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Live from the Geneva Motor Show!

Sports cars revving up the event’s appeal.

by on Mar.03, 2015

The 85th Geneva Motor Show is done and its more than 130 worldwide or European debuts of luxury marques, exotic sports cars and cutting-edge compacts are over. But even as makers are packing up their alternative fuel vehicles, battery-cars, diesels and hydrogen vehicles at the Swiss show, news is still being made.

TheDetroitBureau.com is keeping its journalistic finger on the pulse of the attendees and their products.

Don’t miss out on TheDetroitBureau.com’s extensive and ongoing coverage. So, check in often for more from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

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Toyota Teases C-HR Crossover Concept

"Innovative vision" could signal new Scion cute-ute.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Toyota offers up a teaser silhouette of the C-HR concept crossover coming to the Paris Motor Show.

Toyota helped define the small crossover when it launched the original RAV4 two decades ago. Now it’s apparently getting ready to take things a step further with the “innovative vision for a compact crossover” it will introduce at the Paris Motor Show in less than a month.

The Japanese reveals the new model has been dubbed the C-HR, and it’s offering up this teaser silhouette image, but beyond a few gushing platitudes, it is providing few specific details.

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Among other things, we learn from its news release, the Toyota C-HR marries “a new design language with an engaging driving experience and a hybrid powertrain.”

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First Look: Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan

Compact family car concept updates outgoing Golf Plus.

by on Sep.09, 2013

VW's Golf Sportsvan Concept gives a good hint of what's to come with the Golf Plus successor.

It’s going to be a busy week in Frankfurt as automakers from around the world roll out some of their hottest new products to kick off the new model-year. And nobody is going to be busier than the Volkswagen Group which will hold its annual group event Monday night offering attending media a first glimpse at a good dozen of those new offerings – at least one from each of the German maker’s myriad brands.

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Among the more intriguing models will be the Golf Sportsvan concept. Don’t let the show car designation fool you, however, as this is a very, very thinly disguised version of the production people-mover that will soon replace the outgoing Golf Plus.

It’s part of the Volkswagen strategy to flood the market with all manner of body styles filling in every possible niche segment – the Sportsvan set to become the third body variant off the all-new VW Golf that has become a slam dunk in an otherwise struggling European auto market.

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Jaguar C-X17 Concept Hints at First CUV

British maker continues to expand its reach.

by on Sep.03, 2013

Jaguar will reveal the C-X17 concept at Frankfurt - but could the production version be far behind?

Jaguar could be ready to make a major shift in direction, at least if the C-X17 concept vehicle it plans to unleash at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show is any indication.

The British automaker has long restricted itself to a narrow niche of luxury sedans, coupes and sports cars, only reluctantly adding a pair of wagons over the previous decade.  But the Jaguar C-X17 suggests that a new crossover-utility vehicle may finally be in the works, a belated concession that the highline automotive market has rapidly transformed itself in recent years, bigger competitors such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz racing to fill in every possible niche.

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According to a terse release accompanying this teaser image, “The C-X17 has been created as a design study to introduce Jaguar’s new, highly-advanced, modular aluminum architecture.  The concept illustrates the diversity of vehicles that could be produced using this architecture, which underpins the innovative future of the Jaguar brand.”

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First Look: Kia Track’ster Concept

Koreans go California dreaming.

by on Feb.02, 2012

A hint of the next Kia Soul?

It’s no surprise when folks go California dreaming during the middle of a Midwest Winter. But Kia has something substantial to show for its efforts – in the form of the new Track’ster Concept it plans to unveil at next week’s Chicago Auto Show.

Might we be getting a hint of the next-generation Kia Soul as we look at this preliminary sketch which teases the prototype designed at Kia’s advanced design studio in Southern California?  Very possibly, if this statement from the maker is any indication.

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“The Track’ster is the California design team’s dream of what a performance-inspired Soul could be. If Soul is our rock star, Track’ster is its heavy metal companion. The idea behind Track’ster was to build a thought-provoking concept about what the Soul could someday be.”

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First Look: Rinspeed’s Over-the-top Dock+Go Concept

A “backpack on wheels.”

by on Dec.07, 2011

Rinspeed's "backpack on wheels," the Dock+Go concept, will debut in Geneva.

Leave it to Frank Rinderknecht and his team of over-the-edge designers at Switzerland’s Rinspeed.  They’ve come up with a two-piece concept vehicle that they liken to a “backpack on wheels.”

