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AutoRAI 2001: the concept cars

Porsche_Carrera_GT_2000_f3q.JPGFar more serious than Peugeot's City Toyz but still very sculpture-like is this Porsche Carrera GT. Like so many concept cars shown here it was introduced at the 2000 Paris Auto Show.
It is a concept, but it is also very realistic. The Carrera GT might just be the new supercar Porsche, ready to take on the likes of Ferrari. When reactions to this car are favorable and production is feasible it can become available in 2003. But of course only to the very fortunate...
The Carrera GT - a real show-stopper and a highlight on the 2001 AutoRAI - is a race-bred roadster, capable of speeds exceeding 330 kph. It's design was styled to express the extreme thrill of a Porsche racing car combined with creating a genuine Porsche identity. By the looks of it the designers have succeeded: this very potent looking car is still slightly reminiscent of the feminine Porsche Boxster.

Porsche_Carrera_GT_2000_r3q.JPGThere's nothing feminine about the dynamics of this car: it's a brute. It's powered by a 5.5 litre V10 engine placed behind the seats (mid-engine lay-out). This normally aspirated unit produces an astounding 558 hp and an equally impressive 600 Nm torque, with engine speeds exceeding 8000 rpm. The light alloy engine features four valves per cylinder and intake ducts designed for optimum flow conditions.
The Carrera GT measures 4.56 x 1.92 x 1.19 metres (length x width x height) and weighs 1250 kg, not bad for a car packed wit a V10 and loads of technology. The body is largely constructed out of carbon fibre, which adds to its stiffness and safety as well as to its reduced weight. Acceleration from 0-100 kph is done in less than 4 seconds.
It's all kept on the road by advanced aerodynamics and huge 265/30 R 19 wheels in front and even bigger 335/30 R 20 wheels in the rear. Stopping power is provided by massive 380 mm diameter ceramic brake discs on all wheels. An impressive racing car for the street also, even when it's taken into production unobtainable for most and totally unpractical, but still: a dream car which can become a legend.

Renault_Initiale_1995.JPGAt the start of the new century the French Renault company has set out to acquire a more appealing up market status. Not only have they adopted the slogan "createur d'automobiles" as an extension to the French fashion tradition, but also a number of avant garde-styled concept cars have left the Renault ateliers over the past years.
One of the older concepts that was on display in Amsterdam was this Initiale, originally introduced in September 1995. Although the Initiale looks far more extreme, it is obvious that the design of the new Laguna production model was based on this car. The Initiale however was aimed at a much more exclusive market section than Renaults latest middle class saloon.
It is powered by a remarkable 3.5 litre V10 engine based on the RS6 Formula 1 racing engine, which was adapted for this car by Renault Sport. In this trim it turns out some 392 hp @ 8000 rpm and 360 Nm of torque @ 6200 rpm. It has a 6-speed gearbox and is capable of a top speed of 305 kph. Underneath the drive-train of the Safrane bi-turbo is fitted in combination with a newly designed platform. The Initiale's interior is opulent and trimmed with beige leather and maple wood. Of course all mod. cons. are fitted like climate control, a laser-disc player (not much use these days I guess), telephone and all sorts of driving aids. Anyway, it's a nice dramatic car to look at and though it's from the last century it doesn't look outdated.

Renault_Koleos_2000_f3q.JPGA more recent design is this Koleos, first shown at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show. It's one of the now fashionable mixes of saloon car with off-road car for the so-called SUV-segment.
The Koleos shows the typical Renault monospace look with some dramatic styling elements, most notably in front. It has a modern hybrid propulsion system, a combination of a regular 4-cylinder 16 valve turbocharged engine of 170 hp and a 40 hp electric motor. The regular combustion engine drives the front wheels and the electric engine the rear wheels. For full terrain mode the both engines work together to offer 4x4 traction. In city traffic the system automatically switches to the electric motor to reduce pollution, while on the open road the petrol engine takes over.
A remarkable feature are the huge 21'' wheels which give it a butch all-terrain car look. The car also has a variable-height suspension to give it more ground clearance while in terrain and less drag while on the highway; the difference between these modes is some 10 cm. and is chosen automatically by a computer system attached to a number of sensors. A neat feature is that this car can be converted in a sort of a pick-up by lowering the rear window into the tailgate and sliding the roof section over the boot space horizontally under the roof panel.
This car didn't really appeal to me; it's a bit of a poseur car, much too high to be sensible.

Continue the tour by clicking the arrows pointing right....

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