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Daily Archives: January 16, 2014

The Mazda Hakaze Concept – An Avant-garde Approach

Drenched in the sultry tone of gold, the Mazda Hakaze concept is essentially the automaker’s future idea of a stylish looking compact crossover coupe with a roadster feel, which is also as practical as it can get. The brand, on its revelation back in 2007 claimed that if the Hakaze concept would get the cheers it deserves then the brand would put into production a not too dissimilar design. The name Hakaze finds its identity with a flying leaf, which is perfectly appropriate since Mazda is pushing the active lifestyle niche by making a strong connection to “kite-surfing”.

The  Mazda Hakaze compact crossover has just the same fluidity as its predecessors, along with all the typical show car trappings which include no door handles, exterior cameras in place of mirrors, insane lighting effects and such stuff. The brand asserts that albeit the fact that this C-segment vehicles is a CUV/SUV, yet it will feature the dynamics of a roadster, with taut handling and a partially removable roof. The surface of the car is evocative of the aforementioned concepts, drawing all of its inspiration from flowing sand dunes, which the Mazda’s design team calls the “flop” technique of color manipulation.

The Mazda Hakaze design concept has been conceived to be equipped with either a powerful DISI petrol engine or a diesel engine. The MZR 2.3 liter DISI petrol is a high performance turbocharged grunt featuring direct injection. This engine is mated to Mazda’s active torque split all wheel drive transmission. This being the Mazda’s then latest MZR petrol powertrain technology, is an ideal match to the adventurous and fun nature of the Mazda Hakaze. Delivering impressive power and high torque, the car delivers six speed sport automatic transmission and beach ready four wheel drive traction. One thing that strikes the most as you look at this amazing show car is its aerodynamic shape and lightweight body. This translates to the fact that not only the engine will make the drive in a Mazda Hakaze fun but would also use acceptable amount of petrol. The concept sports MacPherson front struts and multi-link rear suspension for agile, Zoom-Zoom handling, whether at the beach or in the city.

On the inside this concept is a triumph of form, texture and functionality. Nagare is a design concept developed by Mazda’s global design director, Laurens van den Acker. In Japanese the word means “flow” and “embodiment of movement” and the same is applied into the design of the Mazda Hakaze concept. Assistant chief designer, Jo Stenuit said, “Nagare is visible on the interior in the main surfaces, which are a combination of gently flowing volumes, with edges that slowly fade away.”

When the Mazda Hakaze is considered for production, the fact prevails that this concept would need to change. More conventional windshield pillars and regular hinged side doors would need to step in to make this dream SUV more practical. A distinct possibility would be an RX-8 type four door arrangement. Also, the interior would need more conventional seating and switchgear.

Hyundai’s Attempt at Shaping Future with the Nuvis Concept

The Hyundai Nuvis concept was unleashed at the 2009 New York Show, and it was yet another addition to the magnificent niche of hybrid crossovers, designed to pour in utility, compact-car-fuel economy and sci-fi avant-garde styling into one immaculate vehicle.

The Hyundai Nuvis was shaped at Hyundai’s design centre in Irvine, California. The futuristic car sports an SUV style body thus offering generous amount of passenger as well as cargo room almost like a sedan. Along with that, the vehicle stands with a wide stance and a lower roofline lending to the sporty element of the “sport utility vehicle”. The Hyundai Nuvis concept car is powered by a parallel hybrid system which is backed up by a 270 watt lithium power battery. This dream hybrid crossover has a potential of delivering an estimated 34 mpg city and 35 mpg highway as claimed by the brand, which is on par with the Ford Escape’s city mileage and four mpg extra that its highway mileage.

Hyundai’s signature Hybrid Blue Drive system operates analogous to the Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. The system basically mates a gasoline engine with an electric motor thereby taking off the load on the engine and enhancing the engine’s efficiency. In the case of Hyundai Nuvis, Hyundai’s 228 horsepower Theta II 2.4 liter inline four cylinder engine is combined with a 30 kW motor that is capable of getting the vehicle moving from a stop and also gives in extra power in order to accelerate and pass.

