Concept Cars: Fantasy to Reality
As some of the most exciting vehicles in the automotive world, concept cars range from vehicles so outlandish or extravagant that there can be no chance of ever getting on the street, to thinly veiled examples of vehicles practically ready for production. In most cases, automakers create concept vehicles to gauge interest in a vehicle and, if interest is high enough, the cars can make it to production — which is what happened with the following vehicles. Although some ventured away from the original concept to become a vehicle that can be purchased, some stayed pretty close to the original idea. Here’s a look at our favorite concept cars: fantasy to reality.
Acura NSX Concept — 2012
The original Acura NSX ceased production after the 2005 model year, but rumors continued to swirl for years that a new NSX was in the works. The NSX Concept features the sleek lines of a supercar while remaining lightweight like the original. Unlike the original, the NSX Concept featured an advanced powertrain of a powerful VTEC V6 engine teamed with two electric motors that provide excellent performance as well as Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Acura immediately began marketing the new NSX with a Superbowl ad (thar was made by following the steps in The Ultimate Guide to Shopify SEO) a few weeks later, featuring Jerry Seinfeld trying to secure the first NSX.
Acura NSX Convertible Concept — 2012
In an unusual move Acura built a second NSX concept — this one a convertible with slightly different styling than the coupe. It was introduced in Hollywood a few months later than the coupe to promote the latest Avengers movie — driven by Robert Downey Jr. In the movie Downey plays Iron Man Tony Stark — in previous movies his character had always driven Audis, but at the end of this movie he drives away in the NSX Convertible. There are still rumors that Acura may build a convertible NSX, but no confirmation — yet.
Acura NSX — 2017–present
Three years later and 25 years after the original NSX, Acura debuted the production Acura NSX at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. Looking very much like the concept car, the final production NSX is powered by a hybrid powertrain that combines a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine with three electric motors and a 9-speed dual-clutch transmission. The three electric motors include a direct-drive motor between the V6 engine and the transmission, and twin independent electric motors driving the front wheels with instant torque and dynamic torque distribution. The NSX remains on sale today.
Acura Type S Concept — 2019
Acura has used the Type S designation several times in the past to signify the brand’s high-performance models, and the Type S Concept that was revealed at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours was designed to send a message that performance variants are returning to the Acura lineup. The 4-door Type S Concept features sleek, sporty lines with a wide, aggressive stance. Adding to that look are large air intakes up front with what has become the signature Acura grille. White LEDs underscore slim headlights to create a signature running light style. A sculpted hood and muscular fender flares complete the sport-sedan look.
Acura TLX — 2021
A dead ringer for the Type S Concept, the all new TLX sport sedan debuted earlier this year. The low, wide stance gives the new version a high-performance look, further enhanced by an updated diamond pentagon grille flanked by next-generation Jewel Eye LED headlights. Also true to the message heralded by the concept, the TLX is also available as a Type S. The new TLX Type S stands out thanks to a unique open-surface diamond pentagon grille, larger side air intakes, an aggressive front splitter, a decklid spoiler, large quad exhaust outlets and two 20-inch wheel options. The Type S gets power to match the performance styling via a 355-horsepower twin-scroll turbo engine directing power to the road via Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive.
Aston Martin DBX Concept — 2015
The idea of a time-honored, luxury car company such as Aston Martin building an SUV seemed rather far-fetched in 2015, although at that year’s Geneva Motor Show the company showed an SUV concept called the DBX. With the idea of expanding the brand, Aston Martin said the DBX was a unique take on an SUV with a low, sleek roof, bold grille and raised ground clearance. The DBX has seating for four in an elegant and futuristic interior with generous cargo space for luggage.
Aston Martin DBX — 2021
The new DBX is the first SUV to wear an Aston Martin nameplate in the company’s 106-year history, and one look at the DBX confirms it is clearly, purely Aston Martin and has some basis in the original DBX concept vehicle. Up front sits the signature DB grille that flows into the vented, sculpted hood. Additional air flows through ducts integrated into the LED running lights, cooling the brakes as well as reducing drag. The whole family will feel comfortable in the DBX — sport seats are covered in available full-grain leather from Bridge of Weir, and Alcantara is the material of choice for the headliner as well as the roof blind. Power comes from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that generates 542 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Active exhaust allows the DBX to be quieter when appropriate, or provide a full V8 roar when attention is warranted.
Audi e-tron quattro concept — 2015
The German automaker chose its home show in Frankfurt to provide a glimpse at future plans for electrification. The e-tron quattro concept is an all-electric luxury SUV with slippery aerodynamics — achieving an incredibly low 0.25 coefficient of drag. With three electric motors, the e-tron concept was expected to offer impressive performance. At the time of the concept debut the company hinted that there might be a production model based on this concept in 2018.
Audi e-tron — 2019–present
The first fully electric model from Audi, the e-tron is a premium 5-seat midsize crossover with styling similar to that of the original concept. Motivation comes from two powerful electric motors — one powering each axle — creating a new generation of quattro electric all-wheel drive that can adjust the amount of torque delivered to each axle for ideal balance according to driving conditions. Power output from the two electric motors is 355 horsepower — in Boost mode that increases to 402 horsepower, allowing e-tron to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
Audi Q8 Concept — 2017
Audi introduced the advanced Q8 concept at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. The large SUV features a coupelike roofline as well as design elements from the original quattro of the 1980s, such as wide, flat C-pillars and flared fenders. Although it features sleek coupelike lines, the Q8 Concept still provides plenty of room for four people and cargo. The newest version of Audi’s octagonal Singleframe grille dominates the front of the Q8, surrounded by contrasting paint that extends through the headlight surrounds and large lower air intakes. Inside, the Audi virtual cockpit adds new features with improved high-resolution displays while passengers enjoy loungelike surroundings. Power comes from a plug-in electric hybrid system combining a V6 gas engine with an electric motor for total power output of 443 horses, delivered through quattro permanent all-wheel drive.
