SUV Concepts Headline Sao Paulo Motor Show

Any country with a population of nigh-on 200 million is going to be attractive to car manufacturers, so it shouldn't come as surprise that the 2012 Sao Paulo Motor Show saw a handful of cars designed specifically for the Brazilian market make their global debuts.

What kind of cars? Sports Utility Vehicles; Brazil isn't renowned for its glass-smooth road surfaces and it's not hard to imagine a preference for imposing, muscular vehicles in the macho latino psyche. Enter exaggerated wheel arches and dead-pan front graphics.

Volkswagen Taigun Concept

For production? Depends entirely on public reaction, which has been good so far.

Built upon an elongated version of the New Small Family platform (used in the up!), the Taigun differs from standard SUVs in that it aims to be big on the inside but small on outside (instead of big everywhere. Toureg, ahem.) Power comes from a 3-cyclinder petrol engine tuned to produce 110bhp whilst averaging 60.1mpg, helped no doubt by it's impressively lean 985kg kerb weight.

The Taigun is a pleasant surprise in that it just looks so well resolved for a compact off-roader. The idea has been realised before with cars such a Toyota's RAV4 and a number of Suzuki creations, but never with such panache. With aggressive wheelarches that emphasize the Taigun's slender waist and horizontal chrome grille/headlight integration, the Taigun clearly takes inspiration from Volkswagen's larger, established SUVs but also pushes the design language further still and makes it more exciting. Wide tracks and short overhangs complete the 'go-anywhere' vibe, and a high driving position is incorporated to facilitate urban driving.

A small, aggressive, economic SUV could be just the ticket for Brazil, and the Tiagun could evenutually get the green light globally.

Nissan Extrem Concept

For Production? No, purely a design study.

Nissan intend to introduce 8 new models into the Brazilian market by 2016, and as such have their feelers out to gauge how those cars should look and behave. To help, the Extrem concept study has been designed for and produced in Brazil, and aims to reflect the country's cultural influences. 

Whilst most of the literal 'designing' took place in Nissan's Design Centre in San Diego, it's clear that what Shiro Nakamura promised would be a "a genuinely new and exciting concept" is just that. A far cry from Nissan's most recent SUV concept, the TeRRA FCEV shown in Paris, the Extrem looks as if it might give clues as to how the Juke's replacement might look. Nissan's design manager for the project calls the Extrem the "Baby Beast" and sees it as an urban rally car - it certainly looks durable enough, with aggressive design traits suchs as a hard crease on the flanks and a broad air intake above the trapezoidal front grille.

Perhaps the most interesting design feature of the Extrem is also the most subtle - the flat targa-style rear windscreen.

Renault D-Cross Concept

Production? Already on sale as a Dacia, D-Cross merely a Brazilian design study.

To make a short story even shorter, the D-Cross Concept is a jazzed-up Dacia Duster courtesy of Renault's design team in Brazil. Most strikingly, the rear-quarter of the car is finished in matt-black, which breaks up the Duster slightly slab-sided proportions but can't mask them entirely.

Notable features include the smart front light signature, clunky wheel arches, and a full-width reflective strip (a la 911 4s) at the rear.

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