Whenever a release from Rinspeed crosses the digital transom you can expect something unusual.  The design house has come up with submersible cars, cars that slip into specially designed trains and all manner of other off-the-wall transportation concepts.  The latest fits that reputation.

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But, surprisingly, the Dock+Go isn’t entirely original.  Chrysler offered up its own version of a two-part show car two decades ago, one that functioned like a minivan with the stowable rear unit attached.  But throw a few levers and it released a small minicar up front.

With the Rinspeed Dock+Go, the main part of the concept is a battery-powered city car that should seem familiar – a Smart fortwo.  A variety of “backpacks,” riding a single axle, can be paired up, depending on personal needs.

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Nissan Hints it May Build Off-the-Wall Pivo 3

Simplifying urban driving.

by on Dec.02, 2011

Nissan hints there's a future for Pivo 3.

In keeping with Tokyo Motor Show tradition, Nissan has, over the years, introduced an assortment of odd and unusual concept vehicles.  Yet, it has also had a history of putting some of the more promising ones into production, including a series of so-called “Pike Cars,” like the snail-shaped S-Cargo.

So, as the maker displays the third in a series of show cars dubbed Pivo perhaps it’s no wonder why folks are wondering whether the Nissan Pivo 3 just might also make the jump from concept to production.

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The latest to get the Pivo name since 2005, this year’s Nissan Pivo 3 concept targets the emerging market for so-called Urban Mobility Vehicles, micro-sized vehicles that can navigate the crowded streets of cities like Tokyo, Beijing, London, perhaps even New York, and leave an environmental footprint even smaller than the vehicle itself.

“This is not just a show car,” the maker suggested, adding that, “PIVO 3 is what Nissan envisions to be a more ‘realistic’ EV of the near future.”

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What to Look For at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show

Updated: Our guide to the biennial event’s biggest unveilings -- and absences.

by on Nov.29, 2011

The 2011 Tokyo Motor Show opened its doors to thousands of media with some significant news coming out of the biennial event – even though Detroit’s Big Three and a number of other foreign makers decided to sit on the sidelines this time ‘round.

The Tokyo Motor Show has a history of revealing some wild, weird and wacky concept vehicles and that’s expected to continue this year but the emphasis has been shifting to production models – as at other global auto shows.  The concepts that will be on display will be more likely, this year, to hint at technology that very well could be brought to production in the not-too-distant future.

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The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show was widely considered a dud, and with so many makers boycotting the 2011 event the eyes of the industry will be looking closely to see if organizers have been able to regain at least some momentum.  Otherwise, this could be the last truly global auto show for Tokyo – especially with the motor shows in Beijing and Shanghai becoming increasingly large and important every year.

So, what might you find if you could mingle with the media this week at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center? Here’s our now-updated guide to some of the most significant previews.

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Suzuki Opts for Wild and Wacky at Tokyo Show

Maker gets retro-futuristic with compact Regina show car.

by on Nov.11, 2011

Suzuki's Regina concept upholds a tradition of unveiling some truly wacky show cars during the biennial Tokyo Motor Show.

For a brief moment, following Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, there were fears this year’s Tokyo Motor Show might not happen.  It didn’t help that even before the disaster most foreign manufacturers said they’d pull out of the event citing routinely weak import car sales.

The biennial even is back on the calendar, it turns out, and when it opens its doors, early next month, the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show will do what it is often best known for: showcase some of the wildest and wacky concept vehicles ever put on wheels – such as the new Suzuki Regina concept.

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Though it clearly adopts some modern aerodynamic detailing, the compact Suzuki show car strikes the sort of retro-futuristic theme that has often fascinated designers preparing for the Tokyo Motor Show – and led to such distinctive designs as the old Nissan Figaro and snail-like S-Cargo.

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In-Depth: GMC Sierra All Terrain Heavy Duty Concept

A halo truck for a halo brand?

by on Jan.13, 2011

Will GMC put the Sierra All Terrain HD Concept into production? Inside sources say that's likely.

Could GMC add a halo off-road truck to its full-size pickup lineup? The diesel-powered GMC Sierra All Terrain Heavy Duty Concept — which made its debut, this week, at the 2011 Detroit auto show — points to how the “professional grade” brand thinks it might deliver a credible competitor to the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon in the current or next-generation Sierra HD.