Audi Q8 — 2019–present
A case where the concept is not far removed from the production version, the Audi Q8 debuted 18 months after the Detroit show’s concept as a 2019 model. The shape and style remained similar to the concept vehicle, and the production model of this flagship SUV provides a roomy, luxurious interior. The initial offering of the Q8 featured a 3.0-liter 335-horsepower V6 engine with a 48-volt mild hybrid system and quattro all-wheel drive as standard equipment; today there are higher-performance versions of this stylish SUV — the SQ8 and RSQ8, the latter of which makes 591 horsepower from its bi-turbo V8.
BMW Concept 4 — 2019
At the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW took the wraps off the Concept 4 — a precursor to the upcoming, updated 4 Series Coupe. The concept has classic coupe proportions featuring a long hood, sweeping roofline and short overhangs, but the most striking element of the design is a bold vertical kidney grille. Although the grille is a reference to classics such as the BMW 328 and the BMW 3.0 CSi, unlike those revered designs this grille dominates the front view of the car. This controversial front end was going to be the new face of the 4 Series with its vertical kidney grille flanked by large air intakes and slim headlights that slant back from the grille’s upper edges.
BMW 4 Series — 2021
A few weeks ago BMW revealed the all-new 4 Series Coupe. Although the design has been toned down a bit from the show car in Germany last year, the new 4 Series retains many of the styling cues introduced on the concept — including the boldly styled grille. In addition to updated styling, the second-generation BMW 4 Series Coupe receives more power, improved performance and a slew of new features. A full 5.2 inches longer than the previous-generation 4 Series, the 2021 model has a long hood, sleek roofline and powerful fenders. The roof slopes smoothly toward the rear of the car, where it blips up slightly at the edge of the trunk. An 8.8-inch center display is standard in the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe, with the option of upgrading to a 10.25-inch horizontal touchscreen with a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also standard. Two powertrains will be available at launch, including the top-level 3.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine that produces 382 horsepower in the M44oi.
BMW Concept Z4 — 2017
BMW chose the beautiful setting of Pebble Beach during the Monterey Motoring Week to show off the sporty Concept Z4. The Concept Z4 features classic roadster lines with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and a compact rear end. The car is low and wide, which gives the roadster an aggressive stance and the potential for great handling. Although the Concept Z4 is recognizable as a BMW, the front end offers a new take on the classic BMW kidney grille, flanked by completely new headlights arranged in a more vertical fashion. Inside, the cockpit visually separates driver from passenger. Controls integrate with soft-touch selectors, and a wide touchscreen and digital gauge cluster provide information to the driver. A subtle touch: dashboard vents match the exhaust outlets.
BMW Z4 — 2019–present
One year later — at the same location — BMW took the wraps off the production version of the Z4 roadster. There wasn’t much lost in translation from concept to production, with many styling cues and features from the concept remaining on the all-new production model. The stacked headlights look almost identical to the concept, as does the deep sculpting on the sides of the sleek roadster. Inside, the display screens are similar to those seen on the concept vehicle; however, the unique color treatment had been swapped for a more standard-looking interior. Two versions of the Z4 are available — the sDrive30i and M40i — with turbocharged engines delivering 255 horsepower and 382 horsepower, respectively.
BMW i8 Concept — 2011
Almost 10 years ago BMW showcased its first electrified vehicle concept while announcing plans to start a new BMW i sub-brand. The i8 Concept provided a new idea of what a sports car could be, from its advanced powertrain to its futuristic design. The futuristic-looking plug-in hybrid concept features an electric motor at the front axle and gas engine at the rear to provide an ideal weight distribution as well as improved handling with all-wheel drive and a low center of gravity. BMW said the i8 was expected to accelerate to 62 mph in less than 5 seconds while traveling in electric-only mode for about 21 miles.
BMW i8 — 2015–2020
Looking as futuristic as the concept version, the i8 joined the BMW lineup in 2015. BMW’s high-performance plug-in hybrid sports car delivers high levels of performance and efficiency. The unique drivetrain features a 228-horsepower 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that powers the rear wheels, while the front wheels get motivation from a 129-horsepower electric motor. Combined output of 369 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque moves the AWD i8 from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The i8 doesn’t look like anything else on the road with its sleek silhouette, big wheels, narrow grille and crazy aerodynamic angles at the rear, as well as unique scissor doors that lift and pivot upward toward the front. BMW later added a roadster version to the i8 lineup with a soft-top that opens in less than 16 seconds. Unfortunately BMW ceased production of the I8 early last year.
Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo — 2015
This extreme sports car concept was arguably the star of the entire Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015. Designed for the popular Gran Turismo PlayStation gaming franchise, the Bugatti VGT actually looked like it drove straight out of the video game. Bugatti designers wanted to pay homage to the brand’s legendary racing history while at the same time create something extremely modern. The result is the Vision Gran Turismo, which has elements of the already extreme Veyron, but with a considerably more aggressive look. Unknown to the public at the time of the unveil: the underlying design of this concept would become the basis of the new Chiron a few months later.
