Look at this crazy thing. It's perfect. It's like a sports car escaped from the Blade Runner prop room and came to life. It's the world's angriest roller skate. It's the future we all dreamed about when we were 10, where the cars on the street look like wacky Hot Wheels concepts. It's the Chevrolet-FNR concept that was just introduced at the Shanghai Auto Show, and it's perfect, except for one tiny thing: It's autonomous. Sigh.
Chevy says the concept offers "a glimpse at the mobility of the future," which we agree with 100 percent. We would love for the future to look like this, all curves and angles and double-bubble cockpit and hollow-center wheels and everything. We're even cool with the fact that it's electric, the better to motivate those magnetic hubless wheels and power up with wireless charging.
Reading the press release describing the Chevrolet-FNR concept is like perusing the spec sheet of a comic book hero's spaceship-mobile. Crystal laser headlights? Yep. "Dragonfly" doors? Hell yeah. A security system that uses an iris scanner to recognize the driver? Radical! Gesture control? But of course.
It's all going well until you read about the roof-mounted radar and perimeter sensors that "map out the environment to enable driverless operation." And the Chevy Intelligent Assistant software that chooses your route so you can just keep texting. The front seats swivel around to face the rear passengers while the car is in autonomous mode, all the better for avoiding eye while you play Angry Birds for the five hundred millionth time. After all, Chevy says the concept aimed to create a "unique, intelligent vehicle for tomorrow's younger consumers."
Thankfully, Chevy says that nifty gesture control system would enable the passenger to become a driver once again by disabling the autonomous system and resuming control. That's heartening, because a road rocket as wild as this deserves to be driven in hell-bent anger.