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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Jaguar C-XF

So, this is what a Jaguar looks like when they let chief designer Ian Callum loose with his imagination, a pen and crack staff of automotive fabricators. My pick for best in show, the lines of the C-XF form the basis for the next-generation Jaguar S-Type. We love the snub nose, flared rear-haunches and modern British luxury. Sources say it may be affordable too, so start saving.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Mercedes-Benz Ocean Drive Concept

A case of the "why nots" must have reverberated through the Mercedes-Benz design center. How else would you explain reaching into the S600 parts bin to create this over-the-top and luxurious four-door convertible? With a top that folds up or down in 18 seconds and enough suede and leather to cover a sofa factory, this concept is everything a show car should be: Desirable.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Lincoln MKR

Lincoln refers to the MKR as "guilt-free luxury." The interior of the MKR features environmentally-friendly appointments like a chrome-free leather interior, mohair carpeting, a re-engineered oak instrument panel and soy seat foam. The green idea extends under the hood, too, with its TwinForce 3.5L V6 twin-turbo direct injection engine that produces V8 power in a V6. It also runs on E85. 400 horsepower and it's green - we like.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Mitsubishi Prototype

Boy racers of the world unite. Flared fenders, loads of style and a turbo-charged four banger. And, says Mitsubishi, it has "the most power ever in an Evolution model." Just the fact that Mitsubishi said they'd make a new EVO in the first place is tremendous and this time around, it comes with an optional automatic transmission. The gauntlet has been thrown down, Subaru.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Camaro Convertible Concept

Nothing says U.S.A. like a Camaro, shown here in its convertible guise for the first time. Chevrolet says they'll produce the ragtop as a 2009 model. We'll take ours in the classic colors; bright red with black racing stripes. Fuzzy dice, of course, are extra.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Volvo XC60

We think Volvo is moving the right direction with their recent design ethos. Show something in concept form at a major auto show and then "Ta-Dah!" a year or so later, produce a similar looking production model. The XC60 is Volvo's small crossover. We like the proportion of this concept, not too big, not too small with a clean Scandinavian-inspired interior. Oh, and it will also come in candy apple green which will add some pop to the grey pictured here. This concept is a winner.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007 - Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept

A very radical departure from the vehicle it may replace, the venerable NSX, this Acura looks to us like a futuristic version of the iconic Corvette remixed in the key of a Japanese tuner. Note the long hood NSX fans. That's where the front mounted V-10 engine will go, not the middle of the car. Progress sometimes hurts purists the most.

The Top 7 Concept Cars for 2007

Mazda Ryuga

Auto design, like most things in life, is subjective. What would be considered good taste and great style for one person is another's automotive nightmare. Add a layer of complexity like what someone thinks about car design and the levels of subjectivity get seriously convoluted.

The two constants in the automotive design world are progress and change. Jon Ikeda, principal designer at the Acura Design Center, sums it up nicely by saying, "If you design an automobile right, it should look new until the next model comes out." Easier said than done, Mr. Ikeda.

So, continuing on this theme, here are the top picks for the best concept cars from the 2007 North American International Auto Show. Again, it's just one man's opinion. That said, if I attended the launch of the much-vilified Ford Edsel in 1957, I would have said it looked great. Let the fighting begin.