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Top Concepts

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Audi R8 V12 TDI Diesel LeMans Photo: Rod Hatfield
By Hugh Poulter
Geneva Show is awash with concepts ranging from the bizarre to the production ready. The MSN editors at the show compared notes and drew up a list of our favorites. Here are 10 of them, in no particular order.
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Saab 9-X BioHybrid Photo: Sean Frego

Saab 9-X BioHybrid

This is a hugely significant concept for Saab as it gives an indication of the future direction the company is taking with both a design and technology point of view. The bold styling makes strong references to the brand’s aircraft manufacturing heritage with its wrap-around windshield, the sloped roof line as well as the turbine-style 21-inch alloy wheels. Beneath the hood is an innovative 1.4-liter turbocharged flex-fuel engine that produces an impressive 200 horsepower using E85 — a fuel made up of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Fuel economy is estimated at 48 mpg using gasoline while with E85, CO2 emissions are reduced and fuel economy is still a respectable 37 mpg.

 

Photo Gallery: Top Concepts

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 Renault Megane Coupe Concept Photo: Rod Hatfield

Renault Megane Concept

Renault concepts are all about style, beautiful design detail and overall balance. This is epitomized by the Megane Concept’s sleek and curvaceous styling, which makes the concept simultaneously sporting and sophisticated. Aluminum finish detailing and strip-like headlights show superb attention to detail. Its party piece is the full-length, power-operated horizontally split scissor doors, that open like butterfly wings above the car. Renault says this Coupe Concept points the way to “pleasure cars” in Renault’s future lineup. We can’t wait.

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 Suzuki Concept A-Star Photo: Rod Hatfield

Suzuki A-Star

Forming the basis of Suzuki’s next “world car,” the A-Star concept is the result of collaborative project between the company’s Japanese and Indian design teams. It’s the size of a city car and its styling is smart and very European in character, with a dynamic appearance, real presence, and nothing too brash. Touches like the leaf-shaped pink headlight accents are indicative of the Indian design influence. Fitted with a conventional gasoline engine that meets the latest European emissions standards and emits less than 109 g/km CO2, it is explicitly described as a future production model that will be built at the end of this year in India.

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 Toyota Urban Cruiser Photo: Sean Frego

Toyota Urban Cruiser

A small environmentally responsible SUV based on the Yaris platform, the Toyota Urban Cruiser offers a preview of the production model that will go on sale in the first half of 2009 in Europe. Designed as a vehicle for urban dwellers who desire all-road capability, the four-meter long, five-door Urban Cruiser aims to address environmental concerns with low fuel consumption and low CO2 emissions, aiming to produce less than 140 grams per kilometer. Toyota says the Urban Cruiser is a return to the inspiration of the company’s original, early 1990s, three-door RAV4, which started the trend for compact urban-centric SUVs.

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 Land Rover LRX Photo: Sean Frego

Land Rover LRX

If Land Rover is to survive, it has to recognize modern issues of emissions and global warming, and if possible to do it with all the Land Rover DNA still firmly in place. The LRX concept underlines the message of greener Land Rover thinking while reaffirming that the Land Rover buyer will always have the scope to be an individual. The three-door LRX is more compact and significantly lighter even than Land Rover’s smallest current model, the LR2 (Freelander outside the U.S.). It offers the possibility of a diesel hybrid powertrain, fuel-saving and highly capable e-RAD electric rear-axle drive four-wheel-drive system and a host of intelligent power management. It also gives strong clues as to what Land Rover’s next-generation smaller car could look like, and that’s something to look forward to because this one is a stunner.

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Audi R8 V12 TDI Diesel LeMans Photo: Rod Hatfield

Audi R8 TDI Le Mans

Based on the Audi R8 production car, the R8 V12 TDI Le Mans is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbo diesel V12 that develops 500 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, with peak torque available at only 1500 rpm. With a top speed of more than 186 mph, the R8 V12 TDI Le Mans will accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.2 seconds. With the current technology for emissions systems including a particulate filter, the engine is clean enough to meet even tough California emission standards. Sadly there are no official plans for a production version of the R8 powered by a V12 TDI, but we believe it’s only a matter of time before Audi builds a turbodiesel supercar.

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Rinspeed sQuba Photo: Rod Hatfield

Rinspeed sQuba

This clearly falls into the bizarre camp, but you have to applaud Swiss company Rinspeed for their audacity and for the sheer entertainment of watching a television presenter talking to camera while wearing a mask and snorkel. Based on the Lotus Elise, the concept is powered on land and water by three electric motors (with “zero emissions” lithium-ion battery technology). Once in the water, it uses two rear propellers for propulsion aided by swiveling jet-drive pods on its sides. It lacks a roof which allows almost neutral buoyancy once the vents are open and the cockpit is flooded — when it can swim at a depth of ten meters, with built in air tanks and masks for driver and passenger. It’s equally happy to cruise around on the surface, and looks like a lot of fun.

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 Pininfarina Sintesi Photo: Sean Frego

Pininfarina Sintesi

An object of exceptional beauty and classic styling, Pininfarina’s Sintesi is inspired from design elements from the company's Birdcage 75th supercar and Nido city vehicle prototypes that have previously been displayed at motor shows. The concept is a “synthesis of the brand’s values, their love for work and passion for innovation, of beauty driven by functionality, of sportiness and elegance.” More than just a pretty face, it embraces innovative technologies that allow Pininfarina to explore mobility, active safety and packaging solutions. The concept is powered by four fuel cells providing 20kW of power per wheel with additional battery charge coming from solar panels and regenerative braking. The company claims a 0-62 mph time of 7.5 seconds and top speed of 155 mph, when used in Sport mode.

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IED Maserati Chicane Concept Photo: All

Maserati Chicane Concept

The GranTurismo S was big news for Maserati in Geneva, but there was another Maser on display, yet the second one wasn’t actually built by the Italian car company. The Chicane concept was created by art students attending the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) and was selected from a number of designs to be showcased at the Geneva show. With the Maserati brand as their inspiration, the students set out to create a vehicle that was “thrilling at first sight” — we’d have to say that they achieved their goal. Rumor has it that Maserati is working on a smaller sport coupe — perhaps the bold, curvaceous Chicane concept that could fit the bill and end up being a real Maserati.

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 Giugiaro Quaranta Photo: Rod Hatfield

Giugiaro Quaranta

Every year the famed design house of Italdesign-Giugiaro brings an eye-catching concept to the Geneva Motor Show, and this year was no exception. The Quaranta is a sleek, exotic-looking sports car that not only stands out in appearance, but in technology as well. A hybrid powertrain drives all four wheels and is supplemented with solar energy. The mid-mounted rear engine provides excellent performance but still allows for a roomy interior that can accommodate three adults and a child as well as providing a generous space for luggage.  Easily one of the sexiest family cars we’ve ever seen.

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