Hometown heroes Holden and Ford may have been the headline act at this year's Melbourne Motor Show, but there were also plenty of concept cars on display.
Hyundai Genesis coupe
In Korea, America and China Hyundai is moving away from its cheap and cheerful roots with the Genesis. A large four-door sedan powered by a choice of V6 or V8 engines and driving the rear-wheels, Hyundai is pitching the Genesis as a cut-price competitor to the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class and Lexus GS.
With rear-wheel drive the preferred format of many a sports car, it makes sense for Hyundai to give us this: the Genesis coupe. Much more aggressively and flamboyantly styled than the rather derivative sedan, the -- presumably -- affordable coupe will go on sale overseas sometime in 2009. It could be just the trick to make us forget about all those Excels with crazy body kits and farty exhausts.
Will they, won't they?
According to Hyundai Australia, there are no plans to bring the Genesis sedan to Australia but the coupe is a far likelier proposition. The car on display at the Melbourne Motor Show is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 similar to that in the Grandeur sedan. There's also said to be a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the works.
If Hyundai ever sees fit to offer the sedan's V8 in the coupe, it could conceivably take on the likes of Ford's Mustang and the forthcoming muscle cars, the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger.
Think hybrids and you'll likely think of inner-city types wearing hemp-based clothing, sipping lattes in fashionably run down cafes and talking about how little fuel their Toyota Priuses drink. With its FT-HS concept car, Toyota wants to change that.
Under this two-door coupe's intriguingly styled skin -- think of it as a Blade Runner take on the dearly departed Supra -- lies a hybrid drivetrain featuring a 3.5-litre V6 engine. In fact it's probably not too dissimilar to the system found in the Lexus GS450h, except in the case of FT-HS there's a claimed 300kW on tap. That's enough, Toyota says, to propel the FT-HS from 0 to 96km/h in about four seconds.
From the 48-215 to this ...
It's been 60 years since the first Holden 48-215 rolled down the production line and brought personal transportation to the Australian masses. To celebrate this and, let's not forget, to put a dampener on Ford's FG Falcon coming out party, Holden whipped the covers off the Coupe 60, a coupe concept car derived from the Commodore sedan.
Is it a Monaro though?
Well that depends on whether the bean counters and product planning wonks in the US of A can be convinced by Holden, and others, that there's a market for this car in the land of excruciatingly long-winded presidential candidate nomination processes.
Why? Well, despite the Monaro's cult status in Australia, it sells in small numbers which almost demand a export program to America to justify the development and tooling costs.
Who are you calling sassy?
The smaller, lighter and much cuter second-gen Mazda 2 has been going gangbusters. So it makes sense to gussy up a rally version, replete with advertising and quad racing lights, right? Right?
Land Rover LRX
If you're tempted by a Land Rover but find it has a bit too much pipe-and-slippers, English countryside, "would you like an scone with tea?" cachet, then the LRX could be for you.
Effectively a slammed, 3-door version of the Freelander 2, the LRX, should it ever roll down a production line, could revive the whole 3-door 4WD concept.
Take a Lancer, jack it up, fit a hatch body on it -- it's sort of a cross between the Suzuki SX4 and Volvo C30 -- and, voila, you have the Concept-cX. No word yet on whether this sub-RAV4 sized hatch-cum-4WD will be making it to a driveway near you.
The Hakaze is the latest in the "nagare" (Japanese for "flow" and "the embodiment of movement") design studies being trotted out by Mazda at various motor shows. This one's meant to be a cross between a roadster and a 4WD, and to that end the roof panels are removable.
Feel like kite surfing?
Describing car design, especially concept car design, in words often requires a descent into the world of indecipherable designer speak, which is laden with technical jargon and weird allusions. According to Mazda, the Hakaze means leaf wind in Japanese and "was designed especially for the new crossover sport of kite-surfing that combines surfing and paragliding."
Umm, yeah. We do like the slashes in the doors, the extreme angle of the windscreen and the way the body catches the exhibition centre's lights. It's about the size of a Mazda 3 hatch but wider and taller. A few of the design cues may trickle down into production Mazdas, just don't expect to see anything like the Hakaze on the roads though.
When is a coupe not really a coupe?
When it's the Audi Cross Coupe. Yes, it's got a folding fabric roof but calling a jacked up 4WD -- even a good looking one -- a coupe is a bit of stretch. Think of the Golf-sized Cross Coupe as a portent of the forthcoming Q5 4WD, though, and things begin to make a bit more sense.
Just days after showing the concept car to Melbourne show goers, Renault took the wraps off the production version of its Koleos small 4WD in Geneva. And, except for the smaller wheels, less extravagant headlights, less fulsome wheelarches and deleted bodykit, they look little different.
A multinational project, the Koleos concept is based on Nissan's Dualis and X-Trail 4WDs, and was engineered in collaboration with Renault's majority-owned Samsung Motors subsidiary in Korea.