2016 Detroit Auto Show: Concept Cars

ConceptsStunning Concepts
At nearly every major auto show there are a few surprises — unexpected vehicle debuts, or new cars that simply capture the imagination. Often the biggest surprises are concept cars, which may be extreme design studies or feature technology that won’t be ready for some time. Although most concept vehicles will never make it to production, they often debut new features, technologies or design elements that will eventually trickle down to production vehicles available in showrooms. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite concepts from the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceAcura Precision Concept
Developed to express “Precision Crafted Performance,” the Acura Precision Concept is a sleek 4-door sedan. The low, wide front end is dominated by a Diamond Pentagon grille flanked by Jewel Constellation LED headlights, composed of organically arranged fractal elements. The sides are deeply sculpted and at the rear sit floating LED taillights. Created by the Acura Design Studio in California to explore new design ideas for future Acura products — particularly sedans — the Acura Precision Concept makes a strong case for function following form. The Diamond Pentagon grille is expected to become the new signature grille for Acura models.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceAcura Precision Concept
Acura says the car’s key design theme, referred to as “quantum continuum,” takes the structure and materials from the exterior of the car and transitions them seamlessly to the interior. For example, the large rocker panel under each door flows into the interior side sill and then into a cantilever for the rear seats. And the center high-mounted brake light flows through the rear glass downward, to help form the structure of the rear headrests. The interior design includes cantilevered surfaces, expressive surfacing and modern details such as high-contrast front seat materials, ultra-thin floating rear seats and handcrafted wood speaker grilles. The driver gets presented with a two-layer instrument panel, a compact race-inspired steering wheel with paddle shifters and a head-up display. The center stack is cantilevered with a wide, thin curved display screen.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceAudi h-tron quattro
The German automaker showcased its vision of a new hydrogen-powered crossover at this year’s Detroit show. The Audi h-tron quattro concept presents the fifth generation of fuel-cell technology from Audi and Volkswagen. Lighter materials reduce the weight and improve performance, responsiveness and efficiency. The fuel cell delivers power to two electric motors — a 90kW motor on the front axle, 140 kW on the rear — representing a new possibility for Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive. Audi claims a zero to 62 mph time of less than 7 seconds, with a total range of about 372 miles with a full-tank of hydrogen.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceAudi h-tron quattro
The h-tron also provides a test bed for the latest in autonomous driving and parking — features expected to go into production next year with the new-generation Audi A8. The system computes a model of the car’s surroundings in real time and makes this information available to the assistance systems, which can aid in parking or in stop-and-go traffic on freeways at speeds up to 37 mph. Another advanced technology in the h-tron incorporates multiple large OLED displays in front of the driver — wafer-thin films that can take on virtually any shape. The driver controls the lights and systems for autonomous driving with one of the screens, while the large display on the right is for managing media and navigation.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBuick Avista
One of the surprise hits of the 2016 North American International Auto Show, the Buick Avista concept — an elegant 2+2 coupe — debuted the night before the Detroit show press days. Powered by a 400-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, the Avista is a contemporary version of a grand touring coupe. “The Avista embodies the dynamic soul of Buick,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick sales, service and marketing. “It is a modern expression of the brand’s heritage of sophisticated performance, communicated with beautiful elegance,” Aldred noted. At post time we learned that Avista was the recipient of the annual EyesOn Design Award, which recognizes the best concept and production vehicle designs at the Detroit show.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBuick Avista
The Avista’s flowing body lines stretch front to rear; the roofline profile is uninterrupted by B-pillars. Headlights and taillights incorporate lighting elements that illuminate the edges to create 3-dimentional shapes, and a mesh grille includes Buick’s new winged tri-shield insignia. Twenty-inch aluminum wheels feature paint accents that match the Dark Sapphire Jewel exterior color. The interior design also features flowing, uninterrupted lines that are both elegant and simple. Door and seat trim are 3-D printed, and the wide instrument panel display includes a new version of Buick IntelliLink with touchscreen controls. A Superior Blue interior with Mist Gray leather seating inserts, console and door trim complements the exterior color. Exposed carbon fiber and aluminum trim complete interior details.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceKia Telluride
A new design for a 7-passenger luxury SUV, the Kia Telluride concept is the first look at a bold new design direction for Kia featuring advanced technology, with an emphasis on the comfort and experience of second-row passengers. Designed in California and built on a stretched Sorento chassis, the Telluride is taller, wider and longer than the current Sorento. Finished in Dark Pyrite green paint, the Telluride fascia includes a larger version of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille flanked by recessed quad LED headlights, horizontal LED indicator lights, and a polished-metal skidplate below the bumper. Pronounced wheel arches, 22-inch wheels and thin vertical taillights complete the muscular look. The hybrid all-wheel-drive powertrain combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a powerful electric motor to produce 400 horsepower while achieving 30 mpg on the highway. A fingerprint-activated start-stop button fires up the Telluride.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceKia Telluride
The first- and second-row seats include a series of diamond-cut openings in the seatbacks with imbedded sensors that capture the occupant’s vital health information, display it on door panel screens and synchronize with a Light Emitted Rejuvenation system, utilizing a massive, wing-shaped LED panel mounted beneath the sunroof. The LED panel displays a pattern of therapeutic light to treat desynchronosis (jetlag) and improve energy levels. Telluride also introduces new Swipe Command technology with a thin, touch-sensitive band in the second-row console; rear-seat passengers can select media with the swipe of a hand. Second-row passengers can listen through a premium Harman Kardon audio system or via a set of portable Harman Kardon headphones that charge wirelessly when stowed in the console. The dashboard, door panels and steering wheel include Kia’s first use of 3-D-printed components.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLexus LF-FC
The Lexus LF-FC Flagship Concept debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last October and was also on display in Detroit, featuring a look at the direction of design and technology for a future Lexus flagship sedan. The profile reveals a 4-door coupe roofline with elegant flowing lines, a long hood and short rear deck. At the front is a new version of the Lexus signature grille with a new mesh pattern, and daytime running lights that flow forward from the front fenders.

