Let’s get this right out in the open: Toyota needs to build a production version of the Compact Cruiser EV Concept as soon as possible. This thing would sell like avocado toast, even if it’s not capable…
Let’s get this right out in the open: Toyota needs to build a production version of the Compact Cruiser EV Concept as soon as possible. This thing would sell like avocado toast, even if it’s not capable of wandering off-pavement, but of course, plenty of automakers, such as Rivian with its new R1S SUV and R1T pickup truck, plus GMC with its reborn Hummer EV line (that will soon offer both body styles as well), are proving that electrics are very capable off-road, so there’d be no reason to worry about being relegated to tarmac when behind the wheel of this tiny Toyota.
Dimensions in mind, or at least those visibility apparent being that Toyota has given us very little to go on so far, the Compact Cruiser EV Concept might have more in common with Suzuki’s original Samurai or that brand’s more recent subcompact Jimny SUV than the near mid-size FJ Cruiser or the original FJ40 it’s spiritually emulating. We do know that it doesn’t share the FJ Cruiser’s body-on-frame chassis or anything else from that go-anywhere utility, other than some styling cues, a version of the original FJ40’s (and FJ Cruiser’s) Sky Blue exterior paint, and the “TOYOTA” lettering on the similarly narrow grille.
Where the 2006–present (discontinued in North America after 2014) FJ Cruiser may have preceded a number of would-be peers, particularly Ford’s reinvented Bronco (and Bronco Sport) and Land Rover’s completely reimagined Defender, the Compact Cruiser EV Concept appears destined to electrify its retro off-roading class if produced. Unfortunately, however, we can lump Compact Cruiser EV Concept electric motor and battery specs into our zero-knowledge base.
As far as we can tell, this SUV is more of a design study, but being that today’s Toyota rarely misses out on an opportunity to cash in on a good idea (unlike General Motors that sadly chose to apply its legendary Blazer nameplate to a two-row, mid-size grocery getter instead of a retrospective K5-style Blazer that could’ve easily been built off the back of its full-size Tahoe, the tiny Land Cruiser-like BEV will most certainly get the green light.
It’s part of Toyota’s new “Battery EV” strategy, introduced online on December 14, 2021 (see the video below), in which “Toyota wants to prepare as many options as possible for” their “customers around the world,” stated the automaker’s president, Akio Toyoda during the presentation.
The namesake brand introduced 17 concepts as part of the program, of which most body styles and capabilities currently available with traditional internal combustion power were represented, from crossover-like family haulers to sports cars, SUVs, a pickup truck, and vans, the wide spectrum of potential offerings showing that Toyota isn’t about to give up any market share, or brand heritage, in its quest to go electric.
Likewise, the presentation showed off seven Lexus EVs in various shapes and sizes (see the gallery for more), and hinted at six more hidden behind in the shadows. Altogether, the Japanese automaker plans to “offer 30 BEV models across the Toyota and Lexus brands, globally” by 2030, “with more on the way” after that. Due to so many models in the planning stages, and a promise to provide “BEVs in all segments, including sedans, SUVs, K-Cars, commercial vehicles and other segments,” there’s certainly a place for this Compact Cruiser EV Concept.
The little SUV is all angles and edges, with obvious styling cues pulled from classic FJs and the more recently updated FJ Cruiser, plus a number of design details from other Toyota models, including the current RAV4 TRD Off-Road (available in a similar Cavalry Blue for 2022 and even closer Blue Flame colour in 2021), the 4Runner TRD Pro (available in a cool Voodoo Blue back in 2019), the Tacoma TRD Pro (unfortunately no longer available in Cavalry Blue), and the new 2022 Tundra pickup truck (with a colour palette that offers nothing even remotely similar, but the old one did).
While the hood scoop appears inspired by similar ones on the FJ Cruiser or recent Tacoma/Tundra TRD Pro models, the rectangular LED headlamps are closer to the new 2022 Tundra, whereas the chunky C-shaped driving lights are more distinctive still, at least to Toyota. The tiny concept also takes everything that previously made the FJ Cruiser look rugged up a notch, with a beefier front skid plate embellished by blazing red tow hooks, plus four of the most aggressive matte-black fender flares ever imagined for this size of 4×4. Toyota’s FT-4X Concept was a recent example of similar styling, and was no doubt inspiration for this new BEV as well.
Fortunately, the Compact Cruiser EV Concept’s designers were more practical with its body style than those behind the FJ Cruiser, with full-size, traditionally front-hinged rear doors for easier to the back seat, while the cargo area appears to be nice and upright, which is ideal for loading in as much gear as possible.
As it is, Toyota hasn’t revealed a single rear exterior image or any photos of the interior either, so therefore details about the powertrain, and the platform underpinning this new SUV, are unknown as well.
Media Briefing on Battery EV Strategies (Presentation / with subtitles) (25:51):
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Toyota / Lexus
With an automotive world shifting away from gasoline- and diesel-powered internal combustion engines, and toward battery electric or other types of alternative fuels like hydrogen, plus major FIA-sanctioned…
With an automotive world shifting away from gasoline- and diesel-powered internal combustion engines, and toward battery electric or other types of alternative fuels like hydrogen, plus major FIA-sanctioned motorsport series, such as Formula One, its Formula E offshoot, and sports car prototypes competing in the World Endurance Championship, utilizing various degrees of hybrid to full-EV powertrains, it was only a matter of time before Porsche, one of the globe’s leaders in customer racing car production, started looking at electrifying on a smaller scale.
