Minivans are affordable people carriers. They appeared in the late 70's with the Chrysler Voyager and the Renault Espace. Crossover slowly but surely taking over the minivan segment.

Mercedes is prepping its lineup for a complete overhaul in the next few years, even for its less than spectacular Viano , which is the passenger version of the Vito commercial panel van. The first generation Viano has been on the market since 2004 and was due for a new look.

At first glance, these first spy images of the Viano look to be a hot AMG version with a raised hood and a bigger grille marking the most grandiose of changes. But, before anyone gets too excited, this is just a mule for the next generation Viano and that raised hood and bigger grille are there to make room for the new engine and cooling systems, which were too big to fit under the old setup.

Expect to see the new Viano/Vito make its public debut in late 2013 or 2014, quite possibly next to a Renault version since Mercedes and Renault are working together on both cars and transporters.

Updated 03/09/2012: The future Mercedes Viano has been caught testing again, this time wearing a black paint under the camouflage.

A few years from now, the Nissan NV200 van will become one of the most recognizable vehicles on the planet, thanks to its future role as one of the primary taxis running around one of the most famous cities in the world, New York City.

But that won’t happen until late 2013.

Until then, Nissan will keep rolling out conceptual iterations of their van, beginning with the just-launched e-NV200 Concept, which the Japanese automaker unveiled in all its glory at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.

Taking the same face and color as that of the Nissan Leaf , the e-NV200 Concept is based on the NV200 multi-usage vehicle. It previews what is already expected to be a near-future production version of a full electric vehicle designed to provide businesses or families with flexible, roomy interior space, while achieving a dramatic CO2 footprint reduction.

It doesn’t do much in the way of attractiveness, but considering its clear and unbridled purpose of being an environmentally appeasing ride, we figure we could just focus on its true calling as a spacious zero-emissions ride.

Find out more about the Nissan e-NV200 Concept after the jump.

Sitting in one corner of the 2012 North American International Auto Show is the Chrysler 700C Concept, an attendee that not a lot of people knew was coming.

We really didn’t expect to see it, much less know anything about it, but according to Chrysler , the 700C Concept - it follows in the naming nomenclature of two of Chrysler’s more popular models, the 200 and the 300C - is a concept study on what could potentially be the look of their mini-vans.

The American automaker is using the 2012 NAIAS to gauge the interest on the concept and while Chrysler has made it known that the car is not headed to production, it’s still in attendance to see how the crowd is going to receive it.

Consider it market research, so to speak.

As far as details are concerned, Chrysler didn’t really share any. Judging by the photos, though, the 700C Concept looks pretty svelte and stylish for a mini-van. The profile looks fresh and is dominated by a pair of slit-like headlights. The grilles are pretty much non-existent while the front bumper sports plenty of aggressive details. True to its mini-van roots, the 700C Concept has rear sliding doors, and almost as if adding more flavor, it sits on a set of pretty chromed-out wheels.

Considering the purpose of the 700C Concept at Cobo Hall, we invite you to share your thoughts on the concept minivan. Yay? Or nay?

Just like every other model in Peugeot ’s line-up, the 5008 MPV is also preparing to enter its second generation. It was first launched back in 2009 and its success was almost instantaneous. That being said, Peugeot has to keep up with the times in order for that success to continue.

The new 5008 will be based on a new platform that appears to be slightly wider than the current one, illustrated by the testing mule’s wider fenders. Other changes seen in the spy shots include five wheel bolts instead of the current four and the location of the fuel cap (it has switched sides). But no matter what changes are being done on the exterior, the 5008 will get bigger dimensions, especially on the inside. This will allow up to seven people the room that they need.

The engine line-up will be shared with the upcoming 301 , the successor to the 308 , which means a wide range of diesel and petrol engines as well as a diesel-hybrid. Just like with every other model in the line-up, Peugeot will be focusing on reducing fuel consumption and Co2 emissions.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Daihatsu so it was a bit surprising to find out that the Japanese automaker actually attended the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show with a concept called the D-X, pronounced d-cross. And to make things better for these guys, the concept actually looks good!

We don’t have an answer as far as a production future for the D-X Concept is concerned, although it appears that Daihatsu is promoting it as a Transformers-inspired vehicle that can take the shape of a number of vehicles, including a convertible, a roadster, a sporty van, and even a race car. Talk about taking versatility to a whole new level.

The D-X has a base look that can be shifted in a variety of different ways to suit the driver’s preference. Under its hood, the concept runs on a .66-liter two-cylinder engine that comes with direct injection and turbocharging technology. The words ’turbocharging’ and ’Daihatsu’ are about as likely to be put on the same sentence as Pintos and Ferrari Ferrari s, but the mere fact that it is actually speaks volumes to the strides Daihatsu is making in turning a new leaf for their company.

The Mazda5 isn’t really the kind of vehicle that you’d associate running around the Laguna Seca Raceway so we were a little bit curious to her of one being made for that specific purpose - and be displayed at the 2011 SEMA Auto Show . So consider us surprised to see the beloved minivan get a full-on racing treatment courtesy of Mazda Design.

