2003 Dodge Viper
2003 Dodge ViperEnlarge Photo
DODGE UNLEASHES ‘03 VIPER. DaimlerChrysler unveiled an all-new Viper, to be introduced as a 2003 model. The musclecar icon gets more than 500 hp (the exact amount hasn't been finalized) and 500 lb-ft of torque, as the monstrous, all-aluminum V-10 engine gets bored to a larger 8.3 liters, making for more than 500 cubic inches of displacement. The 2003 will return to the sidepipe design of the original Viper roadster, getting around noise level problems through the use of a unique active sound management system. Viper's interior and instrument layout has been revised for better ergonomics, the hoodline has been lowered, the grille opening is larger. Exterior styling is more aggressive with the stronger side creases, larger headlights, and angled hood vents. At least for launch -- scheduled for sometime in the second quarter of 2002 -- the Viper will be limited to a roadster body style. But watch this space, says a senior official, noting "other things could come" in subsequent years. DaimlerChrysler officials said the new Viper will maintain the "back to basics" approach of the original car.
Volkswagen Microbus Concept
Volkswagen Microbus ConceptEnlarge Photo
MICROBUS: LET’S GET IT ON? Volkswagen’s feeling the love, all the way from the top executive levels on down to its Simi Valley styling studio. How else to explain the new Microbus concept vehicle, a clear throwback to the company’s much-loved Bus made famous by many a Deadhead? The concept is “an idea about space,” says Jens Neumann, VW Group’s chairman for North America. “It’s a legitimate evolution of the Microbus.” The new van, which is said to have undergone many proposals over the past three years, emerges as the likely hit of the Detroit show, with neato-keen styling cues like xenon headlamps and 20-inch alloy wheels, and a third row of seats that swivel 180 degrees. A 231-bhp, 3.2-liter V-6 theoretically powers the concept. A source within VW tells TCC that the Microbus concept may share a platform with the upcoming VW sport-utility vehicle, the Colorado. The same source says VW is also looking at the famed, if dog-slow, Karmann Ghia of the 1960s for more retro-inspiration in its product lineup.
2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R
2002 Nissan Sentra SE-REnlarge Photo
NISSAN’S JAZZY TRIO: ALPHA-T, Z, AND SE-R. Nissan’s showy display at the Detroit festivities says one thing: the company’s recovery plan isn’t over until they say it’s over. “There’s no problem at a car company that a good product can’t solve,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO and president of Nissan Motor Co. The troika of vehicles on display included a new Z concept, the Alpha-T full-size truck concept, and the production 2002 Sentra SE-R. The Z Concept is the second to wear the name, but Nissan says this one is very close to the production version that will bow, with a 260-hp V-6 engine and rear-drive, at the end of next year. The Alpha-T truck concept is a radical exercise meant to gauge public reaction for a full-size truck Nissan will build in Mississippi beginning in 2003. Former Nissan Design International director and current global advisor Jerry Hirshberg described the look of the Alpha-T concept as “finessed brutality.” The Sentra SE-R is the return of a hallowed pocket-rocket name, with either a 170-hp or 180-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a price tag starting at less than $20,000.
For more on the Nissan trio, click here.