Team Y unveils the concept models with which carmakers hope to capture motorists’ imagination, if not their cash.
They call it the “stepping stone to reality”, but for car enthusiasts all around the globe, auto shows translate to more manufacturers flaunting their concept cars to the masses. Designed and crafted like they were meant to stand out, these concepts have long been known to create a beeline between manufacturers and consumers.
Though touted as one of the oldest trends in the automotive industry, these revealing concepts can have several meanings. They can denote an upcoming model, showcase new technologies and designs, start a pseudo-Cold War between manufacturers or shamelessly trick investors into believing their money isn’t being lavishly invested taking “business” trips around the globe.
Concept cars – when put in production – rarely follow the original design. But that hasn’t stopped carmakers from going gaga with their products. This week, we highlight some of the top concept cars that made red carpet appearances this year.
Oh, how we don’t miss the days when Hyundai was known for its buses and trucks. This Le Fil Rouge Concept dons the shape of a sedan – albeit, a very striking one. The ultimate aim of the car is to showcase the Korean carmaker’s future plans in design. However, with its sibling company revealing a hot sedan this year, we wouldn’t be surprised if it were released as a super-sedan, of sorts. As unfeasible as it may seem – owing to the slim A-pillar and lack of B-pillar that will certainly be flagged for its safety – the final product should still maintain cues from this vehicle. Still, with its shark-smile front end and almost disguised rear end, the Le Fil Rouge Concept has us waiting for the final product, whenever that may be.
Remember the glory days of Pininfarina-designed Ferraris and Alfa Romeos? Those cars were a treat to see prowling the streets. Sadly, however, the design company was slowly stripped down and finally sold off to Indian carmaker Mahindra. Let’s not make it seem like a bad thing, though, because laying before your eyes is the new HK GT Concept – a concept unlikely ever to enter production. But representatives say the car, which reeks of a Mercedes-Benz meets Maserati vibe, will pack 1,072 horses and whizz to 100kph in a mere 2.7 seconds. As an added treat, the coupe will come with gullwing doors and an equally stunning interior. Pininfarina will market the car as its own, avoiding any association with its Indian brethren that fund the entire project.
The future is now. When unveiled as a concept earlier this year, the e-Tron GT (Gran Turismo) provoked mixed emotions among automotive enthusiasts: Audi revealed that its hottest new sports car creation – and a stunning one at that – would be powered by electricity. But, don’t let that fool you, as the e-Tron GT’s specification list will blow your mind. Going naught to 100kph in 2.5 seconds, courtesy of an 804hp and 1,004Nms of torque capable electric motors; the e-Tron GT will be gunning for the big boys from Tesla (Roadster), Rimac (Concept One) and Porsche (Taycan). Unlike the other contenders on this list, the e-Tron GT will almost entirely remain unchanged when it goes into production in 2020.
Moreover, it remains the only concept car that can be driven on the roads. This means Audi’s spec sheet holds true on Tarmac just as much as it does on paper. Expect to see this make a cameo in the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ movie.
BMW’s concept SUV – which is arguably known for sporting the largest kidney-shaped/ rodent-teeth grille of any Bimmer – is a step away from the graceful, sporty SUVs we’ve been accustomed to from Bavaria. Sure, it’s still a far cry away from production, meaning that there’s still time for people to sign a petition to the designers to alter the front end. That aside, BMW’s greatest achievement with the concept is showcasing its new approach to interior space. Designed to imitate a 5-star hotel, the (seemingly) electric-powered autonomous car intends to help passengers “interact with each other in an easier way”, with its flexible seating options and integrate “autonomy, connectivity, electric power, and services” – now, we’ve heard it all (!) That said, the materials used in the interior range from wood to beige suede, and even leather.
The Infiniti Project Black S takes us back to the early days of Infiniti – when their cars were amicably stylish, affordable, and above all, quick as a flash. A tuner favourite from the 1990s and early 2000s, cars like the G35 and G37 set the tone for the brand as it was setting up shop around the world. And, it seems that the company is turning back to its sporty ethos with this new concept. At the heart of this lies Infiniti’s bread and butter: the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 motor, which is powered by a unique dual-hybrid system. This is coupled with F1 tech – notably, a regenerative braking system, and a pair of MGU-H units that will harvest heat energy from the exhaust gases under heavy acceleration.
These then feed that energy into a “high-rate discharge” 4.4 kWh battery that then feeds an extra 120 kWh into the drivetrain for an added boost. The results are mind-boggling: 563hp and a 0-100kph time of under four seconds. The cost of the F1-derived tech makes this an expensive car to make so expect to see this at your local dealership… never. Still, it’s great to see Renault Sport F1 (partners with Nissan and Infiniti) work in tandem with Infiniti to create a masterpiece.