What’s more fascinating is that this concept car does not sport any ordinary Theta II engine for that matter. The engine, just like the entire drivetrain, has undergone an optimizing makeover in order to minimize friction that causes loss of efficiency. Hyundai has also brushed up the engine management software for efficiency wherever possible for a further boost up in the fuel economy of the vehicle. Along with all the other enhancing treatments to the SUV, the fourth, fifth and sixth gears of the six speed automatic transmission have been given with an extension to obtain better highway fuel economy. In accordance to what the brand claims, this lithium-polymer battery pack, stored under the rear cargo floor in the Nuvis is more space-efficient and smaller than the nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion battery packs of rest of the hybrids in the market. The Nuvis, thus weighs just 3400 pounds, according to Hyundai.

The brand says their inspiration to style the car came from running water and henceforth the lines and styling of the Hyundai Nuvis make it appear like it is always on the go. The graceful curves and contours get more specified as one looks beyond the pinched nose to farther sides of the car where the creases are smoother and cleaner. Perched on top of 22 inch wheels, the Hyundai Nuvis concept showcases the brand’s cutting edge capabilities, blending attributes of a tall urban car and a premium utility vehicle.

The Cadillac Provoq Concept

A midsized crossover with two rows of seating, driven by a fuel cell, the Cadillac Provoq concept was an important vehicle to note at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for two reasons – The Cadillac Provoq takes General Motor’s E-Flex powertrain technology to the next level and it was the first glimpse of a new small SUV for Cadillac, known to date as the BRX.

This five passenger concept which initially made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas uses GM’s E-Flex architecture that came into limelight at the 2007 North American International Auto Show with the Chevrolet Volt.

Showcased as a front wheel drive electric vehicle, this concept car has an all wheel drive capability. The Cadillac concept take the E-Flex technology propulsion system to the nest step and to a much larger vehicle that the compact little Volt. This concept also introduced the architecture to Cadillac, which was then determined to brand itself as the technology leader. The Provoq has 70 kW front drive electric motor and two rear motor of 30 kW each. Vehicle chief engineer of advanced system integration, Nick Zeielinski claims that the Cadillac Provoq can cruise from 0 to 60 mph in a sprint time of 8.3 seconds with a top speed of 100 mph. The fuel cell stack in the Cadillac Provoq is fifth generation technology. Reduced in size by a factor of one-third than the previous generation stack, it puts out 88 kW. This vehicle features a lithium ion battery pack which is good for 60 kW, and there is a plug for overnight charging.

190 inches long with a 110 inch wheelbase and 65 inches tall and 75 inches wide, the Cadillac Provoq shows an evolving face of Cadillac with a new grille and headlamps. Also, in a nod to technology, it has active front grille louvers that only open when the fuel stack needs to be cooled, otherwise, the grille remains closed in order to increase fuel efficiency. Along with the mobile grille, the Cadillac Provoq features so flush and smoothly constructed wheel spokes and polycarbonate filters that dramatically improves the vehicle aerodynamics. To that same end, the mirrors are as small as possible and the door handle pops out with a touch. On the inside, the Provoq lightens up its passengers’ mood with ambient lighting and GM’s commitment to quality materials is most evident.

The vehicle platform underpinning the Provoq was not such a great topic to discuss when the concept made its debut, however, Jim Taylor, Cadillac general manager, confirmed the Provoq to be a foretaste of the BRX crossover. The BRX hails from a new front wheel drive and all wheel drive platform dubbed TE that combines elements of the old Theta global compact crossover architecture and the Epsilon global mid-size platform. Presumably misspelled to be provocative, the Cadillac Provoq concept shows a little restraint in its vision of green car technology and will be one stylish plug-in hydrogen electric fuel-cell luxury SUV if transformed into reality.

A Swedish Alternative to Crossovers – Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept

Saab prepared to broaden its lineup beyond the 9-3 and 9-5 sedans. And that did not at all imply that the broadening up included the decidedly non Scandinavian Chevy Trailblazer based 9-7X. The brand decided to step into the super hot crossover arena. To that end, Saab pulled the wraps off the 9-4x BioPower concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Built on a new front wheel drive and all wheel drive platform known as TE, the Saab 9-4X BioPower, just like the Cadillac Provoq, sits on this combination of the old Theta global compact crossover architecture and the current Epsilon global midsize platform. The new Vue rides on this modified architecture and TE is also expected to spawn an SUC for Cadillac, dubbed the BRX.

In terms of styling, the 9-4X uses the Saab Aero X concept for inspiration in its interior and front end.

