This year at the Frankfurt International Motor Show, automakers showed the heights and depths of their ingenuity. Relatively speaking, of course.
Ferrari showed an “entry level” supercar, the US$234,000 Portofino, while Mercedes-Benz showed the ultimate Formula One-inspired car it could conceive, the $2.7 million AMG Project One.
Lamborghini discussed the eventuality of hybridization within its fleet; Jaguar showed off an all-electric E-Type meant to show how the automaker is moving toward electric totality within its ranks.
And while BMW said there is “no dramatic drop” in the popularity of diesel technology in its cars, it simultaneously unveiled its biggest SUV ever and gave the tiny i3 electric car a makeover to boost its sex appeal.
Call it schizophrenic, but there was plenty to see – including a bevy of electric concepts. Here are the most exciting cars from the show floor in Frankfurt this year.
The Freshest Ferrari
Ferrari’s Portofino, which replaces the California T, has a hardtop automatic convertible roof and seating for four, which is remarkable considering the car will go to 62 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Top speed is near 200 mph. Deliveries start in summer 2018.
The Big One
Mercedes-Benz AMG Project One hypercar is powered by a 1.6-liter V6 hybrid gasoline engine which comes directly from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One racing car – what Lewis Hamilton is using to lead the 2017 F1 championship – and features direct injection and electrically assisted single turbocharging.
Horsepower tops 1,000 with speeds surpassing 217 mph... but even when the Project One is standing still, the gull-wing door is an attention-getter.
Worth a Closer Look
The Mercedes-Benz AMG Project One will compete directly with the likes of the McLaren P1, the Ferrari LaFerrari, and the Aston Martin Valkyrie. Production starts at the end of 2019. Mercedes will make 275 of them.
A New 911
The Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series has a new Aerokit, new rear fascia, black calipers, new exhaust, and Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur fender plates. It also comes with an exclusive Golden Yellow Metallic paint job that matches its black wheels and interior accents.
With a 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-six engine, it gets 607 hp (up from 580 in the lesser Turbo S), with a peak torque output of 553 pound-feet. Zero-to-60-mph sprint is 2.8 seconds with a top speed of 205 mph.
Here, Renault shows its Symbioz concept car during the first media preview day of the Frankfurt Motor Show. Internet-connected, autonomous, and electric, the Symbioz is meant to integrate itself (get it?) into the driver’s home when not in use, functioning as an additional room to the house when it’s not being driven.
According to Renault, it can go 310 miles (500 kilometers), with 661 brake horsepower and 487 lb.-ft. of torque and can hit 60 mph in fewer than six seconds. The 72-kilowatt-hour battery will charge to 80 percent full in 20 minutes.
Audi’s Elaine electric concept was heralded as an “SUV Coupe,” meaning standard all-wheel drive, 420 hp, and a 62-mph sprint time of 4.5 seconds. The autonomous auto will be able to park itself and will offer automatic lane-changing and piloted driving speeds on highways. The 95kWh battery will get the car to 311 miles per charge. Audi says it will bring a version of the Elaine to market by 2019 as a 2020 model.
The Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster has a V12 engine and removable, hardtop roof panels. It can go 0-62mph in 3.0 seconds and has a top speed of 217mph. It has the same 740hp output as the Aventador S Coupe, with doors that flip up as you open them. It will go on sale next year for just over US$460,000.
Catch the Buzz
The Volkswagen I.D. Buzz is a fully autonomous electric microbus that can drive 270 miles without recharging. The eight-seat, 369-hp bus is part of VW’s strategy to deliver 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2025.
The sliding doors sit open on a Borgward Isabella Concept. The long-forgotten Borgward brand ran from 1929 to 1961, with its original Isabella car produced from 1954 to 1962. The Stuttgart-based marque released its first modern vehicle, an SUV, to Chinese consumers in 2015.
Details on this latest concept offering remain scarce, but it was designed by the former BMW and Mini designer, Anders Warming. The sleek exterior has minimal details and riveting. Similarly, Warming has allowed neither buttons nor knobs inside, preferring to let a touchscreen and virtual reality components control everything.
The BMW iVision Dynamics comes from a big stable of new cars meant to illuminate BMW Group’s intense focus on new technology, which will include BMW sibling Mini’s electric concept. (BMW has even softened the boxy look of its electric i3 car, in an effort to counter Tesla’s Model 3 debut.) As for this car, BMW says it will hit 62 mph in four seconds, reach a top speed of 120 mph, and have a range of 373 miles. Its likely competitor is the Tesla Model S.
The Mini electric concept vehicle is a two-door hardtop set for production by 2019. Details on this car remain scarce, but it will use the BMW i3’s electric drivetrain, which offers roughly 114 miles per charge. Mini has offered electric prototypes and concepts in the past; this is the latest and closest to actual production the company has yet shown.
The BMW X7 electric concept SUV has three rows of seating on massive 23-inch wheels. On the front, its signature kidney grill is stretched to enormous proportions, and the hockey stick-like signature line along the lower part of the sides is more abrupt than ever. The big rig has a plug-in hybrid drive train and will compete against the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Land Rover Discovery.
A Smart Vision EQ Fortwo electric self-driving concept car is the latest iteration from the Daimler sub-brand. It will have inductive charging and lack a steering wheel or pedals, but offer personalization across the black front grille and customizable signage across the sides. Powered by an electric 30kWh lithium ion battery, it’s meant to act as a pod for transporting people around urban environments, not as a serious road car.
BMW debuted its 8-Series electric concept at the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy, and now it is slowly making the rounds. BMW says the car "is the essence of a modern-day BMW coupe," with a long overhang at the nose and smooth sides, plus new headlights and front fascia. A production version is set for show in 2018.
The new Bentley Continental GT has an upgraded 6.0-liter W12 engine borrowed from the Bentayga SUV that gets 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. (It can also operate on half of those cylinders under slower speeds, with active stop/start, to conserve fuel.)
Bentley says it will use more than 107 square feet of wood in each of the new Continental GTs, taking over nine hours of manpower to fit all the inlays. The 0-60 mph time is 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 207 mph.