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Most racing games try to go for as realistic a representation of real-life driving as possible. But Gran Turismo goes a step beyond that. Its programmers at Polyphony Digital have a track record of creating fantastical cars just for the game, and this is their latest.
Created in collaboration with Red Bull's celebrated and accomplished chief engineer Adrian Newey, the new X2014 imagines what a Formula One racecar would look like if it weren't bound by any regulations. Three versions will appear in the soon-to-be-released GT6: the Fan car (dubbed X2014/F), the Standard car (X2014/S) and the Junior car (X2014/J). We have no idea what the difference is between the three versions, but the Fan car is the one pictured here.
This, of course, isn't the first time Polyphony Digital has rendered a car in digital form that doesn't exist in real life (beyond a solitary show car, anyway). Newey penned its precursor, the X1, for GT5. Citroën created a concept car for the game called the GTbyCitroën that never saw life beyond the show stand and the game system. And most recently, Mercedes created the AMG Vision Gran Turismo concept specifically for the game - the first in a series of cars designed by automakers for the new game. Watch this space for more.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tags: Adrian Newey, Gran Turismo, Gran turismo 6, playstation, Polyphony Digital, Racing, red bull, Toys/Games
When Honda rolled out the CR-Z a few years ago, it hoped to bridge the gap between those who would save the planet and those who would rather burn all of its resources in a glorious cloud of tire smoke. But enthusiasts recalling the CRX of 1980s vintage balked, imploring Honda to ditch the heavy battery packs and electric motors in favor of a lighter-weight, more conventional powertrain. At this point it seems less likely that Honda would do so at one end of the market than Porsche would ditch the hybrid component of its 918 Spyder at the other. But that doesn't mean Honda isn't still cooking up ways to curb the CR-Z's weight. And it had just one such idea waiting for us when we visited its Japanese R&D center at Tochigi last week.
Nestled in between the JDM hatchbacks, powertrain test mules and new technology prototypes Honda rolled out for us sat the experimental CR-Z you see here. While it may look mostly like the hybrid sport-hatch you can pick up at your local dealer (albeit blacked out), nearly all of this prototype's bodywork has been completely replaced, as have its basic underpinnings, with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. The exotic material is usually reserved for high-end exotics, but like BMW is democratizing its use in the new i3, so too is Honda researching ways to implement the use of carbon fiber on a mass scale. This one-of-a-kind CR-Z prototype stands, for the time being, as the embodiment of that effort.
- Ingress and egress in the carbon CR-Z is a bit more challenging than in the stock version. This prototype has been rebuilt on a carbon floor, with high sills and deeply bolstered buckets positioned down low. The door aperture is subsequently higher, prompting the R&D crew to fit a pair of butterfly hatches in the roof to allow those without the physique (or core strength) of a professional racing driver to get in and out without bumping their noggins. Once inside, the lower seating position - along with the visible carbon fiber all around - gives this prototype a feel more akin to a racecar than a mass-market hybrid hatchback.
- As soon as you get moving (and before even getting used to shifting with your left hand - a first for this writer), the carbon CR-Z feels markedly quicker than stock. Honda insists the powertrain remained intact, which we'll take on faith. But the 30 percent faster 0-62 time they quoted us - now down to 8.3 seconds from 9.5 stock - strikes us as conservative. Just imagine this machine fitted with HPD's supercharger and the CR-Z's mild image would go right out the split rear window.
- With at least 30 percent less weight and a lower seating position, the carbon CR-Z feels more sure-footed than a hybrid hatchback should. We say "at least" because while the CFRP chassis and bodywork helped Honda trim 30 percent off the stock CR-Z's sprung mass (now down to about 1,760 pounds), that weight reduction also enabled it in turn to lighten up the suspension, brakes and rolling stock. With a center of gravity closer to the ground, there's little body roll to be detected and the prototype grips with tenacity through the corners - evident even on the short handling circuit at Tochigi, around which we were permitted only two laps.
- Of course with less heft to keep in check, the brakes also felt considerably stronger, grippier and all around more adept at shedding speed coming into the corner than you'd expect of the stock CR-Z. Given this prototype's scarcity, though, we were admittedly more hesitant to push it to its limits of adhesion.
- Noise, vibration and harshness obviously suffered, as this is a research prototype not a production model - nor even intended to directly preview one, for that matter. The car creaked and pinged audibly the whole way, but we don't doubt that if Honda were to develop it for production, the final fit and finish would be up to the standards you'd expect from a major Japanese automaker.
- We couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the R&D engineer who had to endure lap after lap of journalists (some less talented behind the wheel than this one, some undoubtedly more) flinging this prototype around the tight circuit. But when we left him and his one-off prototype (developed and built at untold expense), both were still in tact.
