Last revised: 26-1-2009

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AutoRAI 2007: the concept cars

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Alfa_Romeo_8C_Spider_2005Following the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione from 2003 (which was shown at the 2005 AutoRAI) Alfa introduced an equally beautiful Spider version of this concept in 2005 at the Pebble Beach Concourse in the US. Like the coupe this spider is pleasantly retro, comprising and combining a number of exciting Alfa designs of the past into a modern and shapely sportscar.
Unlike the famous sportscar designs of the past this Spider is styled by Alfa's own Centro Stile under direction of German Wolfgang Egger. The result looks very realistic, like it can go for sale next week. Unfortunately this is not the case, though a production version of the 8C Competizione has been presented in 2007 and this car will be made in a limited number. It's not unlikely that the same will happen for the 8C Spider, on a similar base. Certainly this will boost Alfa Romeo's image and credibility since it has everything to make it irresistible.

Alfa_Romeo_8C_Spider_2005This open 2-seater may have classic looks, its construction and chassis is very up to date. The curvy and compact body has been made entirely of carbon fibre, ensuring a limited weight of 1500 kg. Underneath it shows a chassis and engine based on that of the Maserati GranSport. Its set-up is traditional, engine in front and rear wheel drive, and as the model name indicates it has an 8-cylinder engine. In this case it's a V8 unit of 4.2 litre displacement fitted with a turbo-charger, producing a hefty 400 hp and propelling the car to around 300 kph.
Inside the car a classic Alfa Romeo dashboard in black leather is facing the driver and passenger. Two large dials dominate the view behind the steering wheel, accented underneath by a large aluminum panel incorporating a set of vents and switches. Between the seats an aluminum console contains the radio and the lever of the 6-speed manual gearbox. Surprisingly a hood to cover the interior and its inhabitants has not yet been fitted to this concept.
The 8C Spider concept is a fully functional car which can be driven and tested. Although Alfa Romeo has indicated that it hasn't decided yet on the future of this concept the fact that it's a running car seems to say that production is seriously considered. Apparently only if enough potential buyers present themselves it will be taken into production. This can hardly be a problem, right?

Citroen_C-Metisse_2006Citroen has been enjoying an revival since the turn of the century with creatively designed cars which are a bit different from the rest on the market but not as idiosyncratic as the models for which Citroen is remembered most. This policy is supported with a constant stream of concept cars to probe the market and to establish an avant-garde image. A recent example of that is this intriguing C-Métisse concept which debuted on the Paris Motor Show in 2006.
The C-Métisse is Citroen's interpretation of the 4-door coupe style which came into fashion with the Mercedes CLS. While the Mercedes production car has traditional dynamic looks there's nothing traditional about this concept. It's low-slung with an aggressive front with huge air-intakes at the sides and a body with unexpected and confusing lines, shapes and details. Entry to the interior is provided by two pairs of gullwing doors; the front pair opening upward and forward and the rear pair turning virtually 90 degrees backward around the rear wheels.
Apart from looking wild the C-Métisse is also very streamlined, with a drag coefficient of only 0.30. The slippery body, only 1.24 m high, has been accentuated with chromed strips and details to give it a luxurious finish.

Citroen_C-Metisse_2006A car like this wouldn't be complete without a special means of propulsion. Citroen has chosen a diesel-hybrid drivetrain for this concept. This is actually not as far fetched as the exterior design; Citroen is planning to introduce a similar drivetrain in one of its production models in the near future.
In this case the drivetrain is composed of a V6 HDi diesel engine driving the front wheels and two electric motors each driving a rear wheel. The diesel engine produces 208 hp and each electric motor 20 hp (and a very high torque of 400 Nm). As usual in these arrangements the electric motors propel the car at low speeds and the combustion engine at high speeds, but this system can also combine the engines to provide 4-wheel drive and fast acceleration. This drivetrain is claimed to be both environmentally friendly and performance oriented, which is an unusual combination.
The futuristic interior features 4 separate bucket seats, each with its own air conditioning controls and ample leg room. It's trimmed in white leather with black accents and dashboard. Front headrests which are suspended from the ceiling form a nice eye-catcher.
Clearly the C-Métisse is more a show car and a styling exercise than a serious design for a future production car. As such it worked out well, its unusual proportions and shapes look better in reality than on these pictures and are impressive. It shows that the Citroen design department still has a fresh and inspired look on things.

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