The all-electric Porsche Taycan, hybrid Lamborghini Sian and the return of an iconic Land Rover Defender were among the headliners at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. In addition, more than a dozen new models had world debuts, with electrification continuing to be a clear trend. Some of these new models are destined to arrive in the U.S. in the next twelve months, some may never be seen on American streets, while others may remain concept vehicles that refrain from rolling on any roads. Whatever the future holds, the following represent the vehicles of distinction at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.
ALPINA B3 Touring
Most American car shoppers no longer appreciate the versatility and styling of the station wagon, thanks to the rise of the sport-utility vehicle followed by the crossover. As a result, we won’t be experiencing vehicles such as the high-performance ALPINA B3 Touring that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. ALPINA has worked with BMW for 50 years, creating exclusive high-performance versions of BMW production models — the B3 Touring is the latest example. While the overall look is familiar, ALPINA adds its own touch with more aggressive aerodynamic elements up front that improve cooling while reducing lift. Painted in exclusive ALPINA Green, the B3 further differentiates itself with available 20-inch ALPINA CLASSIC wheels shod with custom Pirelli P Zero high-performance tires.
ALPINA B3 Touring
While standout styling is an important element of ALPINA’s products, much of the tuner’s handiwork on the B3 Touring is under the skin. The B3 utilizes the latest-generation bi-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six engine, which produces a plentiful 462 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. Further enhancements include performance brakes, sport suspension and a limited-slip differential. The B3 utilizes BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system with a rear-drive bias for more dynamic handling.
The Trail is the fourth and final vehicle in the AI series of advanced concept vehicles from Audi, joining the AICON, AI:RACE and AI:ME. While the first three represented luxury, performance and city driving, respectively, this final version is ready to head off-road. AI:TRAIL is fully electric, designed to handle rough terrain with enough battery life to adventure far from civilization. Unlike previous AI models, the AI:TRAIL doesn’t carry big screen displays for entertainment — its intention encourages occupants to enjoy the natural surroundings wherever the Trail takes them. Sporting massive22-inch wheels, the AI:TRAIL is built for heading off the beaten path. Ground clearance is a very high 13.4 inches, and the AI:TRAIL can even ford 1.6 feet of water.
Like the other AI concepts, the AI:TRAIL is capable of autonomous driving, allowing its passengers to relax and enjoy the scenery. Large windows all around give occupants a great view of the surroundings thanks to a glass roof as well as additional glass below the windshield that provides a better view of the upcoming terrain. Operating controls are quite simple — aside from the steering wheel and pedals, a docked smartphone is the primary interface. Seats are also simple: front occupants sit on slim but supportive seats, while rear passengers enjoy seats designed as hammocks. The AI:TRAIL has a unique lighting system — rather than employing conventional headlights, the AI:TRAIL carries a series of highly-efficient drones with matrix LED lighting. These can attach themselves to the vehicle or fly ahead to light the path. The drones also transmit video back to the cabin.
Audi RS 6 Avant
A particular niche of auto enthusiasts in the U.S. have been pining for the Audi RS6 Avant — a high-performance all-wheel-drive luxury wagon that has never been sold in America. Pining will no longer be necessary; in Frankfurt the German automaker announced that the new RS6 Avant will finally make it to U.S. shores. “Throughout our 25-year RS history, the Audi RS 6 Avant is one of our absolute icons with a large global fan base,” said Oliver Hoffmann, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH. “We will also be offering the RS 6 Avant in North America for the very first time. As such, we will be tapping into a new market with huge potential and generating further growth,” Hoffmann hopefully noted.
Audi RS 6 Avant
The RS6 Avant sports a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that generates a plentiful 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. With a quick-shifting 8-speed Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive, this not-so-small wagon can sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a supercar-like 3.6 seconds. The RS adaptive air suspension and wheel-selective torque control ensure excellent handling when the road becomes twisty. The RS6 Avant gets styling to match its performance with broad wheel arches and a three-dimensional RS-specific honeycomb structure in the signature Singleframe grille, finished in gloss black. At the rear is a roof edge spoiler as well as the dual oval tailpipes. The RS6 Avant will arrive in America next year.