Bugatti Chiron — 2016–present
Unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Chiron carried a number of styling cues from the Vision Gran Turismo, but the end result is much more refined. Bugatti refers to its new design language as Form Follows Performance, meaning that almost every design element has a purpose. Certain styling cues on the new Chiron hearken back to original Bugattis of the 1920s and 1930s — most notably the classic horseshoe grille. Powering the Chiron is an 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 engine producing 1500 horsepower and insane 1180 lb-ft of torque, available as low as 2000 rpm. Performances numbers are staggering. The Chiron reaches 62 mph in less than 2.5 seconds, 124 mph in around 6.5 seconds and — most amazing of all — 186 mph in less than 13.6 seconds. The Chiron’s speed is limited to 236 mph for most driving — a special key is required to unlock the maximum speed — “limited for road use” — of 261 mph.
Chevrolet Bolt Concept — 2015
Aside from the Tesla Model S, in 2015 most mainstream electric cars on the market could only make it about 100 miles before they needed more juice. Looking to shake up the market, Chevrolet debuted the Chevrolet Bolt concept in Detroit. The compact 4-door hatchback boasted a 200-mile range with an estimated price around $30,000. Large wheels with short overhangs, along with a sleek roofline, give the electric concept a sporty look. The Bolt concept offers a number of high-tech features, including smartphone integration into the 10-inch capacitive-touchscreen and an automatic park and retrieval system that allows the Bolt to park itself, and then return to the owner when summoned.
Chevrolet Bolt EV — 2017–present
A couple years later, Chevrolet came to market with the production version of the Bolt EV. Styling was toned down slightly from the concept vehicle, but overall the production version looks very much like the concept. Chevrolet introduced an updated Bolt for the 2022 model year with updated styling as well as a new sibling — the larger Bolt EUV. Both versions are powered by a permanent magnet electric motor producing 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels. The 65 kWh lithium-ion battery pack delivers an estimated 259 miles in the Bolt EV and 250 miles in the Bolt EUV.
Dodge Challenger Concept — 2006
One of the biggest debuts of the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit was the Dodge Challenger Concept. The brand had gone retro previously with a few other models, but the Challenger Concept really nails the look of the classic HEMI-powered muscle car from the 1970s. “During development of the concept car we brought an actual 1970 Challenger into the studio,” exterior designer Michael Castiglione said. “For me, that car symbolizes the most passionate era of automotive design.” From the moment everyone saw the concept there was hope that it would become a production car — and of course it did.
Dodge Challenger — 2009–present
Two years after making a big splash in Detroit, the Challenger went into production. This was actually the third generation of Challenger — from 1978–1983 Mitsubishi made an economy car named Challenger, but the new model helped us to forget that disappointing bit of history. The new Challenger carries over most of the styling from the concept vehicle, and is appropriately available with a 6.1-liter HEMI V8 packing 425 horsepower. Since that time, the Challenger hasn’t changed all that much in design, but a steady stream of retro colors and more powerful engines have been made available to keep up the excitement. The current Challenger still offers a range of powerful options, including the 797-horsepower Challenger Redeye.
Ford Bronco Concept — 2004
At the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford gave Bronco enthusiasts a bit of hope with the debut of the Bronco Concept. The concept had the look and proportions of the original 1960s Bronco SUV with its boxy shape, squared-off roof and short wheelbase. And in keeping with former Broncos, the rear portion of the concept’s roof could be removed. Inside, the Bronco Concept features brushed-aluminum accents that complement the orange-brown suede seat trim. A fuel-efficient turbodiesel engine could be bolted under the hood, with the added bonus of a nitrous-oxide boost system. Bronco fans hoped this concept was a sign of Ford readying the return of the Bronco, but — as we now know — that wouldn’t happen for several more years.
Ford Bronco — 2021
More than 50 years after the introduction of the original Bronco family (and 16 years after the aforementioned concept), Ford introduces an all-new family of Bronco vehicles. With styling clearly reminiscent of the original, the new Bronco will be available as a 2-door model and — for the first time — will also be offered as a 4-door model. Rounding out the new Bronco family is a smaller yet still capable Bronco Sport. Like the original, the new Bronco will be built for off-road adventures with a removable roof and doors (except Sport) and standard 4-wheel drive. The new Bronco stands out with available features such as a 7-speed manual gearbox, 35-inch tires, 11.6 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford up to 33.5 inches of water.
Genesis GV80 Concept — 2017
In 2017 Hyundai’s luxury marque was still in its infancy, offering only two models: the G80 and G90 sedans. But at that year’s New York Auto Show, Genesis provided a glimpse at its future with the GV80 concept. The GV80 concept explored a potential Genesis SUV with clean lines and signature Genesis grille. The simple interior features elegant materials, including semi-aniline leather trim with quilted diamond stitching on the interior door panels, seat inserts and center console. A digital instrument panel stretches across the entire dashboard. At the time Genesis reps in New York told attending journalists that a new production vehicle based on the GV80 would join the Genesis lineup within two years.
Genesis GV80 — 2021
Perhaps a little later than originally planned, Genesis introduced the production version of the GV80 luxury SUV at a special event in Miami last year. The GV80 has styling that complements the Genesis lineup. Joining the G70, G80 and G90 sedans, the new SUV features the familiar Crest Grille while introducing a new headlight style for the brand. The quad narrow lamps create a unique look, similar to the lights on the concept vehicle. Constructed using a unique rear-wheel-drive platform, the GV80 can also be equipped with full-time all-wheel drive that features an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential. The luxurious interior features a 14-inch-wide split-screen infotainment display, a single-spoke two-tone steering wheel and attractive diamond-pleated leather seats.
