Yesterday we looked at the bottom half of the Top Ten Concept Cars for 2014 (click here to catch up), so today it’s time to count down the Final Five.
It was a great year for concept cars, with each of the major motor shows featuring spectacular visions from various manufacturers. There were also two significant concepts revealed at other events away from the hubbub of other car launches (The Aston Martin DB10 at the 007 movie launch, and the Mini Superleggera Vision at the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance).
So without further ado, here are the Final Five of the Top Ten concept cars for 2014:
5. Toyota FT-1 (Detroit motor show)
How is it that the most boring car manufacturer in the world can produce something as incredible as the FT-1 concept car? Are you sure that it’s really a Toyota? Well yes it is.
Designed in the company’s California design studio, and deliberately styled with an exaggerated and aggressive stance, the FT-1 may preview an upcoming new Supra. However, it will need to be dialled back a fair way to be production-ready.
The company is also not saying what sort of engine would go under that cartoonish bonnet, although they did stress that the concept was rear-wheel-drive.
In the meantime, you can play a virtual version of the FT-1 on your PlayStation in Gran Turismo 6, so that’s one positive.
4. Audi Prologue (Los Angeles motor show)
Audi unveiled its vision for a new large coupé at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, declaring that it would point the way to Audi’s new design language for all future models. To ram home this impression, the car was even called the Prologue.
Being a strongly design-led company, such a statement caused considerable excitement. Many were then initially disappointed when the Audi Prologue concept car was not dramatically visually different from what Audi already sells today. But look closer and there are numerous detail highlights which will transfer well to production models.
Audi has always been a master of design detail, and the Prologue concept has such jewels in abundance. The 3D detailing in the headlights, tail lights and grille is superb, and the proportions of the car are carefully shaped to emphasise all four wheels, in a clear reference to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive heritage.
The interior takes Audi’s class-leading standards to new heights, and make a welcome change from the button-heavy layouts of their production models. So while it wasn’t a shock, the Audi Prologue concept was an excellent piece of automotive design.
3. Lamborghini Asterion (Paris motor show)
If the Audi provoked mild disappointment from the automotive media, then the Lamborghini Asterion unveiled at the Paris Motor Show was a bit of a bolt from the blue. The Asterion is Lambo’s first hybrid vehicle, with a V10 petrol engine from the Huracan driving the rear wheels and an electric motor and battery pack driving the front ones as required.
The design of the Asterion visibly softens the hard-edged look that all Sant’Agata’s cars have displayed for the last decade, while still clearly remaining a Lamborghini, and it seems to have met with almost universal approval. The target audience is a bit softer too; Lamborghini’s first hybrid is aimed at GT rivals like the Ferrari FF and the Aston Martin Vanquish, rather than out-and-out supercar hybrids like the LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918. But that is probably a very astute business decision, and could bring many new (still very wealthy, obviously) customers to Lamborghini dealerships.
2. Mini Superleggera Vision (Villa d’Este)
After years of serving up ever more bloated versions of its ubiquitous brick-shaped hatch, BMW finally seems to have had a brainwave on how to grow the Mini brand in 2014. As many other car companies have worked out over the years, the best way to get a gorgeous-looking car is to get the Italians to design it for you – in this case, Touring Superleggera of Milan. The Superleggera Vision roadster is exactly the sort of car that many people would love to see Mini making, rather than massive 4WDs which look like overinflated toads.
Launched at the 2014 Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance (which BMW sponsors) on the shores of Lake Como, the Superleggera Vision is a beautiful concept of a small and lightweight sports car. And surely, that is a perfect embodiment of a brand like Mini. Although some of the concept car’s details would be dropped for production, it looks largely ready to go.
The only real hassle is that a unique rear-wheel-drive roadster platform would be very expensive for BMW to be able to justify, which is presumably why we have daft cars like the current Mini Coupé and Roadster instead. Mazda has shown that there is still a market for this sort of vehicle, so will Mini bite the bullet and put the beautiful little Superleggera Vision into production?
1. Maserati Alfieri (Geneva motor show)
When you get to be one hundred years old, you deserve a party and lots of presents. But in this case, it was Maserati giving us the present in the form of the stunning Alfieri concept car at the 2014 Geneva motor show. Named after one of the five Maserati brothers who founded the company in 1914, the Alfieri is set to enter production in 2016.
Promisingly, the Maserati men are saying that it will look almost identical to the photos above, although the interior may need a bit of rethinking to be viable for real-world sales. Powered by turbocharged V6 engines from sister brand Ferrari, and featuring both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions, the new Maserati coupé looks set to take the fight to cars like the Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT, Audi R8 and Jaguar F-Type. Big opposition indeed, but Maserati is confident that the Alfieri will more than hold its own.
A year later should bring the inevitable convertible version, which sounds like a perfect way to explore the Amalfi coast if anyone from Maserati’s listening and wants to pencil me in for summer 2017…
What was your favourite concept car?
So there you have our Top Ten concept cars for 2014. Do you agree with our selections? There’s plenty of space below to give us your thoughts on the best automotive showpieces of the year, and we’d love to hear what you have to say.