Joyrides of the future

2011-05-13 08:39

Will Smith’s wall-hugging Audi RSQ concept in I, Robot; James Bond’s submarine Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me; and Michael McFly’s time-travelling ­Delorean in Back To The Future.

These are the kinds of vehicles ­Hollywood would have us believe we will be driving in the future – ­whenever that future might be. But the reality is that concept cars are just products that give us a glimpse of what designers are thinking about.

While some might look very close to what the final product will become, others can be quite ­bizarre and present no purpose other than to be quirky, as seen at the Shanghai Motor Show in China last month.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class concept car is a great example of a real “future” car and the design is set to get rid of the company’s “old-man’s car” image and target a much younger clientele.

It features a new, turbo-charged petrol ­engine pushing 155kW of ­power, a dual-clutch gearbox and a ­radar-based collision warning ­system with adaptive brake assist.

It has a long bonnet, low silhouette and slim window areas to make for a sportier appearance.

Mercedes-Benz head designer Gorden Wagener said: “Our formal sources of inspiration were the wind and waves, as well as aviation engineering, resulting in this cool look.”

This year, Peugeot revealed the SXC concept car from their China Tech Centre in Shanghai. The SXC adopts certain characteristics from a sports utility vehicle such as strength, a high driving position and ­protection. Under the bonnet lies a 1.6-litre engine with 160kW of power.

And when coupled with an electric engine, it will deliver 230kW of power and CO2 emissions of just 143g/km.

Jaguar has also recently announced that it will be launching the C-X75 ­concept as a hybrid supercar. It will mix internal combustion power with an electric engine to achieve ­supercar performance, but produce less than 99g/km CO2 emissions. Only 250 will be built and will cost anything from R7.7 million to R9 million.

The C-X75 will stay true to the initial concept design prototype, which made its debut at the Paris Motor Show last year, and will be developed in association with Williams F1, which will help out with aerodynamics, ­carbon composite manufacture and ­hybrid technologies.

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth said: “A supercar like the C-X75 is the logical choice to showcase ­cutting-edge design, intelligent use of new environmental technologies and motorsport-inspired performance.”

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