Enter the Mission R Concept, a very real prototype of a possible future customer racing car that just might end up filling the well-worn shoes of Porsche’s 718 Cayman, which, along with the 718 Boxster and venerable 911, have become ideal track cars for “one-make” spec series, such as the Porsche Supercup that supports F1, and a Cayman GT4 Clubsport-spec series that ran ahead of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and British GT series in 2019.
Certainly, something along the lines of the Mission R Concept could support any one of the just-noted motorsport events, especially now that Porsche is rumoured to be interested in powering the next-generation of F1 cars, although it’s more likely the new model would support Formula E, in which the German performance brand currently competes with its TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
The Mission R Concept casts a similarly sized shadow as the 718 Cayman too, other than being slightly wider and significantly lower than the road-going model. It’s not a mid-engine sports car either, instead incorporating an electric motor at each end to provide equal balance and all-wheel drive. These receive power from a 80.0-kWh battery, the resultant energy combining for a maximum of 429 horsepower at the front axle and 644 at the rear. To save you the trouble of calculating in your head, that’s 1,073 horsepower, albeit this lofty number is only available in Qualifying mode, with Race mode “only” providing 671 horsepower.
According to Porsche, the Mission R Concept can maintain race pace for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on many variables including track battles, while it’ll actually beat one of today’s F1 cars off the line, the svelte newcomer capable of sprinting from standstill to 100 km/h in just 2.5 seconds, compared to 2.6 seconds for the open-wheel racer, not to mention 2.8 seconds for a Formula E car.
It had better be careful not to embarrass the latter open-wheel car on its own turf, either, because the Mission R’s top track speed exceeds a Formula E car’s 280 km/h (174 mph) capability with a terminal velocity of 299 km/h (186 mph)—F1 doesn’t need to worry about being upstaged, however, with the fastest on the grid capable of speeds upwards of 360 km/h (224 mph). Porsche also claims the Mission R Concept can match one of today’s 911 GT3 Cup cars on a road course, so it’s easily up to the job of a customer race car, let alone outperforming any potential competition.
“Porsche is the brand for people who fulfil their dreams,” commented Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, in a press release. “This is also true in motorsports. We experience our innovative strength on the race track, demonstrate courage in pursuing new avenues and delight car owners with sporting performance. In addition to our involvement in the Formula E World Championship, we are now taking the next big step forward in electric mobility. The concept study is our vision of all-electric customer motorsports. The Mission R embodies everything that makes Porsche strong: performance, design and sustainability.”
The Mission R is not only quick around the track, but its 900-volt electrical system and the Porsche Turbo Charging setup makes it lightning quick during charging. A nearly depleted battery only takes 15 minutes to replenish from five to 80 percent, making the Mission R’s storage cell even faster to refill than the 22.5-minute duration required when recharging a Porsche Taycan from five to 80 percent via its 800-volt system.
Introduced earlier this month at the IAA motor show in Munich, the Mission R was purely designed for the track. This is made clearly evident by its exposed carbon-fibre composite exoskeleton, which is completely integrated into the car’s structure in order to improve rigidity. The purposeful appearance is the result of Porsche’s engineering and design teams working together on the project from the start, the lead designer having also worked on the Vision Spyder concept we covered in detail last year.
Speaking of a purposeful appearance, the Mission R’s bevy of cooling ducts aren’t just for show, but instead are vitally important for maintaining a stable battery temperature when the electrical system is being pushed hard. The large frontal grille even features active louvred air intakes that open and close as needed, while the rear wing incorporates a Drag Reduction System (DRS) that can be opened to minimize drag on straights, and then closed to add downforce when corners arrive.
Additionally, the materials used to make the Mission R’s key components have sustainability in mind, with the front lip spoiler, side skirts, and the diffuser made from natural fibre reinforced plastic (NFRP) utilizing farmed flax. NFRP makes up much of the cabin too, while special 3D-printed foam components add another element to the design.
Yet more intelligent tech can be found in the Mission R’s digital primary display that’s incorporated into the steering wheel’s centre hub, while just above and slightly behind is another monitor for the side and central/rear cameras. Even more unexpected are remotely adjustable interior cameras that allow fans to see all the livestreaming action in the cockpit during a race. What’s more, a touch display beside the driver’s seat allows for biometric data information.
While all of this “concept” talk is exciting, news that the Mission R might be more than just a design study will be welcoming news to anyone that’s made it this far into today’s story. In fact, Porsche has been testing a running prototype on the track with hopes of delivering a customer race car by 2025 or 2026. This said, the Mission R has not been cleared for production yet, but the concept definitely lines up with the brand’s future EV strategy, while such a car makes a lot of sense considering Porsche’s customer race cars legacy.
Notably, Porsche’s motorsport division has built and sold more than 4,400 Cup cars over the last three decades, the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland event being the first spec-series when it was launched 31 years ago. Now, a total of 30 one-make Porsche cup series are held globally each year, with the latest 911 GT3 Cup, featuring 992-series 911s, already underway for the 2021 season. If the Mission R Concept comes to reality, we certainly have a lot to look forward to.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
After Porsche’s intelligent choice to enter the electric vehicle market with a practical four-door coupe, and following the Taycan up with an even roomier Cross Turismo version, which even offers crossover…
After Porsche’s intelligent choice to enter the electric vehicle market with a practical four-door coupe, and following the Taycan up with an even roomier Cross Turismo version, which even offers crossover SUV-like design elements and an off-road package, the performance-oriented brand will soon be anteing up with a full EV version of its best-selling Macan compact luxury SUV, and thanks to some early photos and info, we’re starting to catch a glimpse of what we can expect.
The all-electric Macan, as Porsche refers to it, is planned for a 2023 launch, which allows plenty of time to get it right. So far the German brand has been digitally and physically testing it on the proving grounds of its Weissach Development Centre, but now it’s about to enter the public domain wearing camouflage to hide its second-gen Macan body panels.
