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Bengal is poised to become a prized possession

The Buick Bengal concept vehicle, a sleekly sculpted roadster with a convertible top and featuring a high performance powertrain, state-of-the-art voice- activated controls and a next-generation audio system, is making its debut at 2001 auto shows.

The Bengal is a car with “sensual elegance and versatility,” said Dave Lyon, 31, Buick brand character chief designer. “We think this car will catch the attention of younger customers.”

Bengal owes its beautiful proportions to its “wheels forward” architecture, which permits a long dash-to-axle ratio, said Lyon. The look is enhanced by 20-inch wheels. “We wanted a design that’s drop-dead gorgeous, and I think we achieved that.”

Bengal’s 110-inch wheelbase is only two inches shorter than the Buick LeSabre – but that’s somewhat misleading. Because its wheels are at the corners, the overall length of the Bengal is actually 25 inches less than the 200-inch-long LeSabre.

Roadster with Surprise Seating for Four

“When you’re driving with the seats folded, you’re in a hot two-seat roadster,” Lyon said. But looks are deceiving. A small third door behind the driver’s door and a retractable tonneau cover reveal storage space for custom golf bags or seating for two additional passengers.

Inside, Bengal’s leather seating gives driver and passengers the feel of comfortable club chairs, said Lyon. Also, leather inserts grace the wood steering wheel.

Powerful V6 with Six-Speed Auto Transmission

Bengal owes some of its exceptional handling and sculptural exterior appearance to an innovative powertrain. Its supercharged, 3.4-liter V6 engine, which generates 250 horsepower, is transverse-mounted with the six-speed automatic transmission in front of it, rather than behind. This new drivetrain creates a shorter front overhang and a more rearward center of gravity that gives Bengal great handling on curves.

The smooth power of the engine and precisefront-wheel-drive handling give this roadster self-assurance and control in all kinds of driving situations, Lyon said.

Voice Activated Controls, Head-Up Display

Quiet Servant, first shown on Buick’s LaCrosse and Cielo concepts, is back -- featuring voice- activated controls from Visteon Corporation and a reconfigurable, color head-up display that shows gauges on demand. This enables the driver to control the car and its systems with voice commands or a four-position joystick on the steering wheel. As a result, the dashboard is simple and elegant and the driver operates the car with both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

Freed of the usual gauges and knobs, the entire dashboard is in fact one large flat-panel speaker from NXT Audio, anchoring Bengal’s premium audio system. Altogether, there are five of these unobtrusive speakers which envelop the interior in audiophile-quality sound.

Buick General Manager Roger W. Adams said that one of the main benefits of the Quiet Servant package is to reduce the number of distractions to the driver. “This design eliminates gauges and controls – except when you need them – and allows the driver to concentrate on the road.”

Target Customers are Affluent Young Families

Adams said Bengal’s target customers would be affluent young families that desire a fun vehicle to complement a more practical vehicle in the garage.

“Bengal is a car with beautiful proportions and advanced design and engineering,” said Adams. “It’s a dramatic vehicle to drive – and to be seen in – and it doesn’t forget the family.”

Visteon Voice™ enables hands-free operation of systems on concept car

The most striking thing about the interior of the 2001 Buick Bengal concept car is the absence of any controls or gauges. This car will respond to verbal instructions from the driver, thanks to a partnership between Visteon Corporation and General Motors which demonstrates technology that will blend safety, personalization, comfort and convenience.

"The Visteon Voice technology behind Buick’s Quiet Servant allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while controlling virtually anything on the interior or exterior of the car with just their voice," said Michael Johnston, Visteon president and chief operating officer.

Visteon Voice is capable of recognizing six languages and regional accents while ignoring surrounding sounds in the automobile, even in a convertible like the Bengal. The driver can issue more than 118 commands to the car, operating the headlights, wipers, heating system, sound system, convertible top, on-board navigation, seat adjustments and cruise control.

The Bengal’s Quiet Servant will confirm each choice with a verbal reply in either a female or male voice.

The voice control system eliminates the need for controls and displays traditionally found on an instrument panel. In turn, the Bengal’s dashboard has become a large flat-panel speaker from NXT, with superior sound reproduction in an unobtrusive package.

Buick Bengal Named 'Best Of The Best' Concept Car By Autoweek Editors

Detroit - AutoWeek magazine has named the Buick Bengal - the first car designed with a major sports figure in mind, Tiger Woods - 'Best of the Best' Concept Car of the Year among all concepts introduced at various international auto shows this year.

Bengal is a sleekly sculptured roadster that looks like a two-seat convertible - but its looks are deceiving. A small third door behind the drivers' door and a retractable tonneau cover reveal space for two additional passengers or two custom golf bags. Woods' influence is further evident in Bengal's cutting-edge sound system and engine performance. In addition to "wheels forward" architecture, Bengal features a supercharged 250-horsepower 3.4 liter V-6 engine and voice-activated controls.

The Buick Bengal was introduced in January 2001 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

AutoWeek's 'Best of the Best' award this year was picked from concept cars introduced at auto shows in Paris, Detroit and Geneva.

Against its competitors, one AutoWeek editor said the Bengal "looks like the most fun of the group to drive." Another said, "In the looks category, it's a stunner."

Dutch Mandel, editor and associate publisher of AutoWeek, said earlier this year in announcing Bengal as the magazine's Best Concept at Detroit, that the Bengal is a winning blend of elegance and functionality. "AutoWeek's editors are extremely impressed with Buick's design direction," he said. 

Source: Buick Motor Division
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