The opening press days of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show have now wrapped up, with the year’s biggest motor show now open to the public.
This year’s event brought us a host of new production models and concepts, and more than a few hints at what we can expect to see on the road in the years ahead. For a full list of the big unveilings, see our What To Expect article.
Which offerings impressed and most upset the CarAdvice crew? Catch our thoughts below on the hits and misses of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.
Best Production Car: Mercedes-AMG Project One
What can I say, it’s an absolute beauty in the flesh, in every way imaginable. An F1 car for the road. Most car companies dream about doing something like this, and others pretend to not be fazed or say they don’t need a halo car – but this, for me at least, proves that Mercedes is king.
They have the means, the ability and the financial smarts to build a car as amazing as the project one. What other mainstream manufacturer can claim such a feat?
Best Concept: BMW Z4 concept
Yes! Finally got to see this in the flesh and it looks like everything BMW needs, a fresh take on design with all the brand’s inherent values. Hope the production version is the same.
Biggest Miss: Honda’s stupid Urban EV thing
Yeah, yeah, everyone else thinks it’s great idea to build a small EV that looks retro. Problem is, small EVs won’t be very good for a while because the platforms aren’t large enough to house the necessary amount of current-generation batteries to make the range worthwhile. And if they do, it’ll be too heavy in that body to be any fun. It may look like a lightweight cool little small car, but it’ll be anything but when it goes into production.
Best Production Car: Volkswagen T-Roc
The T-Roc is exactly what Volkswagen needs in Australia – a proper rival to hot-selling SUVs such as the Mazda CX-3 and Subaru XV.
It has the right design outside and in, appropriate levels of tech and ideal drivetrains (turbo engines, FWD and AWD, manual and DSG). It’s a funky offering that breaks the company’s austere mould.
But there’s a problem. VW grossly underestimated global demand, and while it has tripled planned production at its Portugal plant, the supply lines are chockers. Ergo, it may not hit Australia until 2019. A disaster for the company here.
Best Concept: Honda Urban EV
Everyone has fallen in love with the Honda Urban EV concept (except Alborz), a lesson in design simplicity and taste, and a preview of the electrification has on design and packaging.
The fact Honda sprung it as something of a surprise added to the old world drama of it. Seriously if the production version due in 2019 looks half as good, it’ll be a groundbreaking city car.
It’d also help shake the cobwebs away from what was once Japan’s most innovative car brand, and stamp its official return to the land of the living. Don’t stuff it up.
Biggest Miss: BMW Concept X7
If the production BMW X7 looks like the Concept X7 iPerformance, then the brand is on the wrong design path.
This is an easy one — both the Bentley Continental GT and the Audi RS4 Avant. I’ve always been a huge fan of the RS4 and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new one. Ex-Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann had a hand in its creation and if that cracking turbocharged V6 engine from Porsche is anything to go by, it’ll be one hell of a machine. And, just look at it!
As for the Bentley Continental GT – my only criticism of that car in the past was the interior and lack of technology. Well, that’s all been fixed – the outside looks incredible in person and the interior is just en pointe. There’s a load of tech in there and it remains feeling a bespoke place to be seated. Loved it.
Best Concept: Audi Elaine
I’m getting on the Audi train here. The best looking concept was the Audi Elaine. It’s an example of an autonomous future where the car can drive itself, but you can also take control and have fun.
It’s a future design direction for the brand and if the production car looks anything like this, I’ll be thrilled. It’s a great sign of the times for Audi so let’s hope it continues the trend and becomes the tech leader in automotive.
Biggest Miss: BMW Concept X7
BMW Concept X7 iPerformance. We know this is basically what the X7 will look like and if it’s anything like this concept car, we could be in trouble.
Sure, it’s not as ugly as the GLE Coupe or the GLC Coupe, but it’s well on its way there. Surely there isn’t a market for these hideous things?!
Best Production Car: Renault Megane RS
It’s everything I expected, and more. Muscled but with flowing lines, the signature touches of Laurens van den Acker’s regular Megane but with more of everything.
