Giugiaro's brought all this up because we're on one of the roads from the film in Northern Sardinia. He's got an afternoon meeting in Germany and I'm driving him to the airport in Olbia in a car he designed. It's a disconnect, because the area looks like a weird fusion of Californian landscapes, part inland Ventura County and part rural Sonoma County. Fewer Jeep Wranglers, but not too many fewer. Significantly more Land Rover Defenders, though. But the sea, which we catch in both glimpses and via long, sweeping vistas, is nothing like the churning gray-green of the Pacific. The experience is of familiarity leavened with enough things that don't quite compute.
As a native Californian, it was a perfect place to try to wrap my head around the Giugiaro Parcour concept. At dinner in Porto Cervo the evening before our drive to Olbia, I mentioned to Giugiaro that the Parcour had a bit of a Lancia Stratos vibe to it. Fabrizio's an animated guy. His hands went to his face. He rocked back in his chair for effect. “Arrrgh. The Stratos!”
The Stratos, of course, was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, who pretty much designed every wedgey, creased concept or exotic that Italdesign Giugiaro didn't. I don't think it was the Bertone connection that bothered him. It's just that Stratos has become shorthand for “Italian exotic with significant ground clearance.”
If the Parcour calls back anything from decades ago, it's the unrealized spawn of the De Tomaso Mangusta and the AMC Eagle. Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Mangusta right before he left Ghia to found Italdesign. One early project under his own banner was the design of the Mk. 1 Volkswagen Golf. A modified version of the Golf's 1.7L engine found its way into Chrysler Corporation's Omni/Horizon twins in 1978. Two years later, the car-bodied, four-wheel-drive Eagle appeared. Production ended once Chrysler purchased AMC and spun its remants into the Jeep/Eagle division. Chrysler made the AMC deal the same year they picked up Lamborghini. A Lamborghini V10 powers the Parcour. See? These relationships, they're all very simple.
After Chrysler divested itself of Lamborghini, leaving the company to languish five years in the hands of a group headed by hitman-hiring dictator's son Tommy Suharto and businessman Setiawan Djody, Volkswagen rolled the Sant'Agata firm into the Audi portfolio. In 2010, the Giugiaro family sold 90.1 percent of their company to Lamborghini. Now the studio, having formerly designed cars for everyone from Maserati to Isuzu, devotes itself entirely to VW Group projects.
The Parcour, however, began life in the studio's independent era, shortly after a 26-year-old Fabrizio designed the BMW Nazca M12 concept in 1990 — the year Ford launched the Explorer. But “in the '90s,” he explains, “it was not yet the time for the SUV in Europe.” A year ago, he and Walter de'Silva, head of Volkswagen Group design, were kicking around ideas for a Geneva auto show concept. Giugiaro exhumed the 20-year-old idea, saying, “I think with the mechanicals within the Group, we can make it.” VW AG CEO Martin Winterkorn loved the idea and rubber-stamped the effort. “We decided,” explains Giugiaro, “to use our own brand so we were free in styling and free in operation.”
And it does look like a Giugiaro creation. The front end treatment recalls not only the Mangusta's semi-shielded headlights, but those of the Isuzu Piazza/Impulse. Other angles suggest its kinship with BMW's storied M1. The butterfly doors are necessary for the same reason the Countach's scissor doors were necessary -- the Parcour is one very, very wide automobile.
Despite its intimate greenhouse -- floor-to-ceiling height matches that of the Aventador -- outward visibility is quite good, something that couldn't be said of the Countach. Antennae on the roof are a whimsical touch and house the rearward-vision cameras that stand in for side mirrors. The taillights are milled from a single piece of glass, weighing 33 pounds. One-off prototype parts like this run the weight up to 3,750 lbs. A production version would weigh in around 3,300, which is Gallardo territory. A production version, however, is not in the cards.
Back in Turin, Giugiaro is prepping the open-top Roadster static display model for an Audi event. Meanwhile, I'm trying to remember that the Parcour's steering-wheel mounted directional indicators aren't self-cancelling and doing a fairly poor job of it. The top of the flattened steering wheel is blocking the blinking arrows. My yellow-tinted, contrast-enhancing sunglasses render the rear-view camera's LCD screen nearly invisible. There are no mirrors. But the roads are all two-lanes, and with 550 hp from the Gallardo motor, it's easy enough to squirt around the odd Fiat Punto without worrying that the other driver has suddenly accelerated into the Parcour's blind spot.