Audi RS 7
The Audi RS 7 has long been one of our favorite luxury performance cars, so the introduction of the next-generation version is nothing but good news. Designed to stand out further from the more common A7, the RS 7 sits lower to the ground and thanks to larger fender flares it stands 1.6 inches wider than the A7. With a unique Singleframe grille and large air intakes with vertical fins, the RS 7 looks mean. At the rear are expressive LED taillights that widen at the sides, as well as large dual exhaust outlets. The interior reflects performance styling with RS Sport seats covered in Nappa leather as well as contrasting stitching to bring a splash of color throughout the cabin. A flat-bottomed RS Sport leather steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles adds to the look.
Audi RS 7
The RS 7 doesn’t merely look fast — it possesses power that lives up to its sporty styling. Under the hood lurks a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 cranking out 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, which will move this sleek four-door sedan to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.6 seconds — and with the optional Dynamic Plus package, the RS 7 tops out at almost 190 mph. Although fuel efficiency is not normally part of the conversation when quoting these type of velocity figures, the RS 7 also features a mild hybrid system. At speeds between 34.2 and 99.4 mph, releasing the accelerator allows the engine to shut off for fuel and emissions savings; pressing the accelerator instantly starts the engine again.
BMW Concept 4
BMW debuted the Concept 4 in Frankfurt — a look at the future of the 4 Series Coupe, with styling that draws from historical elements and aims to distinguish the coupe further from the 3 Series Sedan. The classic coupe silhouette and proportions yield a long hood, sweeping roofline and short overhangs, but the most striking element of the design is the bold vertical kidney grille. The grille is a reference to classics such as the BMW 328 and the BMW 3.0 CSi but, unlike those revered designs, the grille of the Concept 4 dominates the front view of the car. The kidney grille integrates horizontal trim with a faceted cut, and the grating within the kidneys, as well as the air intakes, is formed of small number 4s.
BMW Concept 4
BMW describes the front end of the Concept 4 as the new face of the 4 Series with its vertical kidney grille flanked by large air intakes and slim headlights that slant back from the grille’s upper edges. Finished in Forbidden Red paint, the Concept 4 roofline flows into the trunk lid and the window opening is narrow to emphasize the bold fenders. In BMW parlance, Vision is the name for a design that is looking farther into the future, but Concept is used when the design is close to production. Don’t be surprised if a new BMW 4 Series debuts soon — and that it looks a lot like the BMW Concept 4.
More than 10 years ago BMW debuted the X6, which it calls a Sports Activity Coupe, combining the attributes of a sport-utility vehicle with a coupelike roofline. The new-third generation BMW X6 was on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show, premiering an optional illuminated kidney grille. The grille illumination can be activated by unlocking / locking the vehicle or controlled manually, and it is part of the daytime running lights and thus can remain on when the X6 is in motion. The new design features slim trapezoidal Adaptive Full LED headlights and slim L-shaped LED taillights. The roofline flows into a double bubble at the rear, with twin spoilers above the rear glass.
The X6 is offered in three trim levels: sDrive40i, xDrive40i and M50i. The X6 sDrive is rear-wheel drive and the xDrive40i and M50i are both all-wheel drive. The X6 sDrive40i and xDrive40i are both powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter TwinPower inline six-cylinder engine producing 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque from 1500 to 5200 rpm — an increase of 33 horsepower and 35 lb-ft of torque over the previous model. The X6 M50i is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter TwinPower V8 engine producing 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque between 1800 and 4600 rpm — an increase of 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque over the previous model. The X6 is built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, alongside the X3, X4, X5 and X7 models. The X6 is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in September 2019 with a starting price of $64,300 for the sDrive40i; $66,600 for the xDrive40i; and $85,650 for the X6 M50i.
Byton is not a common automaker name to most American consumers, but that might change in years to come. The company, based in Nanjing, China, has a global design studio in Munich, Germany, and a research and development facility in Santa Clara, California. Here at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Byton took the wraps off its first production vehicle, the M-Byte crossover. Designed around connectivity and personal experience, the M-Byte is described by the company as a “next-generation smart device on wheels.” All this gets wrapped in a stylish crossover with an advanced electric powertrain.