The first thing that caught our eye about this piece of work of a Mazda5 is the custom graphics on its side that features a map of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS) racing circuit complete with notes and descriptions of the locations of the bathrooms. The custom minivan also received an MRLS logo on the front doors, a striking orange line along the side skirts, lowering springs with height-adjustable perches, and a set of 19" Mazda RX-8 R3-spec forged aluminum wheels, complete with MRLS logo orange dots.

For a vehicle that seems to be as out of place on a race track as a heavyset bouncer is watching the new Twilight movie, the Mazda5 MLRS Support Vehicle does have some endearing and impressive qualities.

The new generation Fiesta turned out to be a very successful model all over the world, proving that Ford understands that small cars are the future of the automotive industry. After seeing the B-Max concept at the Geneva Motor Show, our spy photographers have now caught the production version testing in Germany.

The future Ford B-Max will be placed below the C-MAX from which it will borrow numerous design elements. Compared to the Fiesta, the B-Max will be longer and taller, but it will come with rear sliding doors that make it really practical at narrow parking places. This will no doubt be a feature all parents will appreciate.

Under the hood, Ford will place a 1.0 liter three cylinder EcoBoost engine with both direct injection and turbo. Next to this, however, Ford will be offering more conventional petrol and diesel engines from the Fiesta range.

The new B-Max will be unveiled in 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show and will go into production at Ford’s Craiova plant in Romania. Sales will begin in the next 12 months.

UPDATE 09/26/2011: The future Ford B-Max has been caught testing yet again, and the new images give a clear view of the vehicle’s rear lights. We were also able to get a good picture of the interior! Check out the gallery to see all of the new images!

Posted on by Deric Raymond 23

If you thought the Volkswagen NILS was a crazy concept, check out Citroën’s latest vehicle. This car looks like the guys over at Citroën dropped acid and designed an out-of-this-world van to capture the most fun out of a long journey.

The Tubik pays homage to its old predecessors, the 1939 Tub van and the 1948 Type H that was in production until the late 70s. The Tubik features a major leap in technology and design, probably none of which will ever see production. But boy do we love dreamers....

The images provided by Citroën are intended to capture the public with "a concept car designed to make travel meaningful again." That being said (by Citroën), we couldn’t think of a groovier way to travel than in this modern, MPV-type, snout-nosed people carrier.

The entire cabin is replete with violet lounge seats, glass encasing, and probably enough LED lighting to make Audi blush with embarrassment. And take a look at the driver’s quarters, it looks like something Segway makes. The cockpit, if that’s what you can call it, is a dizzying array of curved inserts, euphoric lighting, and a bizarre seat. The spoke-less, magically lit (with center-mounted LCD screens for side views) is something that we think should go into immediate production..yesterday.

If Citroën decides to make anything remotely like this concept, snatch it up out of an abundance of "wow" factor.

Hit the jump to see a short press release and images of the baffling, beautiful concept.

Launched on the market in 1996, the Renault Scenic is currently in its third generation. And although the third generation Scenic has only been out on the market for a little over a year, the company is preparing it for a bigger facelift. The revised vehicle has been caught testing somewhere in France and as the spy images show, Renault is trying its best to get the Scenic up to par with the latest MPVs coming out.

While the prototype caught testing is heavily camouflaged, expect the final product to have an exterior design matching that of Renault’s latest concept cars. As for the engine line-up, Expect the same engines as found in the current seven seater model, along with an extra engine thrown in for good measure. Renault will be offering a new 1.6 turbo diesel "dci Energy" with a total output of 130 HP.

Expect the new Scenic in September at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The 2012 Fiat Panda has been caught testing under extreme weather conditions somewhere in Italy revealing nothing but complete camouflage from head to toe. Despite the heavily clad exterior, details of the vehicle’s new design path have already been revealed due to some leaked patent drawings.

The new Fiat Panda will adopt a more aerodynamic appearance with a rounded hood, a wider grille with sweptback headlights, and a sloping roofline. Other modifications to the exterior include a bigger air intake, a disproportionate rear quarter window, and a new set of wheels. The interior will also be significantly improved compared to the current model.

So far, we haven’t heard a peep as to what will be residing under the hood, but we expect to see the same engine lineup as found in the Fiat 500 . That lineup includes a 69 HP 1.2. 75 HP1.3 Multijet with DPF and a 100 bhp 1.4 16v, as well as TwinAir technology.

The new Fiat Panda will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September with sales to begin in early 2012.

Updated 08/30/2011: Fiat has unveiled today the first images for the new generation Panda that will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The third generation Panda has been improved in terms of comfort, technology and safety equipment, and comes with an improved range of engines. Customers will have to choose between two TwinAir twin cylinder engines: the International Engine of the Year 2011 85bhp TwinAir Turbo, or the brand new 65bhp naturally aspirated TwinAir, both equipped with Start and Stop as standard. Sales will begin next spring.

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