The unofficial prize for the most adventurous car at the Geneva show went to the Rinspeed "Splash." The tuning company best known for its Porsche conversions has created an amphibious concept that is part sports car, part boat and part hydrofoil. The key to its transformation is a complex hydraulic mechanism that, literally, lifts the vehicle out of the water.
The conversion from car to boat is relatively simple. The rear panel flips up to reveal a 3-bladed propeller, which can then be lowered into the water. A transfer box sends power to the rear wheels, the propeller or both. Then, providing the Splash is in a minimum water depth of 4.2 ft (1.3m), the pilot can deploy a system of hydrofoils that are integrated into the craft's body. In Hydrofoil mode, the Splash travels at an altitude of almost 24 in. (60cm) above the water.
Rinspeed's concept is powered by a natural gas (methane) engine that develops 140 bhp and 111 lb-ft of torque. The company claims a top speed of 124 mph on land, 31 mph in boat trim and 50 mph in hydrofoil mode. Sadly, the Splash is no more than an exciting concept.
EDAG is one of motoring's unsung heroes. Responsible for producing prototype versions of, among others, the Peugeot 206 SW, Hummer H2 and Mercedes C-class estate, its work goes unrecognized by the wider public. Perhaps this is why it displayed one of Geneva's most outlandish concepts. Called GENX--for Generation X--the concept is a new take on the idea of a sports utility vehicle and has been created for people "for whom the boundaries between work and recreation have merged."
The bulky two-seater boasts a sleeping berth that pops up--VW Camper-style--out of the roof, although the berth looked like it was suitable only for the short and slim-hipped. The other major novelty is a set of modular, externallycarried boxes, which can be removed and carried as suitcases.
Believe it or not, the Xtamy could well be heading to the U.S. Comarth, a tiny sports car company based in Murcia, Spain, reckons that it has signed deals with companies in New York and Boston to build the car for the American market.
The Comarth is powered by a 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engine that's available with either 145 bhp or 195 bhp. With a curb weight of just 1,753 lb (795kg), the Xtamy promises startling performance: Comarth claims 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 sec. for the 145 car and 5.5 sec. for the 195.
The engine is mounted in a tubular steel chassis that comes wrapped in an eccentrically styled carbon-fiber body. The interior is more luxurious than that of its most obvious rival, the Lotus Elise, and the equipment list includes a radio/CD, metallic paint, a removable hard top, ABS, power steering and air conditioning. Even an automatic gearbox is available as an option.
In Europe, the Xtamy costs from 34,000 to 39,000 euros, with the U.S. price estimated at $40,000 to $50,000. Europe is inundated with Ford-powered roadsters at the moment, but on paper at least, the Xtamy looks like one of the better efforts.
Sbarro SB1 Tornado
A yellow and black thing
Sbarro can always be relied upon to come up with something genuinely eccentric, and the SB1 Tornado more than fits the bill. According to the zany Swiss, the Tornado is "an extreme realization" of the Ferrari 550 Maranello. The bodywork is all new and has echoes of the Panoz Le Mans car, while the extravagantly crafted cockpit features centrally mounted dials. It's difficult to see the point of this car, but the world would be a sadder place without Sbarro.
The DC Go is proof that the Indian car industry is capable of much more than selling sub-standard superminis to ailing British companies (City Rover). Essentially a re-skinned version of the Noble M12 supercar, the Go is a demonstration of the Indian company's prototyping talents. Less adventurous than some of the other "design studies," such as the EDAG GENX, it's unlikely to win any beauty contests, but it is neat and functional. DC is a company to watch Iit now employs 200 people and was responsible for the Aston DB9 show cars.
For customers who think that the standard Maybach is just too common, Brabus is offering its own interpretation of DC's flagship brand. The rather nasty two-tone treatment of the standard car is gone and replaced, on the show car at least, with a more understated and effective metallic black paint job. The wheels are a predictably outrageous 21 in. in diameter, and their effect is enhanced by a little more than half-inch (15mm) reduction in the Maybach's ride height.
Inside, the show car's cabin was finished in leather and alcantara, and Brabus claims that more than 3/4 of a mile (1.2km) of thread is used in the waffle-design leather upholstery on the transmission tunnel. The widescreen monitors in the front seatbacks have also been upgraded so that they now measure 15.2 in. compared with the standard Maybach's 9-in. screens.
Under the skin, the Maybach's 5.5-liter bi-turbo has been enlarged to 6.3 liters. Power has increased to 640 bhp at 5100 rpm, and there's an extraordinary 756 lb-ft of torque on offer at just 1750 rpm. Should sir request it, the Brabus Maybach 57 will sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.9 sec., while the top speed is electronically limited to a mere 186 mph.
Okay, so Casablanca isn't quite in Europe, but Morocco is close enough to make the Fulgura of interest. This predictable-looking supercar should be entering production as you read these words. Laraki confirmed that it hadn't received any firm orders but remains confident that it can build 20 to 30 cars per year. There will be two V8 engine choices: a supercharged unit with 570 bhp or a 660-bhp twin-turbo V12. The former costs 300,000 euros ($370,500), while the latter retails for a mighty 450,000 euros ($555,750). Only time will tell whether the world is ready for a Moroccan supercar.
Aston Martin Zagato Vanquish
No design company has a better relationship with Aston Martin than Zagato. The DB4 Zagato is surely one of the most beautiful cars ever made, and last year's DB7 Zagato was a big success. This model is much more than just a show-stopping concept--it has even been windtunnel tested to make sure that the cabin is buffet-free. An integrated hardtop is employed during winter months, and this is replaced in summer by a curvy double-bubble of hardened glass and a soft material cover. This cloth top stows in the boot when it's not in use.
Zagato is confident that if the project is given the green light, the car could be in showrooms within 12 months. The company also reckons that it only needs 100 firm orders to convince the Aston management that the project is a good idea.
The second Aston concept to be shown at Geneva was styled by Bertone and called the Jet2. Aston's history is littered with so-called "Shooting Brakes"--the last was based on the Virage--and the Jet2 seeks to combine the Vanquish's thrust with the practicality of a genuine four-seater. To create more space, the Vanquish platform has been stretched by 8.3 in. (210mm) and the rear bucket-style seats can be folded flat if large items need to be carried.
Bertone reckons that the car is realistic and that if Aston wanted it, it could be put into production. But this seems unlikely. Aston's chief designer, Henrik Fisker, reckons that the shape, which draws some inspiration from Nuccio Bertone's stunning Jet of 1961, is "too Bertone."