The 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show presents a mixed bag this year. Automakers facing major trade headwinds are attempting to hedge against Brexit and steeling themselves against generalised market weakness in Europe and abroad.
It all made for a variety of philosophies as to how best to promote their wares in an automotive landscape slowly turning away from trade shows in favour of prestige events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Many brands, including Aston Martin, Fiat, McLaren, Mitsubishi, Volvo and Nissan, decided to skip Frankfurt altogether. Others such as Ferrari opted to announce new models during all the hubbub, though not maintaining a live presence there, while Porsche took the tactic of debuting its electric Taycan to global media in the days immediately before the show, with a public unveiling on the show floor.
Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Porsche, Volkswagen and Land Rover took the opportunity — and all the additional space — to flaunt big debuts live in Germany, especially on the electric front. Here are the best of the bunch. — Bloomberg
BMW Concept 4
An enlarged grille, pushed forward as if by the curved front hood and massive wheels, is the most stunning component of the edgy preview of BMW’s 4 Series line of cars, including an M3 and M4. Company executives said the design is inspired by historic models such as the 328 and 3.0 CSi, but had not revealed any performance specifics.
The Audi AI:Trail Quattro Concept is the fourth in its series of crazy futuristic concept cars that include the Aicon, PB18 and AI:ME. This four-door electric vehicle packs serious off-road capabilities and combines them with autonomous driving. Its 22-inch (55.88cm) wheels and 33.5-inch off-road tyres give it more than a foot of ground clearance and the ability to ford water more than 18 inches deep. Inside, it has a traditional steering wheel and pedals but can also be activated to drive itself at low speeds. The 429-horsepower (hp)-equivalent lithium ion battery will go from 248 miles (399.12km) to 310 miles on one charge — at least hypothetically.
Porsche unveiled models of its new Taycan electric car at simultaneous global debuts in Canada, China and Germany on Sept 4. The first editions are the US$185,000 (RM773,300), 750hp Taycan Turbo S and the US$150,900, 670hp Taycan Turbo. The Porsche Taycan looks much like the Mission E Concept that debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Show, minus the suicide doors and futuristic disc wheels, gone mainly due to safety concerns. It has seating for four and a trunk big enough to hold two large golf bags. Two electric motors, one at the front axle and one at the rear axle, allow the Taycan Turbo S to go from zero to 60mph (96.56kph) in 2.6 seconds, while the Taycan Turbo can do it in three seconds. The top speed of both is 161mph. Company executives at the debut event in Niagara Falls, Canada said the range would be 450km. Less powerful — and less expensive — variants of the all-wheel-drive cars will follow later this year. Another derivative, called the Taycan Cross Turismo, will arrive at the end of next year.
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS
Imagine this as what an all-electric Mercedes-Benz S Class might look like: A big 469hp sedan with an all-electric range of 435 miles. From the outside, the car uses what Mercedes executives call the “one bow” line, a roof that gracefully sweeps the length of the car from the front to the back. A continuous illuminated strip of blue encircles the car, while the stunning grille contains 940 individual light-emitting diodes on 188 circuit boards embedded in a black-panel section. The whole thing is lined by digital headlights that give it a three-dimensional look. The EQS can charge to 80% power in less than 20 minutes on a high-powered charger.
BMW iNext Concept
BMW unveiled this conceptual sport utility vehicle last year, but it still finds its way to auto shows such as Frankfurt, serving as an indicator of things to come at the Munich-based brand. A self-driving electric vehicle, the iNext Concept is meant to feel like a comfortable lounge, rather than a car. BMW’s star designer Adrian van Hooydonk designed it “from the inside out”, he told Bloomberg at the 2018 debut, with an interior that uses the textiles and textures of the world’s leading boutique hotels. Indeed, the jewel-toned carpeting and wooden console and flooring in the front look faintly like a spa or airport lounge environment from the early, glamorous days of travel; two captain’s chairs in front accompany a long thin bench seat in the back. Tall side windows and a panoramic rooftop provide enough room for four adults to recline comfortably in the sunlight afforded by the long glass enrobing the vehicle. According to BMW, if the vehicle ever comes to pass, it will have a driving range of 300 miles, 600hp and a zero-to-60mph sprint of four seconds.
Volkswagen ID Crozz Concept
Volkswagen is calling this its “first electric car for the masses” which, at a price below US$34,000, certainly puts it more in that range than the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron. Few details of the the small, urban vehicle are confirmed, though it is the latest part of Volkswagen’s multibillion-dollar push into electric mobility and it does include some modern accoutrements, including a 10-inch touchscreen centre console, heads-up display, wireless charging and keyless entry. The ID.3 will come in three variants, which will have a range roughly from 205 miles to 340 miles, and will be delivered in mid-2020. None is currently slated to be sold in the US.
Lamborghini’s first hybrid is named after the Italian word for “thunderbolt”. The Sian maintains the V12 engine, which delivers 785CV (774hp), the highest ever reached by a Lamborghini engine, and it adds a 48V electric motor for a combined power of 819CV. No other mild-hybrid vehicle has ever had a direct connection between the electric motor and the wheels. All told, it has 720Nm (531 pound-feet) of torque, a zero-to-62mph sprint time of 2.8 seconds and its top speed is 217mph, with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed transmission. Its lean body was inspired by the edges of the Countach and is made of carbon fibre. Just 63 will be made.