Auto shows can be very exciting — experiencing all the shiny new production cars under one roof is a rush, although concept cars grab most of the attention. Often conceived without safety systems, emission controls or other mass-production requirements, concept cars allow designers to color outside the lines and engineers to stretch their minds, fueling our fantasies about what cars could be. That said, some concepts look like they could hit the highway tomorrow with little alteration, while others are so advanced or unique there’s no way we’ll see them on the road anytime soon. Regardless of time frame, here’s a look at the best concept cars on display at auto shows during 2015, listed by auto show.
Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept — Los Angeles
Subaru unveiled the Impreza Sedan Concept in the important SoCal market 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.
Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept
Impreza’s profile incorporates character lines that emphasize the 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 coupe-like 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.
Future Plans? We expect to see the next-generation Impreza based on this concept in the next year or so.
Honda Wander Stand — Tokyo
For those folks old enough to remember phone booths, the Honda Wander Stand looks a bit like a modern phone booth with four wheels. Honda describes this concept as a vehicle to pursue the joy and freedom of mobility as you wander around freely, and it’s said to provide new experiences through new autonomous driving technologies.
Honda Wander Stand
Wander Stand utilizes the Honda Omni Traction Drive System for freedom of movement in all directions, which originated from Honda’s research in humanoid robots, including the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO.
Future Plans? We don’t expect to see anything like this available for consumers use in the near future.
Lexus LF-FC — Tokyo
The Lexus LF-FC Flagship Concept hints 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 a short rear deck. Out 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.
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.
Future Plans? While no definite plans were announced to build this car, it certainly looks the part of a new luxury flagship for the Lexus lineup in the not-too-distant future.
Mazda RX-VISION Concept — Tokyo
One of the stars at this year’s show in Japan, Mazda’s beautiful RX-VISION coupe concept has a low, wide stance, short overhangs and a sleek roofline. Mazda never stopped research and development on the rotary engine, and under the sleek hood of the RX-VISION is a next-generation SKYACTIV-R rotary powerplant.
Mazda RX-VISION Concept
Mazda applied SKYACTIV principles of lighter weight and more fuel efficiency to the rotary engine without sacrificing performance. Although the Japanese automaker has no immediate plans for a production version of the RX-VISION, it looks to be a worthy successor to Mazda’s rotary legacy, which includes the RX-8, RX-7 and Cosmo.
Future Plans? While we would love to say that Mazda is going to build a new sports car based on the RX-VISION, there are still a lot of challenges regarding the rotary engine, so odds are that this will not progress beyond concept form for the foreseeable future.
Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo — Tokyo
The latest in a series of Vision Concepts from Mercedes-Benz made its debut at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Appropriately named Vision Tokyo, the concept is a large vanlike vehicle designed to drive autonomously, providing space for five occupants. Aimed at Generation Z — those born since 1995 — the Vision Tokyo gives travelers a place to “chill and chat.” Passengers access the interior lounge through a large upward-swinging door on the left. Seating is unconventional; rather than rows of seats, a large oval-shaped couch allows occupants to socialize while the autonomous Vision Tokyo takes them to their destination.
Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo
Instead of a conventional windshield, the Vision Tokyo features a continuous stretch of glass. The monochrome Alubeam paintwork emphasizes the spaciousness of this concept, further enhanced by screen-printed side windows. These windows also give passengers privacy while still providing an unimpeded view out. Large 26-inch wheels and side skirts complete the picture.
Future Plans? Most elements of this concept — features as well as design — are unlikely to make it to production anytime soon.
Mitsubishi eX Concept — Tokyo
The Tokyo world premiere of the eX Concept demonstrated Mitsubishi’s vision for a new compact crossover powered by a next-generation electric vehicle system. The exterior and interior designs, including the new front end, purportedly indicate the future direction of Mitsubishi styling.
Mitsubishi eX Concept
The new electric-drive system utilizes a high-capacity, high-performance battery and compact high-output electric motors to make it lighter and more efficient, achieving a driving range of 400 km (approximately 250 miles). The battery resides below the body to lower the center of gravity, which — when combined with Twin Motor 4WD and the S-AWC integrated vehicle dynamics control system — improves driving dynamics and vehicle stability.
Future Plans? We would love for the styling or technology in this vehicle to find its way into a production Mitsubishi, but there are currently no announced plans for either to happen.
Nissan CONCEPT 2020 Vision Gran Turismo — Tokyo
The Nissan CONCEPT 2020 Vision Gran Turismo began as an ultimate Nissan performance model for the virtual world of the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo videogame series. Penned by Nissan designers for the Gran Turismo fantasy garage, the car then became a physical model, premiering in July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England. Created by a team of young designers at Nissan Design Europe in conjunction with Polyphony Digital Inc. — the creators of Gran Turismo — Nissan engineers in Japan then collaborated on the real-world project to create a vehicle that represents the performance potential of the virtual model.
Nissan CONCEPT 2020 Vision Gran Turismo
The Nissan CONCEPT 2020 Vision Gran Turismo presented at the Tokyo Motor Show is finished in Fire Knight red which highlights the extreme design, accentuated by carbon fiber elements as well as a new version of Nissan’s V-Motion grille.
Future Plans? The only roads where we expect to see this concept are the virtual ones on Sony PlayStation.
Nissan IDS Concept — Tokyo
Nissan debuted the IDS Concept in Tokyo to showcase the automaker’s take on autonomous driving. The IDS allows the driver to choose between manual or automated driving, providing more choices of assistance in every situation. Nissan describes the IDS Concept as creating a new relationship between people and cars with Nissan Intelligent Driving — assisting the driver when needed or taking over driving the vehicle completely and allowing the driver to relax.
