Detroit 2009: Little Bigtime - Concept C takes Lincoln in a brand-new direction

Lincoln Concept C

Play the word association game with an average American, and when the topic is "Lincoln," you're likely to hear words like "traditional," "big," and "limousine." Terms describing compact hatchbacks like the Concept C shown above simply won't be on the tips of anyone's tongues. So what gives? Has Dearborn finally looped it? Take a closer look, and what at first seems like a designer pet project reveals a good deal more forethought and finesse.

Yes, the Concept C is small. Said to be underpinned by the next-generation Ford Focus platform, this is a C-segment car, much shorter than any current Lincoln, and indeed, much shorter than any Lincoln we can recall. But how about that width? Emphasized by its sizable fenders and the strong shoulder-line in the doors (said to be inspired by the saddle tanks on go karts), the Concept C may be as long as a Focus, but it's roughly as wide as a MKZ sedan. The extra width and the upright greenhouse (there's almost no tumblehome at all) mean that the C can accommodate two rows of three full-sized adults in surprising comfort. The bustle back shape reminds of a number of Gallic automobiles, including the previous Renault Megane, but rather amazingly, the formal roofline, twin wing grilles and full-width rear light bar that are Lincoln hallmarks don't look out of place.
Click on the gallery below or follow the jump to read more about the Concept C and check out the official press releases.

Gallery: Detroit 2009: Lincoln C Concept Live


Gallery: Lincoln Concept C


Detroit 2009: MINI Cooper Convertible chills out

new MINI Cooper Convertible

We'll be straight with you. We missed the MINI press conference. We know, we know... the horror. Anyway, you didn't exactly need to be Kojak to figure out what happened. The 2009 MINI Convertible drove out of a simulated ice block with a couple made up all frozen-like in the front seats. As for the car, well, it's pretty self explanatory. Available in March, it finally ditches the last-gen engines for the NA and turbocharged 1.6L fours available in the hardtop Cooper and Cooper S. Other changes? The trunk's roomier, the interior gets brought up-to-date, and the rollbar becomes a pop-up unit, significantly improving rearward visibility and giving the Cooper a much cleaner top-down profile. Finally, cute-gimmickry overload is fully achieved with the addition of the "Openometer," an add-on gauge that tracks the amount of time spent motoring with the top down. Adorable, right? Chicks are gonna dig it.

Gallery: Detroit 2009: MINI Cooper Convertible Live


Gallery: 2009 MINI Cooper Convertible

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Detroit 2009: Kia Soul'ster guns for fun and frolic

Kia Soul'ster

The Kia Soul has people talking. Specifically
, you. Kia's media presentation here in Detroit highlighted feedback from the Autoblog commentariat. No, we didn't know in advance, but you won't hear us complaining either. However, the star of the show for Kia wasn't the Soul -- it's a new concept derived from the boxy people-mover.

After some dancing fanfare involving large placards, the Kia Soul'ster drove onstage. Put simply, it's cool. The two-door design study looks like a pickup from the side, but the "cab" is open-air, much like the old Isuzu Amigo. Pretty much everything on the car is manual: the gearbox, the window cranks, and the two-piece canvas roof. Other details set it apart from its wagonoid brother, such as a slightly chopped roofline and dual exhausts with carbon fiber sleeves. The roof lamps integrated into the roll bars are a nice touch, too. Cantilevered seats mounted off the center console free up storage room beneath them, and there's a small cargo space aft of the second row. The Soul'ster's meant to be an economical four-cylinder, tarmac-only, front-wheel-drive plaything whose primary mission is fun. It sure looks the part, so now the ball's in Kia's court. Do they have the stones to actually follow through and build something like this? Tell them what you think below. One thng's certain: they'll be reading.

Gallery: Detroit 2008: Kia Soul'ster Live


Gallery: Kia Soul'ster Concept

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Detroit 2009: Chevy Spark playing to a familiar Beat [w/VIDEO]

Chevy Beat/Spark unveiling

While details remain sparse, General Motors rolled out its three-door Beat Concept from the 2007 New York Auto Show, promising that a version of the car will be produced beginning in 2010 for foreign markets, and for the US in 2011. Oddly, unlike the three-door sub-Aveo - sized hatch that rolled on to this morning's main stage, the production Spark figures to be a five-door hatchback capable of delivering 40 miles-per-gallon in the city. Officials indicate that a production version of the Spark will roll out at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and AB readers have already seen development prototypes running around.

Interestingly, the leaked shot that we showed you yesterday clearly shows a five-door vehicle. Perhaps it will roll onto display stands later in the show, but for now, GM has chosen to parade the 2007 three-door showcar around. We'll do some poking around, but in the meantime,
take a gander at the high-res gallery of shots below and click through to the jump for the press release.

Gallery: Detroit 2009: Chevy Spark, aka Beat

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Detroit 2009: Volvo S60 Concept debuts sexy Scandinavian design

Volvo S60 Concept

Volvo's big deal for the 2009 Detroit Auto Show is the S60 Concept, which debuts a new design direction for the Scandinavian brand once known for elevating the art of boxes on wheels. Volvo has continually evolved its signature design language, adding curves and bulges to make its vehicles look more organic than cubic. The culmination of that movement is the S60 Concept, which previews the next-gen S60 production sedan.

The concept features a coupe-like roofline and elegant front end brandishing the largest version of Volvo's iron mask badge that we've ever seen. A new character line running along the sides of the concept nicely updates the broad shoulder that's common on the brand's current cars and SUVs. There are lots of other cool exterior details, which you can read about in the press release after the jump, but the interior is the concept's crown jewel. The floating center stack, inspired by current Volvo production interiors, was made by hand out of Orrefors crystal.

The S60 concept is also full of safety tech, including a Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection system that will debut in the production S60. It works to avoid collisions with pedestrians under 20 km/h altogether and minimize injury for ones occurring at faster speeds. Powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel with direct injection, the S60 Concept is also frugal with fuel, burning through just 5.0 liters of petrol every 100 km (about 47 mpg U.S.)

Gallery: Detroit 2009: Volvo S60 Concept


Gallery: Volvo S60 Concept

[Source: Volvo]