8 months with a Renault Clio

Top Car's Wayne Batty says goodbye to his Renault Clio. It’s not a soppy farewell but the little 'automatique' did its maker proud.

Kia's trendy family pick

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post experiences the upcoming Cerato.

Car designs go wild at Detroit

2007-01-10 12:07

Mazda Ryouga

Do you ever get the urge to go totally ape at work? Tempted to take off your tie, yell and scream and throw paper airplanes at the boss?

Perhaps to keep them sane, car companies sometimes let their designers go nuts. They tell them to forget the rules and about all the plain sedans, and come with something that totally blows the mind of anybody who sees it.

This is the realm of what's called the concept car, a wild design that will likely never see the light of an car showroom, but might contain hints of where that car company is going. It was that kind of a day on Monday at the North American International Auto Show.

The highlight was a wild little Mazda (F) called the Ryuga (pronounced ree-yoo-ga). That is a form of Japanese for the word flow, and that is something this car certainly does. It is designed to be very aerodynamic, and we can guarantee it looks like nothing else on the road today.

It is breathtaking to see in person.

Unlike some far out concept cars, this one has a working interior and suspension. The doors open in a gull-wing fashion like the old Mercedes 300SL - only on this one, there are only two long doors, and when they open they allow access to both the front and rear seats. The Ryuga has a kind of a boat-tail rear end and a front end with very little overhang.

Chrysler took the wraps off a four-door, four-passenger Nassau luxury coupe. Its wheelbase is roughly the size of the Dodge Magnum. But it looks very different, with a kind of hatchback rear end. Inside, there are lots of electronic graphics, in blue of course, and shifting is carried out through a pod control mounted on the instrument panel. There are two glass panels in the roof to let light flow into the front and rear seats. Chrysler said with the Hemi V-8 it will cruise to 97 km/h in 5 seconds.

From Jeep comes the Trailhawk, a concept based on the new Wrangler. This takes that rather basic vehicle and upgrades for to a more everyday drive, yet retains the Jeep's legendary off-road capabilities.

Jeep calls the body muscular and broad-shouldered, and we would agree. The traditional and much-demanded Jeep grille remains up front. You can even get leather seats, and that's a long way from the canvas found in the old military Jeeps.

But not everything introduced at Monday's press day was a concept car. Some new cars will actually take to the road in the weeks and months ahead.

Porsche has introduced an even-higher performance model, called the GT3. Out back is a 3.6-liter engine that churns out 415 kW, which makes it the most powerful normally aspired engine in the Porsche lineup. It will get you from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds if you hang on tight.

Also, Porsche showed off the 2008 Cayennes. Performance buffs will be drawn to the Turbo with 500 kW and a zero-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds.

Lexus has gone high-performance with the introduction of the IS-F sedan. This one is powered by a 5-liter V-8 that cranks out 500 kW, and boasts a zero-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds with beefier brakes, suspension and transmission

On the other end of the performance spectrum is the new Honda Accord coupe concept. It gives a pretty good idea of what the redesigned coupe will look like when it hits showrooms later this year. This is a sleeker, racier, coupe than the old one, with sculptured side body panels.

For look at all the lastest models at the Detroit Auto Show click here.


Inside Wheels24

Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in SA

Want to experience what it's like to be behind the wheel of a 419kW sports car? Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in our interactive Snapchat video filmed in SA.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.