Nissan IDS Concept
The interior configuration of the IDS Concept changes depending on the driver’s choice. 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 communicates with the outside world to provide a safe and comfortable experience, while also learning the driving style and preferences of the driver to provide recommendations for departure times, driving routes and even restaurant options.
Future Plans? Future Nissans may carry styling similar to the IDS, and although we still think autonomous driving is still several years away, the communication technology in the IDS is more likely to reach production in the near future.
Teatro for Dayz Concept — Tokyo
Nissan describes the Teatro for Dayz as a concept designed for the digital native generation — the generation that went directly from the cradle to digital devices, and the concept showcases a new direction in mobile technology. What may look like a box on wheels to some is a high-tech vehicle that combines Nissan’s EV technology with mobile technologies that have not previously migrated to a car.
Teatro for Dayz Concept
While Teatro for Dayz will serve daily transportation needs, it is also a digital device that allows users to connect with friends, share experiences and to modify the car to meet their modes, much like they do with a smartphone today. When the car is in drive mode, the white instrument panel will display the gauges, controls and maps that the driver needs to operate the car; when parked, the instrument panel — as well as the rest of the interior — can be used as a customizable display to fit the users’ needs and interests.
Future Plans? The customizable interior may take longer to develop for production; however, the mobile connectivity is likely to advance quickly and arrive in future-generation Nissans.
Subaru Impreza 5-Door Concept — Tokyo
Subaru chose the Tokyo Motor Show to provide a glimpse of the next-generation Impreza hatchback. The popular Impreza is one of the most varied offerings in the Subaru lineup, ranging from the base-level economical hatchback to the high-performance 305-horsepower WRX STI. The future Impreza possesses upscale design cues, even if it is the entry-level model in the Subaru lineup. The design direction showcased here not only indicates what we can expect from the next Impreza, but provides a peek into how the rest of the Subaru lineup will follow.
Subaru Impreza 5-Door Concept
Viewed from the front, the Impreza 5-Door Concept reveals performance styling with its wide, low stance. The hexagonal grille clearly identifies this as a Subaru, flanked by what Subaru calls “hawk-eye” headlights. The Impreza 5-Door Concept highlights Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive with bold extended fender flares that wrap around large 19-inch wheels.
Future Plans? This Impreza Concept isn’t exactly ready for production, but we’d expect to see a new Impreza based on this concept sometime in the very near future.
Subaru Viziv Future Concept — Tokyo
The Viziv — the name is derived from Vision for Innovation — showcases not only styling but powertrain and other advanced features we might expect to see on Subaru vehicles in the future. According to Subaru, the Viziv is an “SUV-type concept model embodying the future vision of car development for enjoyment and peace of mind.” Subaru believes this goal of “enjoyment and peace of mind” will be achieved through automatic driving technology as well as advanced, fuel-efficient powertrains.
Subaru Viziv Future Concept
The Viziv Future Concept takes the hybrid powertrain currently in the XV Crosstrek — Subaru’s first production hybrid – and enhances it to provide better performance and fuel economy. A new turbocharged engine is smaller and lighter than the current unit, and offers a smoother feel under acceleration as well as increased fuel efficiency. Of course the Viziv Future Concept features all-wheel drive, but the system differs from any found in current Subarus. The driveshaft connecting to the rear axle is replaced by an electric motor mounted directly on the rear axle. This provides a flat floor throughout the vehicle for greater flexibility and roominess.
Future Plans? Many of the features and powertrain ideas represented in the Viziv are likely to make it into future Subaru models, but don’t expect big rear sliding doors on your next Forester.
Toyota FCV Plus — Tokyo
The FCV Plus concept is Toyota’s look at a future fuel-cell vehicle that can also be used as a power source for other needs. In addition to the vehicle’s own hydrogen tank, the car can also generate electricity from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle to provide electricity for other uses when it’s not being used for transportation.
Toyota FCV Plus
The FCV Plus has a compact body but a spacious cabin since the fuel-cell stack is mounted between the front wheels, the hydrogen tank is behind the rear seat and independent electric motors are in all four wheels. The body has a sleek design, and the interior frame structure adds rigidity despite the light weight of the vehicle.
Future Plans? Hydrogen fuel cells are not yet mainstream in cars but interest is growing. We could see this technology in a limited-production Toyota in the next few years.
Toyota Kikai — Tokyo
Toyota’s Kikai concept looks like a cross between a high-performance dune buggy and a ’32 Ford Coupe hot rod, but the focus of the Kikai is really on the beauty, precision and mechanical elements of a car. The name Kikai means machine in Japanese, and the focus is on the machine that is normally hidden out of view under beautifully sculpted bodywork. The engine, suspension, exhaust tubing and fuel tank are all exposed to view.
Inside Kikai’s 3-person cabin, the driver sits in the center with a passenger seat on each side aft of the driver. Windows to the left and right of the driver’s feet provide an unobstructed view of the front suspension and front wheels. Electric sliding doors on each side allow easy access.
Future Plans? Not going to happen.
Toyota S-FR —Tokyo
A new lightweight, sporty entry-level coupe designed to provide a fun, responsive driving experience, the Toyota S-FR concept looks like it might not be far from production. The front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive design gives the S-FR a classic sports car layout, while the long nose and sloped roofline contribute to sporty proportions.
The wide stance and 6-speed manual transmission add to the driving dynamics and driver engagement. We can assume the S-FR would get power from an efficient but sporty small engine or hybrid system, but Toyota didn’t provide any details about what is under the hood.
Future Plans? It may be too small for the current American market, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see something like the S-FR on the road soon.
Yamaha Sports Ride Concept — Tokyo
To create a car that’s fun to drive in the same way a motorcycle is exciting to ride was the idea behind the Yamaha Sports Ride Concept. A 2-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports car, the Sports Ride Concept is based on a lightweight, highly rigid, high-strength frame developed using iStream.
