Top Concepts Cars of 2017

© Rod Hatfield, © Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAmazing Machines
Auto shows are great venues for consumers to experience the latest new vehicles from multiple manufacturers all under one roof, and perhaps even decide on the spot which wheels are right for them. Although new cars are the business side of the show, concept cars usually grab most of the attention. These one-of-a-kind automobiles emerge from the minds of designers and engineers who have the freedom to create vehicles unfettered by emissions or even safety standards, often without any specific price point in mind. Typically created as showcases for future technology or next-generation styling, concept cars add another level of excitement to an auto show. Take a few moments to feast your eyes on these amazing machines — concept cars from major auto shows around the globe.

© Audi AGAudi e-tron Sportback Concept — Shanghai
At this year’s Shanghai show, Audi took the wraps off its latest rendition of an electric car. Referred to as a “four-door Gran Turismo,” this sporty coupe / SUV features one electric motor powering the front wheels and two motors on the rear axle, creating Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel-drive system. With around 430 horsepower on tap, the German automaker estimates the e-tron can reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in a mere 4.5 seconds. Expected range would be more than 300 miles.

© Audi AGAudi e-tron Sportback Concept
The Audi e-tron features clean exterior styling with bold fender flares, a sculpted hood and large 23-inch wheels. Rearview mirrors have been replaced by cameras. Although it looks small in photos, the Sportback is about the size of an A7. “Our Audi e-tron will be starting out in 2018 — the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the management board at Audi AG. “With a range of over 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) and the special electric driving experience, we will make this sporty SUV the must-have product of the next decade,“ Stadler noted.

© General MotorsChevrolet FNR-X — Shanghai
Years ago auto designers merged wagons and SUVs to create the popular crossover; the latest trend combines the off-road qualities of an SUV with the styling of a sports coupe. The Chevrolet FNR-X concept is a prime example. A follow-up to the FNR concept shown in Shanghai a few years ago, the FNR-X gets a little closer to reality. “The Chevrolet-FNR is one of Chevrolet’s most forward-thinking concept cars, truly exemplifying the brand’s passion for innovation and ingenuity,” said Alan Batey, GM executive vice president and president of GM North America and Global Chevrolet. “The FNR-X builds on the design and technology showcased on the original FNR concept and embodies the belief at Chevrolet’s core that anything is possible,” Batey said.

© General MotorsChevrolet FNR-X
The styling of the FNR-X carries several obvious Chevrolet design cues, although its sculpted body, sleek lines and bold fenders suggest a futuristic look. A plug-in hybrid system powers the FNR-X, giving it the ability to switch between the gas engine and electric motor. Two driving modes are offered: V (versatility) and S (sport), as well as an adaptive suspension that lets the driver change handling characteristics as well as adjust ground clearance on demand. Optical and acoustical sensors virtually cover the FNR-X — used for the all-terrain Advanced Driver Assist System as well as autonomous driving assistance.

© FCA USJeep Yuntu Concept — Shanghai
The Chinese car market remains important for Jeep, which is why the brand showcased the Yuntu concept vehicle at this year’s Auto China in Shanghai. Built specifically with the Chinese market in mind, this unique SUV is instantly recognizable as a Jeep, but features a futurist exterior design with gold trim in the logos and on the wheels.

© FCA USJeep Yuntu Concept
Inside, the Yuntu has a natural look via considerable use of wood trim throughout. Contrasting the wood are a multitude of high-tech video screens providing entertainment in each of the three rows of seats. The entire dashboard appears to consist of video screens providing a variety of information. Although no powertrain details were offered, the Yuntu does employ a plug-in hybrid system. The Yuntu was created in a joint venture with Jeep’s Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automotive Group.

© Mercedes-Benz USAMercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan — Shanghai
Mercedes-Benz has considerable worldwide success in the compact vehicle class, which includes the CLA, GLA and A-Class, although the A-Class is not sold in the U.S. At this year’s auto show in Shanghai, the German automaker presented a hint at what might be the company’s next compact sedan. “Our Concept A Sedan shows that the time of creases is over,” said Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Daimler AG. “With its perfect proportions and a sensual treatment of surfaces with reduced lines, it is the next milestone of ‘Sensual Purity’ and has the potential to introduce a new design era,” Wagener said.

