(Pics) Frankfurt Motorshow Concept Cars

(Pics) Frankfurt Motorshow Concept Cars

Purple List member Drew Smith attended the recent Frankfurt Motorshow, and captured a selection of eleven of the most interesting concept cars on display at the event.

Dan Gould
  • 12 october 2009

Purple List member Drew Smith attended the recent Frankfurt Motorshow, and captured a selection of eleven of the most interesting concept cars on display at the event.

Citroen Revolte

Every motor show has it’s left-fielder; they’re needed to throw a bit of imbalance into the mix and keep things exciting. At Frankfurt, the undoubted left-field star was the somewhat perilously named, joyously over-the-top Citroen Revolte.

From it’s Moulin Rouge-esque interior materials (think lipstick-gloss-pink, red velveteen and seductive lighting) replete with a pulsing touch-screen begging to be touched to an exterior design theme that, controversially, recalls the this car’s diametric spiritual opposite, the utilitarian Citroen 2CV, this car was a one-fingered salute to the seriousness of the German offerings.


Volkswagen E-Up!

VW’s joyfully named E-Up! seemed to split opinion at the Frankfurt show. Some thought the diminutive hatch too conservative when the world is looking for exciting new answers. Others, recognising that the car on the show stand will be on European roads a year or two from now chose to revel in the typically VW (read flawless) execution of everything from the stunning interface graphics, old-school manual windows and mirrors, sun visors that double as solar panels and a hood line that recalls that other back-to-basics VW, the Beetle. And check those beautiful aero-wheels and the badge that hides the charging point. Neat!


Volkswagen L1

Small but perfectly formed seemed to be the theme at VW this year. Playing on safe home soil, they outed the latest iteration of chairman Ferdinand Piech’s extreme dream, the 1L. A 3.8m long tandem 2-seater, designer Maximilian Missoni spoke of how VW’s relentlessly focussed approach to engineering drove the exterior design theme.

Remarkably pure in overall form, there are delightful details that inject some visual intrigue. The motorised cooling vents on the side, for example are hidden until required, at which point the surface literally peels into the body form, while the rear lamps were Missoni’s “crescendo”, adding some intricate surfacing that makes the design, in our eyes, pitch-perfect.


Lexus LF-Ch

Lexus’ gently-gently approach means that their concepts sometimes miss the boat and the LF-Ch is no exception. Closely aping the BMW 1 Series, the LF-Ch swaps the Beemer’s complex surfaces for a more iron-fist-velvet-glove approach as it’s key stylistic differentiator, but with the 1 Series already 5 years old, we wonder if Lexus couldn’t have pushed a little harder on the outside. Inside, the organic metal forms and edge-lit Japanese silk headliner showed more character, providing a refreshing alternative to the staid Germans this car will compete against.


Renault Twizy Z. E.

One of two concepts at the show to investigate a new approach to 4-wheeled urban mobility (the other being Peugeot’s BB1), the Renaul Twizy Z. E. won over both our hearts and minds with it’s cute, well resolved form and innovative layout.

The Twizy woos car drivers into a new form of city transport by feeling, believe it or not, just like a car to sit in. Patrick Lecharpy, Renault’s V. P. of advanced design, told us how the designers also worked towards reducing people’s electric vehicle anxiety by indicating battery charge using a super-Zen lotus flower that closes as range decreases.

The best thing? Renault says it’ll be on a Parisian street some time in 2011. We can’t wait!


Mini Coupe and Roadster

Presenting as a pair of rowdy twins, you couldn’t help smiling at the Mini Coupe and Roadster concepts. Trotted out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand, the cars simultaneously demonstrate the difficulties of making big leaps with such a heritage laden brand and that you can still have fun within amazingly tight constraints.

With a distinct masculine character, the coupe boasted a new roof line that looked to be inspired by a baseball cap, or indeed toupée (Mini is 50 after all…) while the interior of the more feminine roadster boasted beautiful woven Poltrona Frau leather contrasted against black neoprene.


Peugeot BB1

Peugeot decided to turn the Renault Twizy’s drive-like-a-car-look-like-something-else approach on it’s head with their 2.5m long BB1. Looking like almost like a car, the BB1 can seat four people, but to fit them in the designers have made some fundamental changes to how they sit and how the driver, well, drives. Drawing – unintentionally according to chief designer Gilles Vidal – on Peugeot’s history as a scooter manufacturer, the BB1 features handlebars, a twist-to-go accelerator. Like on a scooter, you also wrap your legs around the person in front. Cosy, non? As with many other concepts at the show, an iPhone formed an integral component of the vehicle’s climate, entertainment and navigation systems.


Mazda MX-5 Superlight

You wouldn’t think that taking a standard MX-5, removing the roof and stripping the interior could have so dramatic an impact on such a familiar shape. Yet from the Nagare (flow)inspired central rear-view mirror and luscious ‘digital’ punched leather to the pared-back instrument panel (with requisite iPhone dock), the MX-5 Superlight is a testament to the passion lead designer Hassip Gurgin and his team have for Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom philosophy. Although it was one of the lower-key reveals of the show, many other designers we spoke to were only too happy to admit they’d have one in their garage.


Ferrari 458 Italia

If the chatter amongst designers at Frankfurt was anything to go by, the new junior Ferrari was the crisis-be-damned star of the show. Displaying a delicacy that has been noticeably absent from recent mid-engined Ferraris, the 458 heralds a return to the beautifully judged flamboyance that made earlier models like the ‘Magnum, P. I.’ 308 so moreish to gaze upon. Beautiful and innovative in equal measure, the car features moveable front aerofoils (that look, incidentally, like Magnum’s moustache) while inside the instruments consist of two TFT panels flanking a traditional rev counter, with buttons on the steering wheel replacing the column stalks.


BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics

The undisputed visual queen of the Frankfurt show, the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept was typically provocative and packed with innovative ideas.

A statement of BMW’s environmental prowess from start to finish, features like layered, twisted panels that, through their inherent strength, enable the underlying structure to be lightened, integrated aerodynamic surfaces and a hybrid powertrain that delivers M3-equalling performance with 62.6 US mpg prove that supercars can continue to be relevant in a social climate that demands ever more environmental responsibility.

The best bit? Because of the freedoms afforded by smaller powertrain components, you can take three friends along for what is sure to be a wild ride.


Hyundai iX-Metro

Following hot on the heels of Nissan’s launch of the similar Qazana concept at the Geneva motor show in March, the iX-Metro shows Hyundai’s intent to surf the growing wave of interest in baby crossovers in Europe.

Combining the things we love about SUVs (high seating position, feeling of security) with an environmentally friendly package that is sensitive to urban environments, Hyundai’s boisterous baby could be a sure-fire hit. Inside, we loved the ice-white dash and a new take on the hub-less steering wheel, while outside, the simple surfaces combined with cats-claw lamp features evoke just the right amount of toughness for the urban jungle.

Contributed by Drew Smith


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