Concept cars are a lot like Playboy centerfolds: they’re generally enhanced to focus on beauty over function, you usually can’t gets your hands on one and if you do, chances are it won’t meet your expectations. Like centerfolds, concept cars are meant to be things of ethereal beauty, unattainable to mere mortals. The best we can hope for is a trickle-down effect, where styling elements from concept cars (or centerfolds) make it to production cars (or your girlfriend). Each year, manufacturers highlight the work of their design studios at auto shows around the globe. Most of these concepts will never see production, but will live on the body panels and interiors of cars yet to be built.
In 2010, most automakers were still reeling from the global economic collapse of 2008-2009. Budgets that would have gone to funding concept car design (or even attending auto shows) disappeared as automakers struggled to pay employee salaries, keep the lights on and keep their doors open. Concept cars may not have been as flashy or over-the-top as in years past, but there were still plenty of concept car introductions last year. Here are 10 that named as their favorites:
More substance than flash, the VW New Compact Coupe debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, and is remarkable for its hybrid drivetrain and 45 mpg fuel economy.
Another Detroit Auto Show introduction, the Cadillac XTS Platinum featured all wheel drive and a plug-in-hybrid drivetrain. Unlike most concepts, the XTS will most likely see production.
As shown at the L.A. Auto Show, Mazda’s Shinari concept will never see production. What will see production, however, is the Kodo design language embodied by the Shinari, which replaces the stoned-guppy look of Mazda’s outgoing Nagare design. And that’s a good thing.
Also introduced in L.A., don’t expect to see the Allure at a Nissan dealer anytime soon. Instead,expect to see design elements (like the Ninja warrior inspired grille) on future Nissan sedans.
Although this debuted at Frankfurt in 2009, I guess it was close enough to the 2010 show circuit to include it in the mix. Audi will build the eTron, and they’ve already warned us that it’ll be the most expensive product in their lineup. You can’t expect 3,319 ft lb of torque, or a zero to sixty time of 4.7 seconds to be inexpensive, I suppose.
Debuted at the L.A. Auto Show, the Impreza concept gives us a good idea of what future Subaru styling will look like. Expect to see this “Confidence In Motion” design theme carried across both Impreza and Legacy product lines.
Introduced at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, Porsche has given the green light for production of the uber-hybrid, based on customer demand. Expect over 700 combined horsepower, a fuel economy of 78 mpg and a price tag north of $600,000 when the car is built.
Shown at Geneva to mark Pininfarina’s 80th anniversary, the Alfa Romeo / Pinninfarina 2ettottanta gets my vote for concept I’d most like to see built, but with a pronounceable name. Given Alfa Romeo’s financial struggles, it isn’t likely that the 2ettottanta will see production, but we can still hope that design cues trickle down to the next Alfa Spyder. Assuming there is one.
Shown at SEMA, the Swagger Wagon Supreme is an example of an ad campaign gone too far. The ads were funny for about 15 minutes, now they’re just pathetic. Toyota isn’t going to build this beast, so if you want one, better phone B.A.D. Company to get your own copy built. Just paint it black and include a stripper pole on the inside, OK?
Shown at the Paris Auto Show, the Jaguar CX75 demonstrates that Jaguar can still build stunning cars. The concept used for electric motors, one at each wheel, generating a combined 780 horsepower. Two small gas turbine generators (non functional on the concept) would, in theory, charge the batteries. Sadly, all this beauty is for naught, as Jaguar has no plans to produce the CX75.