Brit sportscar maker Lotus has shown off a radical offroad concept...
A concept it may be, but don't dismiss the Lotus APX as just a showcar.
APX stands for Aluminium Performance Crossover and is the handiwork of the Proton-owned sportscar maker's Lotus Engineering division. It's a working, rolling illustration of the the marque's aluminium beam and casting based Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA).
Though the first production car to utilise the new structure will be the new Lotus mid-engine supercar due in 2008, the seven-seater APX could just as easily move into the realms of the real world. It could, for example, hit the roads by 2010 wearing a Lotus (or in a lower spec, Proton) badge.
The APX features a front-mounted 300hp (230kW) supercharged V6 petrol engine. The secret to it's prodigious performance (0-100km/h in 5.4sec) is, however, its low weight.
In keeping with Lotus' long-standing ethos to 'build a car and then add lightness' the crossover weighs just 1570kg. By way of comparison BMW's X5 (a production car equivalent to the APX dimensionally) weighs over 2000kg.
Lotus' VVA structure uses aluminium high-pressure die-cast corner nodes, stampings and extrusions. The components are assembled using techniques such as adhesive bonding, self-piercing rivets and flow-drill screws. Lotus calls the system Riv-Bonding.
Lotus says using VVA, APX is production feasible as a "high niche volume" vehicle -- up to around 30,000 units per year.
Though this sort of volume might perhaps be too low to interest parent company Proton, we can't help but note the family resemblance when comparing APX to Proton's Gen2 and new Savvy hatches. Perhaps... Just perhaps...