Though the New York International Auto Show isn’t a haven for many concept cars, there are always a handful of them to get your attention and whet your appetite for what might come. This year, there were four that we could count, and they’re all worthy of your dollars should they make it to production in some form.
A small group of concepts deliver big production dreams
10 Concepts We're Praying Find their Way to Production
Watching concept cars bow at international auto shows is like watching the festivities at Paris Fashion Week: displays are daring, beautiful and sometimes just downright petrifying. The world gets to see bold, shocking statements or captivating ones that might just make it to market. The best examples are fuel for dreams of what may come. This year, the Geneva Motor Show proved to be fertile ground. From a student-submitted sports car to a practical van, here are our 10 favorite concept cars from the show.
Mittens, check. Shovel, check. Big balls, check and check
The Volkswagen Polar Expedition Amarok was specially built to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics by completing the trans-Russia Amarok Polar Expedition, a trip that can’t be made by any ordinary vehicle. We’re talking about 16,000 miles from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the far southeastern Kamchatka peninsula across snowy Russian terrain, often in the complete absence of roads. We break down the snow beast.
More crossovers than Iverson
Crossovers are the hottest segment in the automotive industry today thanks to solid fuel economy, practicality and bad-weather driving security. And while that popularity means the field is downright dizzying, there are quite a few excellent options from all corners of the earth. GP’s Octane crew drove five solid examples and came away with loads of insight on what the CUV market has to offer.
A Taste of Things to Come
Concept cars are the stuff of dreams, representing the wondrous “could be” situations that make us salivate. Every year various auto shows pull the veil off auto industry pageants every year, and every year our collective pulses race to see what car companies have wrought in the way of wild designs, impressive technology and a foreshadowing of what might come in the not-too-distant future. Detroit has delivered ten of the most eye-catching concepts of 2014, and we’ve jumped in with a gusto. See which ones we love and why, here.
Making Detroit Shine
The North American International Auto Show is one of our favorite events of the year. It’s a time when just about every carmaker descends on Detroit, and the moment is a golden one. Picture it with us: gleaming steeds — SUVs, sports cars, sedans, pickups and more — as far as the eye can see, a field that’s tough to whittle down to our favorites. But we’ve done just that with these ten beauties, the best of NAIAS.
Power For The People
Volkswagen is making some driver-friendly improvements to their 2014 model line. Good: they’re replacing the somewhat disappointing 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine option in the Jetta and Passat with a torquey (for its size) 1.8-liter, direct-injection turbo four. Better: five models will be given VW’s hot rod R-Line treatment for the 2014 model year. Best: we got to drive them all.
Die Zukunft, Now
No longer the red-headed stepchildren of the car world, hybrids are quickly improving in both design and efficiency. Now, with the introduction of the remarkable Volkswagen XL1 ($TBA), the world’s first hyper-efficient supercar has arrived. The culmination of eleven years of research and development, the XL1 combines elite materials with environmental consciousness to buck precedent and set the bar for the next generation of vehicles. With a carbon fiber reinforced plastic monocoque, a slippery body and pre-eminent hybrid power, the XL1 is the world’s ultimate eco-conscious car.
Four doors. Four stars. Five cars.
Germany, how we love thee — especially when it comes to cars. Fast, tractable and built like bank vaults, all our favorite Deutsch sports sedans feature a lordly level of detail. No surprise, then, that while the Japanese and Americans continue to ramp up in the genre, the Germans’ standing is just about engraved in granite. Helming one of these schöne Autos simply makes you feel like a real driver, and the practicality doesn’t hurt, either. We drove five truly great Teutonic four-doors and came away with lots of grins and plenty of notes.
In the current automotive landscape, true environmental halo cars don’t exist. Volkswagen, however, has produced their own version of a hippie halo car. It’s no V12 powerhouse, nor does it even come close to resembling anything supercar-ish in appearance. But what the VW XL1 definitely does is make a bold statement about what an ultra-efficient, super-small displacement hybrid can be. Our recent trip to VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany gave us a prime opportunity to evaluate the XL1 from all angles, including the view from behind the wheel.
We dream up our road trip fantasy rides
When it’s time to make tracks — whether you’re escaping the daily grind or heading to the next adventure — few things will make or break your time on the open road more than the vehicle you’re piloting. Sometimes it’s best to tailor your ride to the destination; sometimes, the car itself should play more of a starring role in your road trip story than your map waypoints do. Why not go all out? From fun-to-fling to made-to-cruise to needs-to-be-seen, we dreamed up our ten fantasy road trip cars, one ideal for every getaway.
Tops be droppin'
Summer isn’t nearly as enjoyable without top-down driving. As much as we’re fans of hardtop automotive design and the way a sweeping roofline catches the eye, we have to admit that the clear growl of an engine and the wind in your hair makes the warmer months that much better. Even a drive up Pacific Coast Highway in a cream-hued 1995 Chrysler Sebring Convertible can be a pleasure (as long as no one actually sees you). Bully for you, convertibles are better than ever — gone are the fussy tops, the anemic engines, and silhouettes that would make Quasimodo cringe. The crop of current convertibles range from modern nostalgia to supercar power players, but one thing they all do is make your motoring pleasure good for all the world to see.
