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  What's New - December 2004


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Mazda MX-Crossport concept

To be shown in public for the first time at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the MX-Crossport concept represents a new direction Mazda is considering as it works to expand its line-up of new-generation products. The MX-Crossport was designed at Mazda’s main design studio in Hiroshima.

Mazda design director Moray Callum said "We challenged our design team to further evolve and expand our existing design DNA. The result of this challenge is the MX-Crossport, which was designed first-and-foremost with the North American market and style of driving in mind."

Chief Designer Koizumi, whose previous works include the Mazda 6, calls this concept an "advanced frontier" for Mazda, meaning the concept merges the speedy and athletic image of Mazda’s RX-8 with the toughness and practicality of an SUV. "Our goal was to design a crossover that transcends the existing categories of SUV and crossovers and steps into the realm of sports car" Koizumi added.

At 4,630mm in length, the MX-Crossport is compact and relatively small compared to other key products in the emerging crossover segment. It has a width of 1,930mm, with short front-and-rear overhangs and a relatively long wheelbase of 2,795mm. The tyres are 275/45R-20. At an overall height of 1,630mm, the MX-Crossport is comparatively low in structure to traditional small SUV-type vehicles such as Mazda’s own Tribute, while maintaining an aggressive off-highway look.

Kia Rio


Kia Rio and KCD II concept

Kia Motors has released the first official sketches and details of the company’s new B-sector supermini challenger which will make its first appearance in four-door sedan form at the North American International Auto Show in January.

The all-new Rio-replacement will feature a longer wheelbase, a wider track and more horsepower than its predecessor, providing better handling, a smoother ride and improved levels of performance. The new car is also roomier than its predecessor, offering more front and back leg room and more overall comfort. The Rio design is based on the Kia Sport concept shown at the Paris Motor Show in September. The new 5-door version will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Also to be unveiled in Detroit, the KCD II is the second concept vehicle from Kia’s California design center, and provides a North American take on a potential new product segment for the company, presenting a modern, rugged body-on-frame SUV that features three rows of seats and dual full-length sunroofs. Built on a long 116-inch wheelbase, the vehicle spans 192 inches in overall length.

Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen has released the first pictures of the sixth-generation Passat, ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2005. Since its introduction in 1973, the Passat has established a reputation for high quality standards, which was taken to new heights with the launch of the 1996 Passat, whose interior quality reached levels previously seen only in much more expensive executive cars.

Elements of both the concept C and concept R can be seen in the new Passat’s design, in particular through the imposing chrome grille, which is set to become a feature of future Volkswagens. At the rear, fast-responding LED light units emulate the style of those at the front, with round sections.

The new Passat has new four-link rear suspension, new transversely-mounted engines and a new body. Technical highlights include a Bluetooth telephone unit and high quality sound system, plus a standard-fit electronic handbrake, and a draught-free 2Zone Climatronic system.

The Passat has grown in all key dimensions, with length up by 62 mm to 4.77 m; width up 74 mm to 1.82 m and height up 10 mm to 1.47 m. The wheelbase has also increased by 6 mm to 2.71 m – resulting in greater interior space. Maximum boot capacity has grown by 90 litres to 565 litres. The new Passat body is also 57 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, making it a class leader.


BMW has announced the new M6 as the standard-bearer for the M car range, to go on sale towards the end of 2005. The new M6 dispatches the zero to 62mph sprint in 4.6 seconds and achieves a limited top speed of 155mph. Powered by the same 4,999cc engine as in the M5, the 507bhp power output ensures that the new M6 maintains the M car tradition of breaking the 100bhp per litre benchmark. Like the M5, the new M6 also uses BMW’s new third-generation seven speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) with Drivelogic, offering the choice of 11 different change patterns.

Like other 6 Series models, the new BMW M6 uses a hybrid construction of aluminium, thermoplastics and SMC (Sheet Moulding Compound).  This mixture of materials delivers an extremely rigid, yet light, body structure. The front wings are made of thermoplastics, the doors and hood of aluminium and the boot lid, SMC. The M6 also uses carbon fibre in the construction of the roof panel to reduce weight.

Visually, the new M6 differentiates itself from the 6 Series by a deeper front valance with air intakes for the engine and brakes, more contoured sills and rear valance that includes a diffuser to increase aerodynamic efficiency.  Nestling under the rear valance are BMW M’s telltale four rear exhaust pipes.  The M6 is available in four exclusive M colours – Indianapolis Red, Sepang Bronze, Interlagos Blue and Silverstone alongside three other 6 Series colours.

Mercedes M-Class

Mercedes-Benz sowed the seeds of a new segment with the introduction of the original M-Class in 1997. The second-generation M-Class offers three new engines, standard-fitted seven-speed automatic transmission, the 'Pre-Safe' anticipatory occupant protection system, 'Airmatic' air suspension, and a more effective four-wheel drive system 4-ETS. The new M-Class is 150 mm longer, 71 mm wider and 9 mm lower on the road than its predecessor and its wheelbase has grown by 95 mm to 2915 mm.

After its premiere at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, the new M-Class will be introduced onto the US market in the spring of next year and in Europe next summer.

Porsche 911 Cabrio

Completing the new 911 range, Porsche has introduced the new 911 Cabriolet. The soft roof opens and closes fully automatically at the touch of a button in 20 seconds, collapsing in Z-configuration within the roof compartment, with the outer side of the roof facing to the top for protection of the heated glass rear window. The roof can be opened and closed while driving at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph).

