Lancia - Dialogos
Lancia at the 67th Turin International Motor Show
Lancia will be exhibiting its entire model range in Turin. All these cars blend top-quality engineering, comfort, style and performance in the true tradition of the marque. The Lancia k saloon, Station Wagon and Coupé engine ranges have been extended by the addition of two new units, a 2.4 JTD engine and a petrol-driven 2.0 turbo 20 valve engine, to coincide with the Motor Show. These are joined by the 'small' Lancia Y, the roomy Lancia Z MPV and the stylish, recently updated Lancia Delta and Lancia Dedra.
The central focus of the entire show is, however, the new Dialogos. Through this 'biodynamic car', Lancia will re-interpret its original mission statement (i.e. to build prestigious cars distinguished by a high level of comfort and engineering) to meet the needs of the third millennium. This may be a concept car, but it is no mere classroom exercise (all the innovations it features are destined to go into production on future models). The Dialogos represents the future of élite motoring as Lancia sees it.
Before they reach the biodynamic car, visitors are guided around a set route. They are met at the top of the stand access ramp by the most bubbly member of the range, the Lancia Y, and the most prestigious, the Lancia k. These are the only models visible from outside. Visitors will then continue on up along an overhead walkway to enter a big technological tunnel fitted with sensory perception devices (covered by a dark blue cloth). Here the three major themes underlying the new concept car will be explained using images, simulations and objects (headlamps, gearboxes, suspension, differentials, seats and various materials). These three themes are: stress-free driving, the car as ideal microclimate and the car as living room. At the end of the gallery, a small amphitheatre opens out onto the Dialogos, which is positioned on a rotating platform.
A great hanging screen forms the backdrop to the concept car. This shows an uninterrupted ten-minute film loop of underlying principles and content. The visitor is offered two alternatives at this point: to go down and admire the model more closely, or continue along the set route to the exhibition area below. This contains the other standard production models in the range.
On one side, amid a colourful display illustrating the numerous Kaleidos colour alternatives, we may see four Lancia Ys (one equipped with items from the Lancia Accessories Range) and two Lancia Zs. On the opposite side, we see three Lancia ks: a saloon, a Coupé and a Station Wagon. These are shown alongside their new engines (available from May): the 220 bhp petrol-driven 5 cylinder 2.0 turbo unit and the 2.4 JTD. The display is completed by two Lancia Dedras, a saloon and a Station Wagon, and three Lancia Deltas (HPE 2.0 HF, HPE 1.8 and td 5-door). The stand itself is built out of top-quality natural materials, such as birchwood, to reflect the refined elegance of Lancia cars. It also contains another small surprise: a sales outlet offering the Lancia promotional item range and an extensive array of accessories to customers who wish to customise their car to their own tastes and requirements.
As is now usual at the Turin Motor Show, two elegant rooms have been set aside to welcome members of the Lancia Hi.Fi. Club and the Lancia Historical Club. Internet stations are also provided for those who wish to browse the Lancia site (WWW.LANCIA.COM), or the new virtual spaces created specially for the Motor Show. These show news relating to all three marques, photos of the stand and original sketches for the Dialogos. Journalists can also consult their own confidential site (WWW.FIATAUTOPRESS.COM), where they can always find up-to-date car news and photos in addition to full, comprehensive news on the Fiat Group.
The Turin Show also offers another welcome opportunity. Visitors may be photographed alongside Lancia models so they can send friends and relatives their own personalised post card via the Internet.
Dialogos: see and touch the future
Lancia shows us the future of élite motoring at the Turin Motor Show. An imminent future, destined to take shape on the next models produced by the brand. Lancia has decided to show us the future instead of tell us about it: all the innovations can be seen and touched on the stand. They are all packed into a concept car, which has been named the Lancia Dialogos.