- Although the cost of producing carbon-fiber is always dropping as production methods are improved and streamlined, we're still a long way off from seeing a $20,000 hatchback built out of the stuff. Of course if Honda were to put its buying power and production expertise behind it, we're sure it could get the price down to a more manageable level, but we still doubt that would go far enough and come soon enough to implement on something as mainstream as the next-generation CR-Z. And given the costs associated with repairing carbon bodywork and structures in the event of a crash, we're not sure mainstream buyers would want something so mass-market to be made out of the high-tech woven material, either. But if this prototype is anything to go on, it sure would be fun - for both tire-smoker and tree-hugger alike.
This past September we reported on Top Gear's destruction of the Mazda Furai, one of the finest concept cars to ever grace an auto show stage. It turns out that the Furai, which was burned nearly beyond recognition at the hands of the British magazine, was actually destroyed back in 2008, and that the entire thing had been covered up for five long years.
Now, a few months after publishing that heart-wrenching composite of a half-baked Furai (shown above), the lads at TG have published their account of just what resulted in a priceless concept car being transformed into a smoking hulk on a Suffolk runway. Click over to read the full story about just what happened, along with pictures of the Furai before, during and after the inferno.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tags: concept car, coupe, Design/Style, mazda concept, mazda furai, Mazda Furai concept, top gear, top gear magazine
While turbocharging and supercharging may be nothing new in the automotive industry, motorcycle engines are almost always naturally aspirated. But even that's beginning to change. At the Tokyo Motor Show last week, two major Japanese companies showed off new forced-induction motorbike engines.
Kawasaki rolled in with a supercharged four-cylinder motorbike engine. It offered little in the way of details, disclosing only that the turbine blades were developed in-house to withstand the heat and vibration of spooling up at motorbike speeds.
Suzuki is taking a different approach, however. Its Recursion concept bike packs a turbocharged 588cc two-cylinder engine with a turbocharger and intercooler. The compact package churns out just under 100 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque, packaged into a motorbike that weighs just 384 pounds dry.
It'll be interesting to see how this trend develops and how the reliance on forced-induction might change the character of the motorbikes in which they're installed. While we wait to see where this goes, you're invited to scope out the stock images of the Recursion concept in the gallery above and our live shots from the Tokyo show floor in the gallery below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tags: Kawasaki, Motorcycle, Performance, supercharged motorcycle, supercharger, Technology, Tokyo Motor Show, turbocharger
Some concept cars make the rounds of the auto shows and are then retired. But a number of automakers are showing that a fresh coat of paint can go a long way towards rejuvenating a show car and giving it a new lease on life - at least as far as the auto show circuit is concerned. Lexus did that recently with the LF-LC concept, initially unveiling it in red at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, then repainting it a dark shade of blue for the subsequent shows in Australia and LA. Mini did the same with the Rocketman concept. And now Jaguar has done it again with its C-X17.
Initially unveiled in electric blue at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Jaguar then rolled the crossover out again in liquid silver for the Dubai Motor Show earlier this month. Now the concept is back again at the Guangzhou Motor Show in China with a fresh coat of rose gold.
Looking decidedly more luxurious than the previous iterations, this gilded C-X17 concept also bears another change: while the previous versions featured a four-seat cabin, this one has been redone with a more conventional five-seat configuration that more buyers would likely go for. It's also got a new interactive infotainment system and another system that warns passengers of pedestrians or cyclists approaching from the rear before they open the door. Check it out in the high-res image gallery above and the video clip below for a closer look.Permalink | Email this | Comments
As an automaker, Suzuki may be long gone from American shores, but it's still a force to be reckoned with in its home country of Japan. At this week's Tokyo Motor Show, the brand known as much for its two-wheeled fare as its four displayed a slew concept vehicles for both drivers and riders.
The first is the Crosshiker concept (above), which Suzuki says is a followup to the Regina concept that debuted two years ago at the Tokyo show. Based on the same platform but elevated to the stance of a crossover, the Crosshiker is motivated by a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine, keeping it eco-chic while appealing to adventurous types with its fun styling.
Next up is the X-Lander Concept (above, left) that Suzuki says was made for use in the city and "sometimes go out to play in the field." Based on the Japanese-market production Jimny, the X-Lander features four-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain with a 1.3-liter engine.
The Hustler concept (above, right) is Suzuki's attempt to create a new vehicle market with a boxy minicar that features SUV styling cues. There's no word on what powers the concept, but Suzuki did show two versions: a four-door and four-door coupe of sorts, the latter featuring a slightly sloping roofline and forward-leaning rear window.
Moving into the world of two-wheeled transportation, we've got the Recursion concept (above, left), which marries the power of larger performance bikes with the handling and maneuverability of smaller bikes by using a lightweight, turbocharged, two-cylinder engine. The Extrigger concept bike (above, right) is altogether different, combining the electric powertrain of the company's e-Let scooter with a smallish supermoto-type frame, effectively tapping into the monkey bike revival started by Honda with the Grom.
Debuting this many concepts at one auto show illustrates that Suzuki isn't the company that many in the US may remember it as. Particularly in its own domestic market of Japan, this company remains competitive and these vehicles suggest its preparing for a bright future.Permalink | Email this | Comments