BioPower is Saab’s moniker for E85 capable vehicles. The Saab 9-4X BioPower concept is indeed optimized for the ethanol/gasoline mixture. The Saab 9-4X BioPower houses a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder engine which is capable of producing an average 241 horsepower and a torque of 260 pound feet when running on gasoline alone. The numbers are boomed to 260 horsepower and 295 pound feet of twist on E85. These increments in the numbers occur largely on the back of a turbo pressure boost to 17.4 psi, as higher octane E85 can handle higher pressures than regular gas. The all aluminum, direct engine’s compression ratio is an impressive 10.5:1.

As the brand estimates, Saab 9-4X BioPower would be able to return 22 mpg combined city and highway driving on gasoline and a figure that could drop by as much as 25 percent on E85.

The Saab BioPower 9-4X makes use of the Saab’s XWD all-wheel drive system, which made its debut on the 9-3. XWD is similar to other all wheel drive systems. Some of these systems include Acura’s SH-AWD and BMW’s version of xDrive in the way that it can shift torque not only from front to rear but also side to side at the rear axle. An electronically controlled limited slip differential handles the torque shifting duties.

The Saab 9-4X features a waterproof, rubber lined rear cargo area which sports a heated under floor compartment for boots, a sliding rear door for easy loading and a fold out ski holder that can accommodate up to three sets of skis and poles. The 9-4X concept rides on struts up and front and a multilink arrangement in the rear. A Sport button in the cabin allows the driver to stiffen the shocks for more spirited driving, while telling the six speed auto to shift later, setting the XWD default to send more torque rearward, enhancing the throttle sensitivity and decreasing steering boost.

In the form of the 9-4X BioPower concept car, Saab presented a bona fide contender in the entry luxury crossover arena. With a powerful engine, stylish looks, this concept from Saab offers almost all the technology one expects from a vehicle in this segment.

The 2015 Porsche Macan

Taking aim at the X3, Evoque and GLK, Porsche finally took the veils off its smaller luxury SUV scheduled to slot beneath the larger and more expensive Cayenne. The 2015 Porsche Macan was put into the light at the 2013 LA auto show. The long-awaited SUV’s revelation gave excellent preview of its petite body. As most of you might have expected, Macan’s front facade and much of its side profile looks like a scaled-down version of the existing Cayenne. And as a matter of fact, Cayenne’s lines work even better on this smaller body of Macan. Interestingly, at the back, a single-piece light bar replicates the taillight design used on the 911 sports car. 2015 Porsche Macan a chic and slick car and will be a great hit when it makes to production.

Macan, the name pronounced as “ma-chan” – an Indonesian word for “tiger”, was earlier rumored to be built off the same platform used for the Audi Q5 and was supposed to be sharing many of the mechanical and powertrain components of its corporate cousin. However, they de-Audi-ied the Macan into something sportier! When it launches, the Macan will offer two models – S and Turbo. Each of the models is powered by a twin turbocharged V6 engine. While the Macan S utilizes a 3.0 liter unit the Turbo gets a burlier 3.6 liter grunt. The S is sufficiently powerful churning out 340 horsepower but the Turbo takes it away with its whopping 400 ponies. Both the models come standard with an all wheel drive as well as a seven speed PDK dual clutch automatic transmission. A torque vectoring function of the rear axle is optional. According to the brands early performance estimates, the 2015 Porsche Macan S can reach 60 mph from rest in a sprint time of 5.2 second, while the 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo is capable of doing the same in a mere 4.6 seconds. Top speed is an impressive 156 mph for the S and 164 for the turbo.

All of the above performance comes in a package that is 2.1 inch longer in length and sits 0.2 inch lower and stretches a negligible 0.2 inches between its axles as compared to the Audi Q5. Also, holding on to the mantra of keeping it sportier, 2015 Porsche Macan is an inch wider than the Audi. However, the baby Cayenne still retains the Q5’s five-link front and trapezoidal link rear suspension, buts adds a variety of spring and damper choices.

The company’s Volkswagen parents thought that Porsche really needed a small crossover since a growing product portfolio is the best path to global profitability. Also a sure niche existed for a performance-themed small luxury crossover such as the Macan, as the segment’s current leaders – the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Cadillac SRX, the Mercedes Benz GLK Class and the Volvo XC60 – don’t stray much beyond practical. Expected to go on sale soon, the 2015 Porsche Macan will probably be priced around in the mid $45,000 range. A fully loaded 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo could even cost up to a massive $100,000 as told by Nick Twork, a Porsche Cars North America spokesman.

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