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2004 Detroit Show, Part V Page 2

The Concept-E serves as a testing bed for a new performance-oriented hybrid system. Unlike existing hybrid systems that emphasize economy, this system would provide the “economy of a V-6 Eclipse with the performance of a Ferrari,” said Plavetich. He’s not joking; the hybrid system provides a much more favorable (nearly 50/50) weight distribution, and it’s tuned to only send power to the back wheels under high-performance driving (or under more subtle conditions when traction is needed). A 269-hp V-6 gasoline V-6 drives the front wheels through an automated six-speed manual transmission, while a powerful 150 kW (about 200 hp) electric motor powers the rear wheels, for a total of 470 hp for short bursts. The system has been fully developed (they’ve had the car out on the track), and is a blast to drive, we’re told.

So is the hybrid system a go? “It’s completely feasible,” deadpanned Plavetich, but he added that now the question remains as to whether customers would be willing to fork over extra money for the model, hinting that it might mean an extra $6k to $8k to the sticker price, and that the car’s reception by the press and showgoers would help test those waters. —Bengt Halvorson

Mitsu Truck Concept Gets A Lot from Dodge

2004 Mitsubishi Sport Truck Concept

2004 Mitsubishi Sport Truck Concept

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“Sleek, sophisticated, and a long way from the farm,” said the announcer for the Sport Truck Concept’s glitzy introduction. With pickups sorely missing from Mitsubishi’s lineup for much of the past decade, the Sport Truck Concept shows the direction of a production vehicle that will fill this gap.

Powered by a Chrysler Group 4.7-liter V-8 engine with 235 hp and positioned as an “urban truck,” the Sport Truck Concept combines a sporty and untraditional exterior truck shape with a luxurious and elegant interior. The truck is specifically catered to on-road performance, with a full-time all-wheel drive system and a four-wheel independent suspension. Flared fenders and huge 22-inch wheels help up its urban intimidation qualities.

The truck doesn’t sacrifice any functionality, though. Suicide doors (here termed “barn doors”) provide easy access to the cabin under most conditions, and a tailgate extender allows longer objects like jet skis to be transported safely. The tailgate is electrically operated. A feature unique to this concept allows rear-seat passengers to be projected upward and out from the cabin, into an open-air position, while the rear window becomes a windshield for them. It seems useful for parades, but we can’t imagine what else. —Bengt Halvorson

VW Concept T Goes Way Off-Road

2004 Volkswagen Concept T concept

2004 Volkswagen Concept T concept

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Dune buggy or serious production concept? We’ll lean toward the latter when it comes to the VW Concept T, a crossover with intimidating rally-car looks and, VW says, the performance to back them up. The “off-road coupe” sports a 241-hp V-6 engine and 4MOTION all-wheel drive, which with a Tiptronic gearbox help the Concept T scoot to 60 mph in less than 6.9 seconds, and a hoped-for top speed of 144 mph. Gullwing doors and a T-bar roof give the coupe an open-sky feel, made even more open by removing the hardtop and integrated trunk lid. Nineteen-inch wheels and a tall stance imply harcore off-road ability, while the interior is all about high tech, from the Personal Mobility Gateway (PMG) wireless communication interface that doubles (triples?) as a navigation system and MP3 player.

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