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Weird and wonderful wheels: five of our favourite concept cars from the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show

Alex Robbins
Audi unveiled its AI:Trail concept car at this year's Frankfurt show. Whether anything like it will go into production remains to be seen.  - REUTERS

Concept cars at motor shows usually emerge when manufacturers don’t have an awful lot of new production cars to shout about. So with so many important new real-life models flying around at this year’s Frankfurt motor show, it should come as no surprise that concept cars are fewer and further between. 

Nevertheless, some manufacturers have rolled out visions of the future that are worth talking about. Some are pure flights of fancy, while others predict the look and feel – and importantly, the technology – of future models. Here’s our run-down of the best. 

Hyundai 45

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places – and in Hyundai’s case, it’s come from the past. This pure-electric 45 concept previews the design language Hyundai will use on its future models, and was inspired by the Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept of 1974, with which it shares its scowling nose and fastback tail. 

Hyundai 45

Inside, the 45’s interior has been inspired by a living room, much like the Honda E’s, with lounge-style seats, thick carpets, and natural materials. Hyundai also points out that it has packaged the batteries into a ‘skateboard’ beneath the floor has increased space and given the 45 an airy interior. 

In the flesh it is really very appealing; big, confident surfaces, sharp creases and strong angles giving way to that sharply cut-back tail, strongly reminiscent of the car which inspired it – not to mention, as some wags have pointed out on social media, the Austin Princess. If Hyundais of the future are to look like this, that can only be a good thing. 

Cupra Tavascan

“I give you the money, you make it physical,” said Luca De Meo to Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos – and so the Cupra Tavascan was born, a car which shows off the Seat sub-brand’s vision of the future. And yes, it’s a future filled with fast, electrified SUVs – after all, says De Meo, that’s what buyers want. 

Cupra Tavascan

Mind you, that future might come along sooner than you think, as the Tavascan doesn’t look all that far from a production model. And so it will probably end up, sitting alongside the upcoming Formentor plug-in hybrid with slightly more swoopy styling – although the Tavascan’s beaky nose and chunky posterior mean it might not meet with universal approbation. 

The concept comes with a pair of electric motors that kick out a combined total of 302bhp, enough to get it to 62mph in 6.5 seconds, and a 77kWh battery that should give it a WLTP range of 279 miles.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS

It might be a triumph of hyperbole to call this Merc’s Tesla-killer, but when it inevitably makes production, Mercedes’s EQS will almost certainly go head-to-head with the Model S. If nothing else, it shows that there is still a place for a smart saloon with electric power in manufacturers’ future plans, which will come as a relief to those who fast tiring of the rising tide of electric SUVs.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS on the Frankfurt stand

Of course, this is the Vision EQS, as opposed to the EQS itself, which in Merc-speak means it’s still a concept. So don’t expect to see twinkly bits like the rather chintzy rear lights, made up of 229 illuminated replicas of the three-pointed star; you might find the 434-mile range and 0-62mph time of less than 4.5 seconds get chopped down somewhat for the production model, too. But do expect to see that slinky, curvaceous silhouette make it to reality. 

Audi AI:Trail

Its AI concepts demonstrate how Audi reckons a future car subscription model might work. For a monthly fee, the idea goes, owners would be able to borrow their choice of four different cars depending on their requirements. To that end, we’ve already seen three AI concepts – Aicon, AI:Me and AI:Race – and this AI:Trail rounds out the quartet. 

AI:Trail, Audi imagines, is the AI model customers would use to head off the beaten track; to go fishing or hiking in the wilderness, or perhaps to take away for the weekend for a spot of camping. To that end, you don’t get big infotainment screens inside, but you do get chunky wheels and tyres and vast windows, the better to allow you to enjoy the scenery outside.

Audi AI:Trail at Frankfurt 2019

There’s some cracking motor show concept stuff here, with a smartphone instead of an instrument binnacle, hammocks for rear seats, and headlights that can operate as drones, to light up the road ahead from up in the sky. 

It is, as you might expect by now, electric – but you actually get a small electric motor on each wheel, maximising the flexibility of its four-wheel drive system. And the AI:Trail has been optimised for range, rather than performance, the idea being that it’ll be taking you places where there’s no charging infrastructure – so it’ll do up to 310 miles on a ‘tank’, but tops out at around 80mph, despite having a whopping maximum combined power output of 429bhp. 

And now for something completely different…

Lurking over on the Brabus stands sits not quite a concept, but one that’s so hard to get hold of, it might as well be – and arguably the most lurid car at the show. It’s the Brabus G V12 900, and as its name suggests, it’s a Mercedes G-Class with a V12 and 900 horsepower. Well, 900 metric horsepower, which translates to 888bhp. Good grief.

Brabus G Wagen 2019 2020 Frankfurt 

The V12 is taken from the S600 L limo, and is thoroughly beefed up, its capacity bumped up from 6.0 to 6.3 litres, and its two turbos upgraded. The result is then crammed into a G-Class fitted with Brabus’s ‘Widestar’ bodykit, which add four inches of width to the already rather imposing G. The resulting car can hit 62mph in 3.8 seconds. Coilover suspension – adjustable from within the car – helps to keep the show on the road.

Want one? You’ll have to act fast – only ten are being built. You’ll also have to have deep pockets – a G V12 900 will set you back around £667,000, once tax is factored in. 

Which is your favourite concept car from Frankfurt 2019? Let us know in the comment section below.