Sporting Luxury: Four-Door, Four Seat Coupe Blends Sport and Luxury, Emphasis on Sport
As Porsche prepares the Panamera and Aston Martin the Rapide and as Mercedes-Benz saw some success early with the CLS four-door coupe, BMW is developing their own take on this recent sporty, luxurious four-door coupe formula. In an indication of automaker’s growing interest in China, as well as the penchant of China’s wealthiest population for ultra-luxury vehicles and BMW, BMW’s first worldwide concept car introduction in China was of the CS concept at the April 2007 Shanghai auto show. (CS for Coupe Sedan.)
The BMW Concept CS evolves BMW’s sporty flame surfacing to a much more mature and sophisticated look. The car looks taut and serious from the sides. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific see a fundamental problem with the approach being taken by the European carmakers. They are abandoning function for form. Clearly, the CLS, Panamera, Rapide and CS are beautiful cars, but as Mercedes has found with the CLS, they are difficult for a driver to live with. The rear seat in these cars is practically useless. And the rear doors in the 4-door bodystyle are only good for tossing a briefcase in. Our prediction: the buff books will love these cars, they will sell well at first to the Rodeo Drive crowd, but in the long run, they will act like sporty cars – popular for 12 to 18 months before fading out.
BMW’s upcoming four-door, four-seat coupe will go up against the Porsche and the Aston, as well as bridge a bit of the gap between 7-Series and Rolls-Royce. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it called 8-Series when it arrives, though this is not confirmed. The Concept CS is wider than the current 7-Series, though with a similar wheelbase and not quite as much overall length, and larger than the E-Class-based Mercedes CLS. The production car will look to 7-Series components for a platform, but indications are that BMW is planning this car as a low-volume proposition.
More will come as we learn it, but for now we’re happy to bring you the first official photos. The CS evolves the famously controversial BMW flame surfacing, resulting a crisp and dynamic look from the side and rear. The vehicle’s face, however, is simply awful. The kidney grille is much too large, and it looks more or less as though BMW is trying to create a wide-mouth, deep grille look similar to the one Audi is cultivating. The headlights sport a new technology that gives them a hooded look, and we can’t imagine why you’d want your sports tourer to look sleepy. BMW says the huge kidney grille is functional and would serve as the primary air supply to the engine, it just doesn’t work with the traditional BMW kidney grille. (BMW declined to indicate which engine was under this terrifically long hood, only saying that the need for such a large grille was obvious because “a power unit befitting the dynamic character of such a sports saloon most probably requires an ample flow of cooling air.” The long nose and short rear overhangs work well, and the interior does look fabulous.
The King of the Road Returns
Though not actually arriving in dealers until spring 2008, Ford used the 2007 New York auto show to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR, which was introduced at the 1967 New York auto show. And how best to commemorate the fabled first King of the Road? Build another, of course.
The 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR will be the third high-performance result of the current relationship between Mustang
and Shelby Automobiles
, after the 2007 Shelby GT500 and the GT-H Hertz rental Mustangs, with the example on display in New York a near-production show-car version. Ford is going forward with offering a special edition each year, as 2007 saw the Shelby GT500 and 2008 will see the GT500KR and the Mustang Bullitt. This is easily the best-looking of the Mustang editions shown so far.
Back forty years ago, the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR was the most powerful Mustang yet built, and the 2008 model carries the same distinction, with a 540HP 5.4L supercharged V8. Ford will only offer 1000 examples of the 2008 model, ensuring all will be accounted for before being built and making it more rare than the 1968 model, of which 1053 fastbacks and 517 convertibles were built. The 2008 example will only be offered as a coupe.
More below the fold.
A New Infiniti Is Just Around the Corner
Infiniti‘s EX Concept at the New York auto show previewed a vehicle you’ll find on showroom floors late this year, in plenty of time for the 2008 model year. The concept also previewed some new technology, including the next-generation of Infiniti’s Lane Departure Warning (now upgraded to Lane Departure Prevention) and a system for seeing all exterior views called Around View Monitors.
