LEARN MORE

Zones



Viewing the North American International Auto Show: Sheet Metal for Today & Tomorrow

2007 Hyundai Veracruz SUVAlthough Hyundai may be considered to be something of an economical brand, that doesn’t stop the company from benchmarking the Lexus RX 350 (the Veracruz is claimed to have a quieter cabin) and Mercedes GL (the cargo capacity behind the front seats is 86.8-ft3, bigger than the full-sized Merc’s 83.3-ft3). It’s powered by the 3.8-liter V6 installed in the Azera sedan (see: 2006 Hyundai Azera SE). Seating is for seven (three rows of seats). And, yes, this is a crossover.—GSV Lexus LF-A ConceptTypically, vehicle manufacturers roll out a concept car one year and if it is ever seen again, it is in production form.

2007 Hyundai Veracruz SUV

Although Hyundai may be considered to be something of an economical brand, that doesn’t stop the company from benchmarking the Lexus RX 350 (the Veracruz is claimed to have a quieter cabin) and Mercedes GL (the cargo capacity behind the front seats is 86.8-ft3, bigger than the full-sized Merc’s 83.3-ft3). It’s powered by the 3.8-liter V6 installed in the Azera sedan (see: 2006 Hyundai Azera SE). Seating is for seven (three rows of seats). And, yes, this is a crossover.—GSV

 

Lexus LF-A Concept

Typically, vehicle manufacturers roll out a concept car one year and if it is ever seen again, it is in production form. But in a continuous improvement approach, the LF-A concept shown at the 2005 NAIAS has been further developed, this time to the extent of having done the engineering analysis at the Higashi Fuji Technical Cente...and at the Fuji Raceway. It has a V10 engine—under five liters—that is said to produce over 500 hp. Dimensionally: length, 175.6 in.; width: 74.6 in.; height: 48 in.; wheelbase: 102.3 in. Visually: stunning.—GSV

 

2008 Lexus IS-F

Based on the existing Lexus IS platform (see Introducing The '06 IS), the IS-F has a performance-tuned 5-liter V8 that’s estimated to have more than 400 hp and more than 350 lb.-ft. of torque. And an eight-speed, direct-paddle shift transmission. As the existing IS has a smaller engine (either a 3.5- or 2.5-liter V6), the IS-F has a larger hood to contain the V8. As well as wider front fenders, grille, and rear-deck spoiler. There are 19-in. forged alloy wheels with the “Brembo” logo visible on the brake calipers (six-piston aluminum calipers for the 14.2-in. discs on the front and two-piston calipers on the 13.6-in. discs in the rear). According to chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi (who’d worked on the last-generation Toyota Supra), “We wanted to develop a car that was totally different from the regular Lexus R&D process, we wanted to make something more interesting for our sport-minded Lexus customers.”—GSV

 

Jaguar C-XF Concept

Yes, the taut sheet metal is stunning, but the presence of the C-XF is predicated on more than the form. The monochromatic color pallet is key. Explained Julian Thomson, Jaguar’s head of Advanced Design, “We describe the effect as ‘tone-on-tone’—we want people to think about the materials, the textures, and how they interact with the functions of the car.” The overall color is “Metashine” silver. Note the chrome and aluminum trim and the white ceramic used on the tailpipes. “The tonality has a functional aspect,” he said, “but also extreme beauty; mechanical designs that are fit for purpose are often beautifully designed—we’ve taken our inspiration from machinery as diverse as aircraft to cameras in seeking to make the car look like it was milled from a solid piece of metal.” Many designers use the “milled” metaphor. Jaguar delivers.—GSV

 

Volvo XC60 Concept

Steve Mattin, Volvo Cars design director (see Mattin’s Challenge: Changing Volvo’s Design—Just Enough ), is throwing down: “It is time to once and for all forget all about boxy Volvos.” Which explains the XC60 concept and the sculpted forms, shapes and bulges. “If you say that you recognize a Volvo from 50 meters today”—presumably because of the historic, distinctive boxy forms—“I want to get to the point where you will instantly spot it from twice that distance in the future.” As this crossover will look like every other crossover, one may spot it, but not recognize it. Beneath the hood resides a 3.2-liter, 265-hp bio-ethanol six. (Sweden is working toward oil independence by 2020; by 2009, every gas station in the country is to offer ethanol.)—GSV

 

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country Minivans

“Minivan design is truly about the interior.” Trevor Creed, senior vice president, Chrysler Group Design, is absolutely solid with that statement. While the exterior sheet metal on these sales-leading minivans is new for this model year, just as the Stow ‘n Go fold-in-the-floor seating marked a difference with the previous-models, this time it is Swivel ‘n Go, second row seats that swivel 180° to face the third row. And there’s a removable table that can be fitted in the space between the two rows. Also, they’ve widened the roof by 6 in. compared to the previous model so the total passenger interior volume is up to 163.5-ft3 from 161.3-ft3. As for the exterior...well, even Ralph Gilles, noted designer of the 300 (see Ralph Gilles: How To Create Cool Cars), remarked that the company’s own reference to the vehicles as “bread and butter” is not off the mark.—GSV

 

F Marks the Spot

Lexus has started engineering a series of performance-oriented vehicles that will carry a special “F” badge. Bob Carter, Lexus group vp and general manager, admitted, “We realize that to some, Lexus vehicles are perceived simply as mainstream luxury vehicles.” Which isn’t all bad, considering that the Toyota division sold 322,434 units last year. But still, they want to create another niche. “Most people do not know that when the idea of Lexus was first conceived 20 years ago,” Carter explained, “the original project was internally coded ‘Circle-F.’ The Circle-F designation evolved into the name Flagship One, or F1, which became the code for our very first car, the LS.” And this has led to the F designation.—GSV