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Lexus LF-LC concept (Toyota)
Lexus LF-LC concept (Toyota)

Design and technology

Nine futuristic car concepts to keep an eye on Add to ...

Everyone enjoys a good concept car, especially art lovers and techno-geeks looking for the latest ideas in automotive design and technology. And we go to auto shows to see them.

The 2013 Canadian International Auto Show has an interesting if not entirely new collection of concept cars. That is, Toronto, being more a sales show than a showcase for global product introductions, rarely gets a concept car that hasn’t first been seen at one of the international extravaganzas in Detroit, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Beijing.

Nonetheless, the concepts in Toronto for 2013 are an interesting mix of what can be and what will be – what can be a production car and what technologies will be seen in future models. Here’s a look at what you’ll see at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Volkswagen Cross Coupe

What is it? Ah, ha. Here we have a look into the future of the Volkswagen Tiguan crossover wagon, and perhaps other VW models, too. So we’re talking about a serious concept car.

In this case, the seriousness starts with what is underneath – VW “Modular Transverse Matrix.” That’s a mouthful to describe the basic mechanical bits and pieces that underpin this concept – and, as the Motor Authority website points out, this platform, which is abbreviated in German as “MQB,” will make its debut in the next-generation Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.

Where was it first shown? We saw one at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show (with a small direct-injection gas engine rated at 148 hp and 155-lb-ft of torque mated with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic). The following spring at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, we saw this version powered by a combination of TDI Clean Diesel technology and twin electric motors. Here, the concept is rated at 306 hp while sipping fuel at a rate of just 1.8 litres/100 km.

What’s the significance? VW is as good at sharing platform across multiple vehicles as any car maker in the world, and better than most. With its 12 in-house brands, the VW Group is anxious to contain costs while expanding its lineup. Motor Authority points out that combining the MQB platform with VW’s Modular Petrol Engine System (MOB, in German), VW stands to “reduce engine, gearbox and chassis combinations by roughly 90 per cent.” If you want to know why VW seems able to create so many different vehicles for so many different markets under so many different brands, this is an example of how.

Technical highlights? VW says the Cross Coupe TDI Hybrid jets from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, which makes it faster than the gasoline/electric version. It can travel about 40-45 km on the charge in its 9.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. According to Automotive News, the diesel-electric system consists of a 187-horsepower, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder common-rail diesel engine, a 9.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack and two electric motors. One electric motor delivers 40 kW, or roughly 54 horsepower, to the front wheels, while the other provides 85 kW to the rear set. Depending on how you drive, the Cross Coupe operates as a front-wheel-drive car or with assistance from the rear wheels when the driver gets “enthusiastic.”

Will it become a production model? Perhaps not exactly as you see here, but the technology and design ideas at work will definitely show up in a VW showroom near you.

Honda Urban SUV Concept

What is it? Honda says this one “hints at the styling direction of an all-new small SUV slated to launch in Japan by the end of 2013, followed by the U.S. market in 2014.” Believe Honda. And it will be built in Honda’s next Mexican plant alongside the Honda Fit subcompact on which the Concept is based.

Where was it first shown? This look into the future had its debut just last month at the Detroit auto show. John Mendel, executive vice-president of sales at American Honda, said “we expect fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive ‘small’ cars to play a key role in meeting the needs of our customers” and this little SUV is critical to expanding Honda’s lineup.

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