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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Best Concept Cars of 2011

Car & Driver's Best Concept Cars of 2011

This rear-drive electric concept bowed in Detroit wearing slinky metal over tidier-than-TT proportions. Unlike the R8-esque EV of  the same name, this e-tron isn’t scheduled for production. All is not lost; its design—the aspect we like most—portends that of Audi’s upcoming R4. An equally gorgeous topless version shown in Paris uses a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain.

Silent racing could be closer than we think. Shown in Paris as a styling buck, the Survolt later gained twin electric motors generating 300 horsepower. It’s capable of 0 to 62 mph in less than five seconds and a top speed of 162 mph, according to Citro├źn. The company also claims max range of 124 miles—but at slightly lower speeds.

Created by Ben Bowlby (former Lola design chief, former Ganassi Racing tech director), the DeltaWing was one of several proposed 2012 IndyCar chassis. The shape generates downforce without wings or spoilers and is supposed to be immune to turbulence in close quarters. Unveiled at Chicago, it was serious enough to have the support of  Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, but a modular Dallara design ultimately won IndyCar’s affections.

A GMC vehicle that’s not a rebadged Chevrolet? That’s the story of this very small but very butch crossover. A Detroit debutant, the Granite has been a show-circuit hit. Future production is at this point a poorly kept secret; the challenge will be preserving the pillarless design and easy-access rear doors.

It’s reminiscent of the old XJ220 (1992–94), but this stunning Paris show car’s primary propulsion is provided by electrons rather than combustion events. Like the Chevy  Volt, the C-X75 augments its batteries with a range-extending power source. Unlike the Volt, that source is two gas turbines. Top speed is a claimed 205 mph, also unlike the Volt. But forgive us if we remain leery of an electronically powered Jag.

This Lancia Stratos prototype debuted not at an auto show, but while brutalizing an Italian test track. Faithful in appearance to Bertone’s 1972 homologation special, the revival Stratos sports a V-8 derived from the Ferrari F430 Scuderia’s but promises a power-to-weight ratio that’s better than an Enzo’s. Pininfarina and the team of  wealthy enthusiasts behind the Stratos will build you one, too—for a price.

In addition to its sculpted shape, this hybrid GT concept—first seen at Geneva—has a couple of unusual features: a centered third seat and a Bell & Ross wristwatch that stows in its own dashboard slot. The design won’t see production, but its internal-combustion/electric propulsion system will appear in the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 crossover.

Constructed to celebrate Pininfarina’s 80th anniversary and as a tribute to Alfa Romeo’s centennial, this choice roadster concept made its debut at Geneva. If the thought of pronouncing the name sends your tongue into convulsions, think “Duetto.” Memo to Fiat: If you’re serious about saving Alfa, build this car.

In an auto-show world awash with electric and hybrid concepts, Porsche’s 918 trumps them all with four driving modes and performance potential rivaling the spectacular Carrera GT’s. The heart of the matter is a 500-plus-hp, 3.4-liter V-8, augmented by a trio of electric motors. Production is confirmed for the Geneva showstopper.
So is a very high sticker.

More proof that green and sexy are not mutually exclusive, this two-seater uses Nissan-Renault electric powertrain technology. The DeZir’s styling points the way for future Renault design, and the scissors doors—one rear-hinged, one front—attracted scads of eyeballs at the Paris show. Our favorite part? The pimp-daddy quilted white-leather interior, which was inspired by  the idea of an “amorous encounter” and the “coming together of opposites.”

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