Honda Urban EV Concept — 2017
An all-electric car smaller than the current Honda Jazz supermini, the Urban EV Concept debuted at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Built on an all-new platform, the Urban EV Concept is low and wide, with a simple, somewhat retro design. Between the headlights, text can be displayed such as greetings, messages for other drivers or charging status. Inside, the Urban EV Concept seats four on two bench seats, with the front seat finished in gray fabric with a wood trim seatback and armrests. The large floating dashboard console is also trimmed in wood with simple controls and a panoramic screen on top. A wraparound panoramic screen behind the console extends into the doors and replaces the side mirrors with camera displays. Slim A-pillars and a wraparound windshield improve visibility for the driver. The doors are rear-hinged for easy access.
Honda e — TBD
The automaker debuted the final production version of the Honda e late last year — the next-generation electric vehicle that offers a clean design and a full digital dashboard similar to the original concept. The simple, clean exterior benefits from flush door handles that pop out for use, and a side camera system that replaces traditional sideview mirrors and sends live images to two 6-inch screens in the dash. The minimalist interior design receives a full-width digital dashboard with five different screens, including two 12.3-inch LCD touchscreens that function primarily as infotainment displays to access applications and connected infotainment services. Two high-output electric motor options are offered, with output of 100 kW (134 hp) or 113 kW (111 hp). The 35.5 kWh battery provides a range of up to 136 miles and fast-charge capability, recharging the battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, at this time Honda has no plans to offer Honda e for the U.S. market.
Infiniti QX60 Monograph — 2020
In the fall of 2020, Infiniti provided a peek at the next QX60 through the introduction of the QX60 Monograph. Infiniti designers embraced the three-row functionality expected of this premium crossover while wrapping it in a more aerodynamic, bold Monograph package. Infiniti referred to the Monograph as more than a design study or concept, instead claiming it “provides a tangible insight into how Infiniti plans to transform a future model.” The Monograph’s signature Infiniti grille features a mesh pattern — inspired by Japanese origami — that appears three-dimensional. Side air intakes at the edges of the bumper echo the same mesh design. The wide body of the Infiniti QX60 Monograph is further emphasized by taillights that span the liftgate.
Infiniti QX60 — 2022
About one year after the introduction of the QX60 Monograph, Infiniti unveiled the production version of the 2022 QX60. With very little lost in translation from concept to production, the new QX60 features all-new styling but still remains easily recognizable as part of the Infiniti lineup. Up front sits the brand’s signature double-arch grille with unique mesh inspired by folds found in Japanese origami — much like the concept. In addition to a large logo in the center, embossed INFINITI lettering adorns the bottom of the grille. In profile, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 roofline flows downward toward the rear of the vehicle, ending at the spoiler. This sleek shape gets further emphasized by an available two-tone paint scheme incorporating a black roof.
Jaguar I-PACE Concept — 2016
At a time when most electric cars offered limited range and performance, Jaguar announced its plans to enter the fray with a powerful electric crossover called the i-PACE. Shown in concept form at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the stunning I-PACE showcases a new sporty crossover design with two powerful electric motors — one driving each axle for all-wheel-drive performance. Total output is rated at 400 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, and Jaguar says the I-PACE Concept has the ability to accelerate to 60 mph in around 4 seconds and a range of 220 miles.
Jaguar I-PACE — 2019–present
Jaguar revealed the production version of the innovative I-PACE in a live global webcast on March 1, 2018, from the I-PACE manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria, before arriving at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show later that month. Jaguar equipped the I-PACE with a 90 kWh lithium-ion battery that provides a healthy driving range of 240 miles. With styling and a drivetrain similar to the concept version, the all-wheel-drive I-PACE is powered by two electric motors — one driving each axle — for a total output of 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque. This power lets the I-PACE scoot from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, according to Jaguar. Batteries can be charged from zero to 80 percent capacity in about 40 minutes using 100kW rapid charging facilities, or achieve the same 80 percent charge at home in about 10 hours using a 230V/32A AC wall box.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept — 2020
In 1962 Jeep introduced the Wagoneer — the first 4-wheel-drive vehicle to employ an automatic transmission — and 20 years later in the 1980s the premium Grand Wagoneer came along. The Wagoneer name has been gone from the Jeep lineup for years, although last year Jeep debuted a Grand Wagoneer Concept that builds on the idea behind those seminal vehicles, with plans to take the big Jeep into production next year. The grille of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept features the brand’s signature seven slots, but this grille is something special. Each slot has an intricate latticework with a line of LEDs separating each slot; a continuous LED light bar above the grille completes the commanding look. The original Jeep Wagoneer has traditionally boxy SUV styling; although this Grand Wagoneer Concept is thoroughly modern, it possesses a profile similar to the original model.
Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer – 2022
Not venturing far from the concept, Jeep introduced the all-new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer earlier this year. The final production versions have few readily discernible differences, although the concept’s lighted grille is notably absent from production model. Nearly 10 inches longer and 4 inches taller than the recently introduced Grand Cherokee L, Wagoneer is built on a new architecture with body-on-frame design and high-strength steel to improve performance and safety while also reducing weight. Two powerful V8s motivate these large SUVs, and with high-tech all-wheel drive systems the Wagoneer is still quite capable off pavement. The interior offers a new level of luxury for the brand, including high-end materials and the latest in comfort and safety technology.
