Tata Pixel Concept, 2011 Geneva Motor Show
The car that perhaps raised the most eyebrows at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show wasn't necessarily a supercar like the Ferrari FF or Pagani's new unpronounceable replacement for the Zonda, nor was it the sporty Nissan ESFLOW or the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive.
Instead, it was a tiny concept based on an incredibly cheap vehicle - Tata's Pixel concept, which has been developed from the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest new car. The Pixel gives hints to how a European or American version of the Nano might look, adapted for countries with higher disposable incomes and a greater penchant for automotive gadgets.
One of those gadgets is very cool indeed, but it's not an interior feature as you might expect.
The Pixel's party piece is the ability to turn almost within its own length - offering a turning circle of a tiny 8.5 feet. The Pixel itself is only 10 feet long.
How does it do this? Two ways: The front wheels (unpowered, for the record, as the Nano and Pixel are rear engined, rear wheel drive) are able to turn at almost 90 degrees. Even on their own, this would give you some pretty impressive turning capabilities, but the really clever part is how the rear wheels help.
You might be expecting a system similar to how four wheel steer vehicles work, turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts. Instead, the Pixel uses a Torotrak-designed Zero Turn toroidal infinitely-variable transmission, which is able to split the torque being sent to each rear wheel and enable them to turn in opposite directions.
The concept is nothing new - individually controllable wheels are how some multi-wheeled ATVs are able to turn within their own length, and indeed tanks operate on a similar principal. It's the first time something similar has been seen on a car though and would make even the tightest of parking jobs a breeze.
Of course, there's more to the Pixel than just parking as far as tech-heads are concerned. As is becoming more common (certainly in concept cars), many of the car's functions are controlled via a touch-screen device, in this case a tablet PC. You can check out Tata's video below for a demonstration, though we do hope you can start the car quicker than the lady in the video...
Turning circle and touch-screen controls aside, the rest is standard concept-car fayre. The doors open like insect wings and are no doubt a nuisance to reach once fully open, the car features interchangeable body panels and accessories and a clean, white appearance. We do like the Pixel graphics though, and if the car eventually hits the streets it'll give consumers in the market for Smart ForTwos and Scion iQs a little extra choice. Unfortunately, it probably won't be as cheap as the Nano.