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  What's New - August 2005
   What they're telling us • New car photos and info


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Jaguar XK

The production version of the new Jaguar XK8 will be at the Frankfurt Motor Show, remaining true to the concept shown in January. The replacement for today's voluptuous version is more flat-chested, and will be the first Jaguar on the road that displays the intentions of Ian Callum since he became Jaguar Chief Designer six years ago. Moving away from something wholesomely organic, the new car has a greater structural bias, lighter and with a solid stance, though its expression is more diluted than before.

Outside, the new XK8 is a greater advancement than its looks suggest: it borrows its all-aluminium chassis from the XJ, eons away from the tired XJS-derived one in the outgoing model. On the inside, the difference between conservative and traditional is made clear as the new model's more contemporary architecture is still a generation behind today's forerunners, compared with the current model whose dashboard is deliberately traditional.

Peugeot 20Cup concept

In 2002 Peugeot's parent company PSA and BMW announced they would produce new gasoline engines together. Signifying the fruits of this collaboration, Peugeot has just unveiled pictures of their 20Cup sports concept. The 20Cup has been designed by the Peugeot Style Centre to bridge the gap between cars and motorcycles with a unique chassis that holds three wheels and two seats, fronted by an evolution of the brand's feline face.

'Déjà vu' would probably be a more appropriate name, being almost identical in concept to the Asphalte concept shown in Paris nine years ago. But where the Asphalte had two wheels at the back very closely positioned, the 20Cup is a true three-wheeler. It is powered by a 170PS version of the PSA-BMW engine, variations of which are destined to replace criticised French engines and the Chrysler engine in the MINI. Peugeot will also show a full-size model of Andre Costa's 'Moovie', the winner of the 3rd Peugeot Design Competition.

Audi Q7

Mercedes and BMW have long been mopping up customers in the SUV segment with Audi absent. The build-up to their first offering, the Q7, has been marked by a trickle of teaser shots to prevent any further lost sales. The new car to debut in Frankfurt follows closely the Pikes Peak concept from the 2003 Detroit Motor Show. But forget the two year wait from concept to production: it has been over twenty since Audi's fabulous Quattro for the system to reach a true off-roader. This incarnation fits it to another 'coupe + 4x4', this time the emphasis on 4x4.

Despite it's 'Performance SUV' pretentions, the Audi combines its seven seats that take on the Land Rover LR3 and Mercedes ML, with a coupe theme that takes it conceptually closer to the smaller Nissan Murano. The Q7's strong shoulder nestles under a coupe-like roofline, representing strength with dynamism, fluently balanced with a sweep above the sill. Details include the trunklid shutline running over the side, bringing some distinction to a saturated segment. However, despite negative public attitude towards this class of car, Audi has not mentioned any hybrid powertrain. Maybe they will wait for such versions from rivals first.

Fenomenon Stratos

London-based design consultancy Fenomenon ignited the Geneva Motor Show in March with the re-birth of the Lancia Stratos. Now the company is set to do the same at Frankfurt with the Roadster version, the result of what must have been a busy few months for this new player. In taking the roof off, the company has also given its protoype an interior – something missing from the model of the closed coupe shown in Geneva. The Roadster maintains the central A-pillar of the Stratos coupe, which also acts as a crash/ rollover structure.

Developed under Design Director Serge Porcher, the Roadster takes the vision of founder Christian Hrabalek one step closer to the promised production version, this time around giving show-goers the chance to sit inside and share that dream.

VW Golf R32

Volkswagen's new Golf R32 replaces the 2002 Mk4 version, which responded to criticism levelled against an impotent GTI. With the arrival of the Mk5 range came an applauded GTI, while the segment has also seen über-GTI models from Alfa Romeo and Opel. While these models still push their power through the front wheels, the range-topping Golf R32 uses '4MOTION', their four-wheel drive system, to harness its 250PS.

Changes include a meaner stance, courtesy of dropped suspension and new 18” alloys, with a pronounced Passat-like 'shield grille' flanked by gaping vents. At the back, exhaust pipes are neatly positioned one either side of centre, while new seats inside carry themes from those in Audi's RS4. But now that VW have sorted the GTI, the R32 seems more indulgent than before.

Citroën C-SportLounge concept

Citroën has unveiled a continuation of their recent concept cars, the C-SportLounge. Following the C-AirDream concept of 2002 came the first Lounge concept at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the C-AirLounge. All designed under Citroën Design Chief Jean-Pierre Ploué, the C-SportLounge draws upon these concepts with dramatic one-and-a-half box proportions complemented by busty volumes and broken graphics. The dipping waistline, given space to breathe by the open-ended roof graphic, is an example of the determined effort to be different, lines deliberately diverted, while the considered execution keeps each aspect integrated.

Low, edgy, and sure-stanced, the C-SportLounge is almost a spiritual successor to 1986's Bertone Zabrus, its 2+2 seating with reverse-opening rear doors similar to the Mazda RX-8 in packaging terms. Completed by neat relationships between body, glass and brightwork, Citroën has succeeded in making an attractive coupé/station wagon hybrid ideal for listening to MC Solaar, and as the C-AirDream and AirLounge have influenced the C6, the C-SportLounge indicates another original direction for future Citroën models.

Renault Egeus concept

Renault has announced the Egeus, an upmarket SUV concept that will be presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show. With chunky proportions offset by fluid Fluence-derived surfaces, the car is more inflated hatchback than deflated 4x4. Picking up where the Vel Satis left off, the Egeus is the latest result of Renault exploring new styling concepts to contain uniquely spacious interiors. The side DLO is similar to the five-door Megane's in not having the quarter-lights that typically adorn other SUVs, which, in conjunction with 22” Michelin-clad wheels, effectively disguises the car's size. It also does without a bustle, the rear making do with a central pillar graphic also borrowed from the Fluence. The interior lives up to Renault's 'space is luxury' mantra, with four separate seats and a large central tunnel crested with typically tasteful Renault detailing.

Mitsubishi Concept-Sportback

Fifteen years ago, Mitsubishi was considered the 'Japanese BMW'. The hugely popular Shogun model furthered this, but poor marketing meant the model name was not strongly associated with the company name, 'Mitsubishi' no longer able to carry other lesser models of its diminishing range. After ties with Volvo, neurotic Lancers and forgettable Carismas, the part-ownership by DaimlerChrysler has allowed Mitsubishi to develop the intelligent 'i' and, now, the Concept-Sportback. Even though the range remains fragmented, the Concept-Sportback indicates a new dawn for Mitsubishi as they get back on their feet to reclaim that elusive accolade.

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© 2005 Car Design News Ltd
Last updated: Mon, Aug 29, 2005