Yamaha Sports Ride Concept
The iStream process was developed by Gordon Murray Design Limited and has its origins in Formula One racing technology. The light weight, rigidity and front/rear weight distribution of the concept creates an immersive experience, where the driver is directly connected to the car — much like riding a motorcycle.
Future Plans? Moving into car production would be a stretch for Yamaha, but the car does look ready, so we’ll have to keep an eye on this one.
Audi e-tron quattro concept — Frankfurt
The German automaker chose its home show to provide a glimpse into its future crossover plans. The e-tron quattro concept is an all-electric luxury SUV that will be the basis for a production crossover expected in 2018.
Audi e-tron quattro concept
The styling of the e-tron quattro concept not only shows how the Audi look will evolve in the next few years, it’s also extremely functional with excellent aerodynamics, achieving a very low 0.25 coefficient of drag. With three electric motors, performance should be strong.
Future Plans? Look for the e-tron to go head to head with the Tesla Model X when it arrives in a few years.
Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo — Frankfurt
This extreme sports car was arguably the star of the entire show in Frankfurt. Designed for the popular Gran Turismo PlayStation gaming franchise, Bugatti actually built a real vehicle that looks like it drove straight out of the video game. Bugatti designers wanted to pay homage to the brand’s legendary racing history while at the same time create something extremely modern.
Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo
The result is the Vision Gran Turismo, which has elements of the already extreme Veyron, but with a considerably more aggressive look. “We wanted to develop a virtual race car for our fans, which is a genuine Bugatti down to the last detail and radiates the unrestricted values of the brand,” the designers noted. “We hope that the gamers will have just as much fun racing the car as we did in developing it.”
Future Plans? Although this model will likely stick to virtual roads, the styling provides clues to what a Veyron successor might look like when it arrives in the next few years.
Honda Project 2&4 — Frankfurt
Honda chose this unique concept car to celebrate the company’s engine-building successes. Engines are provided to more than 28 million people each year across 2- and 4-wheeled vehicles — thus the moniker Project 2&4. The concept combines the feeling of freedom when riding a motorcycle with the stability and maneuverability of a car.
Honda Project 2&4
Sticking with the motorcycle theme, the concept is powered by Honda’s RC213V competition motorcycle engine, although modified to run on public roads. The engine redlines at 14000 rpm while delivering around 212 horsepower. Weighing in at just under 900 pounds, performance would be outstanding for this mini racer.
Future Plans? As fun as this little rocket would be, we don’t expect to see it reach production.
Hyundai Vision G Coupe Concept — Frankfurt
When Hyundai began producing cars it was best known for building small economy models, but that time has passed. Emphasizing that point is the Vision G Coupe Concept the Korean automaker had on display at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The elegant 2-door coupe provides a look at design elements likely to make their way to future premium products from Hyundai.
Hyundai Vision G Coupe Concept
If this concept is any indication, the future is looking pretty good. “Vision G is the first high-end premium coupe by Hyundai Motor. Despite its bold and powerful styling, the concept is purposefully understated, creating a balance of opulence and elegance that will resonate with customers who seek style without pretention,” said Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer of Hyundai Motor Company.
Future Plans? While this car is clearly just a concept, we could see a luxury coupe fitting in nicely with the rest of the Hyundai lineup.
Mazda KOERU Concept — Frankfurt
An all-new crossover SUV concept from Mazda made its debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Called KOERU — Japanese for “exceed” — the concept carries styling that fits with the rest of the Mazda lineup. In fact, aside from the advanced door handles and very large wheels, the KOERU looks ready for production.
Mazda KOERU Concept
The sleek lines and low roofline give KOERU a sporty look, further enhanced by low front and rear overhangs as well as 21-inch alloy wheels fitted with high-performance Pirelli tires. The KOERU features the latest in SKYACTIV technology, which combines lightweight designs with rigid chassis and fuel-efficient engines to create fun-to-drive yet economical vehicles.
Future Plans? Mazda made no announcements about a KOERU-based production model, but we could see a vehicle with a similar shape coming from the automaker sometime soon.
Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA — Frankfurt
The German car company pulled out all the stops for its home motor show, building a massive multi-story display as well as showcasing a number of new production and concept cars. The concept that caught our attention was the Concept Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile (IAA).
Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA
While the Concept IAA’s basic shape and elegant interior foretell the future of Mercedes luxury models, this sleek coupe offers impressive advances in aerodynamics, transforming its shape at speeds above 50 mph. Eight extensions in the rear increase the car’s length by around 15 inches, while flaps in the front bumper extend to improve airflow around the front and wheel arches. Active Rims on the wheels alter their depth to further improve how the concept slips through the air.
Future Plans? The Concept IAA in current form won’t reach production; however, styling cues as well as the innovative aerodynamics are likely to be found on Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the next few years.
Nissan Gripz Concept — Frankfurt
Nissan provided a look at the future of sporty crossovers with the introduction of the Gripz concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The Gripz not only predicts styling language for the next-generation of Nissan crossovers, it represents a new class of vehicle altogether. A rather bold statement, but Nissan backs it up with sports-car-like performance, bold styling, a unique interior and an advanced hybrid powertrain.
Nissan Gripz Concept
Gripz has a small, fuel-efficient gasoline engine that provides power to the same electric motor found in Nissan’s popular Leaf electric car. The doors are easily the standout design feature: front doors swing out and up, while rear doors are small and half-hinged. With no B-pillar the roof appears to float, and there is easy access to front or rear seats.
Future Plans? While the doors and unique interior may be a stretch for production, we wouldn’t be surprised if styling and powertrain end up in the next-generation Juke.
Porsche Mission E — Frankfurt
With plenty of experience around hybrid and electric drivetrains, it’s no wonder Porsche is looking at building a high-performance electric sports sedan. The Mission E provides a taste of what that vehicle could be, and is the first all-electric 4-seat sports car from the German automaker. Legendary Porsche performance with new levels of efficiency and innovation are expected from the Mission E.
