Wednesday, August 14, 2013

From the BMW i8 to the Lambroghini Cabrera to the Infiniti Q30: Top 10 cars to watch at the Frankfurt Auto Show

The Frankfurt Auto Show is just around the corner and some of the hottest cars from around the world will be on display. From the BMW i8 to the Honda Civic Tourer to Lamborghini Cabrera to the Infiniti Q30, check out our preview of the cars to keep an eye out for at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show
The Frankfurt Auto Show, seen here from 2011, opens on September 10, 2013.
Every two years, the auto show season begins in Frankfurt, Germany, when the automotive press descends upon the city to peer into the crystal ball that outlines the future of automotive design and trends in technology. Thanks in part to a rebounding global economy, this year’s crop of new model introductions and concepts is no exception.
As the Detroit auto show is focused on debuts from American automakers, the show in Frankfurt is focused, unsurprisingly, on debuts from European brands and for local markets. Increasingly global design and marketing strategies by manufacturers, however, have yielded Frankfurt greater relevance in recent years. And based on the list of expected debuts during show days in September, environmentally-friendly performance and luxury cars will take center stage.
Herein, a survey of notable concept cars and models bound for production that will make their official debut next month in Frankfurt:
The i8 may look like a concept car, but it is slated for production as early as 2014.
BMW i8

What is it? BMW’s attempt to meld sleek styling and sporty performance under a green-tinted halo.
Concept or production? Confirmed for production, as early as 2014.
Early bets indicate that the hybrid-electric BMW i8 will be this year’s show-stealing production car in Frankfurt. With lines and curves fit for a low-slung supercar, it becomes difficult to fathom the amount of technology underneath its lightweight shell. The model bound for production is the third evolution of the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept, which was first previewed at the 2009 Frankfurt show as a diesel-electric hybrid. Under the hood, a 231-horsepower, 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, and an electric motor capable of 131 horsepower, will propel the i8 to 60 mph in approximately 4.5 seconds, up to a claimed top speed of 155 mph. These are impressive numbers for any production car, let alone one with an environmental bent.
The i8 will join the i3 city car as the second model in BMW’s complement of i-branded vehicles that focus on green technology, but cannot be ordered as a pure electric vehicle, as the i3 can. The production model, sans blue camouflage tape, is due by the end of 2014.

The Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG is one of three models to round out the Mercedes-Benz lineup at the Frankfurt show.
Mercedes S500 Plug-In Hybrid, S63 AMG, and Coupe concept
What is it? Three new models to round out the roster of Mercedes-Benz’s
flagship product.
Concept or production? Production and concept.
Hot on the heels of the introduction of the ninth-generation Mercedes S-class sedan, the German automaker is already eager to expand its flagship lineup with several variants on the theme of ultimate luxury. In Frankfurt, Mercedes-Benz is expected to take the wraps off a plug-in hybrid, a high-performance AMG model, and a two-door, S-class coupe. To compete in a growing segment of economy-oriented performance sedans, the S500 Plug-in Hybrid will utilize a gasoline-powered V-6 engine and a trunk-mounted battery pack, and can be charged at an EV port to maximize efficiency. The S63, on the other hand, makes no excuses or compromises for its level of performance: a handbuilt V-8, which produces 577 horsepower, will reach 60 mph in an estimated 3.9 seconds. A yet-unrevealed two-door coupe concept, in the vein of the current CL-class, will be shown for the first time in Frankfurt.

The Lamborghini Gallardo, pictured, will be replaced with the new Cabrera.
Lamborghini Cabrera

What is it? The heir apparent to the snarling Gallardo supercar.
Concept or production? Concept, with a strong likelihood for production.
The Gallardo is dead; long live the Cabrera! The replacement for Lamborghini’s decade-old “entry-level” supercar is expected, but not confirmed, to bow at Frankfurt. Blending styling cues seen on the range-topping Aventador and Sesto Elemento concept car, spy shots of the lighter, sharper Gallardo replacement indicate that the shape will be familiar to Lamborghini cognoscenti. Power will likely continue to come from a 5.2-liter V-10 engine, with as many as 600 horsepower expected, and will be routed to all four wheels. Frankfurt will also host the first public showing of the 2014 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse, the ultimate special-edition Gallardo.
A hybrid version of the Range Rover will be on display for the world to see, but isn't expected to be available stateside.
Range Rover Hybrid

What is it? The latest forbidden fruit to fall from the tree of efficiency and luxury.
Concept or production? Production, but likely not bound for the United States.
The show in Frankfurt is all about highlighting the latest automotive trends to hit The Continent, which this year seem to focus on the push toward fusing performance and conscience. A prime example is Land Rover’s line-topping Range Rover Hybrid, which features a diesel-electric hybrid system – which makes complete sense to anyone who has ever bore the brunt of filling up a petrol-powered gas guzzler. Similar in most other cosmetic and mechanical senses to the 2013 Range Rover already in production, the Range Rover Hybrid is fitted with a turbodiesel V-6, good for 333 horsepower, and a floor-mounted battery pack. The Range Rover Hybrid is not slated to be exported to the United States.
The Q30 Concept marks Infiniti's first step towards more affordable premium models.
Infiniti Q30