“Testing in a real-life environment is now getting underway – one of the most important milestones in the development process,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, at Porsche AG.
Porsche is targeting 3,000,000 km of global testing in all types of conditions before the new Macan EV arrives in dealerships, and that doesn’t even include the “countless” virtual km the model has accumulated before and since the prototypes shown in the accompanying photos started hot lapping the proving ground’s track.
Developing the electric SUV digitally saves money and time, plus of course it minimizes environmental impacts. Instead of running actual prototypes, a digital computational model replicates the types of true-to-life “properties, systems and power units of a vehicle to a high degree of accuracy,” stated a Porsche press release. Porsche utilized 20 digital prototypes to simulate various development categories, such as aerodynamics, energy management, operation and acoustics.
“We regularly collate the data from the various departments and use it to build up a complete, virtual vehicle that is as detailed as possible,” commented Andreas Huber, manager for digital prototypes at Porsche, and one of the first aerodynamics engineers to ever work with digital prototypes. “This allows previously undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.”
Lowering aerodynamic drag will help the all-electric Macan achieve its EV range targets. Even small flow enhancements can make a big difference.
“We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” said Thomas Wiegand, Director of aerodynamics development.
Porsche’s team of engineers use simulations to fine-tune every surface of the SUV, with particular attention paid to the various air ducts used for cooling. These calculations help the engineering team arrange each component to optimize efficiencies, while also providing the necessary data used for estimating variances in real-world temperatures. In fact, Porsche claims the new testing procedures allow for a very precise simulation of both aerodynamics and thermodynamics.
“The digital world is indispensable to the development of the all-electric Macan,” continued Wiegand.
Back to air ducts and cooling, the Macan EV’s motive electric system incorporates a totally different cooling and temperature control concept than the conventionally-powered version of the SUV. To clarify, the various internal combustion engines in the regular Macan need 90- to 120-degree (Celsius) temperature range, while the new electrically-powered model’s power unit electronics and high-voltage battery require a temperature window between 20 and 70 degrees.
Also unique to the EV, where a combustion engine might increase its temperature when starting and stopping in heavy traffic, a battery-powered vehicle requires the most cooling during high-power charging, especially in warm weather. Porsche is overcoming this problem by calculating and digitally optimizing “position, flow and temperature” with the same virtual prototypes noted earlier.
The use of virtual prototypes can start early in a vehicle’s developmental stages. Porsche has created a wholly new driver interface for its second-generation Macan, which of course features a revised driver display. Once ready for testing, Porsche brought it to life in a “seat box” capable of simulating the driving environment.
“Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” says Fabian Klausmann of the Driver Experience development department. “Here, the ‘test drivers’ are not just the specialists themselves but also non-experts. This allows all interaction between driver and vehicle to be studied down to the last detail, enabling selective optimization even before the first physical cockpit has been built.”
The first physical Macan EV prototypes were created out of the information garnered from the digital prototypes, at which point those running examples provided yet more data back to the digital prototypes. This allowed Porsche’s engineers to continually update both digital and physical prototypes, refining each element of the SUV along the way.
“Endurance testing on closed-off testing facilities and public roads in real-life conditions is still indispensable to ensure that the vehicle structure, operational stability and reliability of hardware, software and all functions meet our high-quality standards,” added Steiner.
The all-electric Macan continues to undergo a demanding test program, in which it endures climate extremes and all types of topographical conditions. This includes the real-world charging and conditioning of its high-voltage battery, with a focus on everyday reliability plus segment-leading performance.
“Like the Taycan, the all-electric Macan, with its 800-volt architecture, will offer typical Porsche E-Performance,” continued Steiner, citing development goals like the model’s long-distance range, high-performance fast charging, and targeted best-in-class performance. “The all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”
The Macan EV must be as efficient as possible, after all, which is why it will be first in Porsche’s lineup to utilize the new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture. Nevertheless, being that most Macan buyers will continue choosing a conventional internal combustion engine over the electric alternative for the time being, especially in markets where consumers aren’t penalized for doing so, gasoline-powered models will continue.
“In Europe, demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” said Steiner. “That’s why we’re going to launch another attractive conventionally-powered successor to the current Macan in the course of 2021.”
A new second-generation Macan will be launched later this year, with a full assortment of gasoline-powered engines to choose from. The Macan EV will follow, but only after its digital and physical prototypes have accumulated millions of km in tests.
Until then, the current 2021 Macan starts at $57,800 and can be had with factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent. Make sure to check out every available trim, configure the ones you’re interested in with every option and colour, and then use the CarCostCanada system to maximize your savings via dealer invoice pricing, which can save you thousands when negotiating your best deal. Find out how the CarCostCanada system works, and be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app at the Apple Store or Google Play Store too, so you can have all of their money-saving info at your fingertips when you need it most.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Every car enthusiast loves a good concept, and sometimes a barrage of really intriguing show cars can even rejuvenate a lacklustre carmaker, as we saw with Chrysler’s various brands when they left their…
Every car enthusiast loves a good concept, and sometimes a barrage of really intriguing show cars can even rejuvenate a lacklustre carmaker, as we saw with Chrysler’s various brands when they left their ‘80s-era mundanity and joined the much more successful (for them) ‘90s.
Porsche has never resembled Chrysler group in the slightest (although the Viper was pretty awesome), and in all fairness has lacked very little in recent decades, except maybe for a 928-inspired front-engine coupe remake (just shorten the wheelbase of a Panamera and call it Panama, in memory of the late, great Eddie Van Halen), or a Cayenne that can once again tackle Moab. Having such a wide assortment of models, trims and special editions is probably why Porsche rarely showed off their concepts, or even their prototypes before introducing a new model, Mission E and a handful of others aside.
