The Frankfurt Motor Show was another doozy this year, one filled to the brim with Tesla-fighting EVs, topless Italian supercars, and some truly unique creations from previously unheard-of startups. We got great news from Dacia and a half-car, half-motorcycle concept from Honda, and that was just the start.
As the press days come to a close and arena employees sift through the fallout, the general public is preparing to get their first taste of what Frankfurt’s famous trade show has to offer. So whether you’re prepping your own trip or simply want to recap the proceedings, we’ve got you covered right here. In no particular order, here are our top 10 rides from the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Kicking off our list is a wacky beach car from French automaker Citroen, a car built for one thing — sun-drenched fun.
Starting out in life as the boxy Cactus crossover, the M concept features a chopped roof, a water-resistant neoprene interior, an integrated tent, and rear seats that transform into a sleeping area for pure oceanside bliss. That, and a continuous loop of The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ Safari,” we assume.
In an automotive world filled with super serious luxury-mobiles and breakneck performance cars, it’s nice to see a vehicle that embraces its silliness and thinks outside the box. The exterior is covered with an air-filled “second skin” to prevent scratches and it comes with a surfboard, for goodness sake. It certainly brightened up the halls in Frankfurt, and makes us feel a bit, well … beachy.
Mercedes’ Concept IAA is an “aerodynamics world champion.” Its smooth silhouette slips through the air like an arrow from an archer’s bow, bolstered by a dynamic, adaptive body that literally changes shape with the push of a button.
With a drag coefficient of just 0.19, the Concept IAA — also known as the Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile — makes highly-engineered sports cars like the Porsche 911 seem like unrefined bricks. When the switch is activated (or the vehicle reaches about 50 mph), the concept extends eight segments over the car’s rear, while also actuating special flaps on the bumper to reduce turbulence. It even equips wheels called Active Rims that reduce their indentation to improve airflow, making this one of the slipperiest, sexiest vehicles ever made.
One of the most jaw-dropping vehicles to grace the halls of Frankfurt came from Korean automaker Hyundai, and that’s not something you’ll hear every day. Despite its surprising origin, the Gran Turismo 6-bound racer looks like an awesome Le Mans car from the future, equal parts technologically sophisticated and aesthetically stunning.
Like many of its brethren, the N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo is built around a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic monocoque, resulting in a curb weight of just 2,142 pounds. Power comes from hydrogen fuel cells, a technology Hyundai knows a thing or two about. There are two of them in this car, resulting in 670 horsepower, and they’re backed up by a supercapacitor that kicks in another 201 hp for a total output of 871 ponies.
People used to buy SUVs for family camping trips or jaunts to the mud pit, but the Bentley Bentayga — the fastest production SUV on the planet — is evidence of how much the segment has changed.
To accomplish this, Bentley took the classy cruiser for some 400 laps around the Nurburgring and fitted it with a monstrous 6.0-liter W12. 600 hp and 664 pound-feet of torque later, you have a 5,340-lb vehicle that can sprint to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and prance all the way up to an 187 mph top speed. It is a Bentley though, so the SUV equips 18-way adjustable seats, integrated Android tablets, and one of the nicest interiors you’ll ever find in a 4×4. Not bad for $229,100.
Meet Porsche’s first all-electric four-seat sports car — the Mission E Concept.
Aimed squarely at the Tesla Model S, the all-wheel drive Mission E boasts performance specs that fit right in between the Model S 85D and the Internet-winning P85D. The German’s 800-volt drive system produces over 600 hp and can rocket the car to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, but better yet, it can travel more than 310 miles on a single charge. That’s significantly better than any Model S currently available.
Comparisons to Elon Musk’s creations aside, the Porsche features plenty of unique attributes of its own, particularly when it comes to handling. The concept is fitted with four-wheel steering technology sourced from the 911 GT3, and it also wears an advanced torque-vectoring system to keep all that instant power the ground. All these elements came together to help the vehicle lap the famed Nurburgring in under eight minutes. The Mission E can also recharge to 80 percent in just 15 minutes.
Lamborghinis have always been bedroom posters, but the topless Huracan Spyder is more of a centerpiece, an instant classic you frame for display above the fireplace. It really stood out in Frankfurt, which is really saying something when you consider who else was at the party.