© Mercedes-Benz USAMercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan
The Concept A Sedan features coupelike lines even though it is designed to be a sporty, premium sedan. The A Sedan’s performance orientation reveals itself via the Panamericana grille currently used on the flagship AMG GT, as well as muscular wheel arches with special 20-inch wheels. The concept has unique lighting front and rear — the headlights are treated with a UV paint that lets them glow in different colors.

© Volkswagen of AmericaVolkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept — Shanghai
In the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, the company has shifted focus to electric vehicles. Two futuristic electric concepts have already been shown, and at this year’s Shanghai show a third model in the I.D. family premiered — the I.D. CROZZ concept. In Shanghai, Volkswagen’s Chairman of the Board of Management Herbert Diess stated that “By 2025, we want to have sales of pure electric vehicles up to one million units a year. The I.D. CROZZ will play a key role in that. Production will start in 2020,” Diess noted.

© Volkswagen of AmericaVolkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept
Volkswagen’s first electric-only crossover SUV, the CROZZ has sleek styling that VW describes as a “four-door coupe and sport-utility vehicle in one.” About the size of a Volkswagen Tiguan, the CROZZ features an electric all-wheel-drive system with 302 horsepower and a range of 311 miles on a single charge. Employing a fast-charger, the CROZZ can be at 80 percent charge in as little as 30 minutes. One of the many unique features of the I.D. CROZZ are headlights that act like eyes. When parked it looks as if its eyes are closed, only opening when “awakened.” As the car’s speed increases, the lights become narrower and more intense, as if the car is concentrating. Headlights will also “look” in the direction of travel.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGenesis GV80 Concept — New York
Hyundai’s luxury marque is still in its infancy, currently offering just two models: the G80 and G90 sedans. But at this year’s New York Auto Show, Genesis provided a look at what’s coming next with the introduction of the GV80 concept. “There is a unique energy and diverse global culture to New York that is fitting for Genesis, and we are excited to unveil the GV80 Concept here,” said Manfred Fitzgerald, head of the Genesis brand. “This concept is an important milestone for the brand to share our vision of the future, introducing a further expansion of our product portfolio,” Fitzgerald noted.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGenesis GV80 Concept
The GV80 concept provides a glimpse into a potential Genesis SUV with clean lines and signature Genesis grille. The simple interior features elegant materials, including semi-aniline leather trim with quilted diamond stitching on the interior door panels, seat inserts and center console. A digital instrument panel stretches across the entire dashboard. And since it was created as a vision of a future vehicle, the GV80 employs an advanced plug-in hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Genesis reps in New York told attending journalists that a new production vehicle based on the GV80 should join the Genesis lineup within the next two years.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInfiniti QX80 Monograph — New York
Designers of the QX80 Monograph set out to create a vehicle with a “commanding presence.” One look at this SUV confirms they were successful. Providing a suggestion of what a next-generation large Infiniti SUV might look like, the Monograph features a large, bold grille flanked by stylish headlights that have the look of human eyes. With flush door handles and rearview cameras instead of mirrors, the QX80 has an extremely clean style, looking almost sculpted in its satin exterior paint.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInfiniti QX80 Monograph 
The taillights of the QX80 mimic the look of the headlights, and large exhaust outlets project an image of power. The high beltline and massive 24-inch wheels add to the bold presence of this SUV concept. “We have listened to our customers to discover their expectations for a large SUV from Infiniti in 2017 and beyond. The QX80 Monograph illustrates how Infiniti’s ‘powerful elegance’ design language could be used to develop our luxury SUVs in future,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of Infiniti Global Design. Although this vehicle won’t go into production, expect to see many of the design elements in the next-generation QX80.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Rogue Dogue — New York
The Nissan Rogue is currently one of the most popular crossovers among American drivers. Although dogs are not purchasing many new vehicles, if they could the Rogue Dogue concept would be high on their consideration list. This special one-off concept would certainly get them howling — or begging. This unique Rogue has been outfitted with all the creature comforts a dog could want. And it’s not just dogs that will be interested — Nissan cites a survey noting that 83 percent of dog owners say it’s important for their dogs to be as safe and comfortable in their vehicles as other passengers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Rogue Dogue
A long list of dog-friendly features have been added to this 2017 Nissan Rogue. Highlights include built-in food and water dispensers, a slide-away dog ramp for easy access to the rear compartment, heated air vents for a custom dog bed in the rear cargo area, a second-row dog hammock and harness clips mounted in the rear compartment. Nissan’s Rogue Dogue concept also has a 360-degree dog shower with a 10-gallon pressurized water reserve, as well as an integrated dog drying system with a heated compressed-air dryer and an outside hose attachment. Of course, dogs may not be as excited about this bath-time feature as their chauffeurs. Unfortunately, Nissan doesn’t currently have plans to put the Rogue Dogue into production, but if you (or your dog) think that they should, by all means speak, SPEAK!