Porsche Mission E
Virtual external mirrors capture images and project them onto the lower corners of the windshield, eliminating the drag of large door-mounted mirrors. In order to properly compete in this high-performance electric car market (which is currently quite small), Porsche believes this car would need to be able to reach 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, have a 300-mile range and be able to reach 80 percent capacity after just 15 minutes of charge.
Future Plans? It’s likely that Porsche will develop a production electric car, but not until technology exists to reach the expected level of performance, which the company anticipates within five years.
Toyota C-HR Concept — Frankfurt
The C-HR concept on display at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show is actually a new version of the C-HR shown last fall at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. This compact urban SUV was a 2-door crossover when it was previously shown. In Frankfurt it’s a 4-door model, which should provide a bit more versatility.
Toyota C-HR Concept
Apparently reaction to the C-HR has been good. Karl Schlicht, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Europe, announced that the C-HR will go into production and the final version will be shown at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. Based on Toyota’s new global architecture, the C-HR will be available with a variety of engine options (depending on the market) and will likely feature a hybrid version.
BMW CSL Hommage R — Pebble Beach Concours
The year 1975 was big for BMW in America. The German company founded BMW of North America and also made its racing debut in the IMSA series with a specially made BMW 3.0 CSL. Outfitted in BMW Motorsports livery, the 3.0 CSL won the manufacturer’s championship. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of BMW North America and that 3.0 CLS victory, the company brought a special vehicle to Pebble Beach this year — the CSL Hommage R.
BMW CSL Hommage R
The Hommage R is pure race car with a stretched body framed by distinctive air deflectors, powerful wheel arches and a prominent rear spoiler. Everything on this beautiful concept is based on the original CSL, but clearly given a modern touch. The colors and graphics match the livery from 1975, and the number 25 refers to the victories achieved by the original 3.0 CSL. “Both inside and outside, the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R is primarily a reflection of its function,” explained Karim Habib, head of design at BMW Automobiles. “The exterior and interior design is based around the requirements of motor sport as far as the car and driver are concerned; aerodynamics and driving dynamics on the one hand, the most direct connection between driver and machine on the other.”
Future Plans? Unlikely that BMW will build a car like this for production; however, a road car painted in the racing livery could make a collectible special edition.
Galpin Ford Rocket Speedster Concept — Pebble Beach Concours
At last fall’s L.A. Auto Show, a powerful-looking pony car called the Rocket debuted. The Rocket is the brainchild of Beau Boeckmann (president and COO of Galpin Ford, the largest Ford dealership in the country) and Henrik Fisker (designer of many iconic vehicles, including the beautiful Aston Martin DB9). While the Rocket is a limited-edition carbon-fiber-body Mustang, the Speedster is currently one of a kind.
Galpin Ford Rocket Speedster Concept
Like the coupe, the Rocket Speedster isn’t just a looker — there’s real muscle under that sculpted carbon hood in the form of a 725-horsepower supercharged V8 engine. A special tonneau cover — made, of course, from carbon fiber — converts this 4-seater into a proper 2-seat speedster. Big rear fenders house air scoops to help cool the 15-inch Brembo brakes. The wide stance, aggressive-looking grille and special 21-inch wheels clearly confirm this is not a typical Mustang.
Future Plans? While the car is referred to as a concept, Galpin is already accepting orders for the Rocket Speedster.
Jeep Chief Concept — Easter Jeep Safari
The great thing about the concepts that Jeep often showcases at the annual Jeep Safari is that they aren’t just there for looks — these machines are fully functional. The Chief Concept pays homage to the original Cherokee Chief from the 1970s, but with a nod to the West Coast surfer lifestyle. Vintage Ocean Blue paint and a white roof combine with a classic 20-slot razor grille and 17-inch slotted mag wheels with big off-road tires to complete the vibe.
Jeep Chief Concept
The interior carries an island theme with pink, blue and white hibiscus cloth seat inserts with white leather trim. The Rosewood front-passenger grab handle and tiki-style shift handle are a nice touch. The Chief features a selection of Jeep Performance Parts, including a 2-inch lift kit, cold air intake and modified Rubicon rock rails.
Future Plans? The Chief is a design exercise, showing what’s possible with a Jeep, but it’s unlikely to ever become a production vehicle.
Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Responder — Easter Jeep Safari
The Red Rock Responder is a serious off-road beast based on the Wrangler, designed to respond to any vehicle emergency no matter what the terrain. Painted in Vibrance Responder Red with body-color matching beadlock wheels, the Red Rock Responder would be easy to spot on any trail. Cargo boxes on each side of the vehicle hold a hi-lift jack and accessories, a fire extinguisher, a roadside accessory kit, a first aid kit, Snap-On tool soft bags and recovery kit. It also stores an air hose and accessories, a dual compressor and an air reservoir — so Responder is ready for anything.
Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Responder
Ensuring it can get just about anywhere, the Red Rock Responder has a 4-inch lift kit, Fox shocks, front and rear Dana 60 axles and 37-inch mud terrain tires. The vehicle also sports a cold-air intake, off-road rock rails and a Warn winch. Rescuers will be traversing the trail in style, thanks to the black and red Mopar Katzkin leather seats with embroidered head restraints.
Future Plans? Most of the features on the Red Rock Responder come from Jeep Performance Parts, so this concept could theoretically be replicated.
Honda Civic Concept — New York
It’s a big deal when one of the best-selling cars in America gets a remake, which is why this all-new 2016 Honda Civic Concept is indeed a big deal. Still considered a concept, the sporty Civic coupe that debuted in New York clearly shows what we can expect from the production model when it arrives in showrooms later this year. Civic will be available in sedan, coupe and 5-door hatchback versions, and enthusiasts will be happy to hear that there will be Si and high-performance Type R versions coming to America.
