Good Oil: Honda’s little beauty
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Remember when Suzuki upstaged all the big guns at the Paris motor show a couple of years back with their simple little retro-themed Ignis concept? Another
Japanese manufacturer — Honda this time — appears to have done it again.
Because while all the trendy driving shoe-wearing elitists were salivating over the sleek body panels of the 745kW Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar at last week’s Frankfurt motor show, we couldn’t take our eyes off Honda’s diminutive Urban EV Concept.
A bit like the Suzuki from a couple of years back, the Urban EV Concept has a not-at-all-subtle retro through-line to its exterior design.
With its short wheelbase, thin a-pillars, sloping hatchback rear end and little round headlights, it’s every bit the 21st Century reincarnation of the original 1970s Honda Civic.
Utterly different to anything that has come before, however, is the giant interactive touchscreen that stretches almost from one side of the dashboard to the other.
It’s a big slab of high-tech jewellery inside an otherwise stripped-back cabin. Natural wood surfaces also make an appearance in the concept car, lending it an eco-air.
The rearview mirrors have been replaced with cameras; but then it’s a motor show concept car, so you probably anticipated that. The show car also features rear-hinged doors, which might seem a little outlandish, but to be honest — EuroNCAP safety testing aside — could end up on the real thing.
There are two really exciting bits to this story. The first is that Honda reckons a production version will be ready by 2019. It will be a pure electric vehicle, like the concept, and will also be their first BEV model.
The other exciting thing is that Honda says there won’t be many changes to the production version from what we see on the concept.
Okay, there’s no way a production car will feature the interactive display in the front grille of the Frankfurt show car (which Honda says lets drivers share messages with one another on the road), but other than that we’re looking at what should be a pretty awesome wee EV.
Wee? Yeah, this is 100mm shorter than the Jazz.
No mention of battery output, power, range or charge times yet. But quite frankly, the Urban EV Concept has already won us over with its retro-futuristic, micromachine charms.
Porsche SUV Coupe bid
Here at The Good Oil, if there is one automotive design development that has surfaced during the last decade that we still struggle to get our collective head around, then it has to be the advent of the rakishly-roofed SUV Coupe.
You know the ones we mean; it’s only BMW and Mercedes-Benz that play in this oddball neither-here-nor-there space, with the X4/X6 and GLC/GLE Coupe models respectively.
Until now, that is. Because in tried and true tradition, when one German carmaker discovers a niche, their fellow German carmakers are sure to follow. In this instance, it looks like Porsche has convinced itself its Cayenne customers would also like slightly less headroom in the rear . . .
British car magazine Autocar has reported Porsche is so serious about putting an SUV Coupe into production that it has built a sweptback-tailed design study for internal chin-stroking only (one that was inadvertently — and somewhat suspiciously — snapped by a spy photographer).
The company isn’t saying it’ll definitely build a Cayenne coupe variant, but it does concede it is analysing the option.
Porsche is almost there with a coupe-style SUV anyway, if you look at the side profile of the smaller Porsche Macan; that model’s roof line falls away at a much steeper angle beyond the c-pillar than its big brother Cayenne.
It all seems like ridiculous gap-filling to us. But then again, never underestimate the power of the Cayenne in Porsche’s model roll-call.
This is, after all, the car that famously saved the company in the face of heated hatred from brand acolytes.
To that end, we’re sure that there is a simple equation at play in Porsche’s Stuttgart head office: more Cayenne derivatives — more profit.
Beast protects President
Boy, that’s a lot of camouflage tape . . .
Proving that even the world’s most secretive transportation still needs to undergo shake-down testing, the successor to Barack Obama’s “Beast” — the massive presidential limousine used by the White House — has recently been spied lumbering around a Michigan test track.
The so-called Beast 2.0, which will see President Donald Trump as the first owner listed on its registration details, is based around a series of General Motors-spawned cars that have little significance in our part of the world: the underpinnings from a Chevy Kodiak and body panels that look similar in design to those seen on the Cadillac CT6 and the recent Chevy Escala concept.
The Beast 2.0 has the three-box proportions of a big sedan, but it’s closer in size to a large SUV.
It’ll feature seating for five in the bomb- and noxious gas-proof passenger chamber, in addition to a driver and gun-totin’ secret serviceman up front.
It’ll also have super-secure communications on board for Trump to fire staffers while on the road. Other “standard” items on board are thought to include bags of the President’s blood for roadside transfusions, an oxygen supply, tear gas canisters and guns aplenty.
Also, while The Beast does indeed get shipped around the world in its very own transport plane, there are actually almost a dozen Beasts in the presidential car pool, all ready for the President at a moment’s notice, no matter where in the world he is.
The Beast 2.0 should be ready to roll early next year.