Earlier this month, however, the performance-focused brand pulled the covers off of 15 sensational never-before-seen concepts, some obviously created for fun and others as precursors of future products. The massive unveiling all came as part of a new “Porsche Unseen” project that sheds light on the inner operations of the German brand’s design process in a new table-top book of the same name, plus a series of stories in the Porsche Newsroom, a detailed video that spans more than three-quarters of an hour (watch it below), and an expanded exhibit at the automaker’s Zuffenhausen museum.
Summarizing car enthusiasts’ love of concept cars and the importance they play in the development of future models, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche AG, Oliver Blume, said, “People all over the world love the timeless and innovative design of our sports cars. Visionary concept studies are the foundation of this success: they provide the pool of ideas for the Porsche design of tomorrow, and combine our strong tradition with trailblazing future technologies.”
In the initial “Porsche Unseen” project introduction, the automaker highlighted three disparate concepts, including the ultra-performance 919 Street, the sporty, fun Vision Spyder, and oddest of all, the minivan-like Vision Renndienst people-mover, which answers a utilitarian family-hauling question absolutely no one was asking outside of the inner workings of Porsche’s design department.
Created in 2017, the 919 Street is a life-size 1:1 clay model of a road-going 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car, if the name and visuals didn’t give that away already. The 919 Hybrid completely obliterated all LMP1 sports car competitors wherever it raced, Le Mans, France being most notable, notching up four consecutive FIA World Endurance Championships from 2014 to 2017 before retiring, and even breaking the best-ever Formula 1 record around Belgium’s famed Spa Francorchamps race track with an unofficial time of 1:41.770 after removing some of its FIA-sanctioned limitations.
Not wanting to hide its heritage, below the 919 Street’s exotic bodywork is the 919 Hybrid race car’s carbon-fibre monocoque and 900 PS hybrid drivetrain, while its dimensions, including its track and wheelbase are identical to the track-only variant. It’s difficult to surmise why Porsche chose not to build the 919 Street, as it would have been gobbled up by collectors within minutes of being announced no matter the price, but alas it remains a museum piece for those fortunate enough to be in Stuttgart next year, or at the very least fortunate enough to purchase Porsche’s new hardcover book.
On a somewhat tamer note, the Porsche Vision Spyder concept was an entirely different design exercise, and being that it was introduced only last year, it could become a future Boxster, or at least influence the convertible version of the next generation 718.
Some 911 fans aren’t all that happy that today’s entry-level Porsche sports car duo looks similar to their beloved 911, not to mention shares plenty of the pricier models’ components, so therefore something along the lines of the Vision Spyder might appease purists’ frustrations.
The new concept offers some sharper, more upright lines than the current Boxster, while still including softer more flowing curves across the hood, fenders and rear deck. Its racing livery certainly appears as if the Vision Spyder would be the ideal amateur race driver’s weekend warrior.
Designed as a 1:1 hard model, the Vision Spyder features a mid-engine layout similar to the 718 Boxster, while some of its design cues were reportedly influenced by Porsche’s 550-1500 RS Spyder from 1954. We can’t help seeing the automaker’s 1969-1976 914 in this styling exercise either, particularly its squarer, more angular details, like the roll bar.
The aforementioned Porsche minivan wears a faded grey version of the brand’s famed crest on a transparent background, so it’s not as if Porsche is trying to hide its pedigree. Love it or loathe it, the Vision Renndienst (race service) is said to interpret past race support vehicles as it actually depicts an aerodynamic shuttle bus for up to six occupants, one being a driver that sits up front in the centre position (although it features an autonomous driving mode too), not unlike McLaren’s fabulous F1 supercar, in that respect at least.
Unlike that classic British exotic, the Renndienst is electric, having all of its motive drive components housed within a skateboard design below the passenger cell. This allows for optimal interior spaciousness, and potentially superb straight-line performance, if other electrics, such as Porsche’s own Taycan, are anything to go by.
That all-electric super-sedan in mind, Porsche dropped a set of Vision 960 Turismo images along with 11 others just after the initial three arrived, and this four-door coupe might be the most intriguing of all thanks to its Taycan roots. Visually, this four-year-old 1:1 scale model is a 10-year-old 918 Spyder supercar up front and a modern-day Panamera in back, and we think the combination looks absolutely gorgeous.
The Vision E concept, on the other hand, was never meant to be practical, at least not from a two-row, four-seat, roomy hatchback perspective. Instead, the design team hoped to spring a 100-percent electric, 800-volt, fully enclosed, single-seat, near open-wheel, track-only hypercar from Porsche’s Formula E racing program. The 1:1 hard model actually made it to the development stage, which is pretty impressive on its own.
Porsche’s 918 RS got all the way to the development stage too. The 1:1 hard model was created on the back of a 918 Spyder last year, complete with unique bodywork including a fixed roof. The stunning potential supercar pulls plenty of design cues from its 918 Spyder donor as well as race cars from Porsche’s past, such as the now classic 917, but unfortunately, you’ll never see one pull up at your local show and shine.
Additional concepts added to Porsche’s new book include the 2005 Targa Florio road race-inspired 906 Living Legends (that featured lighting elements within cooling ducts); the 2013 904 Living Legends that was based on a VW XL1 streamliner eco-diesel’s carbon monocoque chassis, albeit weighing just 900 kg and stuffed full of super-high-revving Ducati V2 motorcycle power (our favourite); the 2016 battery and hub-motor-powered Vision 916; the V8-powered, manually-shifted, and the 2016 Boxster-based Le Mans Living Legend; all of which imagine how older Porsche race cars might look in modernized street dress today, while 2019’s Vision 920 is basically another race car for the road, albeit a futuristic one that never actually competed.