Kia Telluride Concept — 2016
In 2016 Kia introduced a new design for a 7-passenger luxury SUV at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Kia Telluride concept was the first look at a bold new direction for Kia, featuring advanced technology with an emphasis on the comfort and experience of second-row passengers. Finished in Dark Pyrite green paint, the Telluride fascia includes a larger version of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille flanked by recessed quad LED headlights, horizontal LED indicator lights, and a polished metal skidplate below the bumper. Inside are embedded sensors that capture the occupants’ vital health information, displaying it on door panel screens and synchronizing it with a Light Emitted Rejuvenation system using a massive, wing-shaped LED panel mounted beneath the sunroof. The hybrid all-wheel-drive powertrain combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a powerful electric motor to produce 400 horsepower while achieving 30 mpg on the highway. A fingerprint-activated start-stop button fires up the Telluride.
Kia Telluride — 2020-present
The production Telluride came to market for the 2020 model year and promptly earned top honors as North American SUV of the Year. There are certainly similarities between the concept and production vehicles, although much of the advanced technology from the concept hasn’t made it to the production Telluride . . . yet. The new midsize crossover offers bold yet classic SUV styling, a premium interior, a powerful engine and seating for up to eight occupants. Designed specifically for the U.S. market at Kia’s design center in California, Telluride is built at Kia’s manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. The largest SUV in the Kia lineup, the Telluride draws power from a 3.8-liter V6 engine producing 291 horsepower.
Land Rover DC100 Concept — 2011
For years rumors circulated that Land Rover planned to bring back a modern-day version of the iconic Defender, and the DC100 Concept provided a first look when it debuted in Frankfurt almost 10 years ago. At the time, Land Rover Global Brand Director John Edwards noted that “the Defender has always been at the heart of the Land Rover Brand . . .. Our ambition is to create an all new Defender for a global market that remains absolutely faithfully to its original DNA: tough, versatile, durable and capable.” The DC100 Concept includes advanced off-road features such as a next-generation Terrain Response system, a Wade Aid sonar system to assess water depth, permanent 4-wheel drive and a Terrain-i system that can create an intelligent map of the topography in front of the vehicle and display it as a 3D visualization. At the time, Land Rover announced plans to bring a production version of the Defender to market by 2015. It took slightly longer, but it finally arrived.
Land Rover Defender — 2020-present
After Defender’s 23-year absence from America, Land Rover recently announced that the 2020 Defender 110 had begun arriving in showrooms after debuting last fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Built on the automaker’s new all-aluminum D7x platform, the iconic SUV’s design continues the high level of off-road prowess expected from a Defender. Revered by serious off-roaders and collectors alike, the Defender traces its roots back more than 70 years to the original Land Rover and was last sold in the U.S. in 1997. The new model retains its familiar silhouette incorporating short front and rear overhangs for a look easily recognized as a Land Rover Defender. The overall design has a tough appearance, and the high sills, short overhangs and rear-mounted spare facilitate off-road capability. The new Defender is available as the four-door Defender 110 or the short-wheelbase 2-door Defender 90.
Lexus LF-LC Concept — 2012
A product of Toyota’s CALTY design center in Newport Beach, California, the Lexus LF-LC Concept provided a look at what the company envisioned as a future hybrid sport coupe. Unlike anything else we had seen from Lexus at the time, the LF-LC introduced a new design language with bold lines and a unique interpretation of the Lexus spindle grille. “Our entire studio worked to develop this beautiful interpretation of Lexus originality,” said Kevin Hunter, president of Calty. “The LF-LC concept embodies our vision of what a premium sport coupe could be,” Hunter then noted. The LF-LC concept would go on to influence the design of the entire Lexus lineup, and it still looks modern almost 10 years later.
Lexus LC 500 — 2018–present
In 2018 Lexus introduced a new flagship coupe for the brand. The LC 500 carries many of the key design elements that the LF-LC concept revealed four years earlier in Detroit. Still looking quite futuristic, the front of the LC is dominated by a new version of the Lexus spindle grille with chrome on three sides and a new 3-D mesh, flanked by a triple LED headlight unit with L-shaped daytime running lights below. The fast-sloping roofline includes a standard glass roof; a carbon fiber roof is available. The slim multilayer taillights create the appearance of a sequential L motif, while the rear diffuser and available active rear spoiler aid aerodynamics. The interior features the high level of luxury expected in a Lexus flagship, with a range of high-tech features and the finest trim materials. Two powertrains are available — a powerful V8 or high-performance hybrid system. Watch for the LC 500 Convertible when it joins the Lexus lineup later this year.
Lincoln Continental Concept — 2015
As one of the stars of the 2015 New York Auto Show, the Lincoln Continental Concept showcased a new full-size Continental luxury sedan expected to arrive the following year. The Lincoln Continental Concept introduced a new face for Lincoln, as well as a new 3.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine to be exclusive to Lincoln. The design features a sleek profile and a centered chrome grille, replacing the previous signature split-wing grille. New technology includes E-Latch door handles, LED matrix head lights with laser-assist high beams, signature full-width taillights with light-through-chrome technology and an SPD SmartGlass tinting sunroof. Inside, the Continental Concept includes Venetian leather seat and door panels, Alcantara seat inserts and armrests, rose gold trim around the instrument cluster, bright chrome trim on the instrument panel, a satin headliner and shearling wool carpet.