The name describes a car able to receive signals and decode them. To adapt to changing user characteristics and requirements, to set up a new, different dialogue and relationship between man and machine. This is the philosophy behind the 'biodynamic car'. Its aim is to update Lancia's original mission - to build prestigious, distinguished, comfortable cars - for the new millennium. Not merely a vehicle to be driven, but a place to live. A space where material is used to ensure wellbeing and good looks. A passenger compartment conceived as an ideal microclimate and living room where one is free to enjoy stress-free driving. Dialogos is the result of taking Lancia's extraordinary heritage to the next logical stage. To explore future worlds, where technology makes every dream come true. We chose to limit ourselves to solutions which will really be applied to standard production cars: solutions that meet new yet stringent design criteria. The car admired by visitors to the Lancia stand is a paradox: it takes its inspiration from tradition yet points to the future. The result is a big, five-metre long deluxe car with retro hints: high front, long bonnet, upturned wedge-shaped profile. These hints are immediately denied by an interplay of smooth curves and rounded edges, that speaks a completely new and appealing stylistic language. The Dialogos immediately opens its doors to passengers approaching with their personal Ego Cards in hand. The doors open book-fashion as on the Aurelia and Appia; the technology required to design a car without a central pillar but still able to pass today's severe crash tests can only be imagined. Through the doors lies a roomy, comfortable and relaxing lounge. After all, the ideal of every journey is to feel at home, surrounded by an environment we like, among things arranged the way we want them.
So the front seats turn outward through 90° to allow the driver and passenger to sit down, before returning to their original position. The car recognises people by means of their Ego Card personal keys and adapts to their habits, life styles and driving styles: left hand drive or right hand drive, steering wheel and pedal unit, climate control, light distribution and intensity - and sound. Conventional seats have been replaced by armchairs. These mould themselves around the body. Ventilation and lighting of the preferred colour and intensity are diffused through breathable trim. As we wallow in an environment of wrap-around, continuous forms, our senses are soothed by wood that is soft to the touch, chamois leather, cashmere and relaxing images from three screens on a facia. Yet the facia is not in the normal place, but tucked away at the bottom where it cannot get in the way.
Now all we have to do is insert our Ego Card in its slot and press to start the car. The car interior lights up by itself (a little touch of magic). Information on the screens and the cruise control is controlled by a joystick similar to a TV remote control. The car also reacts dynamically according to the preferences of the driver: suspension setting, drive torque distribution over both axles, degree of oversteer etc. An anticollision radar is in operation and hidden TV cameras ensure a perfect 180° rear view with no blind spots. The headlamps automatically adapt light beam intensity to external conditions.
When the car stops, the front seats can be turned through 180° so that the passengers can chat or work face to face. Screens and keyboards, minibar, table and document holders can appear at will from the clean, uncluttered lines of the interior.
All this and more make up the Dialogos. Before we go on, it is worth considering the principles that inspired the designers responsible for Lancia's concept car.
A new relationship with the car
This élite car for the third millennium will overturn a commonly held misconception: that wealth means owning flashy, costly items. In today's society (and this will be even more true in tomorrow's world), true luxury means no obstacles to the satisfaction of one's desires and needs. This means doors swinging open at our approach and nothing standing in the way of our communication with technology. Be it navigator, radio, climate control system or screen, we should not have to adapt to the way it works. Instead the instrument interface should adapt to us. This also means being able to live in an environment attuned to our current mood, that allows us to experience a new type of comfort. Wellbeing based on sensory oneness, perceived in an environment where objects have not been designed for appearance alone, but also for the way they feel, sound, smell and - naturally - the way they look.
The Lancia designers undertook the far from easy task of designing something intangible: i.e. the quality of the relationship between man and car, the sensation of motoring and the aesthetics of sound, smell and touch. This new soft revolution is not based on hard technology as in the past (a case in point was the 1922 Lambda with its impressive total of seven world patents) but still radically changes our experience of the car.
The result is the Dialogos, a car capable of discreetly serving its user and re-interpreting age-old Lancia precepts for a new age: dynamic design, advanced technology, the quest for absolutely élite comfort and sophisticated solutions. The thing that counts on Lancia's concept car is the new relationship offered by a 'biodynamic car'. The opportunity to live in an environment that is simultaneously ideal microclimate and living room while also offering a stress-free drive. The body that the Lancia Style Centre has dreamed up for this paragon contains frequent references to the past and pointers to the future. It embodies the concept of an evolving tradition.
