Renault likes to show concepts at Geneva, and this year they will have the Koleos, a stylish 4x4 that's more off-roader than luxury SUV. Now that Renault is closely tied to Nissan, we have to consider the possibilities of the company's concept vehicles having a future under the Japanese brand. Koleos uses a lot of Nissan 4x4 know-how, and if it was to be produced it could be as a Nissan — which could put it onto U.S. showroom floors, so keep an eye on this one.
Geneva's position as a focus for European interest makes it a popular spot for launching production models as well as concepts, and the Japanese industry often uses the show as a launch pad for new cars. This year Mazda will show the Tribute, a Euro-influenced SUV, and will give a European debut to the Demio mini-MPV. Nissan will show a new QX, a sedan with close ties to the U.S. Maxima, which sells in Europe as a luxury sedan.
A uniquely British tradition
In the realms of true luxury, Rolls-Royce will show a long-wheelbase version of the Silver Seraph sedan, and at the other end of the British scale, Morgan will be doing something it only does once every two or three generations — unveiling a new model. The company is being very close-mouthed about what form the new car will take, but promises that Netheads will be among the first to know the details. As soon as the car is shown in Geneva on February 29th, details will be posted on the company's site, www.morgan-motor.co.uk.
2000 Cadillac Imaj concept
At the other end of the size scale from Morgan, GM will continue the relentless flow of concepts that has seen new design studies introduced in Detroit, L.A. and Chicago. The Geneva contribution comes from Cadillac, in the form of the Imaj, a luxury SUV influenced by what is becoming one of the most important market sub-segments in the US. The vehicle was styled in Birmingham, England, at General Motors' Concept Design Studios. Head man there is Briton Simon Cox, who is best known for his work for Isuzu,
including the radically styled VehiCROSS. The Imaj, powered by a 425-hp version of Caddy's Northstar V-8 has angular styling cues reminiscent of the Evoq sports car and luxury fitments that make it a true Cadillac. Peugeot will be showing a concept sports car based on its top of the line 607 sedan, and Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man named in a recent journalists' poll as the stylist of the century, will unveil a big (over 16 feet long) MPV with mechanical components from Maserati.
The big technical news of the show should, unless it is overshadowed by a surprise announcement, come from Saab. The Swedish company that's now wholly owned by GM is announcing what it calls a unique engine concept. The Saab Variable Compression Engine varies the engine's compression ratio (the ratio between the maximum volume of the cylinder, when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke, and the minimum volume, when the piston is at top dead center). This means that the engine allows much greater operating efficiency, offering improvements in useable power and fuel consumption. It also offers the possibility to run on various types of fuel, meaning that those stickers reading "Use Premium Unleaded Only" could be a thing of the past.