Lincoln Continental — 2017–2020
The Continental returned to the Lincoln lineup in 2017 after a 15-year hiatus as the flagship of Ford’s luxury brand with a focus on quiet luxury and elegance. The new Continental kept many of the key design elements introduced on the concept two years earlier. Lincoln designers worked to create a soothing, relaxed experience for all occupants, enhanced by available Perfect Position seats that can be adjusted up to 30 different ways with heating, cooling and available massage functions. The rear seats offer available adjustable recline, heating, cooling and massage as well. The outside door handles are an interesting and unique design element, moved from the traditional position in the door to the chrome trim below the windows and operated by a microprocessor-controlled E-latch. For 2020 Lincoln paid homage to the iconic 1960s Continental with a limited Coach Door edition featuring rear-hinged rear doors, often referred to as suicide doors. Lincoln ended production of the Continental at the end of 2020.
Lincoln Navigator Concept — 2016
Lincoln debuted a stunning new Navigator Concept at the 2016 New York Auto Show, offering a look at what to expect next in a full-size SUV from Ford’s luxury brand. Inspired by luxury sailboats and yachts, a nautical theme carries throughout the design to include the body lines, Storm Blue paint and teakwood trim. At the front is a larger, taller version of the grille design from the new Lincoln Continental sedan. Power gullwing doors provide easy access to a spacious interior. For the driver, a large panel displays key information and can be customized from a touchscreen in the center stack. Power comes from a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that produces more than 400 horsepower, along with new technology to adjust for variable surfaces and weather conditions.
Lincoln Navigator — 2018–present
The wraps came off the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator a year after the concept debuted in New York, and the new model didn’t stray much from the concept. The large grille immediately grabs attention, and when the driver walks up to the Navigator, the Lincoln logo lights up softly along with LED lighting that brightens the ground surrounding the vehicle. Ambient lighting inside illuminates all three rows of seats at night, while during the day a panoramic sunroof ensures that even those sitting in the third row don’t feel claustrophobic. The power gullwing doors and teakwood trim didn’t make the cut for production; however, Navigator offers multiple USB ports, wireless phone charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A rear-seat entertainment system is also available featuring two 10-inch display screens.
Mazda Kai Concept — 2017
Mazda debuted the attractive Kai Concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, and everyone expected the car would easily make it to production. We had been expecting to see a new Mazda3 on the horizon, and it appeared that the KAI concept was the first indication of the company’s plans for the small hatchback. Although the shape is familiar, all the edges have been rounded to create a flowing line from the hood edge to the rear bumper. The KAI’s silhouette is the most telling evidence that this concept is likely the next Mazda3. The KAI Concept’s grille is similar to the styling first observed on the CX-5 and CX-9, but the hood extends over the grille, creating a more aggressive stance. Headlights are recessed into the bodywork and designed to give the impression of having burned through the body. While many vehicles were moving to electrification by 2017, Mazda stuck with the internal combustion engine rather than going the electrification route.
Mazda Mazda3 — 2019–present
A year after Mazda showed the beautiful Kai Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, the company introduced the production version of the all-new Mazda3, and it remains surprisingly similar to that original show car. Available as a hatchback or sedan, the Mazda3 adopts the latest evolution of the company’s KODO design, with the goal of giving the hatchback more emotional styling, while the sedan is designed to have a more elegant stance. The Mazda3 also has the available i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive system for the first time, as well as a suite of available high-tech safety features. Powering the Mazda3 is a 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine producing 186 horsepower.
Mercedes-AMG GT Concept — 2017
It’s not as if Mercedes didn’t already offer sedans with extreme performance, but the AMG GT sedan concept that debuted in Geneva in 2017 provided a look at a possible four door with coupelike styling and performance at the same level as the AMG GT coupe. “With the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept, we are giving a preview of our third completely independently developed sports car and are extending the attractive AMG GT family to include a four-door variant,” said Tobias Moers, chairman of the management board at Mercedes-AMG GmbH. A fastback design with a comfortable interior and space for cargo, the GT Concept derives power from an AMG 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine combined with a high-performance electric motor to provide exceptional efficiency and performance. Power output of the concept would be impressive, rated as high as 805 horsepower. Mercedes expects this would be enough for this luxurious four-door to reach 60 mph in less than 3 seconds.
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe — 2019–present
In 2018 Mercedes made good on its promise to bring the AMG GT 4-Door into production. Exhibiting the same basic shape and style, the AMG GT 4-door Coupe debuted at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, offering impressive performance and loads of power in a sleek 4-door configuration. This new car joins the ranks of models such as the SLS AMG and AMG GT — vehicles built as standalone AMG models. The new 4-door sports car has styling cues that clearly link it to its 2-door sibling. Up front are slim multibeam LED headlights that flank the AMG shark nose grille, feeding into the low and long sculpted hood. At the rear are LED taillights and quad exhaust pipes. While the concept’s hybrid powertrain did not make it to production, the AMG GT 4-Door is available as the AMG 53, AMG 63 or AMG 63S — the latter boasting 630 horsepower from its hand-built biturbo 4.0-liter V8 engine.
MINI Electric Concept — 2017
Starting with the iconic MINI design — compact and agile for the urban environment — the MINI Electric Concept hinted at a design direction for a future all-electric MINI. The brand had already announced that it had an all-electric model in the works — this was a first look at what it might be. With a focus on aerodynamics and lightweight construction, the MINI Electric Concept is finished in Silver with contrasting Striking Yellow; the hexagonal grille and round headlights quickly identify the concept as a MINI, but the grille is closed for aerodynamic efficiency and contains a high-gloss yellow accent bar and MINI E badge. The 19-inch wheels are finished in dark gray with yellow accents, and the aerodynamic inserts are manufactured via a 3-D printing process. At the rear, taillights have the classic MINI outline but they each present one half of the Union Jack with an LED dot matrix.