Infiniti’s FX has found a niche in the crossover SUV world based on its highly styled, coupe profile, but the brand missed the boat on a higher-volume entry like the Lexus RX. Though they weren’t the only ones (witness the Lincoln MKX for 2007MY and the Buick Enclave for 2008MY), and this product should address the issue. Typical of most Infiniti products, the EX offers a stylish exterior and nicely designed interior. The concept highlighted a nicely executed interior design with a simply stunning level of materials that may slip a notch between now and production.
Next, Hyundai Takes on Luxury Sport Sedans
As VehicleVoice reported earlier (click here), Hyundai revealed an upcoming rear-drive sedan as the Genesis concept at the New York Auto Show, and at what must have been one of the best-attended end-of-day press conferences ever. There was surprisingly little traffic around Genesis the next day during my walkaround. It was more difficult to get post-conference photos of the Infiniti EX or Ford Flex than the Hyundai, and we see the Genesis as one of the most significant introductions at this year’s show. (Click for our posting of Hyundai’s official Genesis photos.)
Genesis, known internally at Hyundai as “BH”, telegraphs Hyundai’s intention to seriously go after rear-drive sports sedans. The exterior design builds on styling credibility Hyundai has been developing, but the interior and the driving dynamics that will make or break this car are still under wraps. A miss on the exterior styling would keep people away, but even with strong styling the car will not make it all the way to consumer driveways if the interior is a disappointment.
Hyundai designers have created a smooth and elegant design, but Genesis does have one risk: It could blend in with the pack. Genesis takes styling cues from luxury brands all over the world (long, thin taillights much like the Lincoln Zephyr concept
, though the MKZ production
lights are taller; decklid bump from BMW
; narrow headlights similar to Acura
; lower LED fog lights along the lines of the Audi S6
) and shown off on a silver car, created a credible look for their upcoming sports sedan. The wheels are sharp, as is the subtle character line running from front fender, over the door handles, and into the taillights. Though the grille is among the elements that may be revised before production, it is clearly a Hyundai grille and shares some relationship to the Azera
Hyundai gave no hints as to the interior, but the exterior design is ready to play. There’s a fine, fine line between hitting the mark and going too far. Genesis won’t be accused of moving the needle and does not offer new design elements. But Hyundai is working its way into relatively conservative segments, and Genesis takes the safe route. Luxury sedan buyers look for elegance, simplicity, and style and don’t seem to adapt quickly to dramatic style shifts; witness the brouhaha that surrounded the latest 7-Series introduction. Hyundai is wise to start off with something elegant but that does not push the envelope just yet.
Will One of These Concepts Be Part of Chevy’s U.S. Future?
The flux of fuel prices and concerns about the environment are keeping fuel-efficient vehicles in the news. With General Motors‘ access to global small-car platforms; the use of the Chevrolet brand worldwide for affordable, reliable mainstream cars; and GM’s efforts to more effectively use their global resources, the potential exists for Chevrolet to add a small car for the States that would slot below the Aveo, though traditionally small cars are not profitable. Chevrolet would like to know if U.S. buyers are ready for the idea, and if they are, what type of vehicle might make the most impact. Check out more pictures and news and vote for your favorite at www.vote4chevrolet.com.
In studying this future, Chevrolet showed three dramatically different small-car concepts at the 2007 New York International Auto Show
. The idea, as a side benefit, also creates buzz around the Chevrolet brand and can help position them as forward thinkers amongst the youngest demographics. These concepts, Beat, Groove, and Trax, are designed to appeal to younger buyers and each fills a different theme and lifestyle. Each was designed by different designers at GM’s South Korean design studio on the same global mini architecture; the Beat was built in India, but the Groove and Trax built at GM’s Warren, Michigan, Tech Center.
Hyundai Motor America teased us recently with renderings of the concept of its upcoming BH rear wheel drive luxury car. The car will be shown at the 2007 New York Auto Show and HMA has released the following photographs of the concept…
As expected, the photographs of the Genesis concept show a much less radical sedan than the artist’s renderings. Renderings, of course, are usually “cheated” to emphasize cues the stylist prefers. Gone is the radical CLS roofline. But other aspects of the concept – like the front end appearance, likely will be “adjusted” prior to introduction.
