Last revised: 26-1-2009

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AutoRAI 2003: the concept cars

Citroen_C-Airdream_2002Citroën introduced a neat 2+2 GT concept at the 2002 Paris Motor Show. This C-Airdream model, part of a range of models with the letter "C" in the name for some reason, is low and sleek and, dare I say it, looks even better than the Alfa Romeo Brera. In Citroën's vision the C-Airdream "continues to explore the language of styling", but in effect it's a well-proportioned car with aspects of it dating back to the Volvo P1800 ES (sports stationcar) model of the early 1970s. Not earth-shattering, not uniquely original, but very pleasing to the eye.
Special aspects of the exterior styling of the C-Airdream are the stretched aerodynamic lines, the glass roof which makes for a very bright interior, the cut-off rear-end and the squarish flat front-end treatment. Though advanced in design the C-Airdream shows distinct Citroën lines reminding of the CX sedan. A nice gimmick are the headlights which follow the direction of the steering wheel, a feature introduced by Citroën in the late 1960s on its third generation DS model.

Citroen_C-Airdream_2002Underneath its attractive bodywork true avant garde technology is deployed. The C-Airdream is powered by a 3-litre V6 engine developing 210 hp @ 6000 rpm which is coupled to an automatic sequential gearbox, capable of adapting itself to the preferences of the driver. All controls are located on the steering wheel, including the ones usually operated by pedals. There is no direct connection between the controls and the mechanics they operate, all is done by "drive by wire" technology.
Even the steering and the braking are done by servo-assisted electronics. This way the steering has a variable ratio, distinguishing between parking manoeuvres and high-speed lane changes for instance. In general the dynamics of the car are continuously monitored and controlled by a central computer operating all electric components affecting the dynamics. Let's hope this computer doesn't crash while driving because then you'll be in serious trouble.
As usual with Citroën the suspension is of the hydraulic type, in this case in its newest Hydractive 3 form. It should provide for precision handling and ultimate ride comfort or so Citroën claim.

Could I have this car without the gizmos please?

Citroen_C-Crosser_2001Something completely different is this C-Crosser concept. No low and sleek styling here, practical versatility are the key words for this one. On the other hand the technology used in this concept, which first appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2001, is quite similar to that in the C-Airdream. The Hydractive 3 suspension system and full fly-by-wire controls are features of this concept as well.
The C-Crosser has modular bodywork which can change from a six seater space car to a flat bed pick-up with a push of a button. The glass roof and tailgate move away under the rear floor and the rear seats can be folded down to form a flat load area. The front cabin remains and can be closed by a glass screen moving up from behind the front seats.
Because of the electrically operated controls and the lack of pedals the drivers seat can be located on any of the three front seats by moving the steering control unit. Another feature adding to this vehicles versatility is its all-wheel drive system which, combined with the variable ride height of the Hydractive suspension, makes it go just about anywhere.

Well, if you like the whole SUV and space wagon trend of recent this might become the car for you. To me it looks just like a van.

Daewoo_Kalos_Irmscher_2002Probing the boundaries of concept vehicles is this Daewoo Kalos Irmscher. In essence it's a regular, Giugiaro designed (ouch!), Kalos 1.4 SE model gussied up by German Opel tuner Irmscher to test consumer interest in a sporty Daewoo compact. It features such exiting items like a new fog lamp design, an electric fabric sunroof, a twin exhaust tailpipe, uprated spring and damper settings, a lowered suspension and of course alloy wheels with wider tires.
What do you think? I can feel my blood racing already (ahem). Let's give the now General Motors controlled Daewoo some points for effort and move on.
Seriously, there is nothing wrong with producing a sensible, affordable compact. But to have it dressed up like an Autobahn bomb or a boy racer is just a bit sad. First get a respectable image, Daewoo, then try again.

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