With the Frankfurt Motor showing winding down, manufacturers and industry representatives of all kinds will be taking loads of info back to the drafting tables to dissect and analyze what their rivals are doing.
We saw production versions of the Bentley Bentayga, the Lamborghini Hurucan Spyder, the Kia Sportage, the Borgward BX7, and many others, but it’s the concept cars that generally generate the most buzz. This is where automakers tend to tip off what they’re doing deep within their skunkworks, and it signals to their rivals what to be prepared for years ahead of time.
Though Frankfurt’s show felt more sedate this year than past shows, it still had its share of fancy concepts — some of which felt really close to production, while others were clearly intended to be a design study.
Here are eight of some of the more significant concepts that saw spotlight time in Frankfurt this past week.
1. Mercedes IAA
Coincidently sharing a name with the show that hosted it (though it stands for something else), the Mercedes IAA concept was a study in active aerodynamics. Said our own Derek Sapienza, “at around 50 miles per hour, the car begins transforming. Flaps inside grille close, the front air splitter extends backward and down to smooth wind traveling beneath it, and the ‘Active Rims’ move out from the wheel hub, going from a 55 millimeter cup to perfectly flat. Most noticeably, eight panels extend from the rear deck, adding 15 inches to the car, giving it an even slipperier shape.”
2. Porsche Mission E
In possibly a hint to the future of the Panamera, Porsche brought the stunning all-electric Mission E concept to the show to illustrate its commitment to family cars. Sleeker and slipperier than the Panamera, the Mission E improves on the former’s design flaws while throwing down a fresh gauntlet before Tesla Motors.
“The Mission E uses two motors derived from the ones used in Porsche’s 919 Le Mans racecars to produce a total of 600 horsepower. Sending that power to all four wheels with a need-based all-wheel-drive system means the Mission E is able to turn that power into a sub-3.5 second zero-to-60 time. It’s also reportedly lapped the Nürburgring in less than eight minutes,” Collin Woodard wrote.
3. Audi e-Tron Quattro
Eyes are on Tesla’s launch of the Model X later this month, but Audi has its sights on 2019 — when it hopes to launch the production model of the Quattro concept, a 310-mile all-electric SUV. Actual likelihood of production has yet to be seen, and Audi’s performance record of delivering on its EV promises is pretty thin. But if there’s one way to win the hearts of Americans and turn them on to electric vehicles, it’s an SUV.
4. Volkswagen Tiguan GTE
Though it’s not an EV — it’s a plug-in hybrid — the Tiguan GTE concept is probably the most production-ready concept of the lot. “It uses VW’s 1.4 liter TSI engine (which is ubiquitous outside of the U.S.) and an electric motor, for a system output of 215 horsepower. There’s a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery that’s good for 31 miles on electric power alone,” we said. If this were to see action, it has the potential to help VW gain a foothold in a segment it’s been largely missing out on.
5. Nissan Gripz
As a concept, the Gripz is awesome — a high-riding sporty crossover brawler. But its supposed intention is where the issues come in, since Nissan reportedly wants to phase out its Z-line of sports cars in favor of a Z-branded crossover SUV. Would it be fun? You bet. But the Z — long meant for enthusiasts — has years of tradition that Nissan would simply wipe off the map. Slap a Nismo-branded Juke badge on it, and that’s the direction Nissan should head in.
6. Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo
We’ve talked about Bugatti’s Vision Gran Turismo Concept before, but the car actually made a physical debut outside of the confines of a PlayStation 3 at Frankfurt’s show. This solidifies the notion that the Vision Gran Turismo concept is an early playbook to the forthcoming Bugatti Chiron, which will be replacing the Veyron not only in the stable, but as the leader of the production car speed record.
7. Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo
In order to better blend into the premium car pack that it’s consistently moving toward, Hyundai is launching the N-badged performance brand. Like BMW’s M, Audi’s S and RS, and Mercedes’s AMG, the N will denote models with extra oomph — and what better way to introduce the world to the N program than a pseudo LeMans racing concept. Plausible? Likely not. Visually breathtaking? Of course.
8. Mazda Koeru
Finally, the car that perhaps received the least attention of all — the Mazda Koeru concept. It’s not a virtual race car or an electric Porsche, but it is a good indication of what we can expect from Mazda’s next large SUV to step in for the CX-9. If it looks like this and handles as well as the Mazdas that are available, expect Toyota’s Highlander, Honda’s Pilot, Ford’s Edge, and the others to have some serious competition.