A timeless sculpture
The external styling of the Dialogos speaks for itself. It is patently the result of a profound rethinking of Lancia traditions to cater for the future tastes and needs of the most sophisticated and demanding customers.
The mighty yet fluid and stylish front end draws inspiration from classic themes. As on the Lambda, its flat straight grille is a true radiator. The styling rejects the idea of a wedge attacking the asphalt in favour of an upturned wedge shape. The front box, with its long high bonnet, draws the rest of the car behind it and the passenger compartment is shifted backward with the boot almost an appendage. The body lines are long: soft lines swoop and turn without apparent effort. The shape is square, but this is no soap-dish. A careful use of rounded edges mixed with smoother sections produces a stylistic language that is unusual, but also well-proportioned and continuous.
Shield-shaped rims (19") and tyres with a specially-designed tread ensure style and practicality. Adaptive headlamps lit indirectly from a concealed source look like diamonds. They seem so clear and bright, then suddenly break down into a myriad of facets. This magical lighting system is repeated by the rear neon lights. All exterior elements that could make the car look too visually busy (handles, door mirrors, wipers and aerials) have disappeared. The Dialogos looks for all the world like a sculpture. This impression is accentuated by the fact that divisions between panels have been minimised and the central pillar is apparently missing. The colour of the windows (there is apparently only one) is very similar to the incredible blue of the body.
Yet this impenetrable object suddenly opens out into a roomy lounge with linear, simple lines, based on classic international furnishing standards. The front armchairs are supported by a sturdy central mount but look as though they are hanging in the air. Their head-restraints and armrests look like cushions thrown artfully onto a sofa at home. The extended, continuous interior surfaces disseminate air, light and sound. Compartments and spaces are present, but hidden, waiting to open when needed.
Your trip into the conveniences of the third millennium begins here. Lancia's concept car is designed in accordance with three main guiding principles: the car as ideal microclimate, the car as living room and stress-free driving.
Life in an ideal microclimate
Imagine an ideal microclimate where all climatic, acoustic, visual and even olfactory conditions transmit pleasant, protective, healthy and relaxing sensations. This is the Dialogos's passenger compartment. Air quality and distribution, lighting, protection and ergonomic comfort are all finely tuned to produce non-aggressive, silent climate control.
These results have been achieved by doing away with all intrusive or bulky items and the Top Climate System has been created. This system considers all aspects of the on-board climate. It controls the temperature of all breathable interior walls and also cleanses and deodorises the air by means of regenerable active carbon filters.
Air does not circulate in this system. Instead, an atmosphere diffuses through extensive breathable surfaces such as the walls and roof panel. Air is finely distributed through micropores in the trim materials to keep passenger compartment temperature constant. Because there are no outlets, fan speed and noise is reduced for an overall increase in efficiency.
The system also allows passengers to adjust heating to their own requirements. Four customised microclimates are created by measuring perceived heat by means of detectors fitted in the seats. The system also measures external temperature, humidity and pollution conditions. Once all data have been processed, ideal conditions can be created.
Passengers use their own joysticks to adjust their microclimates to individual taste. The on-board computer stores the data, which may then be called up quickly when required.
In a word, the Top Climate System can pick up on the current mood and use its many sensors to envelop each passenger in a beneficial, healthy cocoon at just the right temperature. These conditions can be customised and memorised.
The diffuse lighting inside the ideal microclimate is made up of different shades. All of these are warm and designed to reflect a home-like atmosphere. They offer the colour and brightness best suited to different situations and occasions.
The materials and components inside the passenger compartment have been chosen to meet the needs of superior quality of life on board. They are good to look at and good to touch. The seats are trimmed with nabuk, a soft, fluffed leather similar to chamois. The roof is trimmed with a wool blend cloth and silk. The facia, squab backs and flaps are in soft wood. This material consists of a film of real wood bonded to a layer of resin and foam. It is soft to the touch, deformable (it bends when the doors are opened and yields to the pressure of a finger) and combines attributes of safety with a sensation of naturalness and warmth.
