The Frankfurt motor show is, by far, the largest motor show in Europe and held every two years. Geneva might be the darling of the supercar manufacturers, but Frankfurt is a tour de force for the big German car companies and other major brands.
This year, the overwhelming theme for almost everybody was electrification. Almost every concept car and new production model featured either a hybrid or fully-electric drivetrain of some sort. With numerous governments planning to ban purely petrol and diesel cars in coming decades (the UK expiry date for non-electrified new cars is 2040), the car manufacturers were rolling out their latest ideas for electric vehicles.
Three-pointed star of the show
There was no doubt about the leading attraction at Frankfurt this year. Mercedes-Benz finally took the wraps off its long-awaited Mercedes-AMG Project ONE supercar. As close as you can possibly get to a Formula One car for the street, this 1,000hp monster is powered by a hybrid powertrain developed from Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning F1 car.
Bentley’s next big leap
We’d already seen the photos, but Frankfurt marked the public debut for the all-new Bentley Continental GT, powered by a substantially reworked 6.0-litre W12 petrol engine. The original model revolutionised Bentley when it was launched in 2003, and was updated in 2010. Now the third-generation model promises to lead Bentley into the next decade, with a plug-in hybrid and possibly even a fully-electric model to follow.
Ferrari redefines the “entry-level” model
Replacing the successful California model, which has marked the gateway to the Ferrari range for the last decade, is the new Ferrari Portofino. With 600hp on tap and a handy 70kg weight reduction, however, its performance is anything but pedestrian. Styling is also smoothed out compared to the rather fussy California, especially with the folding hard-top roof in place.
Audi finally builds a rear-wheel drive car
For decades, Audi has championed the safety benefits of all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive over the driving dynamics of rear-wheel drive. When the brand took control of Lamborghini nearly 20 years ago, the first thing it changed was to add all-wheel drive to the Italian supercars to make them safer and easier to drive.
So it was to everyone’s great surprise that Audi whipped the covers off a special version of its R8 supercar called the RWS, which stands for Rear Wheel Series (as usual, Audi is great at catchy names). Only 999 are planned to be built, and they are likely to sell out quickly.
Next page: Living in electric dreams