MINI Cooper SE — 2020-present
The MINI Cooper has now gone electric with its first regular production EV model, the Cooper SE. (MINI did sell a small number of limited-edition MINI E models in 2008.) Styling of the new Cooper SE is heavily influenced in color and trim by the Electric Concept with similar yellow accents, yellow mirrors, an enclosed grille and 16-inch MINI Electric Revolite Spoke alloy wheels. Powering the MINI Cooper SE is an electric motor generating 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. All that torque is available from a standstill, providing a satisfyingly jump in acceleration. MINI claims the Cooper SE will jet to 60 mph a tick slower than the gas-powered MINI Cooper S. The MINI Cooper SE has an EPA combined fuel economy rating 108 MPGe and a range of 110 miles.
Nissan Ariya Concept — 2019
At the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the Japan-based automaker introduced the Ariya Concept: a small all-electric crossover that —unlike many Nissan concept vehicles — looked ready for production. The Ariya Concept’s styling exhibited a next step for the brand; the familiar V-Motion grille is still at the front; however, with the Ariya the overall size is broader, incorporating thin LED headlights and what Nissan calls the “shield,” emblazoned with an illuminated Nissan logo. The Ariya Concept has an all-new vehicle architecture likely to be the basis for all future Nissan EV models. With a twin-electric motor powertrain — one in front, one at the rear — the system provides instant acceleration as well as the grip and handling of all-wheel drive. This electric all-wheel-drive system is designed to manage power delivery to the road for better cornering and handling on dry pavement, or when surfaces offer less grip.
Nissan Ariya — 2022
Less than a year after the Ariya Concept debuted, Nissan introduces the production version of the Ariya, and it hasn’t strayed much from the original concept. Styling remains much the same, incorporating the automaker’s new take on the V-Motion grille that frames a 3-D styled shield centered by a new Nissan logo lit by 20 LEDs. Thanks to the small electric crossover’s lack of an internal-combustion engine or accompanying bulky driveline, designers were able to give the Ariya a roomy interior that seems incongruous with its minimal footprint. Slim-profile seats utilize Nissan’s proven Zero Gravity design; these combined with a flat floor throughout results in a great deal of legroom for both front- and rear-seat occupants. Ariya will be available with front- or all-wheel drive, the latter using two electric motors with added levels of performance. Ariya is expected to arrive in showrooms in late 2021.
Porsche 918 Spyder Concept — 2010
Porsche wowed the crowd at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show with the introduction of this powerful hybrid concept sports car, the 918 Spyder Concept. At a time when most people thought of the economical Toyota Prius when it came to hybrids, this concept proved that hybrid powertrains could be used for performance. The 2-seat exotic features a 3.4-liter V8 engine producing more than 500 horsepower, paired with three electric motors that add another 218 horsepower. Acceleration is incredibly quick, with 60 mph coming up in a mere 3.2 seconds with a top speed of almost 200 mph. Porsche pundits expected that a 918 Spyder would be even quicker around the legendary Nurburgring than a Carrera GT. At the same time, this powerful Porsche is very fuel efficient and can travel on battery power alone for up to 16 miles.
Porsche 918 Spyder — 2013–15
As exotic as the concept vehicle was, Porsche managed to build a vehicle that carried the same sexy styling but with even higher performance. The 918 Spyder combines Porsche’s motorsports technology with everyday utility and maximum performance to create a super sports car with a futuristic drivetrain. Designed around a hybrid drive system with a focus on both efficiency and performance, the 918 Spyder gets power from a 4.6-liter V8 engine teamed with two electric motors for a total combined output of 887 horsepower transferred to all four wheels. Performance stats are stunning — 60 mph comes up in 2.5 seconds, 124 mph comes up in 7.3 seconds, and top speed is 214 mph. The 918 Spyder utilizes the latest technologies of the time, including a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer for the load-bearing structure offering extreme structural rigidity. Production was limited to 918 unites, the last of which was built in 2015.
Porsche Mission E — 2015
With plenty of experience around hybrid and electric drivetrains, no wonder Porsche sought to build a high-performance electric sports sedan. The Mission E is the first all-electric 4-seat sports car from the German automaker, and it debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, providing a taste of what that vehicle could eventually be. It. Legendary Porsche performance with new levels of efficiency and innovation are expected from the Mission E. Virtual external mirrors capture images and project them onto the lower corners of the windshield, eliminating the drag of large door-mounted mirrors. In order to properly compete in the high-performance electric car market (which is still quite small), Porsche set the goals that a production sedan would need to be able to reach 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, have a 300-mile range and be able to reach 80 percent capacity after 15 minutes of charge.
Porsche Taycan — 2020-present
Porsche joined the burgeoning electric performance car market last fall with the Taycan, a 4-door sports car that offers all the performance expected of a Porsche — with a fully electric powertrain. Two versions were initially offered: the Taycan Turbo and the Taycan Turbo S. Taycan’s design team made sure the new model is easily recognizable as a Porsche, with its sleek body and roofline that slopes toward the rear in its signature Teutonic taper. Power for Taycan comes from two electric motors — one at each axle — which also creates an advanced 4-wheel drive system. The Taycan Turbo produces up to 670 horsepower, while the top-level Taycan Turbo S generates a staggering 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque, making it the most potent vehicle in the Porsche lineup. With maximum torque available almost immediately, acceleration is eye-watering — the Taycan Turbo S will sprint to 60 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds. Porsche limits top speed for both versions to 161 mph.
