Frankfurt Motor Show - Nothing prepares one for the sheer scale of the Frankfurt Motor Show, and despite the absence of nine brands, and the lingering uncertainty over diesel’s future, 2017’s event was as captivating as ever, with an abundance of concept cars showing that the carmakers are ready to embrace a battery-powered future.
But which car stole the show?
For us there were two cars that really stood out.
The obvious, and most highly anticipated was the Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar Concept, which is expected to be a close preview of the upcoming production model that will be built in very limited numbers.
The Project One is touted as the closest thing yet to an F1 car for the road and its hybrid powertrain includes an F1-derived 1.6-litre V6 turbo engine that revs to 11 000rpm. Total system power exceeds 740kW and the hypercar can allegedly sprint to 200km/h in just six seconds.
And yet, thrilling as the AMG was, the car that captivated us the most was Honda’s little Urban EV concept.
Unlike most of the other debuts, which were teased ahead of the show to the point of tedium, this little Honda came as a complete surprise. It has endearing familiarity about it, like it’s the archetypal hatch of the early eighties reinvented for modern times.
While most South Africans see Golf in its front end, it was actually inspired by the original Honda Civic that never came here, while the side and rear bear more than a passing resemblance to the Peugeot 205.
Best ofall, Honda says this concept “sets the direction” for a future battery-powered production model, and we live in hope that the final design remains relatively faithful to what you see here.
And yet these two were just two of many innovative and stylish debuts that pulled the crowds at Frankfurt. Here are some of our highlights in alphabetical order.
Funny name for a car, but this concept cleverly incorporates ‘AI’ (artificial intelligence) into its name to brag about its many nifty abilities. Not only can it drive itself as well as drop you off and find its own parking, but Elaine also gets to know your tastes and preferences and can even tell when you’re stressed and knows how to use the car’s systems to calm you down. Read more here
While Elaine can still be driven, the Aicon completely removes the driver from the equation and while this isn’t necessarily a new idea, this electric car with four swivelling lounge seats does it with the luxurious ambience you’d expect from a first-class airline cabin. More here
Audi RS4 Avant
The new Audi RS4 Avant continues its tradition of lugging loads at ludicrous speeds, with this latest version getting the new RS5’s 330kW 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, while also inheriting Audi’s latest array of flashy gadgets. More here
BMW i Vision Dynamics Concept
The i Vision Dynamics Concept signals BMW’s intention to take the fight to Tesla with a radically-styled new ‘i’ car that will slot between the i3 and i8, presumably adopting the i5 name. While BMW has yet to detail the production model, the concept boasts an impressive range between charges, of 600km, and a four-second 0-100km/h time. More here
BMW X7 Concept
Although possibly the most controversial of the attention-grabbers at Frankfurt, BMW’s X7 concept certainly has presence and it’s set to spawn a production model that will be the brand’s most practical vehicle ever. More here
Hyundai i30 N
Hyundai’s i30 N is the Korean brand’s first real challenger to the Golf GTI and it comes armed with a 202kW 2-litre turbopetrol engine and a sports suspension system with adaptive damping. Hyundai says the new hot hatch is under consideration for South Africa. More here
Jaguar I-Pace race car
Crafted by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations, the I-Pace race car will power the world’s first international championship for production-based electric vehicles, which will blast off at the end of 2018 as a support race to Formula E.
Kia Proceed Concept
Kia calls it an extended hot hatch, we reckon it’s more of a muscle wagon in appearance, but regardless of which definition you choose, Kia’s new Proceed Concept shows that Kia has some rather stylish ideas in mind for its next-generation, Golf-challenging Cee’d family. More here
Mercedes-Benz is planning to launch more than 10 all-electric vehicles by 2022 and the EQA concept shows how a compact A-Class-sized hatch could be both a stylish and sensible addition to that family. On that note, Mercedes claims a range of up to 400km, while the two electric motors could entice drivers with up to 200kW of power. More here
Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept
For a brief moment, Mini and its John Cooper Works performance division forgot about SUVs and other not-so-mini concoctions to create something that is totally dedicated to speed and agility. Just build it already! More here
Porsche Cayenne Turbo
While the regular Cayenne models were revealed the week before, Porsche waited for the Frankfurt Show to unleash the big gun. Powered by a 4-litre twin-turbo V8, the 404kW/770Nm Cayenne Turbo gets to 100 in as little as 3.9 seconds, and offers novelties like rear-wheel-steering and the segment’s first adaptive roof spoiler. More here
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring Package
Porsche introduced a less shouty looking version of its purist GT3, which replaces the large fixed rear wing with a variable spoiler like that on regular 911s, and ditches the Alcantara trim inside with classy leather. It’s still the same beast beneath the skin however, powered by a 368kW normally aspirated four-litre straight-six, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Renault Symbioz concept car is so keen on being at the centre of your life that it actually comes with a house for you to both live in. Created as a vision for 2030 or thereabouts, the vehicle is electric, autonomous and “fully-connected” to the owners environment, functioning as an additional multi-purpose room when parked inside the house and aiming to be an extension of the home when out on the road.
Renault Megane RS
Renault has renewed its hot-hatch fight with an RS version of the latest-generation Megane hatch, and it comes with an all-new 1.8-litre turbocharged heart and four-wheel steering. The standard version, with 206kW and 390Nm, is already more powerful than the previous 2-litre, and Renault will up the ante next year with a 221kW Trophy version. The new RS can be ordered with manual or EDC transmission and buyers can choose between two chassis options. More here
Suzuki Swift Sport
Although most of us will miss its predecessor’s high-revving motor, the new Swift Sport does up the performance ante with a significantly torquier 1.4-litre turbopetrol engine (rated at 103kW and 230Nm) and a 90kg-lighter kerb weight. It also looks the racy part with its more aggro exterior design package. But will it still be a joy to drive? We can’t wait to find out. More here
When all the Frankfurt supercar dreaming is done and dusted, most people still face the realities of real-world motoring needs and constrained budgets. With that in mind, the second-generation Renault Duster is here to save the day with its budget-friendly price tag, spacious cabin and smart new design. More here
Volkswagen's T-Roc is set to compete with the Toyota C-HR on the sporty side of the compact crossover market. Based on the Audi Q2, the newcomer is coming to South Africa, although exact timing has yet to be confirmed. More here
If ever there was a Chinese car brand capable of sending shivers down the spines of auto execs from the mainstream carmakers, it must be GWM’s WEY brand. In addition to a gull-winged concept vehicle, WEY showed its new VV5 crossover and it really looks the premium vehicle part both outside and in.