Concept cars give us a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry, showing us years in advance what direction a manufacturer is headed in with regards to design and engineering.
This year saw several exciting concept cars make their debut. Not surprisingly, the majority of this year’s concepts were hybrid or electric, with the automotive industry set to massively ramp up its electrification efforts in the coming years. Not all of them were so eco-friendly, however, with the internal combustion engine remaining a major player in many automaker’s future lineups – especially so if they are in the business of making performance cars.
Here are autoTRADER.ca's picks are for the hottest concept cars of 2019.
10. Alfa Romeo Tonale
The Alfa Romeo Tonale gives us a sneak preview of the Italian automaker’s upcoming compact crossover of the same name, which is expected to debut sometime in 2020. The exterior styling is similar to the larger Alfa Romeo Stelvio crossover, though it features different LED headlights and taillights and a concealed rear door handle integrated into the c-pillar. The production version will be based on a front-wheel-drive platform and will spawn a plug-in hybrid variant. We like how handsome this concept looks with its tidy, sporty proportions, and that it basically looks ready for production.
9. Fiat Centoventi
The Fiat Centoventi Concept is a handsome electric city car that previews a new small EV from the Italian automaker. What’s exciting about the Centoventi is that it remains true to Fiat’s goal of offering sensible, affordable small cars. Unlike fancy EVs from luxury automakers like Tesla or Audi, the Centoventi is designed to be affordable above all else. It also has a modular battery assembly that allows it to be fitted with additional battery packs at any time should the owner desire more range. In its base form, Fiat hopes the Centoventi will be the cheapest EV on the market. It’s not clear when it may reach production, however, nor if it will be sold in North America.
8. Audi Q4 E-Tron
The Audi Q4 E-Tron Concept will go into production in early 2021 and will serve as a rival to other future electric compact luxury crossovers like the Tesla Model Y. It’s essentially a smaller, stubbier version of the existing Audi E-Tron EV, with both similar exterior styling and a similar interior layout. Audi says the concept features an 82 kWh battery that can provide up to 450 km of driving range. Its dual-motor powertrain is good for 300 horsepower and helps it accelerate from 0-100 km/h in around 6.3 seconds.
7. Hyundai 45 EV Concept
Yet another EV finds its way on our list in the way of the Hyundai 45 EV. It’s hard to dislike the 45 EV’s retro-futuristic looks, which remind us of a 1980s Casio calculator thanks to its silver exterior and digitized headlights and taillights. Described as a “symbolic milestone for Hyundai’s future EV design,” this concept is a good indicator of what future Hyundai EVs will look like, which has us very excited indeed.
6. Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato
We’d like to hand Lamborghini the very unofficial autoTRADER.ca Award for ‘Most Bonkers Concept Car of the Year’ for the absolutely mad Huracan Sterrato. This concept is exactly what it looks like – an off-road ready Lamborghini Huracan with lifted suspension and knobby dirt tires. While the raised suspension and protective black cladding are more befitting of a Subaru than a Lambo, the Sterrato stays true to its roots and retains the Huracan’s mid-mounted 5.2-liter V10 engine. See, we told you this year’s concept cars weren’t all sensible EVs!
5. Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS
The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS was unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. This svelte concept sedan gives us a look at what Mercedes-Benz's answer to the Tesla Model S might look like and likely hints at the next-generation E-Class and S-Class, as well. The German automaker says the concept has a 469-horsepower electric powertrain and a 100 kWh battery, which provides up to 700 km of range on the generous WLTP test cycle. Unfortunately, it's not clear if Mercedes ever plans to put it into production, though we may see some elements of it appear on future versions of its existing sedans, like the S-Class.
4. BMW Vision M NEXT
The BMW Vision M NEXT previews the future of the German company’s world-famous M performance brand. Serving as a successor to the BMW i8 (and pulling clear inspiration from the BMW M1), the Vision M NEXT features a turbocharged a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain that is good for around 600 horsepower, enabling a 0-100 km/h sprint of 3.0 seconds and a top speed of around 300 km/h. It’s not clear if it will ever reach production, but we imagine its hybrid four-cylinder powertrain is very similar to what we’ll see in a lot of future M-branded cars.
3. VW ID Space Vizzion
Not only does the VW ID Space Vizzion have a great name, it also looks amazing and has a rather impressive battery electric powertrain. The 82 kWh battery pack provides up to 482 km of driving range, while the rear-mounted electric motor provides a surprising amount of performance, producing 275 horsepower. Best of all, it will launch in North America in 2022, giving VW buyers a new wagon to consider once the Golf Sportwagen and Alltrack are discontinued.
2. Aston Martin Vanquish Vision
The Aston Martin Vanquish has always been a luxurious, front-engined grand tourer, but with the introduction of the Vanquish Vision Concept, that looks set to change. This mid-engine supercar concept has a carbon fiber tub and is built around a new Aston Martin-developed twin-turbocharged V6 engine – representing a massive departure from the V12-powered Vanquish models of yore. It will put other mid-engine supercars like the Ferrari F8 Tributo and McLaren 720S in its crosshairs when it goes on sale in 2022.
1. VW ID Buggy
Our favourite concept of the year was, by far, the VW ID Buggy. This oddball creation is everything a concept should be – radical, weird, experimental and, most of all, fun. What’s even better is that VW is actually considering putting the thing into production, saying it could be positioned as a low-volume enthusiast car and sold alongside its more sensible electric offerings, like the aforementioned ID Space Vizzion. The concept featured a rear-mounted electric motor developing 202 hp, though VW says a second motor could be added to the front axle for more power. We say build it, VW, though you may want to offer a version with a roof and doors for us Canadians.