Just like the previews at the movies, auto shows are a great time to enjoy a sneak peek at what the future of the automotive industry is going to look like. Some manufacturers show off production vehicles for the first time to get people excited about them when they go on sale. Others bring wild concepts that will never see production but showcase new technologies or future design languages.
At Frankfurt this year, there were quite a few excellent cars on display. We’ve already covered what trends we saw at the shows, but the more important question is, who won? Even if it’s not supposed to be a competition, there will always be winners and losers at each auto show.
Here are the five cars that the Autos Cheat Sheet writers thought deserved special recognition.
5. Alfa Romeo Giulia
We’ve seen the Giulia before, but this was the first time we’d seen it in person. While it might not be quite as beautiful as the gorgeous 4C, it still makes quite a statement; in the version shown at Frankfurt, the Giulia packed a twin-turbo V6 making 510 horsepower.
You can expect it to be fast and a serious competitor for the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the BMW M3, but the more important versions will be the lower-performance, less-expensive ones that are more likely to be volume models. The 4C is selling well considering its limited availability, but the Giulia is the car that will make or break Alfa’s return to the U.S.
4. Citroen Cactus M
The Citroen C4 Cactus is a seriously weird car in the most French way possible, which makes it incredibly cool. It will never make its way stateside, which is sad, but at least we can stare longingly at it through our computer screens. The concept version displayed at Frankfurt this year was even more weird and even more cool.
First of all, the Cactus M concept has an inflatable roof – because why not? – and out back, there’s an inflatable tent you can use for whenever your surf trips get too exhausting to drive home. Well, you won’t actually be able to do that because it’s only a concept, but it’s so weird and cool, you can’t help but hope Citroen decides to produce it anyways.
3. Jaguar F-Pace
Jaguar has done an amazing job over the past few years of building some truly spectacular vehicles, but as pretty as the F-Type is and as great as the XE drives, those cars aren’t the profit centers Jaguar needs. Its sales as a brand have are still low, and it doesn’t need to continue winning journalists’ hearts – it needs to win more customers’ dollars.
Enter the F-Pace. It’s the first ever SUV for the brand, and yet if you can get past the fact that Jaguar “shouldn’t” produce SUVs, it’s every bit as attractive as you would expect a Jaguar SUV to look. Most importantly, though, luxury SUVs are hot right now, and it looks like it’s poised to become the brand’s top-selling model.
2. Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA
Mercedes-Benz probably would have made this list with any concept it decided to bring with an extendable tail cone because anything that moves cars one step closer to becoming Transformers is cool. It also happens to create an incredibly aerodynamic car with a drag coefficient of 0.19, which is ridiculously low.
The best part, though, is that even with the extendable tail section, it somehow manages to still look like a car that could really exist in the future instead of some movie studio’s interpretation of what a future car might look like. If the future of fuel efficient transportation looks this good, we’re in for a real treat.
1. Porsche Mission E
There’s been a lot of talk about how the Mission E could be a serious Tesla competitor. That’s certainly true, but you could go buy a Model S tomorrow if you have the money. Sadly, the Mission E is only a concept; it could very easily be put into production, but until that decision is made, Tesla probably doesn’t have much to worry about.
Even if the electric bits don’t end up making it to production, there’s also a good chance the Mission E’s look could be the basis for the next Panamera or a different sedan that slots under the Panamera. It’s design language could even influence the next 911. If so, it’s a good thing the Mission E is so good looking.