Honda Civic Concept
In addition to the fresh styling and new platform, the 10th-generation Civic will use Honda’s first turbocharged VTEC engines, including a new 1.5-liter VTEC Turbo with direct injection and a sporty 6-speed manual transmission. Honda will also equip the new Civic with the latest safety and driver-assist technologies.
Future Plans? Honda has already introduced the all-new Civic based on this concept, and it’s expected to go on sale later this year.
Lincoln Continental Concept — New York
One of the stars of the 2015 New York Auto Show was this Lincoln Continental Concept, with a focus on what Lincoln calls quiet luxury. “Luxury at its best is about simplifying and quietly exceeding expectations, rather than being the loudest statement on the road,” says Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “The Continental Concept showcases the promise of quiet luxury from Lincoln going forward. It also is a strong indication of what’s to come next year as we introduce our new Lincoln Continental full-size luxury sedan.”
Lincoln Continental Concept
The Lincoln Continental Concept introduces a new face for Lincoln, as well as a new 3.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine, which will be exclusive to the brand. The design features a sleek profile and a new centered chrome grille, replacing the previous signature split-wing grille. New technology includes E-Latch door handles, LED matrix headlamps with laser-assist high beams, signature full-width taillights with light-through-chrome technology and an SPD SmartGlass tinting sunroof. Inside, the Continental Concept includes Venetian leather seat and door panels, Alcantara seat inserts and armrests, rose gold trim around the instrument cluster, bright chrome trim on the instrument panel, satin headliner and shearling wool carpet.
Future Plans? As was announced in New York, a new Lincoln Continental flagship will come to market next year.
Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept — New York
Subaru unveiled the BRZ STI Performance Concept this past spring at the New York Auto Show, finished in flat blue with STI performance upgrades to the suspension, chassis, aerodynamics, air intake and exhaust. In America STI is synonymous with the high-performance version of the WRX; the name comes from Subaru Tecnica International (STI), the performance division of Subaru. Power for this BRZ concept comes from a racing engine developed by STI for the BRZ Super GT race car. Body modifications include wide flared fenders, an aggressive front fascia, a front splitter, a rear lip spoiler, a rear wing, an aggressive rear diffuser and dual center exhaust.
Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept
This concept’s reveal in New York announced that Subaru will begin selling STI aftermarket performance parts, replacing Subaru Performance Tuning parts currently available through U.S. Subaru dealers. “At STI we know from our racing that to win, it is important not only to have high power, but also that all aspects of performance are balanced over the whole car,” said Yoshio Hirakawa, president of Subaru Tecnica International, Inc. “Our plan is to produce cars and accessories that drivers can really enjoy.”
Future Plans: With the availability of STI performance parts, it might be possible to build a BRZ that looks like this concept, but Subaru has no plans to build the small sports car with a more powerful engine.
Aston Martin DBX — Geneva
Feeling the need to expand the brand, Aston Martin shows one way of achieving that goal with the debut of the DBX Concept. A somewhat different take on the crossover, the DBX features all-wheel drive, seating for four and generous room for luggage.
Aston Martin DBX
Aston Martin CEO Dr. Andy Palmer tasked his team to “expand their thinking beyond conventions, to explore what the future of luxury GT motoring would look like in years ahead, “and the DBX Concept is the result.
Future Plans? While it is likely that Aston will produce a vehicle similar to the DBX, the vehicle on display in Geneva is clearly just a concept and not ready for production.
Audi Prologue Avant Concept — Geneva
Giving more credence to the likelihood of the Prologue making it to production in some form, in Geneva Audi showed off a variant of the futuristic concept that premiered last fall in Los Angeles. The Prologue Avant Concept continues the design theme from the original, but takes things a step further with the added versatility of a 5-door wagon.
Audi Prologue Avant Concept
With an electric motor and efficient TDI diesel engine, the Prologue’s powerplant puts out an impressive 455 horsepower and can travel around 33 miles in electric-only mode.
Future Plans? While the styling looks somewhat futuristic, elements of the design and powertrain will likely make it to production at some point.
Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept — Geneva
One of the stars at the Geneva Motor Show this year, the EXP 10 Speed 6 is a high-performance 2-seat sports car that Bentley is pondering for production. Considerably smaller than the Continental GT, the muscular-looking coupe possesses modern interpretations of classic Bentley design cues, including the familiar grille and oval taillights.
Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept
According to Wolfgang Durheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, “EXP 10 Speed 6 is one vision for Bentley’s future — a powerful, exquisite and individual concept. . . . It offers thrilling, driver-oriented performance, complete with trademark modern Bentley luxury and effortlessness.”
Future Plans? We agree with Durheimer, and could see this new sports coupe competing with the likes of Aston Martin, Maserati or Porsche within the next few years.
Infiniti QX30 Concept — Geneva
The QX30 Concept shows the direction Infiniti plans for a new premium compact crossover, combining the lines of a coupe with the higher seating position and all-wheel drive of a crossover. Nissan’s luxury brand intends to enter the compact segment with the Q30 later this year, add a sport coupe based on the Q60 Concept revealed at the Detroit Auto Show next year, followed by a crossover inspired by the QX30 Concept.
Infiniti QX30 Concept
The QX30 design has a distinctive shoulder line that flows rearward from the headlights, swoops down and widens before it wraps into the rear glass. Large 21-inch wheels and tires makes the body look wider and thicker. The satin chrome front bumper, kick plates under the doors and the rear skidplate add a rugged vibe.
Future Plans? Expect to see a new QX30 crossover introduced sometime in the next year.
