks up for the task. Like the iM-4, it features the same all-new platform and is powered by a freshly developed engine code-named BOOSTERJET. We know it’s a 1.0L petrol with direct-injection and a turbocharger; unfortunately, you’ll have to use your imagination to envision the specific level of performance output this new powertrain will yield.

What you DON’T have to imagine is how well Suzuki has styled this new iK-2 hatch. Where the iM-4 is retro and angular, the iK-2 is much more elegant and refined. The styling hints at the drive quality too; Suzuki claims the iK-2 Concept offers a spirited ride that delivers excess excitement with conservative fuel economy.

Suzuki iK-2 Concept rear

Suzuki made no mention of a possible launch date for either of these two new concepts. However, both look close enough to production that our unofficial guess would be that these will hit the European market by the end of the year as 2016MY’s.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Suzuki Swift RS

2014 Suzuki Swift RS

Probably the most comparable car to the Suzuki iK-2 Concept currently in the Japanese automaker’s lineup is the Suzuki Swift. Especially if you’re looking at one of the extra-sporty Suzuki Swift RS models, like the 2014MY up for auction here.

2014 Suzuki Swift RS rear

The Suzuki Swift RS is a front-wheel drive five-door hatch powered by a naturally aspirated 1.2L four-cylinder engine that outputs a conservative 90 bhp and 87 lb-ft of torque.

2014 Suzuki Swift RS interior

This particular model is lucky enough to feature an upgraded automatic transmission, and some other standard tech like anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, power steering and windows, and dual air bags for added safety.

To learn more about this 2014 Suzuki Swift RS, keep reading below the auction sheet.

2014 Suzuki Swift RS auction sheet

“Grade S, interior A, first registered June 2014, RS model, FAT, AAC, service book, original AWs, power steering, power windows, airbag, push button starter and key-free system, electrical retraction mechanism on door mirrors, indicator door mirrors, discharge headlights and fog lights, original body kit, DBA emissions code, paddle shift, no stereo fitted, marks as per map@”


Lexus LF-SA Concept City Car Debuts in Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Friday, March 6th, 2015

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept

One of the most innovative new concept cars on display at this week’s 2015 Geneva Motor Show is the all-new Lexus LF-SA Concept. Its name stands for Lexus Future Small Adventurer, so you can keep that in mind as you see the model in action in the video below:

Lexus tells us that the LF-SA Concept was designed by the Toyota Europe Design Development team located in Nice, France, and that it represents the newest adaptation of their ‘L-Finesse’ design language.

Looking at the exterior, it’s clear that this car’s design team intended to take L-Finesse in an aggressively futuristic direction. The ultra-compact LF-SA Concept’s entire body is only 3.45m long and 1.7m wide, standing only 1.43m tall.

Lexus LF-SA Concept profile

Despite its petite stature, the exterior is rugged and dominant, like some sort of ferocious reptile with its maw open wide. Notice the inset ridge extending out from the headlights along the top of the wheel wells, and the wide ‘V’ shape made by the body lines along the side. The core of the LF-SA’s exterior, though, is undoubtedly that enormous 3D mesh pinched grille, with huge fog light slits cut into the front fender.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept rear

The LF-SA Concept’s rear-end is perhaps even more strikingly sculpted than the front with a rear spoiler, then a rear taper, then two humongous bulging rear wheel wells. And of course, you can’t miss those custom chrome alloy wheels with black brushed steel between the spokes.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept interior

Moving inside, our glimpse into the future continues with a 2+2 cabin that’s stuffed full of space-age amenities like a hologram display, touch pad and a heads-up display for the windshield. We can also see some sort of electronic rear-view mirror, and a crystalline dashboard interface.

Also note that Lexus has structured the entire cabin around the driver, hence the special dark blue coloring of the driver’s seat. In fact, the driver’s seat is stationary… The pedals and steering wheel are adjusted to fit the driver’s body, instead of moving the seat. Meanwhile, the rear seats are accessed by pulling the front passenger’s seat forward.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept birds-eye view

Unfortunately, Lexus had nothing to say about the LF-SA’s powertrain, which means that we’re still probably at least one conceptual iteration away from seeing a production-ready model. To get a better idea of what a production LF-SA would look like, our suggestion is to imagine a Lexus NX without rear doors and a slightly lower ride. We’ll have to wait until later this year to know for sure.

Either way, a city car absolutely makes sense for Lexus’ lineup, especially in Europe where these three-door micro cars are a viable trend.