© Mike MeredithLexus LF-FC
The LF-FC is powered by a high-output fuel-cell system that operates the rear wheels and two electric motors housed in the front wheels, making the LF-FC all-wheel drive with sophisticated torque-distribution control between the front and rear wheels. New technology inside includes an advanced human machine interface that can be operated by simple hand gestures.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceNissan IDS Concept
Appearing for the first time in Detroit, the IDS Concept debuted in Tokyo last October to showcase the automaker’s attitudes on the future of autonomous driving. The IDS allows the driver to choose between manual or automated driving, providing more choices of assistance in every situation or taking over command of the vehicle completely, allowing the driver to relax. The interior configuration changes depending on the driver’s choice.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceNissan IDS Concept
In manual drive mode, the steering wheel and controls direct the driver’s attention to the road. When piloted mode is selected, the steering wheel retracts into the instrument panel and is replaced with a large display, while the four seats rotate toward each other for easier communication between passengers. The Nissan IDS Concept also communicates with the outside world, providing recommendations for departure times, driving routes and even restaurant options.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceNissan Titan Warrior
The all-new Titan XD pickup is just arriving in showrooms, but Nissan decided it was already time to showcase a custom Titan. This Titan Warrior concept certainly stands out from the crowd with carbon fiber fenders, functional hood vents, carbon fiber cabin and tailgate spoilers, and a large front skidplate. Custom LED lights front and rear with integrated, roof-mounted LED off-road lights add to the concept’s aggressive styling. The Custom suspension, large off-road tires and matte gun metal paint complete the look.

© Rod Hatfield, TheNowDeviceNissan Titan Warrior
Designers had just as much fun creating the Warrior’s interior as they did the exterior. Seats are swathed in a carbon-colored high-strength seat fabric trimmed with “Magma” orange accents. The interior is trimmed in carbon fiber, polished chrome and leather with accented Magma orange stitching. Other interior features include unique hot-and-cold drink containers integrated into the center console and robust auxiliary toggle switches integrated into the center stack for additional off-road accessories. While there are no plans to put the Warrior into production, it indicates what’s possible with this large pickup truck.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubaru Impreza Concept
Subaru unveiled the Impreza Sedan Concept in the important SoCal market at the Los Angeles International Auto Show last November — as a preview of what to expect in the next-generation Impreza, and as an indicator of the overall design direction for future Subaru models. Finished in Ruby Red Metallic as an expression of sportiness and energy, the Impreza Sedan Concept looks low and wide from the front, which is dominated by a hexagonal grille, hawk-eye headlights and an aggressive lower fascia with inset fog lights.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubaru Impreza Concept
Impreza’s profile incorporates character lines that emphasize its extended fender flares, which in turn highlight the car’s all-wheel-drive capability; a rising beltline extends all the way to the integrated decklid spoiler. The sloped rear window terminates at the short decklid to give the 4-door sedan a coupelike silhouette. Rear combination lights mirror the design of the headlights and add to the wide, low stance, and 5-spoke 19-inch wheels include red detailing. Gloss black exterior accents add a high-quality feel.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVolkswagen Tiguan GTE Active
Volkswagen provided us a glimpse of the upcoming all-new Tiguan with the GTE Active concept. The concept was designed to showcase the possibilities of a plug-in hybrid with true off-road capability. With all-terrain tires and integrated roof lights, the GTE Active certainly looks the part. Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen brand board of management, explained: “The Tiguan GTE Active Concept shows the potential of the Volkswagen plug-in drive systems. The powerful all-wheel drive system ensures that an SUV such as the Tiguan offers superior off-road performance, even in 100 percent electric mode.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVolkswagen Tiguan GTE Active
The innovative powertrain in the Tiguan concept features a turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine with two electric motors — one on the front axle, one on the rear. In normal driving situations the Tiguan GTE Active can run in electric mode only, utilizing both electric motors when 4WD is needed. Tiguan can travel up to 20 miles without burning any gasoline; with a full charge and a full tank of fuel, the GTE Active boasts a range of 580 miles. The new Tiguan is slated to go on sale in Europe this spring, with a long-wheelbase version coming to the U.S. shortly after the European launch.

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