The M-Byte’s interior sets it apart from other crossover offerings. The most noticeable difference is the large display screen that stretches the width of the dashboard, located right below the windshield. The display can be customized to each individual, which happens automatically via facial recognition. The interface is designed to be as natural as possible, with interactions occurring via voice, gesture and touch control. The front seats can rotate inward 10 degrees, allowing rear-seat passengers better visibility and making conversation easier. The M-Byte is slated to go on sale in China next year, and arrive in Europe and the U.S. in 2021.
Honda debuted the final production version of the Honda e in Frankfurt — the next-generation electric vehicle that offers a clean design and a full digital dashboard. The simple, clean exterior benefits from flush door handles that pop out for use, and a side camera system that replaces traditional sideview mirrors and sends live images to two 6-inch screens in the dash. The minimalist interior design receives a full-width digital dashboard with five different screens, including two 12.3-inch LCD touchscreens that function primarily as infotainment displays to access applications and connected infotainment services.
Rear-wheel drive and a wide stance promise a dynamic driving experience for the Honda e. Two high-output electric motor options are offered, with output of 100 kW (134 hp) or 113 kW (111 hp) and 233 lb-ft of torque. The 35.5 kWh battery provides a range of up to 136 miles and fast-charge capability, recharging the battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes. According to automaker specifications, the Honda e will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in approximately 8.0 seconds. At this time there are no plans to offer Honda e for the U.S. market.
Hyundai 45 EV Concept
Hyundai has already embraced the idea of electrification with two pure EVs in its roster, as well as hybrids and even a fuel-cell vehicle. At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the Korean company provided a glimpse into its future plans for EVs with the debut of the 45 EV Concept. Named to honor the advanced Pony Coupe Concept that was shown 45 years ago, the 45 EV Concept features a similar clean and simple design like that original concept from 1974. A modern take on the fastback profile, the 45 gives the appearance of stability with its wide stance and forward-oriented posture. Adding to the overall clean look are invisible door handles as well as a self-cleaning hidden camera that replaces the rearview mirrors.
Hyundai 45 EV Concept
As a fully electric concept, the 45 is able to maximize usable interior space by placing the batteries and motors outside or below the cabin. The batteries are stored under the floor in what Hyundai refers to a skateboard — a similar concept to the General Motors Autonomy that appeared in 2002. This setup allowed designers to create a living room-like interior with fine furniture and comfortable carpeting. Seats of the 45 swivel toward the entrance when the door opens for easy access. The high-tech display highlights the interior and, being a vehicle for the future, of course it can also be operated autonomously.
Hyundai Veloster N ETCR
It seems that almost every announcement at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show involved some level of electrification, and this even includes race cars. Hyundai took the wraps off its all-new Veloster N ETCR, the company’s first electric race car. Based on the high-performance road-going Veloster N, this new race car features a mid-mounted electric motor sending power to the rear wheels. The car will compete in the new ETCR (electric touring car racing) championship, which will make its debut next year. Hyundai has competed in European Touring Car Racing with the I30 N TCR and Veloster N TCR, and with the move towards electrification, the electric race car is the next logical step.
Hyundai Veloster N ETCR
“Today, we have experienced another special milestone in the history of Hyundai Motorsport,” said Head of Product Division, Executive Vice President of Hyundai Motor Group Thomas Schemera. “We are proud to reveal the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR, our first electric race car, designed specifically for ETCR regulations. We have been anticipating this moment for some time and we are thrilled to open this exciting new chapter for our company. Through our successful Customer Racing division, we have spent many years honing our skills in touring car racing, which has resulted in two packages capable of competing for championships around the world. ETCR is the natural next step in our journey, and one that aligns perfectly to Hyundai’s global strategy for electric vehicle production,” Schemera enthused.
At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, Lamborghini took the wraps off its fastest sports car ever: the new Sian. This new model represents Lamborghini’s first foray into electrification, so the car gets aptly named — Sian means flash or lightning in Bolognese dialect. Lamborghinis are always designed to look fast — even when stationary — but the Sian goes even further with sharp angles, rear fins and unique headlights up front. “The fastest Lamborghini must be a visual and symphonic feast, as remarkable to those who see it pass by as those privileged to drive it, “said Mitja Borkert, head of design at Automobili Lamborghini.