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubaru Ascent Concept — New York
Subaru has been without a 7-passenger crossover since the Japanese automaker discontinued the Tribeca a few years ago, but that’s about to change with the introduction of the Ascent. An all-new model for the Subaru lineup, Ascent already looks familiar with styling that aligns it with the brand’s popular Outback. About 10 inches larger than the Outback, the Ascent will feature two seats in the second row and space for three in the third row. The vehicle showcased at this year’s New York show is still considered a concept, but sources say it is unlikely to change much before production.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubaru Ascent Concept
Built on a variation of Subaru’s new global platform, the Ascent will be powered by an all-new turbocharged boxer engine. Details about the new motor have not been released yet, but we’d put money on at least 250 horsepower. Of course, the Ascent will feature Subaru’s full-time all-wheel-drive system. Production of the new model will be at the Subaru of Indiana plant in Lafayette, Indiana, alongside the Outback, Legacy and Impreza. The Ascent was designed exclusively for the North American market, and is expected to arrive in showrooms early next year.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota FT-4X Concept — New York
It’s been a few years since Toyota discontinued its iconic FJ Cruiser, and this new FT-4X concept looks like the perfect successor. Styled like a mini FJ, the FT-4X (Future Toyota 4WD Crossover) was designed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, California. Given its long list of unique, highly functional features, designers refer to the FT-4X as a four-wheel drive toolbox. “You can really tell that we had a blast designing the FT-4X because it looks fun to use and fun to drive,” said Calty Studio Chief Designer Ian Cartabiano. “I love this idea of mechanical satisfaction because while we’re living in today’s digital world, we took something that’s based on physical movements and made that a large part of what this vehicle is. We want everyone to interact with this car and feel a sense of delight and excitement,” Cartabiano exclaimed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota FT-4X Concept
There are many standout features on this fun little concept. At the rear is the Multi-Hatch with a large rotating handle that opens either as dual side-hinged doors for easy cargo access, or as one large hatch that provides shelter from the rain. On the inside of the hatch are warm and cold storage — keeping gloves warm and beverages cold. Interior lighting can be removed and used as a flashlight, the audio system can be removed to act as a boom box, and rear door handles double as water bottles. A GoPro camera built into the driver’s side rearview mirror captures video of whatever action might materialize in front of the FT-4X. Toyota has not announced any plans to build a vehicle such as this, but we hope some of the unique functionality eventually makes it to production.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAudi Q8 Sport Concept — Geneva
Following the introduction of the Q8 concept in Detroit earlier this year, in Geneva Audi took the wraps off the next iteration: the Q8 sport concept. Designed as the flagship of the German automaker’s SUV lineup, the Q8 sport introduces a stronger hybrid powertrain. With a 3.0-liter V6 engine and a mild hybrid system, total output is rated at 476 horsepower. Not only can this big SUV reach 62 mph in a mere 4.7 seconds, it also has a range of almost 750 miles.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAudi Q8 Sport Concept
“The drive system of the Audi Q8 sport concept is a major step towards optimizing efficiency and sustainability in large-volume series production,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board at Audi AG. “In the future, this combination will be used in many Audi models,” Stadler noted. Inside is a luxurious cabin for four passengers with a fully digital instrument panel and multiple screen displays.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept — Geneva
The British marque surprised attending media in Geneva with a glimpse of a new concept car, the EXP 12 Speed 6e. Not only does this concept provide a look at a possible small, sporty roadster, it showcases Bentley’s commitment to offering an electric vehicle at some point in the future. Smaller than the Continental GT, the 2-seat roadster has a clean exterior design with flush door handles and cameras instead of rearview mirrors.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept
The interior environs of the EXP 12 Speed 6e concept are gorgeous, with dark leather, chrome and a solid piece of curved glass for the high-definition screen. Not many details on the electric powertrain were revealed during Bentley’s press conference, but it was suggested that the roadster would have the range needed to be a proper grand tourer — meaning that it should be able to drive between London and Paris (via the Chunnel, of course) on a single charge.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-AMG GT Concept — Geneva
It’s not as if Mercedes doesn’t already offer sedans with extreme performance, but the AMG GT sedan concept provides a look at a possible 4-door with coupelike styling and performance at the same level as the AMG GT coupe. “With the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept, we are giving a preview of our third completely independently developed sports car and are extending the attractive AMG GT family to include a four-door variant,” said Tobias Moers, chairman of the management board at Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-AMG GT Concept
A fastback design with a comfortable interior and space for cargo, the GT Concept derives power from an AMG 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine combined with an electric motor to provide exceptional efficiency and performance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVanda Dendrobium — Geneva
Another unusual debut in Geneva belongs to a company out of Singapore called Vanda Electrics. The Dendrobium is Vanda’s first car — named for the orchid it mimics when the doors and roof are open. Longtime Formula One team Williams F1 is a technical partner in this venture, which lends a certain level of credibility to the project, although unfortunately there isn’t a lot of detail about the mechanics of this supercar beyond the fact that it is all electric.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVanda Dendrobium
Vanda also claims a goal of reaching 62 mph in 2.7 seconds and topping 200 mph (it’s unclear if the car has achieved these milestones). Depending on feedback from consumers at the Geneva Motor Show, production could start for the 2020 model year.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan NV Cargo X — Chicago
Nissan chose Chicago to showcase this one-of-a-kind NV Cargo van. Created with off-road builder and “Xtreme Off-Road” television host Ian Johnson, the Nissan NV Cargo X project van is a Nissan NV2500 HD, powered by a Cummins 5.0-liter V8 Turbo Diesel from a Nissan TITAN XD truck.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan NV Cargo X
At more than 7.5-feet tall, the NV Cargo X is an extreme version of Nissan’s flagship commercial vehicle, riding on 37-inch General Grabber X3 tires with a custom off-road suspension. Other modifications include an LED lighting system, a 10,000-pound front-mounted winch and a tube bumper with custom skidplate. The Nissan NV Cargo X is finished with a black-and-white wrap.

