Last revised: 26-1-2009

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AutoRAI 2007: the concept cars

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Honda_Small_Hybrid_Sports_2007The dark and gloomy display of Honda showed one bright spark in the shape of the nimble Small Hybrid Sports concept. Besides its awkward name it shows a bit of promise, mainly that environmentally friendly motoring in the future can be exiting as well. In appearance it shows some similarities to the original CRX, sort of a modern classic which still gets young men drooling even if its design is few decades old.
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2007 it depicts Honda's vision on hybrid propelled cars in the near future. On paper this car has a 4-cylinder combustion engine, combined with an electric motor and a CVT-transmission. In fact this concept is a mock-up made of Styrofoam and plastic and without drivetrain. That makes it a styling exercise with some ecological flavor poured over it for good measure.
But who really cares about hybrid drivetrains anyway, that's just a silly marketing idea for the gullible. Regarded as a future production model this Honda concept seems encouraging. Nobody outside Japan ever understood why Honda has squandered a good idea like the CRX in the first place and now its German design center has picked up the thread where it was left with this concept.

Honda_Small_Hybrid_Sports_2007 The exterior shows a pleasantly curvaceous style, low and stubby, with a cut-off rear end almost like a classic Kamm-tail. Compared to its small frame, the car is only 4 metres long and 1.76 metres wide, the wheels are huge with 20 inch rims and 165/60 tires. Surprisingly they don't look out of place on the car, they give it a powerful look instead. Other features are a panoramic roof, with glass running from the bonnet to the rear end without interruption, and the lack of external mirrors. Rear vision is provided by cameras and screens.
Will Honda have the vision and guts to put a car like this on the market (again), preferably with a high revving VTEC-engine substituting the hybrid mumbo jumbo? They're toying with the idea, that's for sure. This design would be great to open up the market for younger drivers again and it does seem feasible enough. And it fits a history which dates back to the pretty little S600 coupe from the 1960s...

Jaguar_C-XF_2007This Jaguar concept will certainly appear on the market in some form. It's even supposed to be sort of the salvation of Jaguar, which hasn't been as successful as parent company Ford had hoped for. At its introduction during the 2007 Detroit Auto Show a statement was made that the replacement of the retro designed S-type would be very similar to the C-XF concept.
This time no retro design for Jaguar. After the smaller, conservatively styled X-type didn't fullfil expectations because of its close relation to the Ford Mondeo and the larger XJ disappointed because only experts noticed the differences to the previous model (even if it was a completely new and state of the art design) it became clear that a new strategy was needed. Designer Ian Callum created a modern, dynamic looking 4-door coupe after the latest fashion. Except from the front grill there's very little about the C-XF which reminds of previous Jaguar models.
There is just one snag, and it appears if you check out the Ford Iosis concept on the previous page. It looks very much alike, and the new Mondeo resembles the Iosis for quite a bit. What are the chances for the new XF, the production version of the C-XF, if it seems like a gussied up Mondeo?

Jaguar_C-XF_2007It's unlikely that Ford and Jaguar designers have copied each other's drawings, probably they followed the same trends and came to matching results independently but the similarities are striking. Even more so if you take into account that the Iosis was introduced 2 years before the C-XF!
Judged on its own merits the C-XF is a good looking car, brutal and aggressive yet with enough class to please the Jaguar buyer. Its typical front sets it apart from similar offerings from other manufacturers. The Best in Show award it received in Detroit however seems a bit too much honor, as this should indicate that the C-XF is the most significant and influential car presented, while it clearly is a trend following design.
The roomy interior of the C-XF is finished in traditional materials like wood, leather and aluminum but applied in a modern fashion with colors matching that of the exterior. In front of the driver are 3 round dials inspired by classic aircraft instruments. Fancy blue stripe lighting illuminates the interior all around. A novelty is the application of JaguarSense, in which sensors react to the occupants gestures and activates door handles and infotainment screens.
Under the bonnet a 4.2 litre supercharged V8 has been fitted as this concept is fully functional. It produces 420 hp @ 6250 rpm and hauls this car to its fixed top speed of 250 kph (apparently close to 300 kph without limiter). Transmitting the power are impressive 21 inch aluminum wheels.
The production version of the C-XF appears later in 2007 and, remarkably, is not a 4-door coupe but a more conventional 4-door sedan. Perhaps this will decrease the external similarities with the new Mondeo and give this new Jaguar a proper chance.

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