Concept cars are our favorite part of any auto show. Los Angeles is rich in new concepts from Mazda, Honda, Ford, and more.
Volkswagen may have been a little late to the SUV game with the Touareg, but the German automaker isn't getting caught with its pants down for the new crossover craze. The Tiguan is smaller than the Touareg and meets the crossover criteria. The Tiguan shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show is still in concept form, but Volkswagen expects to introduce a production version late in 2007. The name Tiguan comes from combining Tiger and Iguana.
The instruments and the LCD in the Tiguan aren't particularly futuristic-looking, which further points to this car being just about ready for production. The navigation screen, with two dials and buttons on either side of the bezel, looks similar to the configuration on current Volkswagen models.
Honda's Remix is a true design concept. Honda says it wanted to explore a design for a sporty, yet practical car. The Remix is a two-seater with a jet-fighter-like canopy which could fit a four-cylinder engine under the hood. The high rear and hatchback allows for reasonable cargo space.
Honda's Step Bus concept uses the boxy design pioneered by Scion's xA and the Honda Element. The Step Bus has sliding doors that can still be opened even with the car is parked in tight spaces. Although it has a little front hood area, it's designed as a midengine, rear-wheel-drive car.
One of Honda's goals with the Step Bus is to make the whole car small, but make the interior as large as possible. The interior of the Step Bus is lined with tracks designed to hold cup holders, cell phones, and in the vehicle on display, a picture frame with a photo of puppies. The instruments are appropriately futuristic-looking, but the nav screen seems to be straight out of a Honda production car.
Custom car company Italdesign - Giugiaro S.p.A. teamed up with Ford Racing to build the Giugiaro Mustang concept. Italdesign installed lambo doors and shaped the body to taper out a bit from front to back. The most notable body feature is the windshield, which stretches from the hood of the car, over the roof, and down to the trunk, making for one long sunroof.
Italdesign added some color to the interior as well as a very weird gear shift. The engine on the Giugiaro Mustang started out as a standard Ford Racing division engine, a 4.6-liter V-8. The company added a supercharger and the same fuel injectors as used on the Ford GT, pumping up the horsepower to an estimated 500.
Hyundai's Hellion is a radically designed study for a crossover vehicle. Hyundai's chief designer, Joel Piaskowski, refers to it as "the sibling who's a bit mischievous and always outspoken." The Hellion is well-spec'ed out for a concept. Hyundai indicates it would be powered by a 236-horsepower, 3-liter diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic, turning all four wheels.
The LCD on the Hellion's dashboard shows a very usable interface for controlling car functions. The screen is controlled from a mouse mounted on the console. It's a particularly interesting design considering Hyundai isn't offering navigation in its production cars yet.
Unlike Mercedes-Benz calling a four-door car a coupe, Acura calls its two-door concept a sedan. The Advanced Sedan Concept was designed with pointed hood and tail, reminiscent of boat designs. Taking the boat theme further, the hood has raised ridges and a dipped crease in the middle. Tinted glass covers the roof, giving passengers a complete sky view, while the wheels, at 22 inches in front and 23 inches in the rear, are ridiculously large.
Given the number of CX-7s around its show floor, Mazda must be proud of its new crossover. This CX-7 Adrenaline is a specially modified CX-7, with a paint job reminiscent of a New Jersey license plate. The car has 22-inch wheels and a MazdaSpeed powertrain modified to produce 300 horsepower.
Nagare means flow in Japanese, which is the theme of the Mazda Nagare concept vehicle. The striations on the sides of the car are taken from the way wind creates ridges in sand, or the way that air flows over solid objects. Mazda intends that the Nagare communicate its future design direction.
Like other concepts at Los Angeles, the Nagare puts a canopy over the cabin, offering an unhindered sky view. But the Nagare places the driver's seat in the center, making it possible to rake the sides down more sharply. The doors open from the bottom upwards, like butterfly wings, according to Mazda's press kit.