At the heart of the Sian lurks a 6.5-liter V12 engine, upgraded with titanium intake valves, that produces 785 horses — the most power ever derived from a Lamborghini engine. The V12 gets supplemented with a 34-horsepower electric motor for a total output of 819 horses. In another first, the Sian uses a supercapacitor to store energy, rather than more common lithium-ion batteries. According to Lamborghini, the supercapacitor is three times more powerful than a battery of the same weight. The Sian’s advanced regenerative braking system allows the supercapacitor to be fully charged every time the brakes are used. That power is then available for instant boost at any speed up to 80 mph. With all this power available, the Sian will blast to 62 mph (100 km/h) in less than 2.8 seconds, making it the quickest Lambo ever. Top speed is expected to be in excess of 217 mph. Extreme stats, even for a Lamborghini.
Land Rover Defender
One of the toughest and most capable vehicles in Land Rover history, the Defender returns for the 2020 model year, built on the automaker’s new all-aluminum D7x platform. The new Defender retains its familiar and the high sills, short overhangs and rear-mounted spare facilitate the off-road capability. The new Defender will launch in early 2020 with the Defender 110, followed later in the year by the short-wheelbase Defender 90. Six trim levels will be offered: Defender, Defender S, Defender SE, Defender HSE, Defender X and Defender First Edition. Inside, the new Defender offers a highly functional layout with exposed structural elements and rubberized floor coverings. The Defender 110 offers three seating options with five, six or 5+2 seating. The six-seat option features a front-row center seat that can be folded down to provide an armrest.
Land Rover Defender
Defender will be offered with two powertrain options designated Defender P300 and Defender P400. The Defender P300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine producing 296 horsepower. The Defender P400 features a mild-hybrid powertrain with an inline 6-cylinder engine that utilizes both a twin-scroll turbocharger and a 48-volt electric supercharger with a combined output of 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The P400 also features a belt-integrated started motor that assists the gasoline engine under acceleration and eliminates the need for an alternator. The 48-volt battery stores energy captured from braking as the vehicle slows down.
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS
Mercedes-Benz debuted the Vision EQS at the Frankfurt Motor Show — a look to the future with a fully-electric luxury vehicle possessing a spacious interior and a futuristic design. Mercedes-Benz describes the Vision EQS as a milestone on the way to the future of Mercedes-Benz with a focus on sustainability, high-quality vehicles and self-determined driving. In creating the Vision EQS, Mercedes-Benz incorporated supreme craftsmanship, emotive design, luxury materials and individual driving experience. The flowing exterior design combines luxury and aerodynamics, and the prominent “lightbelt” separates the silver lower body from the upper black panel and glass.
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS
As a vision for the future of electric luxury vehicles, Vision EQS is motivated by powerful electric motors; the front and rear axles produce a combined output of approximately 469 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. The electric all-wheel-drive system varies torque distribution between the front and rear axles, and Vision EQS will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. Battery capacity is approximately 100 kWh and range is estimated to be 435 miles. With 350 kW charging capacity, the battery can be recharged to 80 percent in less than 20 minutes.
Mercedes-AMG GLB 35
A new high-performance version of the compact crossover, Mercedes-Benz showcased the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 in Frankfurt, featuring a number of AMG cues including an AMG grille, front splitter, rear bumper, round exhaust trim, roof spoiler and 19-inch AMG light alloy wheels in gray with a gloss finish. Inside, the AMG treatment includes sport seats with black MB-Tex / DINAMICA microfiber, red stitching and red seat belts with optional two-tone leather packages.
Mercedes-AMG GLB 35
The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 is powered by an AMG-tuned turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, combined with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8-speed transmission and variable AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive. AMG DYNAMIC SELECT allows the driver to choose between five drive modes to tailor the driving experience to the conditions by adjusting throttle response, transmission shifts, suspension tuning, steering, torque distribution and the Electronic Stability Program.
