2008 Detroit Auto Show: Suzuki X-Head Concept
What it is
After its debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Suzuki’s X-HEAD Concept now struts down the runway at the 2008 NAIAS. The Japanese automaker calls this model a “cross-utility vehicle.” Engineered with 4-wheel drive, it’s been built with the outdoor’s set and rough terrain in mind, although one version has been designed to boost street cred. Its most appealing feature is that it can be upfitted with extra modules, like the Camper, which sleeps two adults; the Rescue, designed to convert this people and good’s carrier into a rescue and safety workhorse; and the Fashion, which adds urban style.Why it Matters
As the recreation and outdoor markets grow increasingly popular in North America, Suzuki’s X-HEAD Concept injects a shot of badly-needed vigor to this Japanese brand that has more cachet as a motorcycle and ATV maker than as an exciting and gutsy vehicle maker. Neutering its XL-7 to a soft-ride, AWD family wagon has left Suzuki with a solo offering, the Grand Vitara, for off-road forays. While good over tricky bits, its small packaging leaves adventurers longing for more. X-Head’s Tonka-truck-like image is appealing to Boomers and youngsters alike and Suzuki’s module idea adds fun and functionality.
Under the Hood
New to the 2008 NAIAS, Suzuki’s spunky concept, the boxy and trendy X-HEAD, sits on a squat 88.5-inch-long wheelbase. This mini truck is propelled by a 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC engine that has been paired with a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and has been set up with full-time 4-wheel drive and a limited-slip equipped center differential to assist traction when the going gets slick or slippery. This cross-utility concept has been crafted to carry heavy loads over tough terrain, and has been shod with off-road tires that feature an aggressive X tread etched into a rubber and composite compound.
Suzuki’s funky X-HEAD Concept is a 2-seater “cross-over” workhorse designed with wide driver and passenger seats, separated by a functional center console. Seats are constructed of neoprene materials, covered by an outer layer of netting to make them more durable and waterproof; they also feature built-in, lower lumbar cushion support. A 4-point safety harness has a large chest-level fastener, with the X-HEAD name etched into center clasp. Amenities include an interior monitor that displays images from a rear-vision camera, as well as a portable utility box with a flashlight that doubles as a hammer, if needed.
What it Looks Like
Suzuki’s X-Head Concept looks like a Salvador Dali-designed Tonka truck. Just under 148-inches long, it stands 73-inches tall and is 67-inches wide. Its solid, boxed body is set off by flared wheel fenders and character lines running along both sides. Up front, a snub-nosed, tapered hood morphs into a large front meshed grille with a beefy surround that features SUZUKI in bold lettering atop. A side panel drops to reveal a storage unit, while drop-gate doubles as a utility bench. A large tailgate finishes the backend, where a good-sized bed can accommodate large cargo or Camper, Fashion or Rescue modules.
By Sue Mead
Photo Credit: Vernon Heywood