© Rod HatfieldRam Rebel TRX — Detroit
This one-off Ram concept is a study in the possibility of an extreme performance half-ton pickup truck, and is the most powerful half-ton truck the company has ever built. Created for the Texas State Fair, the Rebel TRX stands out with its big 37-inch off-road tires, unique front grille, big fender wells and bright red paint. But it’s what’s underneath that really makes the TRX something special. The high-strength steel frame increases durability and stability, while the custom off-road suspension is the result of a collaboration with Dirt King Fabrication in San Diego, California. Power in the Rebel TRX comes from a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine borrowed from the Dodge Hellcat, which produces 575 horsepower.

© Rod HatfieldRam Rebel TRX
With more than 13 inches of wheel travel, performance shocks and custom suspension, the TRX is built to fly off-road at triple-digit speeds. “The Rebel TRX can move through miles of rough terrain at incredible speeds, effortlessly absorbing impacts in a way that would very much surprise most people,” said Rob Wichman, head of Ram Engineering for FCA North America. “Engineering a truck with such a high tolerance for punishment keeps the focus on chassis development and durability,” noted Wichman. Although the TRX is fully functional, FCA currently has no plan to put a truck like this into production.

© Rod HatfieldAudi Q8 Concept — Detroit
Audi introduced the futuristic Q8 concept at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. This full-size SUV with a coupelike roofline provides an idea of what to expect in a new production model from the German automaker in 2018. With design elements from the original Ur-quattro from the 1980s — such as wide, flat C-pillars and flared fenders — the Q8 combines the space of an SUV and the roofline of a coupe while still providing plenty of room for four people and cargo. The newest version of Audi’s octagonal Singleframe grille is one of the largest ever, dominating the front of the Q8 and surrounded by contrasting paint which extends through the headlight surrounds and large lower air intakes. Headlights feature X-shaped blue laser light signatures and digital Matrix laser technology.