In profile, the Genesis looks very BMW-ish, yes?
Geneva Concept Being Primed for Production
We’re not at the Geneva auto show this year, but that won’t stop us from bringing you some of the notable news, including a two-seat roadster concept from big, brawny, tough Dodge.
Dodge has the Viper to take care of its serious sports car image and the upcoming Challenger coupe (and likely convertible) to attract the mid-size Mustang-ready buyers, but they’re considering another relatively low-volume, high-image vehicle at the bottom end. Though this program may not see the light of day, industry rumors and speculation promises that it will be strongly considered and fought for.
Now that BMW has rolled out all four major variants of the 3-Series (sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible), it is time to move on to the really fun stuff. And the Geneva show timing is no accident, with Audi unveiling their A4-based A5 and S5 coupe at the same show.
Though this concept is close to what the real M3 will look like, hard information is still a little thin on the ground. European deliveries of the M3 are expected in fall 2007, and it’s possible that U.S. buyers wait as long as spring 2008. BMW confirmed that their “race-bred and road ready” sporting coupe will take a high-revving V8, but declined to specify which. Our guess? The V8 derived from the M5′s V10, with at least as much power as the Audi RS4 (420HP).
The M3 Concept is both stunning and discreet. The M3 Concept carries a strong, aggressive face. Coming up into anyone’s rear-view mirror with this nose certainly promises that you mean business. The three extra-large air intakes aren’t just for show, though; they are necessary for cooling the V8. The hood, with a bulging powerdome, that rises above the front fascia is made of aluminum for lower-weight.
The side view is dominated by muscular front and rear wheel arches surrounding nineteen-inch wheels, light alloy of course. Were you to be able to get up close, you’d see the high-performance M brakes between the spokes. A subtle boot spoiler graces the decklid instead of a tall, in-your-face piece of composite material, but the M double exhaust pipes promise more is under this body.
Along with the hood, BMW massaged most other body panels to create the M3 concept. The M3 Concept sports a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof, like the E46 M3 CSL and the M6 coupe. Only the doors, decklid, headlights, and taillights were unchanged compared with the new 3-Series coupe. The body-color mirrors are meant to be reminiscent of an aircraft wing, with a black double foot. Along with looking great, BMW says they were developed in the wind tunnel to enhance stability at high speeds.
Toyota Tests Viability of New-Generation Sports Car
The concept developed for Toyota‘s 2007 North American International Auto Show stand had both Supra and green-car enthusiasts drooling. Since Toyota dropped the Supra in 1997, rumors and dreams of its revival have repeatedly resurfaced. Supra enthusiasts reacted like Chevrolet Camaro fans; there weren’t enough of them buying the product to keep it around, but they still keep looking for a successor. It is not surprising that Toyota’s 2007 North American International Auto Show star concept, the FT-HS, was most often called a Supra successor.
Though many of those enthusiast dreams for a new Supra were dreams, ten years later the possibility remains for Toyota to again tackle the sports car segment. Is this truly a Supra successor? No. A production FT-HS would be in response to the market of today and where the company sees it going tomorrow. Toyota’s image might benefit from a halo car, to go along with the image of bulletproof reliability. And if Toyota does go for it, a hybrid powertrain is a good bet.
Detroit Concept Furthers Los Angeles Nagare
Back at the LA show in November 2006, Mazda showed a concept called Nagare to LA audiences (click here for our report). The Nagare (pronounced na-ga-reh) described future Mazda design themes as an expression of where Mazda styling might be in 2020. In Los Angeles, Mazda promised to follow it up with concepts at Detroit and Geneva in 2007 that would gradually grow closer to something we’ll see in showrooms soon. Mazda delivered the goods in January 2007 with Detroit’s Ryuga concept.
Nagare is one of more than 100 Japanese words describing the embodiment of motion, fitting for the first Mazda to explore their new surface language, and also the general name of Mazda’s new design philosphy. The second concept is the Ryuga (“ree-yoo-ga”). And, you guessed it, ryuga is another Japanese word for motion, this time “gracious flow.”