While we media scribes tend to focus on a handful of big car shows in Europe, North America and Asia, we risk missing some promising prospects that show up in other locales, this year notably the car show in Brazilian capital Sao Paulo.
Among the makers rolling out concepts for the occasion are Fiat, Chevy and Nissan. Each appears focused on finding distinct new white space between conventional product segments. That’s a tradition in Brazil, but according to several industry sources, don’t be surprised to see some of these show cars wind up in production – possibly even making it to the American market.
That’s a particularly solid possibility, we’re being told, for the Nissan Kicks, a second take on the Japanese maker’s 2012 Extrem concept.
“The new Nissan Kicks concept takes the Nissan Extrem from pure fantasy to a market position that is a little closer to reality – and possibly toward a future production vehicle,” Nissan Brazil President François Dossa declared as he pulled the covers off the latest show car. “While the exaggerated form of Extrem, as the name suggests, was all about fun, the kicks concept adds elements of robustness and security that are highly appropriate for today’s fast-moving Brazilian professionals.”
The idea was to find a balance between an SUV and a performance car, the maker explains. Sound familiar? That is much the sort of description of the current Nissan Juke model, which only recently went through a major upgrade. So, exactly how the Kicks might squeeze into a spot in the Nissan line-up remains to be seen, but it appears destined to do so, and soon.
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A little more uncertain is the long-term prospect for the distinctive Fiat FCC4, which, as its name implies, is a concept car with, yep, four doors. The prototype was developed by the Italian maker’s Latin American design center, known as Latam. And it is another example of how the industry is coloring entirely outside the lines these days.
The FCC4 features a chopped, coupe-like greenhouse, but rides high on an almost off-road-style suspension and even features a pickup-like cargo bed under a glass fastback hatch.
If it helps, Fiat offers this explanation of its intent with the FCC4 design: “With the so-called ‘road view evolution’ – which is a means and not an end, and also catalyst of connection with people – , it will be possible to drive through lines, inclinations and impacting angles with the use of lights and LED panels, in the form of unprecedented interactivity. All this is planned to demonstrate the products that make Fiat a market success.”
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To put it into perspective, the FCC4 is actually bigger than the BMW X6, by the way, so it seems to run counter to the maker’s long-standing focus on B-segment vehicles. But Fiat needs to take some risks or it could continue to see its once formidable presence in the Latin American market slip out of its grasp. It is hoping to retain sales leadership in Brazil where it has been number one for 12 years.
As for Chevrolet, here’s another brand struggling to retain its once solid position in Latin America. And it isn’t taking chances, rolling out four new concepts for the Sao Paulo Auto Show this year.
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That includes the Onix Track Day Concept, a sporty take on the current Chevy Onix, the only hatchback in the maker’s line-up sold exclusively in Brazil and other parts of Latin America. It gets full aero treatment, an upgraded 1.8-liter EcoTec engine making 150 horsepower – up from the standard model’s 100 hp – and an upgraded interior.
Also on display, a second concept take on the Onix, as well as the High Country edition of the S-10 pickup. That’s the global version of the new Chevrolet Colorado we’re just getting in the U.S. Chevy rounds out its display with an upgraded version of the Cobalt sedan.
Considering the size of the Brazilian market, it’s no surprise to see so many show cars and production vehicles on display.