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2000 Geneva Motor Show Part II

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2000 Renault Avantime concept

2000 Renault Avantime concept

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2000 Fiat Multipla concept

2000 Fiat Multipla concept

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2000 Mercedes Smart Cabrio concept

2000 Mercedes Smart Cabrio concept

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ONLY IN EUROPE Some of the vehicle introduced at the Geneva show are designed to make you think: "Are Europeans really very different from Americans?" "Could these cars ever make it in the U.S.?" Or, possibly, "just what the heck were they thinking?" Take this trio, for example. As strange as the Avantime seemed as a concept, it’s even stranger as a production vehicle. The two-door has the room of a minivan and a 210-hp V-6; built on the Espace minivan platform, it’s meant to head Renault’s offensive in luxury vehicles. Then there’s the Fiat Multipla hybrid, which combines nickel-hydride batteries with a 103-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder, not to mention the van’s oddly endearing weird looks. Lastly, with Mercedes-Benz’ Smart project beginning to breathe on its own, it receives an, um, smartly styled cabrio version perfect for running errands in European towns, as we noted many doing in downtown Geneva.

 

2000 Audi All Road concept

2000 Audi All Road concept

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ALLROAD LEADS TO AUDI The SUV craze has finally struck Ingolstadt, but rather than build a true SUV like those other upscale Germans, Audi is betting its customers just want more all-weather capability. The Allroad quattro is Audi’s indirect answer to the Benz M-Class and BMW X5, a more close response to the Volvo V70 Cross Country. The Allroad has either a 250-hp twin turbo 2.7-liter V-6 or a 2.5-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 180 hp. Its off-road credentials seem strong: air springs and a low gear ratio should enable the Allroad to tackle the truly rough stuff, as will its range of ground clearance (from 5.5 to 8 inches). Subtle SUV cues are expressed in the body cladding and roof ribs, and inside, in the leather and aluminum trim. Side airbag curtains and stability control take care of safety questions. We’ll predict a U.S. arrival before winter sets in later in the year.

 

2000 Volkswagen Seat Salsa concept

2000 Volkswagen Seat Salsa concept

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FIERY LATIN Penned entirely by VW’s Spanish subsidiary, the SEAT Salsa is a people-moving concept with 2+2 seating and a flexible interior. The spicy Salsa shares the Audi Allroad’s twin-turbo V-6, and has a Tiptronic five-speed transmission, but its slick shape and adaptable environment plant it squarely in concept-vehicle territory. That environment allows drivers to set one of three different modes: sport, which lowers the driver’s seat and opens up the exhaust note; comfort, which quiets things down and brings up an information panel on the dash; and city, which adds traffic information to the display and puts the transmission in auto-shift mode. Oddly, the entire front of the Salsa is fabricated from a single piece, with no access to the engine save for service points near the windshield.

 

2000 Bertone Slim concept

2000 Bertone Slim concept

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SLIM AND TRIM City cars tend to be shorties, but the concept Bertone Slim takes a different tack to crowded city parking lots: it’s about half the width of a normal car, so you can park two alongside each other in one space. The Slim seats its passengers in tandem, while its two-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission squeeze the most out of a tank of fuel. The lid is removable, allowing the cigar-shaped Slim to get even closer to its bicycle roots.


 
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