Volkswagen BlueSport

Volkswagen BlueSport:

As a proponent of diesel engines, Volkswagen launched the BlueSport roadster concept at the Detroit auto show. The midmounted engine is a turbocharged 2-liter, putting out 177 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, getting it to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, with an estimated 55 mpg.

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Volkswagen BlueSport

Volkswagen BlueSport:

The BlueSport uses Volkswagen's DSG dual-clutch gearbox, and has Sport and Eco modes. Instead of a shifter, a dial changes drive modes while paddles handle manual gear shifts. A small touch screen, for controlling audio and other functions, sits above the DSG dial.

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Audi Sportback

Audi Sportback:

Also along the diesel front, Audi shows off the Sportback concept. Audi tried out a coupe with the A5, and now stretches that idea out for four doors. It uses a 3-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel engine, giving it 225 horsepower and 40 mpg.

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Audi Sportback

Audi Sportback:

Audi didn't go crazy with the interior, fitting it with standard switchgear. The LCD powers into place out of a recess in the dashboard when the car is turned on. The woodwork is particularly nice, and something we would like to see in just about any car.

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Subaru Legacy concept

Subaru Legacy concept:

Subaru takes a conservative approach with the Legacy concept, showing off a body style that could easily go into production. This concept would use a 3.6-liter boxer-style six-cylinder engine, and, of course, Subaru's all-wheel-drive system.

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Subaru Legacy concept

Subaru Legacy concept:

The interior shows a little more futuristic panache, with a panoramic rear view displayed on an LCD in the traditional rearview mirror spot. The image comes from two rear-facing side cameras. The center stack also holds a conceptual touch vehicle interface.

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Volvo S60 concept

Volvo S60 concept:

Volvo explores a four-door fastback design for its S60. This car uses unique LED headlights from supplier Valeo that are supposed to evoke Viking longboats. Volvo envisions the car using a turbocharged 1.6-liter direct injection engine, which would be fine for Europe, but the car would need extra oomph for the U.S. market.

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Volvo S60 concept

Volvo S60 concept:

The door design on the S60 concept is particularly interesting, with the rear doors pulling out, then moving back on a rear hinge, so the inside of the door faces the rear fender when it is open. The lack of a center pillar creates a wide open cabin space.

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Volvo S60 concept

Volvo S60 concept:

The cabin is filled with cosmetic and technical gimmickry, such as the crystal floating console panel. It holds a unique shift lever for the transmission. As a new safety feature, the car can detect pedestrians in its path and hit the brakes.

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Lincoln C

Lincoln C:

Lincoln showed off its C concept at the 2009 Detroit auto show, with the idea that luxury cars don't have to be big. This urban cruiser uses an economical 1.6-liter four-cylinder direct injection engine. Even more interesting is the six-speed dual-clutch transmission, a new development from Ford we hope to see in a production car soon.

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Lincoln C

Lincoln C:

The C has a hubless steering wheel, with the wheel rotating on a chrome rim to provide steering input. A hubless wheel gives the driver an unobstructed view of the instrument panel. Paddle shifters for the dual-clutch transmission are mounted on the stationary rim.

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Kia Soul'ster

Kia Soul'ster:

Kia launched its new, boxy Soul model late last year, and has immediately come up with a concept based on it. The Soul'ster modifies the box by giving it a pick-up truck-style body without losing the rear row of seats. The result is an open back, suitable for warm climates.

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Kia Soul'ster

Kia Soul'ster:

The interior shows a more radical take on the Soul design, with a short-throw shifter for the five-speed manual transmission barely sticking up from the console, a thick, squarish steering wheel, and a small LCD mounted in the center stack.

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