FAST, FURIOUS FUTURE
FRESH FROM GENEVA: TOYOTA REVEALS THE COMEBACK SUPRA
Weird today, gone tomorrow — that summarises many of the concept cars manufacturers bring to major motor shows. There were oddballs on display at the Geneva International Motor Show but there was also a healthy dose of realism.
Not all concept cars are far-fetched futurism on wheels. Some are created to preview what a manufacturer has in the pipeline. Toyota’s GR Supra Concept, though decked out as a racer for Geneva, is headed for production next year.
Also headed for showrooms, whole or in part, are the Skoda Vision X, VW ID Vizzion, Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo and Hyundai HDC-1. Other important Geneva reveals were cars that have nearly completed the concept-to-showroom journey, such as the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe and electric Jaguar i-Pace.
Finally, there were some simple, oldfashioned new-model unveilings. Biggest of these was the Toyota that Europe calls Auris, but we call Corolla.
Among others were the new small SUV from Lexus, the UX, and the latest in Audi’s long A6 sedan line.
Underneath the racetrack warpaint and whopper wing of the GR Supra Concept is the long-awaited replacement for a legendary Toyota sports car. Production of the previous Supra ended in 2002, despite its famed figuring in The Fast and the Furious.
The comeback, fifth-generation Supra has been made possible by a partnership between Toyota and BMW.
The German company didn’t want its current Z4 sports car to become geriatric but sales didn’t justify spending money to do a new one. “We’re developing a car in a segment that’s under pressure,” a BMW executive conceded last year.
Toyota did the maths, too. The Supra and Z4 share the same basic format; front-engined, rear-drive and two doors. So designing, engineering and developing one car to serve the needs of both brands made a lot of sense.
To be launched overseas in the middle of next year, the new Supra is not yet confirmed for Australia. Toyota’s local sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley is very keen to add it to the line-up.
MERCEDES-AMG GT 4-DOOR COUPE
Due in Australia in about 12 months, the GT 4-Door Coupe is a Porsche Panamera rival. The big liftback has turbo V8 and six-cylinder engines, all-wheel drive, comes with four- or five-seat configurations and probably will be in the $250,000 to $300,000 range.
The luxury interior introduces a new look and some hi-tech features that will spread to other AMG models, among them a driving mode selector button mounted on the steering wheel that’s remarkably like the one used by Porsche.
Initially the GT 4-Door Coupe will be produced with a new turbocharged and electric-boosted 3.0-litre in-line six and two versions of AMG’s loud and lusty twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8.
But Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers says a high-performance hybrid is under development and will be ready by 2020. It is sure to be the fastest, and most costly, variant in the GT 4-Door Coupe range.
Here’s the new face of Australia’s favourite car, the Corolla. Due to go on sale in Australia from August, the popular hatchback was revealed in Geneva under its European name, Auris.
The new Corolla is longer, lower and wider
than the model it will replace. Its basis is Toyota’s TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, which also serves as the foundation for the small C-HR SUV and current Prius hybrid.
These are two of the best-driving cars in the Toyota line-up, so expect the new Corolla to take a step up in handling and ride comfort.
A new petrol engine will bring more power and improved fuel economy, according to Toyota Australia. Toyota’s latest 1.8-litre petrolelectric hybrid drivetrain also will be available.
Hi-tech safety gear will include autonomous emergency braking as standard.
Jaguar’s battery-powered SUV was officially revealed more than a week ago, streamed online from the factory in Austria where it will be made. But Geneva was the car’s first proper appearance in public.
The i-Pace will go on sale in Australia in October, with prices starting from $119,000. Seen in the metal, the five-door five-seater has striking good looks.
And if it performs as well as Jaguar claims, it’ll be an exciting car to drive. The company claims its pair of electric motors — one turning each axle — will propel the all-wheel drive i-Pace from rest to 100km/h in a rapid 4.8 seconds.
With a 90kW lithium-ion battery pack, the i-Pace has a range of 480km in Europe’s new (and more realistic) energy efficiency test.
Described as a compact urban crossover, the UX has less ornate exterior design than the typical Lexus SUV. The small five-seater will go on sale in Australia early next year.
Sized for city parking ease, the UX is built on an upgraded-for-Lexus version of the same TNGA platform that’s the basis of the coming Corolla.
In Australia the UX will be sold in petrol and hybrid versions, both relying on a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The 131kW hybrid version will have an electric motor driving its rear axle for all-wheel drive capability.
SKODA VISION X
The good looking compact urban crossover concept won’t make it into showrooms with the Vision X nameplate.
It previews the look of a third SUV soon to be added to the VW-owned Czech brand’s lineup to join the Kodiaq and Karoq — expect the production version in 2019 to start with a K.
Skoda’s concept highlighted a clever allwheel drive set-up, with a natural gas-burning mild hybrid engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear.
The production version is certain to use conventional VW Group engines and transmissions.
PORSCHE MISSION E
Porsche hasn’t got its Mission E electric car into production but it’s already signalling what its second battery-powered model will look like.
The Mission E Cross Turismo is a raised-by 30mm wagon version of the stunning Mission E sedan revealed at Frankfurt two years ago.
Chief executive Oliver Blume says Porsche will gauge reaction to the concept at Geneva before deciding whether to put the car into production.
The Mission E sedan will be launched next year and Blume says the Cross Turismo, if it gets the green light, could soon follow.
Porsche also looked at spinning off a coupe or convertible from Mission E but it appears the Cross Turismo will get the nod because of its stronger commercial prospects.
VW ID VIZZION
Vizzion is the fourth in VW’s series of electric powered ID concepts. The show car features futuristic autonomous driving and artificial intelligence technology that’s a long way from being market ready.
Its overall look isn’t that far off, however. VW says the Vizzion previews a new electricpowered model it plans to have in production by 2022.
A rival for the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the A6 is due in Australia later this year. It borrows heavily from the interior look and layout of the larger A8 luxury sedan.
The A6’s petrol and diesel engines have 48V mild-hybrid assistance and Audi is developing a plug-in hybrid.
Australia is among many markets turning away from the likes of the A6 but growing Chinese demand for big sedans ensures they’re not going to disappear anytime soon.
HYUNDAI LE FIL ROUGE
Hyundai’s Le Fil Rouge (HDC-1) concept indicates the Korean giant’s near-future design direction rather than its intention to build such a car. “Sensuous Sportiness” is the name chosen for the new look, which will be applied to all future Hyundai cars and SUVs.
HYUNDAI LE FIL ROUGE
VW ID VIZZION
SKODA VISION X
PORSCHE MISSION E
TOYOTA AURIS HYBRID