© Rod HatfieldAudi Q8 Concept
Audi describes the Q8 concept interior as a luxury lounge for four, with seats covered in a combination of Nappa and nubuck leather with aluminum trim separating the top portion of the seatback. Interior trim includes aluminum and three-dimensional engineering grain. The instrument panel incorporates large touchscreens with a black panel that integrates into the design when turned off. The Audi virtual cockpit adds new features and improved high-resolution displays. A plug-in electric hybrid system combines a 3.0-liter TFSI V6 gas engine with an electric motor for total power output of 303 kW and 516 lb-ft of torque, delivered through quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The Q8 concept rides on air suspension and has ceramic brake discs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW Concept X2 — Detroit
BMW currently has two SUVs with coupelike rooflines: the X6 and the smaller X4. Truth be told, we have not been big fans of their styling, but we really like the look of the Concept X2. The classic kidney grille has been enlarged so it appears bolder, surrounded by large air intakes and a bulging hood. The headlights are hexagonal rather than traditional round units, and they emit a blue X in the center by employing laser light technology.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW Concept X2
The X2’s silhouette is more of a sportback than a coupe, but the sleek lines make it look like it’s moving fast even at a standstill. Large 21-inch wheels fit nicely under bulging fenders, and bright orange paint and brushed aluminum accents certainly catch the eye. This concept does not have an interior this time around, but perhaps on the next iteration at a future auto show. The shape and design elements of the Concept X2 look ready for production, so we’re hoping to see a final version of the SUV in the next few years.

© Rod HatfieldChrysler Portal Concept — Detroit
A new look at family transportation, the Chrysler Portal Concept debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in the first week of January, before arriving in Detroit for the 2017 North American International Auto Show. An electric vehicle with more than 250 miles of range, the Portal Concept can recharge up to 150 miles of range in 20 minutes using DC Fast Charge. Millennials working in design and engineering at FCA US collaborated on ideas for the fifth generation of family vehicle following station wagons, minivans, sport-utility vehicles and crossovers.

© Rod HatfieldChrysler Portal Concept
Designed from the inside out, the Portal Concept maximizes interior space with a wide range of flexibility for multiple configurations. The thin seats fold flat, fold up and slide fore/aft on a track system for flexibility; rear seats can be removed. The interior features clean, sculpted lines with neutral and gray colors and jewel accents. The exterior design is highlighted by illuminated portal-shaped side openings, as well as articulated doors that open wide for easy loading. Portal uses lighting to interact and communicate via color-changing LED lighting at the front, on side portals and in the rear, which can be changed for different functions.

© Rod HatfieldInfiniti QX50 Concept — Detroit
Infiniti showcased its direction for a new midsize premium crossover at the North American International Auto Show with the QX50 Concept, a further development of the 2016 QX Sport Inspiration that debuted at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show. The QX50 Concept is the latest execution of Infiniti’s Powerful Elegance design language, combining taut lines with flowing profiled surfaces for an overall look that is more elegant and less aggressive than the previous FX and QX models. Infiniti has a recent history of production vehicles that remain true to prior concepts, and the QX50 Concept looks like another one that is very close to being production-ready.

© Rod HatfieldInfiniti QX50 Concept
For the interior of the QX50 Concept, Infiniti designers concentrated on reaching new levels of craftsmanship for models in this segment via more modern applications of wood, leather and stitching. Three different types of leather — genuine, semi-aniline and nubuck — are used for different textures and depth, in three different colors. The upper cabin is finished in brown leather, in contrast to white leather on the lower dash, door trim and seats. A line of navy blue synthetic nubuck divides the two and covers the center console. A line of close double stitching runs along the top of the dash, doors and front seats. Infiniti has filed a patent for the dot quilting used on the leather doors and seats.

© Rod HatfieldVolkswagen I.D. BUZZ — Detroit
The second I.D. concept from Volkswagen, the I.D. BUZZ debuted in Detroit as an all-electric Microbus that pays homage to the beloved Microbus of years past. The electric drivetrain allows flexibility for up to eight passengers and two luggage compartments. Two electric motors — one driving each axle — provide all-wheel-drive capability and a total output of 369 horsepower. A new take on the original Microbus, design elements of I.D. BUZZ include a new interpretation of the VW in contrasting color, the friendly “face” of the Microbus and the short front and rear overhangs.

© Rod HatfieldVolkswagen I.D. BUZZ
A fully autonomous vehicle in I.D. Pilot mode, the BUZZ’s driver and front passenger seats can be rotated 180 degrees to face the rear. With a slight push on the steering wheel it retracts into the instrument panel and switches to I.D. Pilot mode. The floor is made of Silver Birch wood, and in the rear seating area aluminum inlays in the wood match the honeycomb pattern of the dash and steering wheel. The top sections of the doors are covered in a metallic leatherette, and seats get covered with a knit fabric in a graduated honeycomb pattern. The head-up display projects information via augmented reality, and the center console includes a tablet display and Beats Bluetooth speakers.

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