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2005 Frankfurt Show Preview, Part IV

September 6, 2005

2005 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/5/2005)




New From Planet Toyota

2006 Toyota RAV4

2006 Toyota RAV4

Toyota, which can by now justly be regarded as the world’s automaker, will unveil two new production models, the second-generation of the Yaris hatchback and the latest version of the RAV4, the leading example of the small 4x4/SUV wanabee.

Underlining Toyota’s international stance, the new Yaris, which will go on sale early in 2006, will be produced at the company’s plant at Valenciennes in northern France. It was also designed in France, at the Toyota European design studio, ED2, which is situated in the more creatively stimulating south of the country. Toyota describes the new car as “more grown up” than its predecessor, which almost certainly means it is bigger all around.

The new RAV4, which will also be available early next year, is the third generation of the car that started the trend for the urban 4x4 for the family. Toyota promises it will offer “significantly enhanced driving pleasure and performance, improved quality, wider application of advanced technology, greater interior space, and a creative modular interior design.”

2005 Toyota Endo concept

2005 Toyota Endo concept

Another ED2 design is the Endo concept car, which is another take on the kind of city car the world will need if gas prices continue their upward spiral. It’s unlikely, however, that the other concept on show will ever really catch on. It’s the i-unit, transportation for just one person that allows the occupant to “interact with his or her surroundings.” The design is inspired by a leaf, “a natural expression of life on earth” and it can be driven in either a standing or recumbent position.

Unfortunately, it requires the driver to wear one of those one-piece silver suits reminiscent of 1950s science-fiction movies; it’s obviously designed for the younger female driver.

Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, will show a new hybrid, the GS450h sedan, to follow on to the RX400h SUV, introduced to Europe this year. The new sedan has a 3.5-liter gasoline engine producing 300 hp that gives acceleration from 0-62 mph in less than six seconds. At the same time, the high efficiency of the hybrid system means that fuel consumption and carbon dioxide exhaust emissions levels are comparable with those from sedans with conventional four-cylinder, two-liter gasoline engines.

Also on show at Lexus will be the new version of the IS compact sedan, which will for the first time follow European market trends by offering a diesel engine in an avowedly luxury sedan. The car features no less than ten airbags, and will offer the first twin-chamber front passenger airbag, which gives greater protection to the neck and shoulders in an impact. This car will also be available early next year.


Cadillac’s Compact BLS

2006 Cadillac BLS

2006 Cadillac BLS

Another early ’06 entry into the compact luxury sedan class is the Cadillac BLS. Shown at Genevaas a concept that fooled nobody in terms of its future production plans, the BLS is now a production reality. It will be available in 175, 210, and 255 hp gasoline-engined variants and will have a diesel option — in the shape of a 150 hp turbocharged unit — right from the start. Cadillac is being aggressive in European markets and the acceptance or otherwise of the Europe-only compact will be watched closely. Based on Saab components, the BLS will make its Cadillac identity clear by its exterior design and interior luxury.


Peugeot’s Trike

2005 Peugeot 20Cup concept

2005 Peugeot 20Cup concept

Peugeot always has a different view when it comes to concept cars, but the company’s offering for Frankfurt is further than usual into left field. It’s a two-seat open-topped sports car — with just three wheels. Although Peugeot says the car, called the 20Cup, “reveals a number of technological advances that will feature in future models in years to come,” it’s unlikely that a single driven rear wheel will be among them.

What will be among them is the 20Cup’s engine, the first fruit of a collaboration between the French firm’s parent, PSA Peugeot Citroen, and BMW. It develops 170 hp and should propel the lightweight concept very quickly.

The three-wheel configuration isn’t new or unique; British specialist manufacturer Grinnall has been building and selling such vehicles for some years now, using BMW motorcycle engines that push the compact little car to 100 mph and beyond with outrageous acceleration.


Sassy Sassou

2005 Mazda Sassou concept

2005 Mazda Sassou concept

Another gas-saving citycar at Frankfurt will come from Mazda, in the form of the Sassou (pronounced, Mazda has decided, “say-so”). It’s a small, lightweight, three-door hatchback powered by a turbocharged, three-cylinder, 1.0-litre MZR DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) gasoline engine. The design concept “indicates a possible direction Mazda might take for a future B-segment vehicle.”

Conceived and designed at Mazda’s European R & D centre in Oberursel, near Frankfurt, the Sassou’s design concept is based in part on the “Shoji” principle. Shoji screens are thin Japanese doors that partially hide what is behind them. For instance, translucent plastic hides the front and rear lamps, which only become visible once the car is unlocked, with light pulsing around the exterior light graphics in a way that makes the car “seem to come alive”.

The Shoji principle is carried over into the concept’s interior systems are conceived to be used with a universal serial bus (USB) stick key that functions in place of a traditional key and includes a remote central locking function. Using this, the driver can operate all the important functions through a screen in the centre stack. When a function is selected, light circuits illuminate a path to the selected feature.

The USB stick key can be downloaded at home with music and favorite hot spots, which can then be uploaded onto the car’s hard disc drive and navigation system. The Sassou has room for either three or four occupants, employing a rear seat morphing system that uses compressed air to arrange the back seat area for two passengers or one in the middle.

Work on the Sassou no doubt started back when gas was an affordable $40 a barrel; current conditions are no doubt making product planners assess them very seriously for production. On an optimistic note, it should be remembered that the original Issigonis Mini was the direct result of increasing gas prices in Britain in the mid-1950s.


Ford’s New Direction

2005 Ford Iosis concept

2005 Ford Iosis concept

Ford of Europe describes the iosis concept car it will reveal in Frankfurt as evidence of its design strategy for the next generation of European road cars. Following the four-door coupe outline that has been a recent trend in concepts from Mercedes and Jaguar (rapidly translated into a production model by the German manufacturer) the iosis is designed to show that future Fords will look more sporting, dynamic, and exciting. It is not, however, the precursor of a future production model, rather an indicator of future trends.

Among those trends, one element is static — the ‘inverse trapezoid’ air-intake below the grille. Another family styling cue is the well-defined wheel arch lip, first seen in 1998 on the Focus. A particularly dramatic aspect of iosis is its angled pivoting door arrangement, which gives uninterrupted access to the interior. Constructed from F1-style carbon fiber for lightness, the doors are powered by ram motors that swing them upwards and outwards from the ‘A’ and ‘C’ posts via a system of sophisticated hinges that ensure additional support isn’t required when the doors are open.

Whether this design feature or the three TV cameras that replace the rearview mirrors will make it to production is not so certain; but the look of the iosis bodes well for future Ford products.

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