Subaru Impreza 5-Door Concept — 2015
In 2015 Subaru’s entry-level Impreza lineup was relatively fresh, but at that year’s Tokyo Motor Show the company provided a glimpse into a possible future design for the line with the debut of an Impreza 5-Door Concept. The Impreza 5-Door Concept represented the first of Subaru’s next-generation vehicles. The futuristic Impreza features upscale design cues, even if it is the entry-level model in the Subaru lineup. The hexagonal grille clearly identifies this as a Subaru, flanked by what Subaru calls “hawk-eye” headlights. The overall design direction not only indicated what was to be expected from the next Impreza, it also provided a peek into how the rest of the Subaru lineup would follow.
Subaru Impreza — 2017–present
In 2017 an all-new Subaru Impreza debuted at the New York Auto Show, and while it wasn’t as extreme as the concept vehicle before it, the car carried a number of styling cues through to production. Longer and wider than the previous generation, the new Impreza features the signature grille and hawk-eye headlights from the concept as well as bold fender flares. The sleeker look is also functional, improving aerodynamics with a lower coefficient of drag than the previous version. The 2017 Impreza was also the first Subaru to be built on the company’s new global platform — now the basis for the Legacy, Outback and Ascent.
Subaru VIZIV-7 — 2016
In 2016 Subaru debuted the VIZIV-7 SUV Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show as an indication of what to expect for a new, larger 3-row vehicle planned for the U.S. market. The concept’s name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but rumor has it that the moniker is derived from Vision and Innovation. The exterior design possesses elements similar to the Outback, although at the time the VIZIV-7 SUV Concept also indicated that the next Subaru vehicle would be the largest ever offered from the Japanese automaker, with a wheelbase of 117.7 inches, an overall length of 204.7 inches, a height of 79.9 inches and a width of 72 inches. “The concept expresses our core brand values, safety, dependability, capability for outdoor activities and a forward-looking attitude,” said Takeshi Tachimori, corporate executive vice president of Fuji Heavy Industries, LTD — the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles.
Subaru Ascent — 2019–present
With an overall shape and style patterned off the VIZIV-7 Concept, Subaru introduced its largest vehicle ever for the 2019 model year — the all-new Ascent. Designed to retain loyal Subaru customers that had outgrown the Outback, the Ascent accommodates up to eight occupants in three rows. Built in Indiana alongside the Outback, Legacy and Impreza, the Ascent is available in a range of trim levels with a long list of standard features, including 19 cupholders. Power comes from a new 2.4-liter twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder boxer engine that produces 260 horsepower, which gets sent to all four wheels via Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. With 8.7-inches of ground clearance and impressive towing capability, the Ascent slots nicely at the top of the Subaru lineup.
Toyota FT-1 Concept — 2014
In 1998 Toyota discontinued the Supra, and since that time enthusiasts hoped the iconic sports car would return. The first indication that it might be in the works was the introduction of the FT-1 (Future Toyota — 1) Concept at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With classic sports car lines and a large rear spoiler, the FT-1 certainly looks the part; however, this concept created by Toyota’s California design studio was simply a design study with no mention of powertrain or plans for production. However, the company did make the FT-1 available to drive — in the Gran Turismo 6 video game. And it turned out that the FT-1 Concept was a better indicator of the Supra than expected.
Toyota GR Supra — 2019–present
When the FT-1 Concept came out five years earlier Toyota gave no confirmation that it would be the basis of the next Supra — it turns out the new GR Supra looks remarkably like that original concept. In a unique twist on globalization, Toyota worked with BMW — a company that knows a thing or two about performance —to bring back the legendary Supra name. Not only does styling match the concept — a number of elements were borrowed from past Supras. The two-seat rear-drive sports car is available with a choice of two turbocharged powerplants — a 255-horsepower 4-cylinder motor and the top-performing 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that pumps out 382 horsepower.
Volvo Concept Coupe — 2013
Late in 2013 Volvo introduced its new Scalable Product Architecture that would become the basis for the brand’s entire lineup, but the first vehicle to showcase the flexibility of this new platform was this sleek Concept Coupe. Debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Concept Coupe provided a look at the planned design direction for the Swedish car company, including an expressive grille and first use of T-Shaped LED running lights, later referred to as Thor’s Hammer headlights. While the Concept Coupe’s exterior has the classic lies of a grand tourer, inside occupants find a luxurious blend of leather, wood and machined-metal trim. Motivation comes from a plug-in hybrid powertrain generating around 400 horsepower.
Polestar 1 — 2020-present
For many years, the Polestar moniker has been associated with high-performance models of the Volvo lineup. Now Polestar is setting sail as a standalone electric performance brand. Launching the Polestar brand is the stylish and sporty 2020 Polestar 1, offering impressive hybrid performance in a sleek GT package. Even though Polestar has become its own brand, the 2020 Polestar 1 is a dead ringer for the Volvo Concept Coupe with a similar shape, grille and iconic Thor’s Hammer headlights. Inside, the Polestar 1 offers elegant surroundings but with a distinctly Volvo feeling. The Polestar also has a plug-in hybrid system, but it is a bit more powerful than the concept. Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder engine sending 326 horsepower to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission, while each rear wheel gets power from an electric motor that generates 232 horsepower. The result is a total output of 619 horsepower and a plentiful 738 lb-ft of torque.
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