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AutoRAI 2001: the concept cars

Seat_Salsa_Emocion_2000_f3q.JPGAnother combination car: the Seat Salsa Emocion by the Spanish division of Volkswagen. Like many concepts presented in 2000 it's supposed to be a space car, an off-roader and a sports car in one. And like many of these cars it bears some similarity to a suppository.
Apparently this is a development of the earlier Salsa (Spanish for sauce) concept and for some reason it now has become an "emotional sauce". Seat calls this type of cars "Multi Driving Concept" and in this case three driving modes can be selected by a switch on the dashboard: street, sport and off-road. Each choice influences things like ride height (this car features a pneumatic variable height suspension system), automatic gear changes, power steering, what is shown on the instrument panel and on the video displays which can display images from cameras placed on the car.

Seat_Salsa_Emocion_2000_r3q.JPGThe Salsa Emotion has a four wheel drive system with a Haldex central differential. It's propelled by a stock 2.8 litre V6 engine delivering 250 hp and 297 Nm torque @ 3200 rpm. To this engine an automatic 5-speed transmission is attached, which also allows sequential Tiptronic gear changes by controls on the steering wheel. Top speed is 233 kph and acceleration from 0-100 kph is possible in just under 8 seconds.
Like most modern concepts this car offers a wide range of electronic gadgets as driving aids, for added safety, for communication and in-car entertainment. In addition to that the (easy to clean) interior is fitted with a water cooler and two folding micro-scooters are fitted in the rear (quite a change from a spare wheel).
Again, cars like these don't appeal to me. The only emotion I feel when looking at this car is indifference.

Suzuki_EV-sport_1999.JPGSuzuki presented a nifty little sports car which was shown first at the 1999 Tokio Motor Show. The EV-sport is an electric car, propelled by a General Motors developed electric motor in the rear. The batteries are placed under the floor for optimal road holding. In addition to the electric driving system a back-up petrol engine has been fitted, a 2-cylinder 0.4-litre lean burn unit which offers a 1itre on 35 kilometres gas consumption. It has a CVT transmission and drives the front wheels.
The car is extremely light-weight. It has an aluminum space frame and weighs 550 kg with only the petrol engine fitted. In hybrid setup it weighs some 600 kg and in completely electric setup the scales stop around 700 kg. Other dimensions are a length of just 2.675 m, a width of 1.475 m and a height of 1.45 m.
It's a pretty little car, the best looking zero-emission vehicle I've seen so far.

Volvo_S60_PCC_2000.JPGTo make absolutely clear that this is a concept car Volvo has called it the Performance Concept Car. Otherwise it could easily have been mixed up with a regular S60 model.
On the outside special front and rear spoilers and side-skirt distinguish the PCC, and of course the wonderful 19'' BBS magnesium racing wheels. More interesting are the technologies used in the PCC. Volvo's 2435 cc 5-cylinder engine is tuned to deliver 300 hp and an opulent 400 Nm of torque. This unit is fitted to a 6-speed gearbox which distributes the power to all wheels by a Haldex all wheel drive system. This system is chosen to optimize road holding and stability.
Even more special is its Four-C suspension system. Four-C stands for "Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept"; it's an active damper system developed in cooperation with Ohlins Racing. An array of sensors monitor the car's movements, wheel positions, speed and so on; the on-board computer systems analyses this data and adjusts the damper settings accordingly to offer best grip, comfort etc. The systems has three modes (comfort, sport and advanced sport) which can be selected and indicate the driver's preferred suspension behavior at that moment. Additionally the PCC is equipped with systems which control stability and traction which are also regulated according to the driver's preferred mode. According to Volvo this whole system offers enthusiastic sporty driving on demand in a car which is equally at home driving to the supermarket.
I guess we'll see this system in the near future as an option on (some of) Volvo's regular cars. It's remarkable how Volvo has changed from a manufacturer of boxy safety-oriented cars to one that can compete with BMW and Mercedes in a short span of time. Even without much of the image building activities these other so-called premium brands have invested in. Quite an achievement of company owner Ford.

Finish the tour by clicking the arrows pointing right....

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