If ever there was a hot-hatch-segment-defining car, the VW GTI would most likely be it. And perhaps aside from the heavy and globule-like Mk4, each one has been coveted in its field. The 2015 Volkswagen GTI, the seventh generation of the German pocket rocket, will ratchet things up once more.
The Beetle gets wings
VW’s 2014 Beetle GSR is a resurrection of a badder bug — and proudly sports a 210 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo. This isn’t the chick car of past years.
Fun Per Gallon
If a hybrid vehicle is what you seek, there are two ends of the spectrum. On the left: the Toyota Prius, sipping fuel at 51mpg through an uninspiring 98 hp engine for $24K. On the right: the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, which will run you close to $100k, with an “is-this-really-a-hybrid” 22mpg due to its…
Blue in Green
Some concepts barely qualify as concepts because they’re so close to what appears to be a production version. You can tell by the absence of both tiny side mirrors and manhole-cover-sized wheels. And that’s exactly what we find in the handsome new Volkswagen Crossblue Concept. Intended for families, it slots above the Touareg with three-row…
Its worst emission? Burnt rubber
The second coming of the very popular and virtually unpronounceable Volkswagen Touareg (“Too-a-regg”) now comes in Hybrid form, which actually makes more sense than hybridizing a compact car that already gets better gas mileage than its larger automotive counterparts. And though its 20/24 city/highway mileage numbers don’t truly impress (the Touareg TDI gets better fuel…
Though it isn’t the hot hatch GTI version — which will no doubt show itself very soon — the 2014 Volkswagen Golf gives us a nice glimpse into the future of faster hatches from the German automaker. The new design isn’t radically different from its predecessor, but the changes are a welcome improvement. Fresh off…
Baby Got Back
At first glance, the Doubleback looks like your average VW Transporter van. Pushing a single button, however, completely transforms the popular European passenger carrier into a home away from home in just under a minute. Thanks to the extra room provided by the extendable pod, the central cabin serves as a fully functioning kitchen, complete…
Highest Common Denominator
Taking a step back — a good one — VW returns to its roots of making stellar vehicles at earthly prices, and the result is the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, now made right here in America. Remarkably better than its predecessor yet refreshingly light on the wallet (prices start under $20 grand) the 2012 Passat is…
The latest VW Beetle is a winner in our book, so we were pumped to see the ultra-cool Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept in Detroit this week. Designed as a tantalizing package for their Blue-e-motion engine, the E-Bugster should be good for 100 miles thanks to its lithium-ion battery and can take a quick 80% charge in…
Editor’s Note: Foster Huntington is the talented force behind A Restless Transplant and the hugely popular tumblr The Burning House. Recently, Huntington embarked on an epic cross-country adventure to document unique individuals and the things they care about for his upcoming book to be released by Harper Collins. After sharing his plans with us first…
800 miles for $7,000 less
If you asked us how to make a car cost $7,000 less you’d probably end up missing a few essentials. Things like a back seat, the sound system and maybe even a few cylinders from the engine, but somehow VW has pulled the equivalent of an automotive hat trick with the 2012 Volkswagen Passat ($19,995)….
Somewhere between fast cars, practical cars, and those you can actually afford lies the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R. Taking the title as the most powerful small car VW has ever offered, it’s safe to say this little brute is very quick. The “R” moniker refers to Volkswagen’s tuned models (think: “M” to BMW and “S”…
Germanic Hot Hatch, Version 2.0
Several years ago, a few of you lucky souls out there got your grubby mitts on the 6-cylinder VW Golf R32. Though it was big on power and handled extremely well, it was not nearly as tossable as the much-praised GTI. Well, for those of you who find yourself in need of some German motoring…
Gas, Hybrid, or Diesel? You Choose.
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg (tour-egg) brings with it both less and more. Less weight and more MPG’s. Dropping 460 lbs from its already popular predecessor, the new Touareg paired with a new 8-speed (yes, eight) transmission in 3.0 liter V6 hybrid form, will achieve 25 mpg or nearly 32 mpg when you opt for the…
As a gear and car nut, one learns to appreciate the details in life. It’s not about the shirt; it’s about the stitching. It’s not about the song; it’s the crescendo of the quartet. And for me, it’s not just about the car; it’s about how it fits you. The attitude, the experience, and the…
One Week With Volkswagen's Foray Into Seduction
In 2008, Volkswagen, decided that well, people needed another “people’s car”. A car, perhaps not as brash and inappropriate as the Phateon but not as docile or plebeian as the Passat. The result, if you will, is part Mercedes CLS, part Jaguar XKR, part Audi A6, all planted on the ingenuity and Germanic quirkiness VW…
New Car By Way of Video Game? Sure, Why Not.
The 2010 Volkswagen GTI Mk VI. The teutonic rabble rouser from Deutschland has arrived and VW realizing that yes, men use DVR’s and yes we do skip commercials, have found another way to get our attentions, in the clever guise of a free game and chance at a few free cars, six to be exact….