The Carrera is powered by a 239 kW (325 bhp) 3.6-litre flat-six engine, while the Carrera S model with has a 3.8-litre power unit developing 261 kW (355 bhp). The Carrera S Cabriolet comes as standard with PASM Porsche Active Suspension Management, available as an option on the 3.6-litre Carrera. Both models have the same top speed as their Coupé counterparts – 177 mph/182 mph. Both versions of the Cabriolet have a drag coefficient of 0.29, ranking them at the top of their respective market segments. The Cabriolet rear spoiler extends 20 millimetres (approx 0.8") further than on the Coupé, minimising lift on both the front and rear axle at high speeds.

Volkswagen Golf Plus

Volkswagen has revealed its new Golf Plus at the Bologna Motor Show in Italy. The Golf Plus fits into the Volkswagen range between the Golf hatchback and Touran compact MPV. It is based heavily on the Golf hatchback and has the same essential ‘footprint’, but thanks to its increased height (raised by 95 mm to 1580 mm), it offers more interior space. This means more flexibility for the customer, thanks to more stowage areas and loadspace, and a more adaptable rear seat arrangement. The seats can be shifted lengthways by 160 mm and folded via a new system, which means they are lowered automatically when folded down resulting in an almost level luggage space. They can also split 60:40, with the middle seat doubling as a fold-down drinks table. A double height boot floor allows more adaptable stowage with a maximum capacity of 505 litres.

Despite the increased space, the Golf Plus retains the Golf's essential qualities in driving dynamics and a high level of safety equipment. Its styling is also closely linked to that of the hatch, particularly in key areas such as the hood, C-pillar and grille. For the first time in this class, LED technology is used for the rear lights, while active curve headlights – which follow steering direction – will also be available.

The Golf Plus will have a near identical line-up to the Golf hatchback with shared engines and trim levels ranging from S through SE to Sport. There will not however be a GTI or a three-door model in the range. The Golf Plus is closer in concept to the Golf than the Touran, which is offered with seven seats and represents a much larger increase in interior space. Where the Touran appeals directly to buyers with families who are primarily concerned with practicality and space, the Golf Plus is likely to attract those without families – or with a small family – but who require more room and flexibility than the traditional hatchback can offer.

Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo

PSA Peugeot Citroën and Toyota Motor Corporation have revealed the result of their three-year joint project to design, develop and produce three all-new small passenger cars for the European market. The three four-seater vehicles, Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1 will be unveiled to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2005.

While the three vehicles share a large number of structural components and sub-assemblies they each have a distinct design that reflect the individual styles of the Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota marques.

Each car measures about 3.4m long, 1.6m wide and 1.4m high. Powered by new-generation 1.0-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines, these compact, fuel-efficient cars will be particularly suited to urban driving. They will also feature advanced safety and environmental protection technologies. The cars are primarily aimed at the European market, where demand for this type of vehicle is expected to increase.

Developed on a common platform, all three cars will begin rolling off the production lines at the Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile plant in Kolín, Czech Republic, in 2005. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles - 200,000 units for Peugeot and Citroën and 100,000 for Toyota. Total investment, including research and development and production start-up costs, is estimated at €1.5 billion.

Vehicle Dimensions
Peugeot 107: length 3428mm, width 1630mm, height 1470mm
Toyota Aygo: length 3405mm, width 1615mm, height 1465mm
Citroën C1: length 3429mm, width 1630mm, height 1470mm

Saturn Sky

Saturn has released the first rendering of its upcoming sports roadster and announced that the two-seater will carry the name Sky. The rear-wheel drive Sky will showcase new design cues that will appear across Saturn’s future products as the brand renews and extends its portfolio over the next two years.

“The new form vocabulary of Saturn has been influenced by GM’s design talent from around the globe,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Design. “Taut, controlled lines combine with harmonious and fluid surfacing to create a technical and dynamic feel.”

The Sky is scheduled for public debut in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show in January, and will arrive at Saturn retailers in early 2006. It will be built at GM’s Wilmington, Delaware, assembly plant. It borrows its name from a Saturn concept that was shown in 2002, but there is no design link between the two vehicles.

Range Rover Sport

Land Rover has released the first photos of the Range Rover Sport, an all-new vehicle optimized for fast, comfortable long-distance driving. The Sport is the fifth nameplate for the brand and complements the flagship Range Rover.

Powered in top-line form by a supercharged 390hp 4.2-liter V8 engine, Range Rover Sport will deliver the highest degree of power ever available on a Land Rover model. The new Dynamic Response suspension system senses cornering forces and acts to optimize body control and handling. It also decouples off-road to allow greater wheel articulation during tough all-terrain driving.

"Range Rover Sport takes us into the growing performance SUV market, but is different from all rivals," says Matthew Taylor, Managing Director of Land Rover. "We see it as a less frenetic, more refined alternative to existing performance SUVs. It is ideal for fast, comfortable, long-distance driving and practical enough for everyday use. Yet it is also exceptional off-road, offering better all-terrain ability than any competitor."

Range Rover Sport will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January. Pricing is expected to fit between LR3 and Range Rover.


© 2004 Car Design News Ltd
Last updated: Wed, Dec 15, 2004