The light-duty Raptor and heavy-duty Power Wagon are two of the most capable off-road pickup trucks ever to jump or climb off the showroom floor. We love both because these purpose-built rigs can go places and do things off pavement that would kill lesser trucks within yards of the trailhead. The Raptor flies across the desert at high speed, like a Baja trophy truck, while the Power Wagon can rock crawl over the toughest terrain you’ll find in Moab.

But these traits make an apples-to-apples comparison of the trucks difficult because their off-road strengths lie at opposite ends of the wheeling spectrum. This is where GMC smells opportunity.

The short-box crew-cab Sierra All Terrain HD threads the needle between the half-ton Raptor and three-quarter-ton Ram 2500 Power Wagon by carving a new niche that blends the off-road prowess and features of the Ford and Ram trucks with a few new innovations.

The GMC Sierra All Terrain HD concept would go up against the likes of the Ford Raptor or even heavier models, such as the F-250.

As with all off-road pickups, the heart of the All Terrain HD is its suspension. The concept’s running gear makes good use of the overhauled box-frame ladder, shocks, springs and axles that were introduced for the 2011 model year.

“The capability-enhancing attributes of the Sierra All Terrain HD build on the already outstanding capabilities offered in the all-new production Sierra HD trucks,” said Lisa Hutchinson, GMC product marketing director. “Although it’s strictly a concept, it’s a pretty realistic one.”

But some heavy-duty off-road users have criticized GM’s HD pickups for their torsion bar independent front suspension instead of a coil spring solid front axle, like Ford’s and Ram’s heavy-duty pickups use.

An independent front suspension generally provides better ride comfort on- and off-road, which the light-duty Raptor uses for high-speed desert running. A solid front axle allows higher ground clearance and superior articulation — for low-speed rock crawling — which the Power Wagon excels at.

The All Terrain uses independent front suspension to its advantage. For improved off-road stability, the standard A-arms have been replaced with custom double-wishbones and offset wheels that give the Sierra a 73-inch track up front — 4.2 inches wider than the current Sierra HD and nearly identical to the Raptor’s 73.6-inch track.

The All Terrain’s rear track is also 73 inches from a stock rear axle and offset wheels. Ram Power wagon’s track is 68.3 inches in front and 68.2 inches in back.

The GMC Sierra All Terrain HD concept combines greater heavy-duty truck capability with greater off-road versatility.

An independent front suspension isn’t the only thing the Raptor and All Terrain HD have in common. They also share Fox Racing internal bypass shocks, though instead of piggyback reservoirs in back, the Sierra has remote reservoirs (for improved capacity and cooling) integrated into the truck’s wheel wells at all four corners.

If GMC wanted to get Ford’s attention, this should do it. Fox’s shocks are the key components that give the Raptor such awesome wheel travel at high speeds off-road.

Fox Racing’s internal bypass technology is slick and maintenance-free. Instead of placing the oil routers outside the shocks, Fox sealed them inside the main tube so that they can’t be adjusted. The valves have been replaced with very small gates, precisely placed for optimal damping in all conditions.

Hardcore off-roaders might not like this setup, but it solves several potential issues both for GMC and for less-obsessive desert-running enthusiasts. There are no external bypass tubes to be damaged by offroad debris striking them; there are no worries about check-valve durability; and the shocks can be tuned specifically to the Sierra All Terrain’s off-road character.

In the Sierra, Fox’s long-travel dampers add 2 inches more travel up front (11 inches total) and 3 inches in the rear (11.75 inches total) over the Sierra’s stock monotube shocks.

While Ram doesn’t offer Fox shocks for the Power Wagon, Chrysler Mopar performance parts division will also feature Fox Shocks as part of its aggressive Ram Runner dealer-installed off-road package for the light-duty Ram 1500.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this latest Fox development effort causes a major rift with Ford, which brought prominence and high-volume production expertise to Fox in OEM off-road applications.

The All Terrain HD also borrows a cool trick for its front suspension from the straight axle Power Wagon. The Ram features a front sway bar disconnect system that increases wheel travel and articulation to climb over tall obstacles. The Sierra All Terrain also has an electronic front stabilizer bar disconnect.

While GMC officials continue to say the Sierra All Terrain HD is nothing but a concept, inside word seems to be heavily leaning towards putting the truck into production, probably sooner than later.  Factors that would abort such a move include a huge rise in fuel prices, or the simple fact that General Motors’ engineering resources, post-bankruptcy, have been overwhelmed catching up on product program delays caused by the run through the courts.

Mike Levine is publisher of PickupTrucks.com.