Every year, car manufacturers produce dozens of concept cars for display at major motor shows or other events. It’s a time-honoured tradition that dates back before World War Two, and even though most of the vehicles are cobbled together with glue and sticky tape, they still generate plenty of media coverage and (hopefully) excitement among the general public.
As well as publicity, concept cars may provide pointers towards future design or technology ideas. Often a manufacturer will preview a new production model as a concept by throwing some bigger wheels and blingy paintwork on it, but the best concept cars are ones which will stop you in your tracks as soon as you lay eyes on them.
2014 was no different to previous years, throwing up plenty of concepts which varied from practical to extremely far-fetched. The following list is the first of our two-part Top Ten feature, chosen for what they represent as much as how they look. Some may see production in a somewhat toned-down form, while others are simply flights of fancy which show off a designer’s flair and try to build brand awareness. Today we are counting down concept cars Number 10 to 6, and tomorrow we will reveal the Final Five…
10. Kia Stinger GT4 (Detroit motor show)
Kia’s brand metamorphosis from cheap and (relatively) nasty to cool and desirable has taken place rapidly. Go back and look at a 2009 model Kia and then compare it to the latest models, and they could come from an entirely different car company. But Kia’s plans don’t stop there.
The GT4 Stinger concept was a smash hit of this year’s Detroit motor show, and shows clearly where Kia sees itself heading over the next five years; it is a dramatic and stylish design which is almost production-viable. Word is that we may see a slightly tamer production version of the Stinger on the road in 2016, but Kia designers insist that most of the RWD coupé design is very buildable.
The concept version is a lightweight affair, with a manual gearbox and very few luxuries, but a production model would likely beef that spec up a bit and pile on the kilos (airbags and crash-protecion gizmos weigh a lot).
9. DS Divine (Paris motor show)
Citroën has decided to spin its upmarket DS models off into an entire sub-brand, which will eventually be sold and serviced independently of the Citroën parent brand. This is likely to happen in China first, and will eventually spread to Europe if the initial results are successful.
To help launch the DS brand in Europe, Citroën/DS presented this Divine DS concept car. It is certainly a bold take on the hatchback genre, although it is a long way removed from production reality (check out the interior design and materials). The crazy surface detailing and lack of rear window wouldn’t work too well for mass production, but if they can replicate the overall look of the car then they may be onto a winner.
As to how well the company can sell the DS brand over an above the Citroën name, that’s another story altogether.
8. Hyundai Intrado (Geneva motor show)
The premium SUV market continues to thrive, and despite nearly every car company on the planet jumping onto the bandwagon, there is very little imagination in anything being presented in showrooms. But imagine if something like Hyundai’s Intrado concept car hit the streets? Granted, it doesn’t look particularly practical, and that orange interior is searingly bright, but it sure would generate a lot of stares everywhere you went.
If Hyundai could put this SUV-coupé concept car into production, they wouldn’t be able to build them fast enough to keep up with demand. Mind you, it is likely that the hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor of the concept would be swapped for a regular petrol or diesel engine, and those massive wheels will unfortunately disappear in favour of more practical (and much cheaper) smaller items.
7. Aston Martin DB10 (standalone launch for 007 movie ‘Spectre’)
Coming at at number (00)7 on our list of 2014’s top concept cars is James Bond’s latest set of wheels, the Aston Martin DB10. Unlike previous Bond vehicles, which have been production cars modified with the requisite machine guns and ejector seats by MI6’s famous Q Branch, this car has been designed by Aston Martin exclusively for 007 and will not enter series production.
So far, it has only been shown at the official launch of the upcoming James Bond movie, SPECTRE, with a single accompanying photo from Aston Martin. The design is said to preview the next generation of Aston Martins, starting with the DB9’s replacement in about 2016. Underneath that stylish skin, it is almost certainly a parts-bin combination of Aston’s existing models, and it is highly likely that the production team will destroy several cars in the making of SPECTRE.
Almost as likely is that we will see a lot more publicity for the car as the movie draws closer to release at the end of 2015. Expect extensive coverage from the motoring media as Aston Martin and EON Productions expertly milk the publicity machine dry.
6. Infiniti Q80 Inspiration (Paris motor show)
Infiniti is Nissan’s upmarket arm, designed to compete against hometown rival Lexus and the dominant German trio of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. But it’s fair to say that Infiniti lacks a suitable flagship model to lead the charge, and the Q80 Inspiration concept car revealed in Paris shows Infiniti’s current thinking in how such a range-topping model may look.
Low, sleek and far more stylish than its rivals, the Infiniti is unlikely to see production in its current form. But hopefully any retail version will retain as much of the concept’s low-slung luxury as possible. The concept car allegedly sports a hybrid V6 powerplant (not that anyone was allowed to look under the bonnet), and allegedly Infiniti has the Porsche Panamera in its sights for the production Q80 in around 2020. We wait with breath bated and fingers crossed.
Part Two of our concept car countdown…
Well that’s the first five down and there are still five fantastic concept cars to go. Come back tomorrow to find out which concepts ranked as the very, very best of 2014.