A living room with wheels
The environment on board the 'biodynamic car' is spacious, comfortable and relaxing. Every part is made out of top-quality material and chosen with care to express sophisticated unfussy taste. The space is flexible because it can be converted at will into a passenger compartment where one can travel in the greatest imaginable comfort, a lounge for conversation, a place of entertainment with the option of listening to good music or watching a video, or even a place for study and work.
To get into Lancia's concept car, simply approach with your Ego Card. This personal key automatically manages various functions and also stores the characteristics of its user. The front doors open, the car is raised or lowered to suit the driver's height and the seat swivels outward to allow you to get in. Once sitting down, the seat moves back in and round into the driving position. The doors now close automatically.
The front armchairs can carry out 12 different movements (automatically controlled) and form a single sofa when placed together, which configures itself to suit the form and sitting position of its occupants. The configuration is stored for subsequent use but may be changed - to suit a new passenger, for example. The seat squab back is covered in soft wood and the edge is finished in heartwood. The head-restraints and armrests are made out of constant thickness cushions. The whole front bench may be turned through 180°. This action converts the passenger compartment into a comfortable lounge, ideal for a tête à tête conversation with back seat passengers.
A display with a double 14-inch screen can be removed from a service compartment in the middle of the back seat. The back seat is also fitted with a socket for a personal mobile phone, while the head-restraint is fitted with headphones for listening to music. Simply lean back to listen to the sound. Back seat passengers can also remove an infra-red keypad from a housing in the door in order to interact with the on-board computer.
The door panels are also sophisticated and refined. Nabuk is abundantly in evidence and the oddments compartments are made out of deformable material covered in soft wood. The light, air and sound dissemination areas are covered in clear, breathable metal cloth. The bar compartment is located on the left rear panel. It is closed by a flap - unhinged, because this too is made out of soft, deformable wood. A small table is available in the area at the rear on the left.
Luxury, yes, but without ostentation. Innovation, certainly, but with precise references to timeless values. Flexibility to the widest range of needs and great functionality. Ultimately the most gratifying way of experiencing life on board a car.
Stress-free driving: a dream come true
A car designed for stress-free driving must be able to anticipate motorists' needs. It must be able to adapt to their habits and - why not - to their mood and also to current situations. Lancia opted for a high level of automation to fulfil these functions. The car features a man-machine interface system, a sort of on-board assistant that sees to everything. With the gearbox, handbrake and stalk unit done away with, car use is simplified to the greatest degree. This is also helped by the use of vocal commands. The system provides useful information to the driver and puts the driver at ease by customising certain functions. The system ensures a high degree of safety. Both driver and passenger enjoy full control of the car for complete physical and mental wellbeing.
In practice, this means that the steering column is located in the middle when at rest to allow the driver to get into the car. Because it is hinged at the base, it can be driven equally well on the left or on the right. The instrument panel moves to accommodate the change and can be reconfigured.
The steering wheel is fitted with a set of buttons to control turn signals, hazard warning flashers, horn, semi-automatic transmission functions and the voice function, which activates vocal commands.
A big panel made up of three 13.8 inch liquid crystal displays and two cards with gauges and warning lights is located in place of the facia and the conventional instruments and controls beneath the windscreen. Side display functions are reversible, according to whether the car is being driven from the left or right. The driver's screen is reserved for the instruments and controls, while the passenger's screen is devoted to navigation, seat and climate control system controls, radio, hands-free phone and check functions. The central monitor is used for seeing behind the car to eliminate blind spots.
The screen is controlled by a joystick with two buttons for scrolling through the main options and a confirmation key for moving within individual menus and activating the required function. The joystick is located between the front seats and is the main control terminal for on-board instruments and controls. Displays may be customised. The driver can select the language, graphics (analogue or digital), background colour, character size and is able to zoom in on a particular function.
An on-board computer system with micro-TV camera and radar provides all information required for comprehensive monitoring of the road. The system explores the field of view inaccessible to the human eye and notifies the driver of overtaking vehicles.
A TV camera ensures the car stays in lane. When the driver crosses the lane dividers unintentionally (e.g. due to loss of concentration or drowsiness), the steering wheel rim vibrates and an acoustic signal goes off as a warning.