On a similar theme, the Boxster Bergspyder, developed in 2014, is a minimalist single-seat track car based on the current Boxster, featuring a 911 Speedster-like shortened windscreen, dual roll hoops hovering over Carrera GT-style rear deck lid double-bubble engine vents, and primary instruments pulled from the 918. Removing the passenger’s seat for weight savings allowed the inclusion of a helmet shelf, which is even more useful than a sunglasses holder. The icing on this lightweight 1,130-kilo barchetta’s cake was the Cayman GT4’s high-revving 3.8-litre flat-six, which just might have made this little 718 the ultimate Porsche track star.
The 911 Vision Safari never actually raced either, but it does conjure distant memories of the outrageous 1985 959 Paris-Dakar Rothmans-livery rally car (which recently sold on Sotheby’s for a cool $5.945 million USD). No doubt this one-off 2012 991 Carrera 4S would be worth a pretty penny as well, much thanks to its lifted suspension, bulkier bumpers and helmet cooler.
On a more practical note (if anything can possibly be more practical than a helmet cooler), the 2013 Macan Vision Safari was (obvious by the name) a toughened up off-road version of Porsche’s sporty road-going compact crossover SUV. Appearing ready to take on all comers in the just-noted Paris-Dakar rally, this concept makes us wonder if Porsche should consider a more rugged image for its pavement-conquering SUV line.
Speaking of rugged, the thick, substantive, 328-page “Porsche Unseen” hardcover book includes photos from Stefan Bogner with accompanying text by Jan Karl Baedeker. We think it would make an excellent holiday gift for any sports car enthusiast. It’s published by Delius Klasing Verlag, and made available at Elferspot.com (ISBN number 978-3-667-11980-3), or alternatively at the Porsche Museum shop next to the company’s Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany headquarters.
Make sure to check out our complete photo gallery above as well as the “Porsche Unseen: Uncovered” video below for more visuals.
Porsche Unseen: Uncovered (47:52):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Interestingly, as cars become little more than rolling computers with seats they’re actually becoming less complex, at least from a driving application and design perspective. The new autonomously driven…
Interestingly, as cars become little more than rolling computers with seats they’re actually becoming less complex, at least from a driving application and design perspective.
The new autonomously driven Prophecy Concept EV from Hyundai is about as minimalist as four-wheeled conveyances come, that is until inspecting the details. The brand’s upcoming Optimistic Futurism design language has been designed to connect people more fully with their cars, or so said the head of Hyundai’s global design centre SangYup Lee in the vehicle’s press release.
“We have brought to life yet another icon that establishes a new standard for the EV segment as well as pushing Hyundai’s design vision to even broader horizons,” said Lee. “A part of that expansion is what we call Optimistic Futurism, a design concept embodied by ‘Prophecy’. With Optimistic Futurism, our aim is to forge an emotional connection between humans and automobiles.”
Of course, creating emotional ties between consumers and their products should be a key priority of all brands, and to that end Hyundai has a pretty good chance of doing so with the Prophecy. The South Korean company, which sometimes seems to be playing a game of design tug of war between the overly conservative and overtly dramatic, the various generations of its Sonata mid-size sedan making this abundantly clear (seen at CarCostCanada in its stunning new 2020 design, somewhat less emotive 2019 version, even more sedate 2015 variant, and swoopy 2014 design), has pulled off a design with the Prophecy that’s at once minimalist in its retrospective shape and simultaneously a wonder of unique intricacies.
Its curvaceous styling could’ve easily been conjured up by Porsche for its next-generation Panamera or the new Taycan, not that it looks like either, but few brands dare attempt to shape a car with as many rounded edges, let alone a grille-less front end, not dissimilar to Tesla’s Model 3. Then again its seemingly vented rear quarters, which pull eyeballs away from the otherwise large transparent acrylic whale tail-like rear wing, appear to pay homage to Preston Tucker’s ultra-aerodynamic (for its era) post-war 48, although protruding from this otherwise pixelated 3D panel are LEDs for the taillights. Hyundai has done something similar up front, but as part of a more traditional set of headlamp clusters that utilize the same transparent acrylic as the rear spoiler and in the camera monitoring system.
Of course, all of the above aid aerodynamics, which is why others have chosen variations on the Prophecy’s theme, Hyundai even going so far to create propeller-inspired wheels that direct air down each body side.
No exterior or interior dimensions have been released, but it appears to sit in the mid-size sweet spot, while technical specifications aren’t available either, but of course with “EV” in the name it’s obviously 100-percent electric. Hyundai has told us the Prophecy’s battery is located below the passenger compartment, so expect it to ride on a completely new “skateboard” architecture that would allow for multiple body styles to reside on top.
The Prophecy’s cabin is easy to see through its four clamshell doors, its four seating positions separated into deeply sculpted buckets providing what appears to be just enough legroom in back. A unique tartan upholstery design is another nod to Porsche’s 911, 924 and 928 models from 1975 through 1980, blue-green a popular colour combo in the day, but nothing the German performance brand ever did back then achieved the built-in wow factor that Hyundai’s new creation does, and not just because the Koreans use the Scottish pattern for the bolsters as well as the centre inserts.
Even the Prophecy’s massive wraparound digital display that frames the windshield’s base isn’t all that radical these days, although the pop-up driver’s instruments are pretty slick, but even still these can’t steal the thunder from the car’s driving controls. You may have noticed its lack of steering wheel, this seemingly irreplaceable tool having been swapped out for a pair of pivoting joysticks. Why not, especially in a car that’s designed to be capable of full self-driving.
