After looking at production debuts from the 2018 Geneva Auto Show, it is time to now look at the concept cars.
Aston Martin Lagonda Vision
After the horrendous 2009 Aston Martin Lagonda Concept, an ugly SUV on steroids which desperately wanted to convince us of its links to past Langonas, I don’t think people expected much of the next Lagonda concept. And yet, against all odds, the Lagonda Vision is quite the visionary concept. First, it looks stunning, combining Lagonda elements such as the front graphic from the recent Taraf and a rear that’s mildly reminiscent of the amazing 1970s William Towns-designed Aston Martin Lagonda sedan with futuristic surfacing and an almost-monospace body shape. But even more impressive is the way the car really takes advantage of the packaging opportunities afforded by electric propulsion – the huge wheelbase with minimal overhangs affords huge space for the interior, which is made airy by extensive use of glazing, including a Tesla-like panoramic windscreen. Add to that the opportunity to rearrange the interior such that the four seats face one another when the car is driving itself, and not even the weird fuzzy steering wheel can detract from this being a very alluring vision of future luxury.
I fully agree with Kriss on this one. So Aston Martin finally realised that it wasn’t going to knock Rolls Royce and Bentley off their thrones in the uber-luxury limousine class with just another sedan and the revival of the Lagonda brand. Hoping that the stately sedan shape and the intimidating chrome grille are the default choice for buyers of the most expensive luxury cars just because there’s no alternative, Lagonda envisions making its all-electric boulevard cruisers roomy and sensual with aerodynamic shapes and practical yet posh interiors. I also like the gimmick that part of the roof opens up when the doors do, to allow passengers to stand up before exiting the vehicle.
BMW M8 Gran Coupe Concept
The M8 Gran Coupe Concept has all the ingredients of a sexy coupe: a long, low nose with the front wheels moved far forward, swooping fenders, a roofline that flows into the short rear and ends with a ducktail, muscular wheel arches and an intimidating stance. The rear end is so much more expressive (and aggressive) than the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door, but of course this will be toned down for the production version. This looks like a worthy successor to the 8-Series from the 1990s.
To me this is one of those concepts that preview a production car that are very frustrating, in that it looks pretty amazing as a concept, but you know that by the time it reached production it will be so toned down that little of the concepts delicacy will be left. In the past decade Subaru has been “specializing” in these kind of concepts (why, there was another one shown in Geneva – see below), but recently BMW has also jumped on the bandwagon – we have seen spy shots of the production 8-series and it will look nothing as good as the Concept 8 series that BMW showed off at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este last year. Which is a pity, becuase the M8 Gran Coupe Concept has a lot of cool elements that would help move BMW’s somewhat staid design language on, like the aggressively forward grille, a full-height air-extractor behind the front wheels that transitions into deeply scalloped flanks, and which itself looks much more dynamic than BMW’s current feeble small items on its M cars, or the more three-dimensional rear that evokes the i8 a bit (and, with the duck tail spoiler, the new Aston Martin Vantage too).
GFG Sibylla EV Concept
We’ve become accustomed to upstart Chinese companies showing up at car shows with electric concepts that are outrageous both in their design and their performance/milage claims. Which is why the GFG Sibylla EV Concept is a nice change of pace – its looks are conservative by concept car standards, despite the unusual canopy/gullwing door arrangement, and the performance claims well within the realm of production EVs. But that said, I have to admit I was expecting more from Giorgetto Giugiaro styling-wise – the car is neat, and the front works nicely despite looking like an exaggerated Cadillac Escala, but the funky glasshouse gives the car a heavy, slab-sided profile view, while the rear looks like a updated version of Giugiaro’s Maserati 3200 GT. All in all, this car has little of the forward-thinking panache that makes the Aston Martin Lagonda Vision so appealing to me.
Wow, is this a concept car from 2018 or from 2000? The tech is not that revolutionary considering it offers similar specs as a Tesla of which thousands are already roaming the streets, while the design seems stuck in the beginning of this millenium. I’m not sure what GFG is trying to accomplish with this car. The glass dome and aircraft-inspired steering “wheel” aren’t exactly practical features that automakers are likely to embrace, not in the short term or the long term.
Hyundai Le Fil Rouge
The Le Fil Rouge is exactly what a concept car should be: extravagant and futuristic, yet somehow realistic and showing a vision for the brand’s next step in the design language. Like the M8, it has a sexy coupe shape but unlike the M8 it is more subtle and elegant instead of brash and in-your-face. The only thing that’s a bit too much for me is the extremely folded character line on the sides. The interior is perhaps even more good-looking than the exterior, showing a combination of minimalistic, almost Swedish design with swooping lines.