The parts-bin twin-clutch transmission could use some re-gearing and reprogramming to work with the Parcour's 22-inch wheels and additional weight. Giugiaro admits that it's one of the few things he's unhappy with. Once I've familiarized myself with the controls and feel comfortable enough to get into the throttle, the V10 emits a taut, authoritative roar, perhaps more German-sounding than Italian. The cabin doesn't boom, but the noise level is significantly higher than your garden-variety modern exotic. “It sounds like that,” explains Fabrizio, “because I don't put any panel.” He gestures back toward the firewall.
Oh, for the days when supercar manufacturers didn't feel the need to put any panel. The steering, too, is a throwback. Not to the ultra-manly, manual heft of the original ultra-exotics, but rather to late-'80s Munich. It's not dissimilar to the feel of a first-generation BMW M3 or the company's wonderfully weird Z1. It's a bit loose on-center -- featuring a sorta satisfying squirm -- and firms up as one feeds in more directional effort.
Oh, and the brakes? Carbon-ceramic. Also, not power-assisted. So yes, they work. And yes, you must work too.
Quirks aside, the Parcour is easy to drive. Once I got over the few unorthodox controls and felt out the gearing and the brakes, I nearly forgot that I was driving a one-of-one machine. Fabrizio and I pootled along the country roads toward Olbia, chatting about bygone days when folks would mount ski racks on their rear-wheel-drive 911s and head off to the slopes.
He fully intends to do the same with the Parcour this winter. He's built a snow mode into the car, featuring a graphic that shows which wheel is spinning at any given time. We didn't go off-roading; the car's booked for events this summer, and the less road rash Giugiaro's techs have to remove after the Sardinian jaunt, the better.
But Giugiaro certainly designed the machine for the task. The underbelly of the Parcour is flat. Overhangs are short, with approach and departure angles taken into consideration. The exhaust exits through the rear deck ahead of the spoiler, meaning there's nothing hanging down to get hung up on rocks. Oh, and then there's the suspension.
You've seen pushrod-actuated coilovers on racing and exotic cars. You've seen dual-shock setups on off-roaders. The Parcour features a hybrid of the two -- one coilover at each corner lies horizontal, perpendicular to the frame rail, connected to a vertically mounted coilover via a rocker arm. On-road, the vertically mounted shocks perform the suspension duties. When more travel is required, the rocker arms connecting the coilovers unlock, allowing the horizontal units to get in on the action as well.
The effect is loopy and futuristic in a 12-year-old-boy's "goes-to-11 notebook-scribble" kinda way.
I'm not one much for modern supercars. The last super Ferrari that really flipped my switch was the F40. But Giugiaro managed to capture the bedroom-wall-poster factor of the cars I loved in my youth -- complete a few of the weird compromises that one used to have to make to own such a machine -- and paired it with the sort of balance that made the best late-'80s/early-'90s cars such wonderful things to drive.
One of my laments as an adult in the 21st century is, “Where is the future I was promised as a kid?” When I fell in love with the Countach and the Audi Quattro, I didn't want the result of that marriage to be the Aventador. I subconsciously wanted this.
After the serious-business 1960s, sports and exotic cars of the '70s and '80s all seemed to be done with a bit of a wink and a nod; there was an element of beautiful, shambolic camp and whimsy to them. Apollo 7, that program's first successful manned mission, came in 1968 -- the same year Marcello Gandini's utterly radical Alfa Romeo Carabo concept appeared at the Geneva Motor Show. After Neil Armstrong took that first step, the next two decades of supercars all seemed to be moon shots of their own. The Parcour captures that same essence.
In an age of 250-mph land missiles, Giugiaro's latest creation stands apart. Sure, it's got the Lamborghini bona-fides and the requisite aluminum and carbon-fiber structure, but at the end of the day, the Parcour is simply fun. And 95 percent of the time, the size of one's grin trumps a bunch of numbers printed in a magazine.
Once I dropped Fabrizio off in Olbia, I smiled all the way back to Porto Cervo.
Source : http://www.autonews.com/article/CW/20130624/CARREVIEWS/130629930/35280284/www.wheelsandmore.de