© Daimler AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars

Cars

Five futuristic concepts that wowed the Frankfurt Motor Show

From pure EV to a runabout for ET, here are the cars that have got us all excited about the future...

Hyundai 45 EV Concept

"That," says newly appointed Jaguar design boss Julian Thomson pointing across the hall, "looks like an Austin Princess." This isn’t just an unexpected observation, it’s also entirely accurate. More unusual still, the Hyundai 45 EV somehow manages to recall that British Leyland aberration and look highly desirable. In fact, Hyundai’s all-electric concept actually references another Seventies throwback, one closer to its Seoul home – the original Pony hatchback. That was styled by il maestro Giorgetto Giugiaro, back when the South Korean newbie "had a nothing-to-lose spirit" according to flamboyant design boss SangYup Lee. The 45 is a restrained, disciplined-looking thing enlivened by some clever graphic flourishes, which compared very positively with vastly less accomplished concepts from some of the industry’s big guns. No news yet on the powertrain, but the batteries will live under the floor, which allows for those abbreviated front and rear overhangs.

Mercedes EQS

© Daimler AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars

A "trailblazer for the entire Mercedes-Benz EQ family" is the elevator pitch. A pure EV capable of level-three autonomy, the EQS’s electric powertrain makes the equivalent of 470bhp and 560lb ft of torque, with all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, and a claimed range of 400 miles, plus the ability to recharge to 80 per cent capacity in 20 minutes. Mercedes is also aiming to make car manufacturing carbon neutral, and the EQS’s interior uses ocean waste – recycled, thankfully – and plastic bottles in its trim. The grille features 188 individual LEDs, with a 229-light constellation at the rear. It’s pretty for a big luxo-barge, which bodes well for the next-gen S-class which – minus the EV gubbins – is basically what this thing is.

Audi AI: TRAIL

© AUDI AG ###

The fourth in a series of autonomous concepts – following the luxury Aicon, high-performance AI: RACE, and the urban AI: ME – the TRAIL is the off-roady one. Off-roady on Mars, judging by its appearance. The 22in wheels house their own electric motors, to provide 430bhp and a whopping 738lb ft of torque. Notice the absence of headlights: night-time illumination is done by a squadron of drones that fly ahead. Perhaps most intriguing is that Audi is pitching this quartet as a "new mobility concept", and that you book whichever of the four you fancy at the time, with the car’s spec set for you before it’s delivered (or it delivers itself… it has level-four autonomy).

Byton M-Byte

© Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

This Chinese EV start-up lured a top BMW designer and the genius who made the little Alpine A110, one of the most satisfying driver’s cars in years. But it’s the interior that really marks this thing out and offers a further reminder that it’s what happens inside that’s really going to define the automotive future: there’s a 48in curved OLED 4k display spanning the whole of the dashboard, with two smaller screens either side (one on the steering wheel, the other a tablet). Byton is aiming for a "digital lounge" feeling, and the screen is shock-proof and covered in shatter-proof glass. The entry-level car uses a 72kWh battery good for 268bhp and a 360-mile range, the top-flight version using a 95kWh battery for 402bhp and a 435-mile range. Rapid charging is available, and Byton is working to ensure that owners have 22kW home chargers. It’s likely to go on sale in Europe from 2021, priced from £45k. Some of these Chinese start-ups have the whiff of vapourware about them, but we’re backing this one for success.

Lamborghini Sian

© DANIEL ROLAND

A Welsh ladies’ name to some, a "flash of lightning" in the Bolognese dialect (it’s more polite than Countach, which is a swear word in Piedmontese), the Sian looks as outré as ever – courtesy of Lamborghini’s brilliant design chief, Mitja Borkert. But the big story is here is its propulsion: this is the first step on Lamborghini’s path to hybridisation and perhaps full electrification. Rather than lithium ion battery cells, though, the Sian uses supercapacitors, which it claims are three times lighter and three times more powerful than lithium ion. A 48volt 34bhp e-motor sits centrally and contributes to an overall power output of 808bhp, making this the most powerful Lamborghini ever made. Top speed is 218mph, and 0-62mph is dusted in 2.8 seconds. No word on price, but it’s academic: only 63 are being made, and they’re all sold. Don’t worry: this is the Aventador replacement lightly disguised, so you can always buy one of those instead.

Read more

Best electric cars for a smarter, faster ride

GQ Drives: our definitive collection of motoring stories

Citroën’s Karin concept proves modern cars need more pyramids

GQ Recommends

Fashion

You can now wear the Adidas Stan Smith all winter long

Out to lunch

David Nott: 'I still blame the government for not acting quickly enough concerning Syria'

Hotels

The best hotels in the UK to stay in this year

Edition