To me the Le Fil Rouge is one of the highlights of the Geneva Auto Show this year. The styling of the car, overseen by ex-Bugatti, Lamborghini and Skoda man Luc Donckerwolke, manages to be both attractive and very unique, something that is not easily achieved (compare it to the very attractive, but somewhat derivative Pininfarina HK GT below). Designed to set the tone for the next generation of Hyundai cars, the distinctive look combines a strong face, clean side surfacing, and a swoopy motif to the character lines and glasshouse. If anything, I hope this means Hyundai will move back more towards where it was with the previous-generation i30, Elantra and Sonata, and away from the generically blocky styling of the current generations. One question remains, though – would this car, and the styling it previews, not have been better used on the aspiring Genesis luxury brand? After all, this looks so much better than the divisive Genesis GV80 Concept.
LVCHI Auto Venere
Compared to the classically handsome GFG Sibylla EV Concept and the daring Hyundai Le Fil Rouge the LVCHI Auto Venere is clearly the ugly stepsister. Born out of the desire for yet another Chinese EV upstart to make a mark on the luxo-EV segment, the Auto Venere looks like an unhappy result of cross-breeding a Tesla Model 3 and an Alpine A110. Given it’s 5.2-meter length, similar to a Mercedes-Benz S-class, it’s amazing how under-tired, heavy and droopy the Auto Venere looks. Add to that unproven tech and a name that conjures up connotations with STDs, and it’s hard to see this car making a mark when (if) it goes into production.
I fully agree with Kriss again, the proportions of this car somehow just don’t seem to work. When seen from the sides, the rear part is too bulky, the wheels are too small and the shape of the character lines in the doors makes no sense. The front looks like a combination of Porsche and Tesla but again misses some subtlety. But hey, at least the tech sounds promising with almost 1.000hp and a range of 500km (NEDC).
Pininfarina HK GT
Another somewhat “out there” concept from the Hong Kong-based Hybrid Kinetic Group, the Pininfarina HK GT is actually a lot more interesting than most. First of all, the car employs electric motors, but energy to power them comes from range-extender units, rather than gigantic, heavy and expensive batteries. Second, the company suggested that the range-extender units could either be an internal combustion unit, a fuel cell, or a micro-turbine. Third, Hybrid Kinetic Group, which commissioned this concept to follow up the previously-shown H600 luxury sedan and the K550 / K750 SUVs, actually seems to have a plan to put this car into production. It’s hard to say whether this kind of range-extender setup stands a chance against the electric battery as the solution currently favored to power future cars, but it’s good to know that someone out there is willing to try it out. Of course, it does not hurt if a car looks the way the HK GT does, even if the rear seems to have been cribbed wholesale from the Mercedes-AMG GT.
This is the fourth concept car from Hybrid Kinetic Group drawn by Pininfarina, and after a sedan and two SUVs they’ve made a very sexy four-door GT. The tech is similar to what we’ve seen from the other concepts, but nonetheless still very interesting. Whether it’s realistic too remains to be seen, but it’s always a good thing when new technology and ideas being developed and thought through. The design of the HK GT is not as original as its tech, with a grille that could be confused with that of Maserati and a rear end that, as Kriss also noted, seems a blatant copy of the Mercedes-AMG GT.
Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo
The Mission E Cross Turismo is a tricky concept to get your head around, as its true purpose is hidden deep beneath its surprising form factor. Much like the Audi Allroad Shooting Brake concept from 2014, which previewed the production TT coupe revealed later that year, the Mission E Cross Turismo is a preview of the upcoming Mission E production 5-door. This can be seen at front of the car, which previews the production-ready implementation of the “four dot” light concept from the original Mission E, and at the rear, which now incorporates a realistic boot opening, but mostly in the profile, which is much less extreme than the original concept and incorporates e.g. production door handles. But while I like the suggestion that the production car will stay reasonably faithful to the amazing concept, not only does the “Cross Turismo” part of the concept feels wrong for a Porsche, the execution (in particular the awful blue detailing) leaves a lot to be desired.
Ditch the outsized wheels, black wheel arches and high ground clearance and meet the almost production ready Turismo version of the Mission E. The Mission E is Porsche’s late answer to Tesla and should arrive in showrooms later this year. Blend this with the Panamera Sport Turismo and Porsche has a new concept car for Geneva, but it doesn’t really offer us anything we haven’t seen before.
The EZ-GO is how some (including myself) envision the future of urban mobility: autonomous electric “pods” that pick up passengers in a combination of personal and public transport. In that purpose, the EZ-GO is not aimed at private buyers but companies and governments who want to run a transport scheme with this type of vehicle. The EZ-GO may not be the sexiest concept around, but it does show some very practical solutions that are likely to make it into production when this type of vehicle becomes commonplace in a decade or so. Passengers are offered easy access thanks to a huge upwards opening lid in the front instead of regular doors and can take seat on a bench surrounded by glass for great visibility. Even though this type of vehicle may threaten the car as we know it, this is likely to be the way in which urban transport will evolve and it’s good to see a company showing a realistic vision for this future.
