Overall it was a slightly hollow experience visiting the Frankfurt Show this year with several brands not participating and conversations around whether or not this would be the last.
All that being told, there were some forward-looking concept cars worthy of mention, notably those of Hyundai, Audi and Cupra. Each is a wholly different proposition, yet each manages to be a convincing look at the future from these three brands.
Hyundai 45 Concept
The best show car at Frankfurt was the Hyundai 45, there to reveal Hyundai’s future design direction and celebrate 45 years since Hyundai’s first production car.
The exterior design of the Hyundai 45 Concept is clearly inspired by the Giugiaro show car that previewed Hyundai’s Pony. Clearly an opportunity to experiment outside Hyundai’s current design language and maybe test public reaction to this approach.
The exterior showed modern, clean surfaces with tight crease lines and well-resolved proportions making this a very handsome vehicle. From the paint finish, ‘Mackintosh’ LED headlamps, range displays on the doors and features on the wheel arch finishers, it was clearly a car designed with care and attention to all details.
The minimalist approach of the interior creates a very welcoming environment. The combination of wood, leather, and fabric with a clear and open floor creates a relaxing ambiance. The ‘chair’ designs for the seats succeeds in creating a living room on wheels, although the yellow ‘sun’ lighting maybe wasn’t so successful.
It will be interesting if this approach on the interior will really make it to production; let’s hope so.
AI:trail is exactly what an Audi concept car should be allowing designers to be unshackled from brand and production guidelines.
This was a great finale to the four AI concepts that make up Audi’s vision of shared motoring. This futuristic electric SUV is a radical design, incorporating a panoramic glasshouse giving as much all-round visibility as possible to the occupants. This and non-existent overhangs give the vehicle an unusual, distinctive and go-anywhere look.
Thinking outside the box, they have a drone that is dispatched from the roof to illuminate the road ahead. The interior has removable seats that can be used as hammocks, and in contrast to the Taycan displays, the only screen here is a phone.
It is important that this type of concept is shown so that people can let their imagination roam. Everything can be analyzed to the nth degree and it is sometimes enough that things are just ‘cool’ as my daughter said when she saw it.
Cupra Tavascan Concept
The Cupra Tavascan is the latest concept hailing from SEAT’s new performance sub-brand. It is an electrically-powered crossover SUV (obviously) that is specifically tailored to cater to the emerging markets and one that can enter into a new space (and price bracket) where previous and current SEAT products would not otherwise venture.
From an exterior and interior design perspective, the Cupra Tavascan concept is perfectly judged. Sporty but also more upscale than SEAT brand products — a differentiation necessary to not tread too closely on other vehicles within the SEAT range — the Cupra brand looks poised to take on important electric car markets such as China.
SEAT design boss Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos tells us the concept is millimeters off from the production car we’ll soon see.
The DRG is poised, dynamic and purposeful, with an undercut wedge that gives it a forward — and somewhat aggressive dive. In profile, it is not too tall — which denotes its sportier ambitions — yet manages to retain enough ride height to provide a roomier cabin space above its platform mounted battery packs.
As a nod to the current trend towards copper to denote the electric nature of its powertrain, the Cupra Tavascan concept features a number of elements finished in the chemical element’s hue.
The interior is a specific highlight, adorned with a swiveling center screen that can be angled either towards the driver or front passenger, cool ambient lighting treatment, and some particularly fantastic details.
It would be a shame if all the European motor shows disappear, as they offer a unique opportunity for the public and designers to see and experience concept cars, new cars and compare them with current line ups in one place. As such, they are a great environment to gauge what you are looking at. It is also an opportunity to exchange opinions and gain insights with fellow designers across studios.
Be sure to check out more photos of these concepts and all of the other debuts in our massive 2019 Frankfurt motor show gallery.