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Hot Concepts: Searching for truth in the world’s fastest candy story

February 13, 2008|By Wheelbase Communications

This year’s auto-show season is yielding a wide variety of all-star vehicles no more than a year or two away from production. As well,  numerous “dream machines” that stir the imagination (not to mention the soul) and test public opinion are on the turntables. Here’s a rundown of several of the more prominent concepts out there and their chances for evolving from the design studio to your driveway.

Audi R8 V12 TDI

Audi’s mid-engine sports car created much excitement among sports-car fanatics when it arrived late last year. As a follow-up, the company is now showing a 12-cylinder turbo-diesel version, rated at 500 horsepower and an incredible 738 pound-feet of torque. That compares with 420 horses and a 317 pound-feet torque rating on the existing 4.2-liter gas engine. With Audi’s recent racing success building diesel-powered cars, the R8 V12 TDI looks like a certain bet. But how much will it cost?

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Cadillac CTS Coupe

The international press is wild for this two-door Caddy, which isn’t difficult given the car’s super-sleek quintessentially North American styling that copies from no other vehicle on the planet. Word is this two-door is a done deal and should make it to the showroom floor in a couple of years.

Chrysler ecoVoyager

Certain design features of Chrysler’s show model might show up on other cars years from now, but the ecoVoyager is simply a showcase for the automaker’s work on alternative propulsion systems, in this case a 200-kilowatt (268-horsepower) electric motor that gets its juice from a small hydrogen-powered fuel cell that produces only water vapor out the tailpipe. Although an interesting concept, it could be decades (if ever) before hydrogen fueling stations dot the land.

Ford Explorer America

Ford claims its next-generation mid-size sport utility vehicle will be significantly lighter as it switches to unitized (frameless) construction from the existing body-on-frame method . As a bonus, it will also deliver a claimed 20-30 percent better fuel economy than the current V6 Explorer. A new series of high-output, small-displacement turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines (no more V8s) with up to 340 horsepower on tap are also said to reduce emissions.

Jeep Renegade

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