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Photos: Design concepts in Geneva

The Geneva auto show may be the catwalk of the automotive world, but it is also the test lab for future design concepts. As usual, this year's show had plenty of blue-sky projects on display.

CNET Reviews staff

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This much-hyped four-door design study from Italian company Pininfarina is aimed at combining external style with interior functionality. The Sintensi's body features a "looped" unbroken line which follows the contours of the car and a sharply cropped rear end for better aerodynamics. Interior space is maximized by the elimination of an engine compartment. Instead, the Sintesi is designed around four sets of fuel cells that are situated close the wheel compartments
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According to Pininfarina, the exterior lines are echoed in the interior of the car to wrap drivers in a "soft, fluid space." Its designers say that the Sintesi will feature a new communications system that has its own intelligence, and which translates external signs and information to the driver through a "lanuguage...Of lights and colors". More realistically, the Sintesi also incorporates a vehicle-to-vehicle communications system based on radio technology from Reicom.
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While a brand-new production Spyder was being unveiled by Alfa Romeo a few yards away, Fioravanti showed off its homage to the transaxle Alfa's of the past with the Vola concept. The Vola features a lightweight rotating convertible roof, which can be operated manually or automatically, and which stows on top of the luggage compartment.
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It doesn't look like a hybrid or a Toyota, but the rear-engined four-wheel drive Quaranta makes use of the Hybrid Synergy Drive similar to that found in the Prius. The environmental design continues with roof-mounted solar panels, which are used to power the cabin electronics and for recharging the battery. In true concept-car style, the Quaranta features an elaborate door arrangement with an automatic front-hinged mechanism.
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The manually retractable roof of the LigHT is made from a combination of polyurethane for the roof panel and a polycarbonate rear window. The roof, which rotates around a single fixed point aft of the cockpit, makes use of self-supporting surface cross members connected by film hinges.
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This four-door "multi-purpose coupe" is designed with an alternative-fuel drive train in mind. According to Fioravanti, the Hidra features a central-longitudinal area for the placement of hydrogen tanks or batteries. The absence of windshield wipers is a deliberate omission as the Hidra features a patented system called Geyser that apparently uses a combination of layers to self-clean the windshield. The system comprises four nano layers for shedding and repelling water and dust as well as a series of jets for cleaning off the gunk.
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Designers at Maserati beware: there is a whole new generation of drawing-board divas waiting to take your place. That was the message from the Chicane design study, created by students from the Instituto Europeo di Design (IED). The full-scale model of the 2+2 coupe combines batmobile-fenders with swoopy lines and sharp creases not typically associated with the refined styling of Maserati, while still managing to retain an elegant profile.
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Soft top or retractable hardtop? That is the question that most buyers of convertible cars have to ask themselves. Webasto is attempting to blur the difference between the two roof designs with its LigHT concept (the HT stands for "hybrid top").

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