I applaud Renault for thinking outside of the box (or rather, should that be from within the box), but I hope the EZ-GO is not what the future of urban transport looks like. For starters, the grey design would look drab once covered in the everyday grease and grime of city travel, but also the front door seems utterly impractical given that most urban parking spots are based on parking parallel to the kerb. Also, I know that by making it long and sleek Renault was trying to make this concept seem more car-like than most of the pod concepts that many of us envision when they think “autonomous future”, but the lack of space efficiency in the EZ-GO seems to me like a huge contradiction to the key demand for urban transport.
Skoda Vision X Concept
The Vision X isn’t much more than a concept-ized version of Skoda’s upcoming small crossover that shares its tech with the VW T-Roc and Seat Arona. Take away the extreme color, normal lights and dashboard, smaller wheels and add doorhandles and all that remains is just an invisible crossover that nobody will notice in the streets, per Skoda’s trademark. In defense of the brand, its designs of late are more balanced than those of its Spanish stablemate Seat, which seems to be trying too hard. It seems the production version of this car will be the best looking of the three, but as a concept car it just doesn’t stir me up.
I pretty much agree with Bart on what this car is, which is a thinly-veiled preview of Skoda’s version of the Seat Arona / VW T-Breeze (I think the T-Roc is more closely related to the Tiguan), but unlike Bart I actually like what I see. Sure, some of the tacked-on details are too “out there”, like for example the flame-like rear wheels, but the resulting production model promises to be classically handsome, with a nice prominent grille up front. Skoda has good form on translating concepts into production, after all, unlike…
Subaru VIZIV Tourer Concept
I feel like a jilted person who has given up on dating after being burnt too many times – I just cannot get excited about yet another, admittedly stunning-looking, Subaru concept given that the production version will be boring in every sense of the word. The most frustrating part of the Subaru approach is that there are elements of the design that, with a little bit of conviction, could be successfully incorporated into a production model, such as e.g. the slanted front lights, the aggressive grille or the balanced-looking rear, but I just know that Subaru will dilute even these to the point that the final version will look almost nothing like this concept.
This is a great looking wagon from Subaru. I know that this will unfortunately translate into a facelifted Levorg if and when it will appear in Subaru showrooms, but that’s a terrible shame as Subaru has shown they can design great looking concept cars. The brand can use something a bit more daring because the Levorg miserably failed in terms of sales, and that other Japanese brand known for its boring yet reliable cars, Toyota, is actually pretty successful with some of its more expressive designs like the C-HR.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Supra Racing Concept
Like the Skoda Vision X, this is not much more than the production version of the new Supra in disguise. And that means the new Supra will look like a Viper! Except for the front, that is. The front view is the weakest part in the design as it’s just not aggressive enough for a sports car. Or actually for a GT. Because that’s what the Supra has always been. People may remember the Supra’s from before as hardcore sports cars or supercars, but that’s because especially the last generation was a tuner’s dream car that could push the horsepower boundaries, but originally the Supra has been Toyota’s GT, with the Celica as its sports car. The new Supra won’t stray too far from that legacy even though the “concept” is presented as a race car. Back to the design: I really like the Viper-like shape with the long nose, rearwardly positioned cab and short rear, as well as the muscular wheel arches and sharp rear lights, but they should have given it a more aggressive front.
Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that Toyota will finally bring about a new Supra, but I just wish they had chosen a more exciting design language for the new car. With production Toyota’s adapting a much more edgy style, the Supra will look old on arrival, with visual links to only the Toyota GT86, a car that looked old when it came to market a few years ago. Sure, the rear is pleasantly reminiscent of the first-gen Viper GTS, but otherwise the car looks bulbous, and has that weird wannaby-wrap-around look to the windscreen and doors that makes the whole car look like a visor on a sports helmet, and not in a good way.
VW I.D. Vizzion
Even in its concept cars Volkswagen will not go crazy with its design. The ID Vizzion is a very generic sedan but not necessarily unattractive. Its clean and sleek design is very recognizable VW and so is the grille, even though it’s fully closed in this concept. The interior is minimalistic yet luxurious. Being fully autonomous, I can’t help but wonder who this car would be for, if made into production.
I agree with Bart that the I.D. Vizzion is hardly a ground-breaking design, and that ultimately I question whether this kind of car would sell as a VW. That said, I think the exterior of the car looks really nice in a minimalist kind-of-way, much like the upcoming Lucid Air. What really sells me on this concept, though, is the interior, which evolves the way that car interiors have been up until this point without resorting to wholesale (and in my opinion, unnecessary) reinvention of the whole arrangement (as the Renault EZ-GO does). From among all the self-driving concepts this is the one I would most rather spend time in, and that, pretty much, is the point when designing the autonomous car of the future.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments and the two polls below: