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Brazil Matters

Although Brazil is the B in BRIC, when it comes to the group of four countries, it seems that its position is in inverse relation to the amount of attention that it gets, particularly as regards the auto industry.
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Although Brazil is the B in BRIC, when it comes to the group of four countries, it seems that its position is in inverse relation to the amount of attention that it gets, particularly as regards the auto industry.

Yet last week at the 27th Sao Paulo International Motor Show, the South American country received some attention from OEMs.

For example, Volkswagen used the opportunity to have the world premiere of the Taigun, a compact SUV powered by a 1.0-liter, turbocharged, direct injection engine that produces 108.5 hp. A three-cylinder engine.

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The VW Taigun is 152 in. long, has a 97-in. wheelbase, and is 68 in. wide and 62 in. tall. It rides on 17-in. alloy wheels.

The vehicle has bold shoulders and a planted stance. Although there is a rugged appearance—consider the metal underbody protection panel in the front—chances are if this car were to go to production it would be more of an on-roader than off.

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Although introduced in Brazil, according to VW, if it becomes real, it will be sold in global markets.

Nissan unveiled the EXTREM, a concept that is specifically targeted at the Brazilian market, where it operates a factory in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, Parana, and where it is investing $2.6-billion to launch a factory in Resende, Rio de Janeiro, in 2014. That new plant will have a 200,000 unit annual capacity.

The EXTREM was designed by Nissan Design America (NDA) in San Diego, California, in collaboration with Brazilian designers and with Brazilian modeling resources.

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Shiro Nakamura, Nissan senior vp and chief creative officer, said, “Brazil is a country of great natural beauty and it has a passionate, rich culture. But this is not always reflected in the cars on its streets, especially the more affordable, locally produced vehicles, which tend to be conservative in design, color and specification.

“EXTREM, with a dynamic, high-character design, is far from conservative. It was created to appeal to the country’s growing band of city-based young professionals who are passionate about design and want to make a personal statement. The lightweight two-door 2+2 has a dynamic stance, fresh surfacing, and a clear rugged ability to tackle the urban jungle every day.”

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Robert Bauer, senior design manager for the project at NDA, said of the EXTREM, “We call it ‘Baby Beast.’”

The compact sport vehicle is based on the Nissan V-platform, used for the March/Micra. The EXTREM is actually similar in size to the VW Taigun, with a 96-in. wheelbase, and being 152 in. long, 60 in. high, and 69 mm wide. It rides on 19-in. wheels.

The engine is a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and it could be offered with either front- or four-wheel drive.

Although there have been no production plans announced, Christian Meunier, president of Nissan Brazil, said, “We have created EXTREM to show how serious we are about Brazil.”

It isn’t too difficult to imagine Nissan putting something that might be a bit less, um, extreme into the market.

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