The players, the hustlers and everybody who loves new cars and future cars focused their attention on Germany's Frankfurt Auto Show this week to see who's coming out with what and who can impress the journalists and the car-buying public with their genius. If you've never been to an auto show, it's a bit like a rugby scrum where all the world's carmakers try to unnerve their competitors and inspire their customers.
Our editors scoured the nine halls of the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show to come up with this list of Greatest Hits. Some of these stars of the show are production cars hitting showrooms and driveways soon, some are "concept" cars in the purest sense, and others are concepts destined for production if the public response is positive.
But whether it offers a crystal clear look at tomorrow or a hazy gaze a couple years down the road, each of the cars on this list is a glimpse into our future. And our future looks bright.
Take a quick tour in the gallery above, then learn more about your favorites below.
If you're young and premium-minded we think you'll be wowed by the Infiniti Q30 compact crossover concept. Infiniti doesn't want you to be distracted by mundane things like engines and transmissions. Instead, bask in the authentic materials and in an emotional design that borrows from coupe, hatchback and crossover without being precisely any of those.
Up on the stand at the Frankfurt auto show, this little guy looked mean. Sporting 18-inch wheels, plus 420 horsepower romping out of a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder hybrid power setup, the Angry Young Yaris Hybrid-R concept was tuned up for track as well as road work with knowledge gleaned from some of Toyota's top racing engineers.
Jaguar's feeling the heat. Every other luxury carmaker has an SUV to offer, and for brands like Lexus and Porsche, SUVs are the top sellers. Now comes the Jaguar C-X17 concept crossover SUV, ostensibly created to show off Jaguar's future commitment to lightweight aluminum structures, but... a Jag SUV wouldn't be an absurdity.
We can only hope that Audi futurists and Italdesign Giugiaro keep getting together after viewing this stunning crossover that somehow melds the dynamics of a mid-engine sports car chassis with the spirit of an SUV. Delivering enough torque (737.56 lb-ft) to pull a skyscraper out of the ground, we have a feeling it'll startle the squirrels.
While auto shows are frequently about the new, it was the Golf R's heritage that attracted us to this fourth-generation version. Yes, fuel economy is up 18%, and we applaud that, but we think Golf R fans will be more amped about the DSG dual-clutch manual-cum-automatic and the resulting 4.9-second 0-62 time.
The Tesla Model S is arguably the coolest sedan of all time, but the BMW i8 might just out-cool (and out-tech) it. The plug-in hybrid boasts a futuristic lightweight body fashioned of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, an innovative drivetrain that promises sports-car-like performance and a six-figure price tag that will command attention.
Sometimes, you gotta just sit back and sigh. There was a great deal of sighing going on in Frankfurt when the Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupe rolled out onto the display floor and the arena exploded in flashes like a paparazzi festival. It appears that the S-Class coupe is in line for production.
In a Frankfurt show that was shy of heroes, the Volvo Concept Coupe was greeted by a delightful combination of nostalgia and lust. As the first of a series of three concept vehicles from Volvo, the Concept Coupe hints at the shape of Volvos and of Volvo hybrid drivetrains to come.
We loved the mid-80s Audi Sport Quattro for its pure grit, so how could we resist a concept version that channels the same profile, while packing a technological one-two punch the original couldn't match? First there's the 553-horsepower V8, and then there's a 148-horsepower electric motor. With a 190-mph top speed, it's an interesting take on environmentalism.
Production hybrid cars have finally hit the big time. The Porsche 918 Spyder is built to take advantage of the "Right-now!" acceleration available with the help of an electric motor combined with a V8 engine for maximum thrust. How thrustworthy is the 918 Spyder? Porsche claims zero-to-62 mph in a soul-boggling 2.8 seconds.
Ready for more?
We saw a lot more than 10 new cars and concepts in Frankfurt this year, including a number of contenders that almost made this list. Check out our coverage of the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show and pick out your own standouts.
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