Like the Gallardo Spyder that came before it, the convertible “Hurricane” furnishes an electrohydraulic cloth soft top, only now it opens in 17 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph. Outside of that, it’s almost mechanically identical to the Huracan coupe, which isn’t exactly a Fiat Panda to begin with.
Underneath the Lamborghini’s angular, vented engine compartment lurks a hand-built 5.2-liter V10 that churns out 610 ponies at a screaming 8,250 rpm. A seven-speed dual clutch gearbox send that power to the ground through all four wheels, resulting in a dart to 60 mph in only 3.4 ticks of the second hand. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait for the Superleggera.
4. Nissan Gripz
If you’re wondering what a crossover is doing on our list, rest assured the Gripz Concept is no ordinary crossover.
In what could very preview a future Z car, the Gripz combines a high-riding, rally car stature with SUV-like proportions. According to the automaker, the ultra-modern vehicle “blends the ability and practicality of a compact crossover with the excitement and performance of a sports car.”
We’re not quite sold on that last part yet, but the Gripz does court the eye. It utilizes certain design elements of the revered Datsun 240Z and road bicycles — yes, road bikes — to create a vehicle ripped straight from science fiction. The dihedral front doors and rear-hinged rear doors are simply cool as hell, and the skeletal interior structure is definitely something new. It may preview a new Z and it may not, but we just hope it previews something.
When you think of the smart fortwo, you generally think of a pint-sized city car that you could probably push over with your hands if you tried. In other words, the complete opposite of a limousine. Well, the aptly-named German company Limouzine defied conventions and brought a custom six-wheeled, six-seat “madeforsix” version to Frankfurt. Why not, right?
By bolting up another axle to the smart fortwo and stretching the body, the madeforsix measures approximately 216 inches long, which is about 1.7 Mazda MX-5s. That means there’s tons of room inside for leather-upholstered bench seats, televisions, ambient LED lighting, a champagne bar, and a premium sound system. Better yet, the limo wears a registration plate that begins with “LOLZ,” further proof this car is meant to entertain.
As for smart itself, the brand showcased the new fortwo cabrio at the motor show as well, hailed as the smallest street-legal convertible in the world.
In 2018, Audi will present an all-electric SUV to do battle with the Tesla Model X, and we got a little taste of it in Frankfurt with the e-tron quattro. Despite being a concept, the crossover is likely very close to what we’ll see in 2018 as it closely resembles the brand’s current design language. Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg of Audi described the Quattro as a “concrete foretaste” of the eventual production model.
The e-tron is powered by a trio of electric motors — two mounted on the rear axle and one on the front. This setup allows the vehicle to take advantage of its instant torque with four-wheel traction, which is good because there’s a lot of it. Under normal driving conditions, the three motors produce 430 hp, but they can be boosted to 500 hp and 590 lb-ft for short periods. Its entire electric potential unleashed, it will silently rocket to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.
The performance numbers are solid, but the Audi has plenty of juice for long trips as well. Battery packs filled to the brim, the five-door can travel over 311 miles, and it takes just 50 minutes to fully recharge. It’s also equipped with wireless induction charging that can be activated remotely, and slips through the air with a segment-best 0.25 drag coefficient.
“This is for our fans.”
That phrase was muttered early and often by Bugatti representatives as they described a virtual concept that had somehow become reality. Like the Hyundai N 2025 we touched on earlier, the gorgeous Vision Gran Turismo was developed for the digital tarmac of Gran Turismo 6, but in Frankfurt, it was as real as anything else.
It’s a gorgeous car. A rare art piece that exists in the digital world as well as our own, and it’s equally commanding in either. The bodywork is mechanically complex but somehow elegant at the same time, with powerful haunches and huge wheels being offset by a scowling set of LED headlights and an epic rear aero kit. Bugatti calculates than on four sections of a virtual Le Mans track, the car will easily top 250 mph.
The automaker says it built the car to allow its supporters to experience a real Bugatti in a virtual world, but that wasn’t the only reason. According to the manufacturer’s press release, the car “gives an outlook of the brand’s new design language,” which could mean it previews Bugatti’s highly-anticipated successor the Veyron. It will be without a doubt one of the fastest cars in the world, but for supercar fans, it can’t get here fast enough.