Mercedes GLC 350e 4MATIC EQ
Mercedes-Benz debuted the new GLC 350e 4MATIC EQ Power in Frankfurt: a new plug-in hybrid compact crossover with third-generation Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid technology. The GLC 350e is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, combined with an electric motor rated at 121 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque for a total system output of 315 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph is estimated at 5.6 seconds.
Mercedes GLC 350e 4MATIC EQ
The GLC 350e is engineered for more power and more range, and the electric range is expected to be 28–30 miles, although U.S. EPA-estimated range is not yet available. The new onboard charger more than doubles the charging capacity, and because it can recover energy during braking and allows the combustion engine to run in the most efficient manner. When equipped with the Multimedia Package, the intelligent, route-based operating strategy activates the electric driving mode when it is most efficient for the route, considering navigation data, topography, speed limits and traffic conditions for the planned route. The GLC 350e is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in the first half of 2020.
MINI Cooper SE
A 2020 model based on the MINI 2-door hardtop, the Cooper SE is scheduled to start production in November 2019 at the MINI plant in Oxford, UK, and will be available early next year. The Cooper SE will be powered by an electric motor producing 135 kW (181 horsepower) and 199 lb-ft of torque, and will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds. The new MINI Cooper SE will charge on a 12-volt socket or a wall-mounted home charger, but with a DC fast charger of 50 kW, the SE will charge up to 80 percent in 35 minutes.
MINI Cooper SE
The high-voltage 32.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is positioned in the floor so that the MINI Cooper SE retains the same cargo capacity as the MINI 2-door hardtop. Range is expected to be 145-167 miles but U.S. EPA estimated range is not yet available. The MINI Cooper SE is distinguished from other MINI models by the closed grille with yellow accent, yellow mirrors, a unique rear apron and 16-inch MINI Electric Revolite Spoke alloy wheels, or optional 17-inch asymmetrical design MINI Electric Corona Spoke 2-tone alloy wheels. Standard equipment includes LED headlights, 2-zone automatic air conditioning, heating with heat pump technology, auxiliary heating, an electric parking brake and Connected Navigation.
Four years ago Porsche introduced the Mission E concept, providing a glimpse into the sports car company’s plans to build a fully electric vehicle. Today the German automaker fulfilled its vision when the highly-anticipated first production electric Porsche made its debut. The Taycan premieres as a 4-door sports car that offers all the performance expected of a Porsche — with a fully-electric powertrain. Two versions will be offered at launch: the Taycan Turbo and the Taycan Turbo S. Taycan’s design team made sure the new model is easily recognizable as a Porsche, with its sleek body and roofline that slopes toward the rear in its signature Teutonic taper. The headlights have a futuristic look, while at the rear a light bar over the large PORSCHE name evokes the look of the new 911.
Power for Taycan comes from two electric motors — one at each axle – which also creates an advanced 4-wheel drive system. The Taycan Turbo produces up to 670 horsepower and 626 lb-ft of torque, while the top-level Taycan Turbo S generates a staggering 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque, making it the most potent vehicle in the Porsche lineup. Power gets directed through a 2-speed transmission — first gear provides the ultimate in acceleration, while second gear exists for higher efficiency when travelling at higher speeds. With maximum torque available almost immediately, acceleration will be eye-watering — the Taycan Turbo will sprint to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, while the more powerful Turbo S will complete the same task in a mere 2.6 seconds. Porsche limits top speed for both versions to 161 mph.
Volkswagen hosted the world premiere of the Volkswagen ID.3 in Frankfurt — the first electric vehicle based on Volkswagen’s new modular electric drive matrix platform, which will also be used for future ID models. While the ID.3 will not go on sale in the U.S. market, future ID models will be offered. The ID.3 has exterior dimensions similar to the Volkswagen Golf, but offers more interior volume due to the electric drive system.
The ID.3 design is easily recognized as a zero emission electric vehicle and uses LED lighting to distinguish the design. The ID.3 1 ST special edition offers a range of up to 420 kilometers (260 miles) with the 58 kWh battery. A smaller 45 kWh battery with a range of 330 kilometers (205 miles) and a larger 77 kWh battery with a range of 550 kilometers (341 miles) will also be offered. The ID.3 will go on sale in Germany in the middle of 2020.