What is it? Infiniti’s foray into affordable premium cars.
Concept or production? Concept, with plans for later production.
Little is yet known about the Infiniti Q30, the Japanese automaker’s concept car that will bow in Frankfurt, save for a sketch distributed to the media. Aimed directly at the nascent segment of budget-minded, highly stylized, luxury cars – think Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA-class – the Q30 concept will preview a production-ready model. No details were released regarding powertrain, feature content, or pricing, but it’s a reasonable guess that the Q30 will sit below the Q50 sedan in the Infiniti lineup in terms of power and bottom line.
A coupe version of its F-Type roadster is among Jaguar's most anticipated offerings at the Frankfurt show.
Jaguar crossover and F-type coupe

What is it? A hot coupe and a risky proposition of a crossover SUV.
Concept or production? Concept (crossover) and production (coupe).
Jaguar is rumored to be using Frankfurt for the debut of two possible additions to its growing lineup: a hardtop coupe iteration of its sensual and sinuous F-type roadster, and a first attempt at a crossover sport-utility vehicle. More likely to appear at the show is the coupe, which is expected to implement many of the design cues originally shown on the C-X16 concept car two years ago at the auto show. The F-type coupe will provide Jaguar with a serious competitor to the Porsche Cayman. Meanwhile, with the mixed reactions to a crossover SUV presented by a luxury marque still looming large, Jaguar may also bring a near-final version of its first-ever crossover to Frankfurt.
Smart is expected to showcase a replacement to its Fortwo minicar (not pictured).
Smart Fortwo

What is it? A much-awaited replacement to the flat-faced urban runabout.
Concept or production? Concept, likely to enter production.
As the second-generation Smart Fortwo nears its seventh birthday, a replacement for the pint-sized city car is well on its way. In Frankfurt, Smart is expected to present a concept of the third-generation model, slated to stay true to the original two-door’s size and purpose. Power will come from a three-cylinder gas engine, and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission will replace the bucking bronco of the current model’s transmission. An electric-only Fortwo is also planned, but not for Frankfurt. A larger Forfour model – based on a stretched Fortwo – may join the Fortwo concept on stage.
This design concept is expected to be a preview of the next Mini Cooper hatchback.
Mini Vision

What is it? A preview of the design language of the next Mini Cooper hatchback.
Concept or production? Concept.
Frankfurt will be swarming with new, fresh takes on modern automotive icons, and Mini has decided to release images of concept well in advance of the show. Teaser photos of the exterior show a shape slightly rounder and more pronounced than the current Cooper hatchback, with taillights reminiscent of the Paceman and the backwards-cap-style spoiler of the Coupe. The interior of the concept car retains a large binnacle at the top of the center stack, simple primary gauges, and open floor area. Mini was mum, however, on specifications on size and power, which will likely be divulged at the official unveiling. When the production Cooper eventually comes to market, expect it share more than a fair amount of its design cues with the Vision concept – not at all bad thing, in our estimation.
The sleek Honda Civic Tourer wagon will roll out in Europe only.
Honda Civic Tourer

What is it? A shapely wagon addition to the Civic line.
Concept or production? Production in 2014, but almost definitely not for the United States.
It seems that, every day, a new wagon is introduced that is not destined for North American buyers. Thus is the case with the Honda Civic Tourer, a compact wagon designed for the rest of the world only. Based on the Euro-market Civic, the Tourer will compete with other small estate cars on the Continent. Defined by sharp lines, a high beltline, and a cargo hold relatively large to its size, the Tourer is the wagon we wish would join the Civic’s American siblings. Isn’t the expression “never say never?”
Opel's Monza concept will hit the floor at Frankfurt.
Opel Monza

What is it? A design study for the next evolution of General Motors’ styling language in Europe.
Concept or production? Concept.
In Frankfurt, while some manufacturers will present near-production concept cars to gauge consumer reaction, General Motors’ Opel division will show off the Monza, a design study intended to preview the brand’s future trends in styling. Marked by large vents and openings in the front, and a wide stance with large wheels and tires, the Monza – which bears no relation to the Chevrolet Monza from three decades ago – shows off a muscular future for design expected to trickle down across GM’s brands. Little is known about the Monza’s powertrain, although the model is rumored to sit on the same chassis as the Cadillac ATS.
Cadillac's new ATS luxury sedan was named "car of the year" at the annual Detroit auto show
Cadillac's sporty ATS luxury compact sedan took honors as "car of the year" on annual Detroit auto show
Journalist-jurors at the largest and most important car show in North America also picked Chrysler's Ram 1500 pickup as their favorite in the truck and sport utility division.
The two topped a list of nearly four dozen 2013 models from all makers, with short lists in the two categories including competitors from Honda, Ford and Mazda.
The honors were announced amid a newfound sense of confidence in the US auto industry, following four years of struggle from near-collapse after the US recession and financial crisis.
Analysts were predicting another boom year in 2013, as consumers who held off buying for years now are replacing old and worn cars for shiny new models.