2003 North American International Auto Show banner
2003 North American International Auto Show bannerEnlarge Photo
2003 Suzuki Concept S
What do you get when you cross Suzuki’s high-performance motorcycles and their automobiles? It’s called the Concept S, a compact car that incorporates motorcycle styling and performance into a vehicle with four wheels. Suzuki calls the Concept S a design and technology study that provides clues to the direction of Suzuki’s future automobiles. The Concept S is a rally-inspired car that has a 1.6-liter 16-valve four-cylinder engine that has been mated with a sequential six-speed gearbox and all-wheel drive. The vehicle’s most important controls, including push buttons for the transmission, have been moved to the steering wheel for easy access and use. The vehicle also allows drivers to pre-set preferences for the engine and suspension. The preferences are governed by a fingerprint identification system, which allows the vehicle to determine who is driving.
Suzuki’s goal with the Concept S is to expand its youth market. The company has no plans to introduce the vehicle as a production model. —Bill Rapai
2003 Suzuki Concept SEnlarge Photo
2003 Lamborghini concept
Lamborghini, which builds some of the world’s hottest sports car, unveiled an unnamed styling concept that is built on its current Murciélago model. The concept is lower and more angular than the Murciélago, and Lamborghini is using reaction from the Detroit show to decide whether to add it to its lineup. The vehicle is displayed in what Lamborghini calls its Yellow Orion color, and takes its design cues from the iconic Barchetta model. Oh, and even though the vehicle has no roof, it’s not a convertible – there’s no top to put up. Apparently it’s true what they say about Lamborghini owners – they don’t drive
in the rain. —Bill Rapai
2003 Lamborghini conceptEnlarge Photo
2003 BMW xActivity concept
BMW provided more details about its new xActivity concept and officially pulled the wraps off the car at the Detroit show. Appearance-wise, the concept stands out for its complete absence of body side pillars, creating an open-air, “wire-framed” appearance. BMW achieves this “frame-structure convertible” construction using especially strong frame rails that run along both sides of the roof, from the A-pillars to the back.
From the front, the xActivity bears a strong likeness to the 3-Series, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. In the back, the bulbous-shaped utility/hatch area features a partially ejecting tailgate area, designed for transporting bicycles or other recreational equipment.
The concept is filled with unusual design details—such as triangle/teardrop-shaped side marker lights and alternating concave and convex surfaces for the sheetmetal. Some of these are likely to make it into the production vehicle. The interior finishes are designed to support a modular look, and the driver’s seat boasts to offer a high seating position while at the same time providing the cockpit feel of a sports sedan. A single control, a la iDrive, is used for all climate-control functions.
Power is provided by a 3.0-liter straight six making 231 hp, with an all-wheel-drive system similar to that in the X5, utilizing an electronic intelligent differential system and Hill Descent Control (HDC). —Bengt Halvorson
2003 BMW xActivity conceptEnlarge Photo
BMW SEES GROWTH 2004 Aston Martin AMV8
The volume for BMW's new Rolls-Royce will be limited to about 1000 "motor cars" annually. But Dr. Helmut Panke, Chairman of BMW's board of management, said BMW's overall says are expected to grow by 40 percent in the next five years. "We have set ourselves an ambitious program for the coming years. By 2008 - this is our long-term planning period - we intend to put 20 new models on the market, increase our deliveries to customers by 40 percent, invest some $16 billion and spend $10 billion for research and development. We do this because we believe strongly that the demand for premium vehicles will develop dynamically in the years to come and the market shares are being distributed now." —Joe Szczesny
"In the past, Aston Martin was viewed as a British eccentricity, at best, and at worst a hopeless business case," said Mark Fields, head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group. The new AMV8 could change that. A small, sleek two-seater expected to cost a bit over $100,000, the new coupe will go into production two years from now. And if it meets expectations, AMV8 could transform Aston by more than tripling the marque's current sales, which hit a record 1500 last year. With a 350-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-8 hidden behind its classic Aston grille, the new coupe can blaze at Autobahn speeds, but designer Henrick Fiscker adds that "We really want to make this an every day car." Look for a variety of longer, shorter, wider and almost certainly more powerful spin-offs once production starts at a new Aston plant in Gaydon, England.
Aston Martin AMV8 Unveiled by TCC Team (1/6/2003)
2004 Aston Martin AMV8Enlarge Photo