Kahn Design Land Rover Defender Huntsman Concept — Geneva
The legendary Land Rover Defender is one of the most capable off-road vehicles ever built, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. The Huntsman concept — created by British-based Kahn design — sits about six inches wider and 40 inches longer than a standard Defender. The addition of a second rear axle makes this concept a 6×6 behemoth. The standard Defender engine wouldn’t handle the additional heft; it gets replaced by a GM LS3 V8 putting out 430 horsepower.
Kahn Design Land Rover Defender Huntsman Concept
“With the Huntsman Concept, I set out to create something fashionable, iconic and revolutionary which carries on the spirit of the Defender,” said Afzal Kahn, CEO and creative director of the Kahn Group. “It’s a truly British icon in the same way the Wrangler is to the US, the G-Class to Germany or the Land Cruiser L70 to Japan. It’s instantly recognizable — if you saw one on the Moon, you’d know it was a Defender.”
Future Plans? Kahn Design is weighing consumer interest in the vehicle, but we’re told if you want one and have the funds, it’s likely they’ll build it for you.
Kia SPORTSPACE Concept — Geneva
Geneva marked the world debut of the SPORTSPACE concept — a sleek, sporty wagon designed by Kia’s Frankfurt design studio. Purported to be a first glimpse of the 2016 Optima, the SPORTSPACE has Kia’s signature tiger nose grille and is intended to provide stylish, exciting transportation for four. A full-length panoramic sunroof provides ample natural light.
Kia SPORTSPACE Concept
Inside the SPORTSPACE, luxurious leather complements carbon fiber and anodized aluminum, and the driver receives a configurable digital display. The driver and passengers sit on hand-woven single-piece gloss black leather seats, and the cargo area features steel rollers for loading that retract into the floor when the engine starts.
Future Plans? We could see Kia building a production vehicle based on the SPORTSPACE concept, but it’s unlikely that the car would make it to America.
Lexus LF-SA Concept — Geneva
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the first Lexus model, the flagship LS 400, and this ultra-compact, sub-B-segment 2+2 city car explores new territory for Toyota’s premium brand. The LF-SA represents an extreme expression of the brand’s design philosophy, with highly sculpted surfaces and angular patterns exploding from the center Lexus logo. The front of the car is dominated by the most extreme version of the brand’s spindle grille, with a three-dimensional shape that carries through the front fenders and defines the sides of the car.
Lexus LF-SA Concept
Despite the LF-SA’s compact exterior dimensions, designers aimed to create a spacious interior that emphasizes the driver. The LF-SA has a fixed driver’s seat and adjustable steering wheel and pedals. The front passenger seat slides to allow rear-seat access. The information system includes a hologram-style digital display in the instrument panel and a wide-angle head-up display.
Future Plans? The LF-SA is very much a design study. Although elements may find their way to production vehicles, we don’t expect to see this small concept in the Lexus lineup.
Nissan Sway Concept — Geneva
Nissan gives us a look at a future compact hatchback with the Sway concept, applying bold design to a relatively conservative auto segment. The Sway boasts four distinctive design elements: a V-motion grille, a floating roof, boomerang lights and a kicked-up C-pillar. Sway follows the new design language of last year’s Lannia Concept and the new Murano; it’s Nissan’s first application on a European hatchback. Sway gets swathed in Bluish Dawn Grey — gray paint with hints of blue that become visible under the right lighting conditions; particular body elements receive splashes of orange paint for contrast.
Nissan Sway Concept
Inside, Sway employs a darker blue with ivory, as well as orange highlights that match the exterior. The interior incorporates techniques from industrial architecture, such as structural aluminum elements. A “gliding wing” dashboard is inspired by Nissan’s IDx, first shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.
Future Plans? Nissan is already hinting that it could build a compact hatchback closely based on the Sway, so look for more news on this in the next six to 12 months.
Volkswagen Sport Coupe Concept GTE — Geneva
With the debut of this sleek 4-door coupe and the SUV concept shown earlier this year in Detroit, we are getting a clear look at the design cues we can expect to see on future production models from Volkswagen. “The Sport Coupe Concept GTE is another milestone of expressive design. With this concept car, Volkswagen is not only showing a new model’s design, but also initial glimpses of a new design era,” said Klaus Bischoff, head of design for Volkswagen. The wide stance and bold grille — along with the sleek coupe-like silhouette — give the concept an aggressive, sporty look.
Volkswagen Sport Coupe Concept GTE
Under the shiny new skin is a plug-in hybrid system that features a turbocharged V6 as well as two electric motors that combine to produce an impressive 374 horsepower driving all four wheels. With an electric range of 32 miles and a top speed of 155 mph, the GTE is estimated to achieve 118 mpg.
Future Plans? Although this car won’t go into production as shown, we expect to see a vehicle with similar styling and powerplant in the near future.
Volkswagen C Coupe GTE — Shanghai
The German carmaker has already revealed an SUV and 4-door sport coupe concept at Detroit and Geneva, respectively, and this latest concept falls in line with what is clearly future design language for Volkswagen. The C Coupe GTE was designed for the Chinese market and provides a look at a luxury 4-door sedan. Low-profile side windows and a sleek roofline give this concept a coupe-like tone.
Volkswagen C Coupe GTE
The interior has luxurious ambient lighting and seating for four. Rear-seat passengers can access climate control and seating position via a touchscreen interface, and two 9.5-inch screens integrated into the rear of the front seats will keep passengers entertained. A cooled champagne box adds to the lavish surroundings. Like the previous GTE concepts, the C Coupe GTE features an advanced plug-in hybrid system. A turbocharged gasoline engine is teamed with an electric motor and an 8-speed automatic transmission for a total output of 241 horsepower. The C Coupe can run on electric power up to speeds of 80 mph, and fuel economy is estimated at more than 100 mpg.
Future Plans? While the C Coupe GTE won’t make it to production, we fully expect to see a luxury sedan based on this attractive concept.
