This year’s Frankfurt show was packed with new metal. Here are our standout cars
Any journalist reporting from the immense halls of the Frankfurt show needs two attributes: dogged determination and very comfy shoes.
One person alone couldn’t hope to cover anything more than a fraction of it. It is huge. Luckily we had a full team out there on the job, probing every nook and cranny for the latest city runabouts, concept cars, limited-run specials and bonkers megacars.
At the end of it, fruitlessly waiting around in Frankfurt airport’s departure lounge for a plane home, they spent their time working out a shortlist of interesting releases. Here’s what they came up with.
WEY XEV CONCEPT
The Chinese auto industry has a bit of a reputation for, let’s say, being influenced by other cars. This distinctive Wey XEV concept was a copy of nothing. You wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it did its show job which was to capture the press’s attention. It could signal parent company Great Wall’s future intentions regarding the European market.
BMW i VISION DYNAMICS
BMW reckons that this Tesla-busting i5 could turn out to be one of its most successful models as we move into the 2020s. The stats – 0-62mph in 4.0sec and a 373-mile range – and the sleek shaped of this all-electric four-door previewed by the i Vision Dynamics concept suggest they could be right.
Odd to think that something as far-sighted as the Aicon could appear on the same stand as the ultra-conservative A8 saloon, but here it is: a luxury lounge on wheels taking full advantage of autonomous technology by binning user controls. That A8 could very well be replaced by something like this as early as 2025.
AUDI R8 RWS
RWS stands for Rear Wheel Series, telling us that Audi has set aside the R8’s usual four-wheel drive system here. It’s only a limited-run machine, so there’s been no major policy change, but in amongst all the electrified stuff shouting for our attention it was great to see a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive, non-turbo V10.
MINI ELECTRIC CONCEPT
This Mini Electric promises to deliver the retro appeal, charm, handling and charisma that many think has been lost in some of the more recent Mini offshoots. There’ll be space-maximising advances from the electric powertrain too. Could be good when it becomes real in 2019.
MERCEDES-AMG PROJECT ONE
Nobody thought Mercedes was serious when it said it was going to put an F1 engine into a road car, but it was no joke: they’ve done it. Many of the key parts are straight out of Hamilton’s car (well, not literally, but you know what we mean). And you can bet that this 1000bhp+ beast will be able to run perfectly in a New York gridlock in the heat of summer.
SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT
Quite a few scribblers have been less than complimentary about the latest Swift, having been spoiled by the rich character of the previous model. This new Swift Sport looks more promising with meatier looks, a high-torque engine, less than 1000kg weight, and handling characterstics sharpened on tough northern England roads.
JAGUAR I-PACE RACER
Formula E racing is a slow burn. The speeds aren’t high, but the racing is close and exciting and spectators aren’t kept ten miles from the action. Now, Jaguar is ramping up the spectacle with a new Jaguar eTrophy series, to be contested by 20 of these I-Pace racers, and we’d be lying if we said we weren’t secretly hoping for a spot of BTCC-style bumper-car madness.
MINI GP CONCEPT
Vertical wing vanes are a bit ‘out there’, but then that’s what concept cars are meant to be, and it’s nice to see something fresh and new in a performance Mini. The best news is that we might well end up seeing a third-gen Mini GP sprouting from this – and it might even have the vanes.
It’s rumoured that Kia might soon be dropping the three-door Cee’d from its range. If that happens, it would be great to see it being replaced by this handsome estate car. These fancy-pants coupé-a-like estates are becoming popular (see the Mercedes CLA), so the Proceed shows us that Kia has a handle on the trends.
PORSCHE CAYENNE TURBO
The early days of the blobby Cayenne are gradually giving way to a new age of stying maturity. This new Porsche Cayenne Turbo delivers serious sports car performance and family-hauling practicality with a new low-riding sense of purpose.
Another welcome change from Frankfurt’s electronic worthiness, the 2018 Ford Mustang V8 has 10% more power, more (wild) colours, a more aggressive front end, and an upgraded cabin. We’re moving from a time when cars like this were normal to a new time when they’re looking increasingly niche.
RENAULT MEGANE RS
If you’re in the £30k hot hatch market, you’ve never had it so good. The new Honda Civic Type R is fantastic, as is the Golf R, and now there’s a new Renault Mégane RS to anticipate. It’s down on power compared to its rivals but but four-wheel steer and Renault’s proven skill in the areas of ride and handling should more than compensate for that.
HONDA URBAN EV
Want information on Honda’s upcoming electric city car? Stuff on the powertrain, range or price? Sorry, there is none. What there is though is visible evidence that Honda does still have some talent in its design department, plus a promise that the Urban EV will be on the roads by 2019. Let’s hope it doesn’t get all the charm productionised out of it.