Snow blin­ders

There are al­ready two big sur­prises in store in Detroit

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

A RAUNCHY new Lexus and a Smart with a twist are the first con­firmed starters for next month’s Detroit mo­tor show.

The snow­bound start to the car year is cus­tom­ar­ily a show­case for a wide range of con­cept cars and Lexus and Smart have gone early with teasers of their con­tenders.

The Lexus is a new sporty model that takes its in­spi­ra­tion from the com­pany’s LFA su­per­car and the Smart is a tiny ute rein­ven­tion of the Fortwo.

The two com­pa­nies will not be alone in Mo­town next month, with Nis­san plan­ning a pre­view of its Pathfinder, Honda likely to show an­other NSX su­per­car con­cept and a tease for its next Ac­cord, and Chrysler Jeep in­tend­ing to make a splash with a cou­ple of fu­tur­is­tic show cars.

Lexus is not re­veal­ing much about its new car although it plans to go pub­lic with a name be­fore the car is un­veiled on Jan­uary 9. But the 19-inch al­loy wheels and deep front air­dam point to some­thing that’s more like the LFA than an­other Ct200-style hy­brid, and it shares the Darth Vader-style ‘‘ thim­ble’’ grille treat­ment of the new Lexus GS.

‘‘ It’s a con­cept car. It’s not an up­date of an ex­ist­ing model,’’ con­firms Peter Evans of Lexus Aus­tralia.

Lexus is also ex­pected to show a re­vamped LX four­wheel drive. The heavy­weight SUV is a tweaked Toy­ota Land­cruiser.

The Smart ute – the Smart­for-us – pokes fun at the over­com­pli­ca­tion of new cars.

‘‘ This is to give peo­ple a flavour of what’s pos­si­ble at Smart. It’s to keep peo­ple in­ter­ested in the brand,’’ says Smart Aus­tralia spokesman David Mc­carthy. ‘‘ I wouldn’t be bet­ting on a ute but there will be some other de­sign cues there for peo­ple to check.’’

The lead-up for the new Smart Fortwo has al­ready pro­duced the Forvi­sion con­cept and the Detroit-mo­bile shares the same bat­tery power pack and elec­tric en­gine. The con­cept is wider and longer than the Fortwo to em­pha­sise the com­pact pro­por­tions, as well as mak­ing space for a tray back that can carry a cou­ple of bi­cy­cles. In some ways it’s closer in size to a po­ten­tial re­place­ment for the un­der­achiev­ing For­four than the baby Fortwo.

Paul Gover

Sneak peek: Smart con­cept ute, and be­low, teaser pic of the

Lexus con­cept

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