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Frankfurt dazzles with concepts


By Jim Robinson

FRANKFURT, GERMANY – Concept cars and trucks in all shapes, sizes and segments dominated this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

Once flights of fancy with wild interiors, monstrous tires and wheels and all clothed in whimsy, concepts are now harbingers of models already in the pipeline with only public reaction determining if it will come to market.

There are 11 buildings where the Frankfurt show is held and most were brimming over with concepts, which, to me, looked only a few steps away from full production
For example, take the Infiniti Q30 Concept that “signals the contemporary design vision for a compact Infiniti vehicle which will target a new generation of premium customers.”

Taking design cues from Essence, Etherea and Emerg-e concepts, the Q30 is ready for the road right now. But the true concept part of the Q30 is the stunning interior, which is what you might expect in a premium luxury sedan.

Over at Kia, we saw the Niro concept, which was there “to gauge potential customer response for the future”.

About the only thing it shares with current Kias is the tiger mouth grille. Overall it has a pugnacious, mischievous appearance featuring a mix of contrasting materials – including stainless steel elements – in compact dimensions that European buyers prize.

Here are some of the standouts Canadian AutoWorld spotted on media day.

AUDI SPORT QUATTRO:
Combining quattro drive and a V8 engine with an Audi plug-in hybrid results in a 700 hp rocket that sits on 21-inch wheels with several design cues from racing quattros of the 1980s. These include the angular, flat C-pillars and the rectangular double headlights featuring Audi's groundbreaking Matrix LED technology, which will be available by the end of this year in the new generation Audi A8.
The LED high-beam unit of the Audi Matrix LED headlights is comprised of numerous individual diodes. The individual LEDs, which work in tandem with upstream lenses and reflectors, always deliver excellent illumination. They are activated, deactivated or dimmed individually according to the situation.

FORD S-MAX CONCEPT:
This SUV incorporates Ford’s global design language with a high mounted grille, swept-back headlamps and a unique treatment of the vehicle’s lower fascia incorporating design elements that appear to float within the lower front aperture and above the spoiler.
A standout feature is headlamps using organic LEDs – the latest lighting that offers greater flexibility in terms of positioning and design, fast response and colour range.
Look for a production version sometime late next year.

JAGUAR C-X17 CONCEPT:
Jaguar caught many off guard with its first ever sports crossover concept vehicle labelled as a design study to introduce Jaguar’s all-new advanced aluminum monocoque architecture, codenamed iQ[Al].
All next generation Jaguars will use the chassis, the first of which is due in 2015.
The last Jaguar concept vehicle turned out to be the F-Type sportscar and, based on who finished it looked, the C-X17 will result in a production mid-size SUV that can take a variety of engines plus a lot of the all-wheel-drive technology borrowed from its sister company Land Rover.

LEXUS LF-NX CONCEPT:
This is yet another glimpse into a luxury compact crossover where all manufacturers are heading.
Reinforcing the Lexus/Toyota leading position in full hybrid drive technology, the LF-NX concept is powered by a new variant of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system tuned for SUV performance.
The design continues the ‘Human Oriented’ L-finesse Lexus design language. For instance, the cabin features an upper display zone and lower operation zone dashboard format perfected over successive Lexus generations.
This allows for intuitive interaction with the vehicle’s next generation technology, which includes touch-sensitive electrostatic switches, and a new touch pad Remote Touch Interface (RTI) design.

SMART FOURJOY CONCEPT:
With seats for four, the smart fourjoy has no doors, no rear window and an open roof and has a unique rear seat bench in the style of lounge furniture. This means that the vehicle has ample space for four people.
It is powered by a state-of-the-art electric drive with a 55 kW magneto-electric motor. The zero-local-emission smart fourjoy offers agile driving performance without any shift delays.
The study shows that smart is becoming more grown-up. The deliberately three-dimensional, upright front gives it a very expressive appearance that greets the viewer with a fresh smile that is both friendly and assertive.

VOLVO CONCEPT COUPE:
After years in the doldrums, Volvo has found its sense of Scandinavian style again and based on its new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
There is new and old in this car being inspired by the great P1800 sportster of the 1960s. Developed in-house for Volvo Cars only, the Scalable Product Architecture frees Volvo’s designers and engineers from the limitations of previous cross-brand platforms. Viewed from the side, the Concept Coupe looks very powerful aided by the distance between the dashboard and the front axle that has been extended while the windows and roofline have been moved slightly rearwards.