The adaptive cruise control system controls cruising speed and the safety distance from cars in front. In poor visibility conditions (fog, rain or snow), the anticollision radar is extremely useful. This warns of potentially dangerous obstacles in the car's path that cannot be perceived by the human eye.
To improve safety while driving at night, the Dialogos is fitted with self-adaptive headlamps. These owe their name to the fact that the beam changes direction, intensity, divergence and light distribution pattern according to car speed, type of road, the position of other cars (oncoming cars and cars in front) and atmospheric conditions. (fog, rain etc.). In the Dialogos's headlamps, the light beam is also located beside the reflectors. This solution reduces glare experienced by other vehicles and allows effective control of the light beam.
The transmission can work automatically or semi-automatically, but the controls do not get in the way of the area between the front seats. Driving options are selected with buttons on the steering wheel and associated messages are displayed on the car monitor. The system is self-learning, i.e. it stores the motorists driving style in about five minutes. For reversing manoeuvres, the driver needs to operate a lever switch located inside the central console. The tail-lights now come on and a TV camera projects an image on the monitor in front of the driver to make parking easier.
The pedal unit may be located on the left or on the right and features only two controls: accelerator and brake. When unused, it becomes part of the floor and can be used as a footrest. The Dialogos is also fitted with rear footrests built into the back of the front seats.
No handbrake lever is present. The brake is always on when the car is at a standstill and is released automatically when the car sets off.
The mechanical components on this biodynamic concept car are also interesting. The front suspension is multilink with a virtual steering axis, while the rear suspension is also multilink. The transmission is robotised with an Ego-mode self-learning system. The active front suspension features a feeling management system - and a model reference monitoring and test system is also fitted.
The main feature of the multilink suspension is its virtual steering axis. This is mapped by virtual rather than physical suspension points. The steering axis passes through the centre of the wheel. As a result, obstacles such as potholes or uneven surfaces cannot cause the wheel to vibrate or turn.
This device ensures that steering is unaffected when the active differential applies different pulling forces to both half-axles to increase car stability. This suspension architecture also ensures high longitudinal stability and reduces vibrations from the road surface to improve car handling over all terrains.
One of the most innovative features of the multilink rear suspension is its virtual pitch centre. When riding over an obstacle, the wheel moves back to reduce interference transmitted to the body and thus perceived vibrations. An elasto-kinematic toe-in system also significantly increases car stability when cornering. The robotised transmission is a conventional transmission fitted with an electro-hydraulic actuator. All functions normally managed by the driver (selection, engagement and release, clutch and throttle modulation) are controlled electronically. The system works automatically or semi-automatically. In the latter case, the driver changes gear by operating buttons on the steering wheel. This transmission is combined with an innovative Ego-mode system. This customises operation and adapts it to different service conditions. After a short learning period, when the driver works in semi-automatic mode, the system is able to recognise driving style and produce a customised map. This is then used automatically for different driving styles (sporty or touring) - or even on different cars equipped with the same system.
The active front differential system (which should not be confused with a self-locking differential) is designed to improve pulling power and car stability. By modulating the pressures of two clutches in the active differential, the drive torque applied to the front wheels can be controlled differentially. When entering a bend, drive torque is transferred to the outer wheel in order to exploit car traction to the full and increase lateral hold. The active differential also acts as a dynamic stabilising element to compensate for skidding in emergency situations. The device also varies car response to controls applied to the steering wheel (typical of understeering). The differential therefore adjusts to different driving styles and driver tastes to make the car more docile - or alternatively more edgy and poised for action. As with the robotised transmission, feeling management maps are stored on the Ego Card.
The sophisticated model reference monitoring and test system forecasts car behaviour and compares it continually with true behaviour as revealed by the on-board sensors. It is therefore possible to record environmental conditions (such as gradients or grip on the road) and diagnose any anomalies (e.g. tyre deflation) or the approach of extreme road grip conditions. All this information is transferred to control systems on the car (robotised transmission, active differential), which adapt to the situation in hand to ensure greater safety and better performance. The motorist is notified of anomalies by means of a display.