Will we ever see a Prophecy on the road? Unless it’s this single example being transported to the next auto show, when that ever happens (the Geneva auto show it would’ve been unveiled at cancelled due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19), this new concept exists to show prospective Hyundai buyers its future styling direction, and to that end it looks like the brand’s design department has things well in hand.
Hyundai | “Prophecy” Concept EV Unveiling (16:04):
Bentley only just launched its third-generation Continental GT, and now they’ve got us thinking about what might be coming down the pike in a decade and a half. The Bentley EXP 100 GT “reimagines…
Bentley only just launched its third-generation Continental GT, and now they’ve got us thinking about what might be coming down the pike in a decade and a half.
The Bentley EXP 100 GT “reimagines the Grand Tourer for the world of 2035,” says the ultra-luxury brand’s press release, with a new take on the Continental GT’s elegant long-hooded, sweptback, two-door profile, complete with a massive backlit grille, dazzling circular headlamps, and ornately detailed eye-like OLED taillights, its plentiful body panels featuring special Compass “exterior paint made from recycled rice husks,” says Bentley.
Where the front end could only be a modern-day Bentley, the car’s rear design is longer and more pointed than anything we’ve seen from the brand since its ‘50s era R-Type Continental, extending this avant-garde carbon-fibre and aluminum-clad prototype to a lengthy 5.8 metres (19.0 feet) for what should be superb legroom front to rear, while occupants of this 2.4-metre (7.9-foot) wide mega-coupe certainly won’t be rubbing shoulders either.
The “100” in the EXP 100 GT’s name, incidentally, pays direct reference to Bentley’s 100th anniversary, W. O. Bentley’s namesake firm having started business in 1919 at Cricklewood, North London, while the Volkswagen-owned brand is now located some 267 km (166 miles) northwest in Crewe, Cheshire, England.
“Today, on our Centenary, we demonstrate our vision of the future of our Marque, with the Bentley EXP 100 GT – a modern and definitive Grand Tourer designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the last 100 years,” said Adrian Hallmark, Bentley Chairman and CEO. “Bentley has, and will continue to enhance and enrich every single journey and the lives of every single person who travels in, or has the honour to be a part of creating our extraordinary products.”
As pretty as the EXP 100 GT is, it’s much more than merely a design exercise, but rather a cornucopia of advanced future-think hardware and software. It’s 100-percent electric, a given with far-off concepts these days, but then again its four-motor wheel-integrated “Next Generation Traction Drive” powertrain includes torque vectoring and makes an incredible 1,100 pound-feet of torque (1,500 Nm), resulting in a zero to 100km/h sprint time of “less than 2.5 seconds” claims Bentley, much thanks to its aforementioned lightweight materials that help keep its weight down to just 1,900 kilograms (4,189 lbs) (considerably less than the current base Continental GT’s 2,244-kg/4,947-lb curb weight), while its maximum range should top 700 kilometres (435 miles), as long as cruising speeds are kept far lower than its terminal velocity of 300 km/h (186 mph).
The EXP 100 GT will include “future battery technology” with “intelligent power and charge management” that will allow “five times the conventional energy density,” says Bentley, while recharging the battery from near empty to 80 percent of capacity will only take 15 minutes. Of note, charging is automatically taken care of via the advanced artificial intelligence (AI) infused Bentley Personal Assistant, a do-all system designed to make the most of every journey.
“The Bentley EXP 100 GT represents the kind of cars we want to make in the future,” said Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design. “Like those iconic Bentleys of the past, this car connects with its passengers’ emotions and helps them experience and safeguard the memories of the really extraordinary journeys they take.”
“Whether driving or being driven autonomously” (Bentley promising its car of the future will be capable of both), the EXP 100 GT’s interior is every bit as sumptuously attired as Crewe’s current creations and those from its storied past. With seating for two or four, the big coupe gets all the leather, fabrics, glass, wood and metal anyone familiar with Bentley expects, except that the Bridge of Weir alternative-material hides are actually made from 100-percent bio-based winemaking byproducts, thus saving a handful of Herefords from the slaughterhouse, while its embroidered door panels are made by London-based Hand and Lock using “traditional techniques that date back to 1767 and are used on Royal and Military Dress uniforms,” its electronic interfaces covered with Cumbrian crystal, its sustainable peat bog-, lake- and river-sourced Copper Infused Riverwood harking back half a myriaannum (5,000 years), and its metal being genuine aluminum and copper, the combination apparently paying tribute to an alloy created by the aforementioned founder for his BR1 Aero engine piston, which played a significant role in securing the air theatre during World War 1.
Bentley sheds both harvested natural light and synthesized light on the EXP 100 GT’s interior via “an innovative glass roof embedded with prisms that collect light and transfer it into the cabin using fibre optics,” while all occupants’ feet will rest upon British Farmed Wool carpets, and embroidered cotton interior surfaces also help to create a more sustainable atmosphere.
The seats use intelligent, adaptable biometrics configured in three different ways, their positions dependent on whether you’re driving or being driven. Biometric sensors monitor the automatic climate control system too, plus the passenger position, and exterior environmental conditions in order to provide ultimate comfort, while biometric sensors embedded throughout the interior track eye and head movements, blood pressure, plus more in order to deliver a level of in-car comfort that far exceeds anything currently available. The cabin can even be automatically aerated with a refreshing sandalwood and moss fragrance.
Whether or not we’ll see this particular Bentley coupe by 2035 is anyone’s guess, although it should be noted that carmakers need to plan their models far into the future in order to arrive when needed, so something similar may actually be in process. We certainly wouldn’t complain if Bentley offered us a production EXP 100 GT like this to test in 15 or so years, with or without all of this concept’s innovatively sustainable features.