Volvo Lounge Console Concept — Shanghai
The Swedish car company showed off an XC90 concept in Shanghai that takes luxury transportation to the next level. The Lounge Console concept was designed for the chauffer-driven passenger by removing the front passenger seat and replacing it with a console complete with a number of luxurious, useful amenities. “The intention with this concept is to showcase two things — firstly that Volvo Cars is aware of the needs of our executive customers and secondly, that with design innovation and modern materials we can effectively create passenger experience that is unique in the premium car segment,” said Thomas Ingenlath, senior VP of design at Volvo Car Group.
Volvo Lounge Console Concept
Riding in this concept would certainly be a unique experience. The console features a large work table that opens to an illuminated vanity mirror with storage for make-up or other accessories. Rotating the table 90 degrees reveals a 17-inch video screen for a proper movie-viewing experience. Below is a cushioned leg rest and additional area to store your shoes. The console also includes a lockable storage space.
Future Plans? While it’s unlikely we’ll see this as a common feature in future XC90s — and Volvo has not announced any plans around it — we wouldn’t be surprised if the automaker created a limited-edition version with this feature.
Honda Concept D — Shanghai
At the most recent Auto Shanghai, Honda revealed this upscale SUV concept that could be the basis of a new flagship SUV for the Chinese market. Presented by Honda Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. — a wholly-owned Honda subsidiary in China — the Concept D features a spacious interior as well as the latest in safety technology.
Honda Concept D
“Including this Concept D, which is a proposal for a new value that only Honda can provide as the pioneer of the SUV market in China, we would like to continue providing attractive products equipped with our advanced technologies to our customers in China. Toward this end, we will accelerate the localization of our business in China”, said Seiji Kuraishi, president of HMCI.
Future Plans? Honda announced that an SUV based on the Concept D will go on sale in China in the near future, but we don’t expect to see this model in the U.S.
Chevrolet FNR Concept — Shanghai
General Motors provided a glimpse into the future of autonomous vehicles with this FNR concept that debuted at Auto Shanghai 2015. The concept was developed in Shanghai by GM’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC). With futuristic styling inside and out, the FNR features crystal laser headlights and taillights, dragonfly dual swing doors, magnetic hubless wheel electric motors and a wireless charging system.
Chevrolet FNR Concept
The FNR uses roof-mounted radar that works with sensors to map the surroundings, making it possible for FNR to operate without a driver. When the FNR is in self-driving mode, the front seats can swivel 180 degrees to face the rear seats, creating a more comfortable and intimate space. The driver can switch to manual mode through a gesture control feature.
Future Plans? Clearly the FNR will not be going into production; however, much of the technology showcased in this concept could someday find its way into a production car. Of course there are still a significant number of hurdles to cross before cars will be doing the driving for us.
Mercedes-Benz Concept GLC Coupe — Shanghai
Following the introduction of the GLE Coupe in Detroit earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz debuted a concept version of the smaller GLC Coupe at Auto Shanghai 2015. The combining of SUV utility with coupe-like style is a polarizing idea, but Mercedes and BMW seem to have embraced the concept. The GLC Coupe Concept looks ready for production with the familiar Mercedes-Benz grille and expressive headlights. The 21-inch wheels and raised ground clearance telegraph the utility of the GLC, while the sleek roofline provides a sporty flavor.
Mercedes-Benz Concept GLC Coupe
Powering the GLC Coupe is a 3.0-liter biturbo V6 engine producing 367 horsepower teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power is directed to all four wheels via the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic AWD system. Gorden Wagener, head of design at Daimler AG, explained the concept: “With its modern and sensual design idiom, the Concept GLC Coupé gives a foretaste of future SUV models from Mercedes-Benz. At the same time, it embraces the typical values of tradition-steeped Mercedes-Benz coupes.”
Future Plans? While not officially announced, the press release from Mercedes describes this concept as “near production,” so we’d expect to see a GLC Coupe join the Mercedes-Benz lineup within the next 12 months.
Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept — Chicago
While we love the styling of the XR-PHEV concept, the GC-PHEV (that naming has to go) is not quite as attractive. The angular lines are designed to give the concept a bold look, but overall proportions don’t seem right. But things improve as you look deeper. The powerplant is quite advanced — a supercharged V6 engine combines with a high-output electric motor, a sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission and Mitsubishi’s full-time Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system. The hybrid powertrain offers high performance (335-horsepower total) with exceptional fuel economy.
Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept
Inside the GC-PHEV is what Mitsubishi calls a “tactical table.” Running between the seats along the centerline of the vehicle, this unique touchscreen device provides all passengers with access to the advanced infotainment system, and it can also interact with smartphones placed on the surface.
Future Plans? We think it likely that Mitsubishi will bring back a large, 7-passenger SUV; although the styling of the GC-PHEV would probably not make it to production, some elements of the powertrain might.
Nissan NISMO 370Z Roadster Concept — Chicago
When first looking at the 370Z Roadster concept on display in Chicago, we assumed it was already a production model. NISMO is Nissan’s performance brand – NISMO versions of the GT-R, 370Z Coupe and JUKE already exist. “The idea of adding NISMO levels of look, feel and performance to a Nissan 370Z Roadster is one that we’ve been considering for a long time,” said Pierre Loing, vice president of product planning at Nissan North America. “The creation of the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept brings that idea to life and lets us judge consumer reaction — which we predict is going to be outstanding.”
Nissan NISMO 370Z Roadster Concept
The NISMO 370Z Roadster Concept is the first convertible to get the NISMO treatment, which includes tuned suspension, special interior and exterior features and a more powerful 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6. The NISMO roadster features functional and fully integrated aerodynamic body pieces, including a custom carbon fiber rear spoiler created specifically for use on this concept. The NISMO-styled interior carries on the sporting theme with black Recaro seats with custom off-white Ultrasuede inserts.
Future Plans? We would be very surprised if there wasn’t a NISMO 370Z Roadster looking very much like this concept available from Nissan within the next year.
Kia Trail’ster Concept — Chicago
The Soul has been the basis for a number of Kia concepts and custom models. The Trail’ster is the most recent, making its debut in February at the Chicago Auto Show. The Trail’ster exterior is just as innovative as what lies beneath. Still clearly a Soul, the Trail’ster looks ready to enjoy the great outdoors with its big off-road tires, a roll-top canvas roof and armored aluminum skidplates, as well as an integrated roof rack with aluminum cross rails to tote mountain bikes or snowboards.
Kia Trail’ster Concept
Trail’ster’s paint scheme also makes it a standout: Polar Pearl Snowdrift/Terra Bronze Metallic. Under the skin, this concept has a high-tech all-wheel-drive system — a turbocharged gas engine powers the front wheels, while an electric motor powers the rear wheels as needed. At slow speeds the Trail’ster can run electric-only, with the gas engine providing a boost during strong acceleration.
Future Plans? When asked if Kia would put a car like the Trail’ster into production, Kia’s executive VP of sales and marketing Michael Sprague said, “it has happened before,” so we’ll have to wait and see.
Buick Avenir Concept — Detroit
The Avenir — French for “future” — easily fits the bill as a flagship Buick sedan. While it has the traditional Buick styling cues, Avenir looks quite modern with a bold new grille and full LED lighting. “Avenir embodies Buick design, which centers on effortless beauty and presence without pretense,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors Global Design. “It demonstrates the growing international reach of Buick and offers an exciting vision of where it can go.”
Buick Avenir Concept
Inside the Avenir we find beautiful ambient lighting and a center console that flows from the dashboard all the way to the back seat. While looking quite high tech, the interior is not so over the top that you couldn’t picture it in a production car in a few years.
Future Plans? As much as we would love to see this car on the road, Buick currently has no plans to produce the Avenir, or a car like it. However, we could see much of Avenir’s modern styling carry over to future Buick models.
Chevy Bolt Concept — Detroit
Aside from the Tesla Model S, most mainstream electric cars on the market can only make it about 100 miles before they need more juice. An exception to this is the Chevrolet Bolt, shown as a concept car at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. The compact 4-door hatchback boasts a 200-mile range with an expected price around $30,000. “The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Chevy Bolt Concept
Large wheels with short overhangs, along with a sleek roofline, give Bolt a sporty look. The bright orange color doesn’t hurt, either. The concept sports a number of high-tech features, including smartphone integration into the 10-inch capacitive-touchscreen and an automatic park and retrieval system that allows the Bolt to park itself, and then return to the owner when summoned.
Future Plans? General Motors has announced plans to build a new EV vehicle based closely on the Bolt concept. Expect the range and price to be in line with the concept’s claims, but park and retrieval may take longer. No official word yet about when production might begin.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept — Detroit
This concept caught our eye when revealed in January at the Detroit Auto Show, mainly because it looks like the perfect combination of fun and utility. Designed for the “Urban Adventurer,” the Santa Cruz Concept offers the comfort and convenience of a small crossover but with a more versatile cargo bed. “The Santa Cruz crossover truck concept meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call ‘Urban Adventurers,’” said Mark Dipko, director of corporate planning for Hyundai Motor America.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept
At first glance the Santa Cruz looks like a 2-door, but it features rear-hinged rear doors for easy access to the rear seat. An integrated rigid tonneau cover that conveniently retracts when not needed provides a secure cargo area. A tailgate extension expands the cargo area even more.
Future Plans? Although a vehicle such as this would fit nicely into the Hyundai lineup, the potentially small market for it might not be enough to make the Santa Cruz financially viable. On the other hand, it could start a whole new trend if they build it. We’ll reserve judgment until Hyundai gathers consumer feedback on this one.
Infiniti Q60 Concept — Detroit
Nissan’s premium brand continues to refine its look (as well as its naming convention), starting with the introduction of the Q50 sedan last year. The current Q60 is based on the older G Coupe sedan, so this new Q60 concept comes along at the right time. With sweeping lines and a bold grille, the Q60 looks powerful and sporty. The concept features a next-generation 3.0-liter V6 engine with direct injection and twin-turbocharging driving the rear wheels.
Infiniti Q60 Concept
Inside, the Q60 has a hand-stitched leather-wrapped instrument panel with carbon fiber in the door accents. Rear-seat passengers get stylish bucket seats. “This concept goes beyond a flight-of-fancy design exercise; it is the next proof point in Infiniti’s concept-to-production approach. Come next year, Infiniti will produce a sports coupe with influences from the Q60 Concept,” said Francois Bancon, Infiniti’s vice president of product strategy.
Future Plans? As the man said, we can expect a Q60 Coupe based on the concept to join the Nissan lineup sometime next year.
Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE — Detroit
Volkswagen has already announced plans to introduce a new 7-passenger SUV next year, so the company provided a glimpse of what we can expect through this oddly-named crossover concept. Looking stylish in Grand Pacific Glacier Blue, the Cross Coupe GTE uses a plug-in hybrid system with a total output of 355 horsepower and an all-wheel-drive system that uses an “electric driveshaft.” Estimated fuel economy is rated at 70 MPGe.
Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE
The Cross Coupe GTE’s luxurious interior has forward-thinking looks, but not so much that it is impossible to imagine in a production model. All infotainment functions and the basic vehicle configuration are controlled via a 10.1-inch touchscreen using proximity sensors and gesture control. “Numerous details hint at how we envision a future production SUV model for North America. The underlying concept combines German engineering and design with a vehicle that suits the American lifestyle,” said Klaus Bischoff, chief designer at Volkswagen.
Future Plans? We expect to see features and styling cues from this concept appear on the upcoming 7-passenger SUV.