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Design Review: Bertone Birusa concept

Tue, 04 Mar 2003 The new Birusa concept unveiled today shows Bertone returning to what they do best - a flamboyant showcar giving us a vision of how the high performance GT car (front engine, rear drive, two seats) could evolve stylistically in the near future. Based on a BMW Z8 aluminium chassis lengthened by 300mm, it's a refreshing piece of exuberance by the Italian company and a celebration of what they achieved in the 1960s and 70s.

The wedge-shaped profile is characterised by a classic Bertone device - a dihedral-shaped side window with an undercut lower glass section, as featured on showcars such as the Boomerang and Carrabo. In the case of the Birusa, a bright highlight spear from the front wheelarch to the top of the rear fender bisects the glass. The simple body sections feature subtle scalloped edges to surfaces, which give an underlying delicacy to the form, which is also characterised by very short overhangs front and rear.

The glass roof and rear window slide back under the rear deck and the doors are elaborate gullwing style. For the Birusa they pivot from the centre of the roof and around one-third of the way into the scuttle. This allows the electrically-powered carbon fibre doors to swing forwards as they open, providing better access than the normal gullwing-type. As an advanced touch they're voice activated too.

Look closely and you will see how the front face is a new interpretation of BMW's headlamps and twin kidney grille theme - but not done in such an obvious way. Indeed, a round Bertone badge, rather than the blue and white BMW spinner emblem tops the nose.

The rear also has overtones of past Bertone classics - in this case the 1983 Corvette concept - with the slim horizontal taillamps and graphically-integrated exhaust outlets and diffuser panel. The trunklid drops down from below the lamps to reveal a Segway HT (Human Transporter stored within, the idea being that the Segway acts like the tender of a boat, taking passengers to places inaccessible to the large boat.

Dimensions for the Bertone Birusa: length 4400mm, width 1900mm, wheelbase 2850mm.

By Nick Hull