The EXP 100 GT is a vision of dramatic beauty that would be welcomed to car enthusiasts in any era, and possibly more true to its brand heritage than the all-electric, fully autonomous two-box SUV/MPV they’ll likely show up with by that time.
Until we truly find out what’s in the AI-dealt carbon-fibre cards, check out our complete gallery above as well as the four videos Bentley supplied below.
An off-road Lexus? To some this might sound like an oxymoron, but in reality two of Lexus’ priciest luxury SUVs started life as ultra-capable go-anywhere Toyota Land Cruisers.
The Land Cruiser name is legendary, and in many markets considered a premium sub-brand of the world’s second-largest automaker. While most Canadians conjuring mental images of iconic Land Cruisers will look back to the now classic 1960–1984 FJ40 series, the larger and longer 1967–1980 FJ55 followed by the much more popular 1980–1989 BJ60, or the most recent 2008–present J200 that does double-duty as the Lexus LX 570, the model shown here is based on the 2009–present J150, or Land Cruiser Prado.
Known North American luxury consumers as the Lexus GX 460, this somewhat long-in-tooth albeit still very capable mid-size three-row 4×4 also shared underpinnings with the current Toyota 4Runner and FJ Cruiser (the latter no longer available in North America) in its previous third-generation J120 design (2002–2009), which should help anyone familiar with those no-holds-barred SUVs believe in this Lexus’ off-road prowess.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that 4×4 enthusiasts looking to add luxury to their off-road lifestyle have opted for the GX 460, so now Lexus is paying homage to these faithful fans with this special creation, and even giving them partial credit for bringing the new GXOR Concept to life.
“Concept vehicles are typically created to generate excitement for the enthusiasts, but sometimes, it’s the enthusiasts and their vehicles that give life to the concept,” stated Lexus. “The Lexus GXOR Concept (GX Off-Road) is fueled by the passionate Lexus GX owners that have discovered and embraced the SUV’s perfect combination of ultimate luxury and unrivaled off-road capability.”
No wonder the Japanese luxury brand chose to launch the new GXOR Concept at the annual FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado, the 12th of such events having taken place from July 17–21 this year. Similar in concept to a Jeep Jamboree, the FJ Summit provides an opportunity for Toyota 4×4 owners to test their personal driving skills as well as their Toyota/Lexus 4×4’s prowess on challenging trails, gives classes taught by experienced off-road instructors in order to hone those driving skills, and much more.
Despite the GX 460’s impressive capability off-road, and its passionate group of diehard followers, its popularity with the general SUV-buying public has faded in recent months and years, with Q2 2019 sales down 25.41 percent compared to the same six months last year, resulting in only 138 buyers for last place in the mid-size luxury SUV segment (other than the now discontinued Lincoln MKT), while all 12 months of 2018 only found 376 customers after a high of 662 units in 2015.
To be fair, plenty of competitors have been losing ground this year, with Q2 2019 Tesla Model X sales off by 30.00 percent for 840 units, Audi Q7 deliveries down 36.13 percent to 1,674 units (possibly due to the new Q8’s arrival), the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class dropping 36.66 percent to 762 units, and the same German luxury brand’s GLE-Class plummeting by 42.00 percent to 2,413 units. Even the mighty Lexus RX (and new long-wheelbase RX L) saw a sales drop of 8.50 percent through Q1 and Q2, but its 3,982 deliveries kept it well in front of the entire mid-size luxury SUV pack.
To put the GX’ 2018 calendar year sales of 376 units and 2015 high of 662 units into perspective, Lexus sold 9,329 RX crossovers last year, which was its second-best result after a high of 9,402 units in 2017. The RX also outsold Lexus’ next-most-popular NX compact luxury crossover, which had its best sales of 7,859 units last year. Hence, anything that could potentially spur on GX sales would be helpful.
Enter the GXOR, which while only a concept makes the luxury model’s 4×4 credentials clear to those who might not be in the know, while its ardent fans could potentially build something similar from all of this prototype’s available aftermarket components.
On that note, the GXOR’s plentiful upgrades include a custom CBI Stealth front bumper with an integrated Warn 9.5 XPS winch, a Safari snorkel for feeding air to the engine while wading through deep water, Lexus F Sport 18-inch alloys wrapped in General Tire Grabber X3 275/70 all-terrain rubber, a raised Icon 2.5 CDC suspension with remote reservoirs plus billet control arms with delta joints, full underbody armour skid plate protection, CBI frame sliders, a Redarc Tow-Pro brake controller, and lastly an EEZI-AWN K9 roof rack that comes complete with a Rigid 50 LED front light bar, a 160-watt Overland solar panel power supply, Alu-Box storage cases, and Maxtrax recovery boards.
Inside, the GXOR Concept keeps the GX 460’s already luxurious finishings while adding an Icom 5100A ham radio up front for remote communication, whereas the cargo area is partially filled with a Goose Gear custom drawer system featuring storage compartments and a slide-out National Luna refrigerator.
Finally, the GXOR Concept is shown towing a Patriot Campers X1H trailer featuring a power-operated pop-up tent, a hot water system, and more, while its electrical components are powered via the just-noted solar panel.
On that note, Lexus doesn’t say whether or not the GXOR Concept’s 4.6-litre V8 keeps the production model’s 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque or receives some performance upgrades, but it certainly should be strong enough to haul the hefty looking trailer either way.
“To all of the GX enthusiasts that use their rigs to escape on epic adventures, and proudly share the #GXOR, this concept build is for you,” added Lexus to its GX 460’s fan base. “Thank you for inspiring us to Experience Amazing.”
