The International Motor Show Germany in Frankfurt came to a close on Sunday, so suffice it to say, it’s too late for you to purchase tickets at the door. But if you’re reading this, two things are likely true: You’re probably in the U.S., not Germany, and you’re probably not going to Germany just for an auto show.
Related: More Auto Show News
With that in mind, let’s reflect on some of the coolest cars that made their public debuts in Frankfurt. We’ll start with the production cars before getting into the concepts also on display.
The Real Ones
Land Rover Defender
We’ve covered the Defender at length elsewhere, but let’s make sure we’re clear on something: It’s cool as hell. In the year of our Lord 2019, you can finally get a factory Land Rover with steel wheels, a front bench seat and all the adventure gear you need. If that’s not enough, it also comes with a ton of factory accessories. I’ve already spent abundant time in the Land Rover online model configurator building out the perfect Defender — just in case Cars.com names it as its best car of the year and purchases one for its long-term fleet (hey, it could happen!).
Porsche’s Taycan sedan is the German automaker’s first all-electric vehicle, and it’s a doozy in price and performance. It also comes with a “turbocharged” variant — a performance signifier, not an indication of Porsche somehow figuring out how to turbocharge an electric motor.
There are two areas where the Taycan lags behind Tesla’s Model S, still the benchmark for electric sedans nearly a decade later. One is price, where the Taycan can be more expensive; the other is range, where the Model S still leads.
The Sian is all angles, but somehow it works. There will only be 63 made, and don’t worry about the price because all 63 have already been sold. Most notably, the Sian is Lamborghini’s first-ever hybrid. The mild-hybrid coupe packs a 48-volt motor attached to the gearbox that adds 34 horsepower, giving the Sian 819 horses in total.
There’s a ton of hybrid-related tricks under the hood, but the gist is this: It makes the Sian quicker and improves traction. The bummer is that, according to reports, Lamborghini doesn’t plan to add hybrid tech to its existing lineup; rather, future models may or may not be electrified.
We designated the ID.3 electric hatch with “tweener” status because it will be going into production — just not for the U.S. (though we will get other future electrified VWs). The ID.3 would be a solid competitor for cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt EV, but with neither flying off dealership lots at the moment, Volkswagen is selling it in a more hatchback-friendly market before bringing electrified SUVs, crossovers and maybe even vans to our shores.
The ID.3 will have a 200-plus-mile range; VW says 420 kilometers according to the EU’s ratings, though what that would translate to under our EPA standards isn’t exactly clear. And since we won’t be getting the ID.3, we’ll likely never know.
Another cute and effective all-electric hatchback, the Honda E, finally appeared as a production vehicle — all the times we’d seen it previously had been in concept or prototype form — and it’s still just as great as we could’ve hoped.
… Except for the part where it’s not coming to the U.S., of course. Maybe Honda will change its mind someday, but for now, a rear-wheel-drive all-electric hatchback is just not something the Japanese automaker thinks will fly with U.S. car buyers (where’d they get an idea like that?).
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS
Like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz is aware that the future is electric. For Frankfurt, it brought out the latest in its Vision line of concept vehicles, the EQS. Roughly the size of an S-Class sedan, the EQS portends a large, luxurious electric car coming to the Mercedes lineup in the next few years.
Reports indicate that Mercedes-Benz will gradually transition to that electrified future, however, with the production version of the EQS likely going on sale alongside a production, gasoline-powered S-Class. Buyers will thus have a choice of not one, but two full-size luxury sedans.
BMW Concept 4
Another near-production concept, the Concept 4 from BMW is absolutely gorgeous … if you can ignore that massive, bucktooth grille. We’re long past the traditional dual-kidney grille at this point, BMW.
The proportions are fantastic, and the sweeping lines that carry you from the long hood to the raked windshield and over the curved greenhouse are beautiful. BMW fans have gone so far as to create their own renderings of the Concept 4 with a nose more like the current 8 Series and, surprising no one, it looks so much better. If we’re lucky, that will be what makes it to production.
As expected, the Hyundai 45 EV concept looks like a retro-futuristic take on the brand’s first concept car, the Pony Coupe concept. What wasn’t necessarily expected — though it probably should have been, given the direction of the auto industry as a whole — is that the 45 Concept would have more of an SUV-esque ride height and proportions.
It still looks pretty damn cool, with its modern take on classic wire wheels, mirrorless lines and the fastback profile. Lighting is a significant design element inside and out, with unique LED head- and taillights giving the 45 a signature look that can be identified at a distance, while door-sill lighting indicates available range as occupants enter.
Audi AI:Trail Quattro
The AI:Trail Quattro concept is the most futuristic of the lot. The cabin is designed to resemble a helicopter’s from the outside, offering panoramic views from the significantly larger-than-normal side glass. The AI:Trail is also designed to be fully autonomous on paved roads and mostly autonomous on off-road trails, giving occupants time to look out the windows and enjoy the surrounding scenery. On rougher terrain, however, the driver will have to take control.
The most futuristic — or absurd, depending on your point of view — feature is the small fleet of drones that serve as an exterior lighting and camera element, illuminating the way ahead of the vehicle and giving the driver a drone’s-eye view of what is ahead.
More From Cars.com:
- Hyundai to Pony Up for Retro-Futuristic “45” Electric-Car Concept in Frankfurt
- VW Is Getting a Fresh Face: 3 Key Takeaways
- Porsche Is Taycan It to the Streets for 2020
- 2020 Land Rover Defender: Born Again in the USA
- The 13 Coolest Cars at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show
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