It has the right ingredients for buyers, too, with a choice of manual or dual-clutch auto transmission teamed to a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s still front-drive but will have RenaultSport’s trickery under the metal, and it has the company’s brilliant four-wheel-steering system.
Shame about the media system. We can live in hope that there’ll be an update at some point that’ll address its shortcomings.
Best Concept: Honda Urban EV
This isn’t just the best concept of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show – I think the Honda Urban EV concept is the best concept car ever. Full-stop.
It’s cute, it’s kooky, it’s conscientious, and it’s very much like a modern day interpretation of the original Civic hatch. I think it’s the exact thing Honda needs, and I cannot wait to lay down a deposit on the production version. I’m serious. If it looks like this, I’ll buy one, even though I don’t need one.
Just look at it! The clever rear-hinged doors, the amazing widescreen display, the big rims hugged by shapely guards. And the lights – they’re just so adorable.
Biggest Miss: Mercedes-AMG Project One
I’m not saying the engineering of the thing is on the nose – we buy with our eyes, and I’m putting it out there: this isn’t as outlandish as it should have been.
It’s generic, and it comes from the performance arm of Benz, AMG, which has made some truly amazing looking cars that have had a bit more purpose. The beauty of styling is that it’s subjective, so you can shoot me down if you want. But I keep coming back to a tweet I saw this week describing the air dam as “crying Laura Dern”. Check it out here.
I am compelled to like a performance wagon, it’s in my programming. Truth remains that I’d prefer the M3 wagon that may never appear, but the RS4 Avant is well-loved – and rightly so. This latest version looks to be a hot thing.
As for the Portofino, well. I’m not really into convertibles, because they usually look dopey with the roof on – and I live in a city where you’d have the roof on nine days out 10. The Portofino, though… never have I seen a convertible look so good, so perfectly coupe-like with its roof on. Big win.
Best Concept: Honda Urban EV
Hey, I even wrote an opinion piece about it. Obviously I love it. Find out why, here.
Biggest Miss: Renault Symbioz
Look, I get it, but it’s not a unique concept anymore and the car is ugly. This is frustrating, because Renault is mostly hitting home-runs in the styling department. If this is what’s to come, I’m worried.
There was something missing from the fifth-generation Discovery range at launch, and the SVX seems to have fixed it. A supercharged V8 and off-road gear do it a lot of good, and while I’d pass on the matte-grey exterior paint, the SVX at least looks like it can tackle the rough stuff – even if the production cars will spend most of their time sitting outside private schools.
On a slightly different note, I’ve always had a soft spot for fast Audis, and the new RS4 continues that. Something about understated power appeals to me, and how Audi continues to make the humble station wagon sexy – RS6 included – is something that should be applauded.
It’s quicker than many current sports cars, and punches all the way to 280km/h – with the optional RS dynamic package – which is just insanity. And, unlike many current sports cars, you can bring the family and the dog along for the ride.
Best Concept: Kia Proceed
Yes, I didn’t choose the Honda Urban EV. Yes, the little Japanese hatch is cute and brings back retro styling, but it’s not sexy, nor something I would want to show off to my friends – hate on me all you want. The Kia Proceed is stunning from just about every angle, minus the mono-brow tail-light thing (why?!), and it again demonstrates that the Korean manufacturer is capable of making desireable-looking cars.
The cee’d and subsequent pro_cee’d family probably won’t ever look as attractive as this design ‘preview’, but it’s definitely better than all the SUV nonsense the Germans are offering.
Biggest Miss: SUV fever, again
Why? Why can’t we just not make ugly crossover things? I’m all for a Range Rover, but this weird coupe-SUV thing is just getting out of hand. Audi Elaine? Pass. BMW X7? Blergh. Skoda Vision E? Simply [NOT] clever. Volkswagen I.D. Crozz the second? No. Please stop.
A special mention also goes to the Toyota C-HR Hy-Power concept, for being nothing other than a sticker pack and a “more than 90kW” half-arsed effort.