2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part I

March 3, 2004

2004 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (2/22/2004)

 

Switzerland Shows It Off

2004 Geneva Motor Show

2004 Geneva Motor Show

Switzerland — you can set your watch by the trains, and you can count the number of major car companies native to the nation on no fingers. And that’s what makes the Swiss show a major hit with automakers, who throng to the show each year to make their press play on neutral ground. Yes, General Motors and Volkswagen and Toyota and Ford are here — but so are Lorinser, Rinspeed and a whole host of brands Americans may never have heard of. Today TCC is bringing you the highlights from the Geneva motor show from far and wide as well as big and small. You can get all of our Geneva stories through the index below; also make sure to see the show’s official site atwww.salon-auto.ch for more information.

 

Mitsubishi Preens Two New Colts

2004 Mitsubishi Colt

2004 Mitsubishi Colt

Mitsubishi’s new subcompact for Europe has some familiar underpinnings — the Smart formore shares the Colt’s architecture but not its rather conservative look. Sized for European roads, the tall five-door hatchback is due to go on sale in Europe this May for a price of about $13,000. For that price, buyers will get a roomy vehicle, Mitsu promises: the Colt’s said to be the widest vehicle in its class, with the longest interior space as well. The interior is more flexible that most subcompacts, with split-fold rear seats that can slide, flip, fold or be completely removed; the front passenger seat also folds flat down for loading of long objects. The engines range from a 1.1-liter, 75-hp gas four-cylinder to a 95-hp, 1.5-liter diesel three; a five-speed manual gearbox and a six-speed automatic are available with either engine. Standard anti-lock control for the brakes and optional stability control and side airbags round out the safety features.

 

2004 Mitsubishi Colt

2004 Mitsubishi Colt

The second Colt is a concept that Mitsu is already plotting for production. The Colt CZ3 reconfigures the new Colt/Smart architecture into a three-door hatchback, with coupe styling and a lower, more dramatic roofline. The concept shares the same wheelbase as the production five-door, but is somewhat shorter in overall length. Blackout privacy glass and 17” Okazaki alloy wheels gave the shape more drama. Mitsu promises a production version of this concept for the 2004 Paris Motor Show in September.

 

MINI Exposes Convertible

2004 MINI Cooper Convertible

2004 MINI Cooper Convertible

Though MINI continues to exceed BMW’s expectations for sales in the States, that doesn’t mean the revived British brand will rest on its laurels. Later this year, the MINI Convertible will come to the States, and audiences in Geneva got the first look at the coming droptop. The fabric-roofed MINI Convertible is, in fact, two convertibles in one: the fabric roof slides back nearly 16 inches for a targa effect, and opens the rest of the way, stacking onto itself behind the rear seats, in 15 seconds for a completely open-air experience. Structural reinforcements to the chassis and a pair of roll hoops provide for better safety in the Convertible, while a slightly revamped front end distinguishes it from the roofed MINI from the beltline down. In Europe, the MINI Convertible will be offered as the 90-hp MINI One. The U.S. will get the Cooper Convertible with the 115-hp four-cylinder and later the Cooper S Convertible with 163 hp. Two new colors—Hot Orange and Cool Blue—can be ordered with the ragtop edition, while three top colors will be offered. Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake distribution are standard, while stability control and traction control will be made available as options.

 

Alfa Romeo Returns to AWD With Crosswagon

2004 Alfa Romeo Crosswagon

2004 Alfa Romeo Crosswagon

Alfa long ago abandoned the U.S. market, and with plans for a return through GM channels in serious doubt, there’s little chance the stunning Crosswagon will make its way to America. The Crosswagon marks Alfa’s return to four-wheel drive; the Fiat brand says the vehicle combines sport-ute off-road performance and carlike handling. The all-wheel-drive system incorporate three differentials and a Torsen C system that sets the torque bias to the rear, endowing the Alfa with the potential for far better handling than the typical crossover vehicle. Versus the 156 sedan it’s derived from, the Crosswagon also gets a revamped interior. The engine is a 150-hp, 1.9-liter four-cylinder diesel coupled to a manual six-speed gearbox. Anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and stability control are standard.

 

Modus Foreshadows New Renault B-Car

2004 Renault Modus concept

2004 Renault Modus concept

The small hatchback still reigns supreme in Europe, and Renault’s latest effort evolves the segment while also previewing the new Renault subcompact coming to Renault showrooms in the fall of this year. The Modus, Renault says, will offer unheard-of interior space with class-leading headroom front and back in the one-box shape. Renault’s emphasized the airy levels of headroom with a translucent roof and a headliner inkjet-printed with clouds. More grounded features on the concept include LCD displays, automatic climate control and a CD player, as well as a split-folding rear bench seat that can be used as a three-across bench or seating for two, with the middle seat folding up between the side seats. The tailgate is split and opens glass-up, tailgate-down. The engine’s a 1.6-liter, 115-hp four.

 

Suzuki Sports Twin Concepts

2004 Suzuki S-Ride concept

2004 Suzuki S-Ride concept

They’re not look-alikes, but Suzuki’s fraternal twin concepts from Geneva were equally compelling to look at. The S-RIDE is the less likely candidate for production: it’s a two-place convertible commuter car with tandem seats and an aluminum body, borrowing freely from Suzuki’s sport-bike heritage. An unspecified engine is to be mounted amidship.

2004 Suzuki Landbreeze concept

2004 Suzuki Landbreeze concept

The Landbreeze concept seems much closer to reality, especially given Europe’s preference for smaller, softer sport-utes. The charming Landbreeze sported frosty white paint inset with green translucent plastic, which also adorned its wheels and its cockpit. The SUV, Suzuki says, couples green technology like recyclable aluminium construction with a hybrid 660-cc powertrain.

 

 

Kite Flies from Fioravanti

2004 Fioravanti Kite

2004 Fioravanti Kite

House of style Fioravanti exhibited its new Kite concept at the 2004 Geneva show, pitching the two-door coupe as the perfect design for flexible interior spaces friendly to active lifestyle-types. The coupe sports a perforated, semi-transparent steel roof that the idea house says will also give rear passengers a better view of the road. The Kite’s headlamps are composed of LEDs. No powertrain was specified for the concept.

 

Splash Makes Just That for Rinspeed

2004 Rinspeed Splash concept

2004 Rinspeed Splash concept

Tuner firm Rinspeed uses ultra-bizarre concepts at the Geneva motorshow to draw attention to its more lucrative and reality-based tuning business. This year’s clever PR stunt was the Splash, a combination of amphicar, hydrofoil and a roadgoing roadster. A hydraulic mechanism converts the road car into an amphibious vehicle, while an integrated hydrofoil system enables the "Splash" to cruise about two feet above the water. As a powerboat, the Splash can hit 45 knots. On the road, Rinspeed says the automotive platypus can shoot to about 60 mph in under six second on its way to a top speed of about 120 mph.
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