As with all concepts and prototypes, the question of potential GXOR production needs to be addressed. Considering how successful Mercedes-Benz has been with its rugged G-Class, and similarly how Land Rover Defender enthusiasts have been getting excited about that model’s upcoming arrival, something like this GXOR Concept could find reasonable sales traction if offered in production trim, or at least as a dealer-installed kit. The latter would allow retailers to modify unsold GX 460s, which might bring some much-needed attention to the model.
Until this happens (or doesn’t), enjoy our complete gallery of GXOR Concept photos above, plus a video that Lexus provided below. Also, to find out how affordable the 2019 Lexus GX 460 is, check out CarCostCanada where you can see complete pricing of trims, packages and individual options, plus learn about available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
Lexus GXOR | GX Off-road Concept Build (2:45):
Many concept cars deserve to be built, but few actually see the light of day. Apparently the Honda Urban EV concept, the biggest little hit of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, has beaten the odds. The Urban…
Many concept cars deserve to be built, but few actually see the light of day. Apparently the Honda Urban EV concept, the biggest little hit of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, has beaten the odds.
The Urban EV, or whatever Honda finally calls it, will enter production in 2019, as per an announcement at the Geneva motor show earlier this month. It will be part of a new range of plug-in vehicles from the Japanese automaker, which already includes the much larger mid-size Clarity five-door hatchback, currently available in North American markets and Japan.
One look at the oddball Clarity and another at the cute-as-a-button Urban EV is all you’ll need to speculate on sales leadership, the former only capable of purveying 2,455 units across the entire U.S.A. in all of 2016 and another 2,087 in 2017, and the latter immediately becoming the star of the Frankfurt show and an internet sensation since.
The retrospective city car pulls fond memories from Honda Nation’s formative members, its general shape and unique details more than just reminiscent of the brand’s first-generation 1972–1979 Civic hatchback. While we can’t be sure the production model will replicate this Urban EV concept’s design when it debuts later this year or early next, Honda would be smart to keep it as close to a match as possible.
Unfortunately, Honda hasn’t revealed anything about the new car’s power unit, but we can expect range in the vicinity of Nissan’s new Leaf that manages 240 km on a single charge, while charging times should be similar as well (about eight hours on a 6-kW charger or 80-percent in just 40 minutes when hooked up to a fast charger).
While most North American consumers consider small cars as nothing more than inexpensive commuters, the production Urban EV will be priced closer to premium models. This is nothing new in the plug-in electric world, with the just noted Leaf starting in the mid-$30k range before topping out in the low-$40s, and Chevrolet’s smaller subcompact Bolt starting in the low-$40k range and escalating from there (less government rebates in BC, Ontario and Quebec).
Along with its puppy dog allure, Urban EV customers will likely be treated to an upscale cabin that lives up to its lofty price point. The concept includes a massive one-piece tablet-style digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen combination that spans the entire dash top, smaller secondary displays integrated into each door allowing enhanced sideview monitoring, beautiful wood inlays across the dash and doors, and even unusual loveseat-style front and rear bench seats with throw pillows and wooden side tables. No doubt the production version will bring things back down to earth with regular front bucket seats and a simpler rear bench, but it’s possible something similar to the prototype’s digital displays will stay.
Conceptual features we hope make the grade are exterior message boards integrated into the front grille and rear deck lid, which light up to say whatever you want to adjacent motorists or passersby, such as “hello” up front or “back off” in behind, while some sort of graphical hand gesture might be useful too.
We also like the circular LED headlight surrounds that mimic the original Civic’s incandescent headlamps, while the LEDs in the rear also look good, but we certainly wouldn’t want to clean the myriad white spokes on the alloy wheels, and would probably find the rear-hinged side doors difficult to live with too.
Conceptually we like the idea of the Urban EV’s Honda Automated Network Assistant (HANA), a concierge-type service introduced early last year as part of the brand’s NeuV autonomous vehicle, that can store personal data for paying parking fees, charging credit cards at drive-thrus, and much more, while it also incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) for detecting the emotions behind a driver’s judgments after which, based on that driver’s previous choices, it can make new recommendations and potentially even take over when necessary. The Urban EV includes the Honda Power Manager concept as well, which is a smart system for home energy.
By 2030 Honda plans to have two-thirds of its vehicles fully or partially powered by electricity. This would include gasoline-electric hybrids like the Accord Hybrid, plug-in hybrids such as the Clarity, battery-electric vehicles like the Oregon- and California-market Clarity Electric, and fuel cell vehicles like the California-only Clarity FCV (the latter two only available via lease). Additionally, the third-generation 2019 Honda Insight Prototype was introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, with Accord-like styling in a slightly downsized plug-in package that should prove very popular for more reasons than just its good looks—it’s also expected to be available throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Markets in mind, the production Urban EV isn’t expected to be heading to North America due to its diminutive size, with Honda still believing that buyers in this part of the world prefer larger cars. A good argument could be made for the Urban EV when comparing Clarity deliveries to those of the subcompact Bolt, the little Chevy selling more cars in Canada last year (2,122 units) than the big Honda did in the entire U.S. market (see above), not to mention more than 10 times the number of Clarity examples delivered south of the 49th (23,297 units). Adding insult to injury, hybrids normally outsell full EVs by a considerable margin, while making matters worse (for Honda) the Bolt ($43,095 CAD and $37,495 USD) is much more expensive than the Clarity ($39,900 CAD and $33,400 USD). This in mind, we think a production Urban EV would sell at least 10 times better than the Clarity.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed for clearer minds at Honda Canada and American Honda to prevail, and look forward to seeing the production Urban EV when it arrives.