Not every concept car gets a future, but these ones should have
Now the biggest, boldest concepts from the 2018 Geneva motor show have been revealed, and space has been made in dream garages for Supras, Lagondas, and M8 Gran Coupes, we cast a nostalgic eye back on some of the most memorable concepts from the last 20 years.
These are the cars we believe should have earned a place in product portfolios from their respective manufacturers. Some were simply too fanciful to ever get a look in, while others fell to the might of a beancounter’s red pen.
All on this list still hold a glowing place in the hearts of the CarAdvice team though, and while the harsh light of mass production might have stolen their souls if they’d ever gotten that far, for a brief moment under the glare of motor show spotlights, these were all absolutely perfect.
Since then the brand has confirmed production, pushed the expected introduction back from an initial 2016 launch to 2018, and then again to 2020. Over that time engine speculation has raged too, with V6, V8 and electric powertrains all mooted.
Here’s hoping Maserati does stick to its word, and the production version retains the concept’s alluring 60s-inspired curves before the Alfieri becomes little more than a bittersweet memory for Italian sports car fans everywhere.
Designed to be more like the original Mini than the ever-expanding modern version, the 2011 Rocketman concept showed the British brand actually did still know how to draw compact dimensions around a space-efficient interior.
While purists demanded an introduction, beancounters assigned the Rocketman project a big red ‘X’. The regular Mini was simply too big and costly to scale down for a smaller city car, and finding the right joint venture for a platform sharing project amounted to nothing.
The concept itself features a carbon spaceframe - genuine flight-of-fancy stuff for a price sensitive urban hatch - but the cute look-at-me styling was the big drawcard for this concept star.
Saab 9-X Biohybrid
Times were already tough for Saab in 2008, but as a then-member of the GM family the brand had access to diverse range of platforms and possibilities to help expand its range.
Up to that point though all Saab had managed were badly rebadged versions of the Subaru WRX (Saab 9-2X) and Chevrolet Trailblazer (Saab 9-7X). The 9-X biohybrid came as a breath of fresh air, and showed the brand still had devoted designers and passion for innovation.
A flex-fuel capable 1.4-litre engine good for 147kW and 280Nm was a promising start for the compact shooting brake, along with techy details like a belt-driven hybrid system and active aerodynamics, but sadly there was no future for either the 9-X or the Saab brand itself.
No one saw the Subaru B11S coming in 2003, but the luxed-up four-door coupe was designed to signal the brand’s premium aspirations, along with introducing the aviation-inspired face that would briefly blight the Tribeca and Impreza ranges.
Though the face may have been questionable, the four-door form with rear hinged doors and a high-set hatch-like rear were all rather striking and unique, Mazda RX-8 notwithstanding.
By far the best part was under the bonnet, where Subaru strapped twin turbochargers onto a 3.0-litre flat six engine resulting in 294kW and 550Nm, mated to a rear-biased all wheel drive system. If only one part of the B11S program had survived it should have been that engine.
Dodge Demon Roadster
You know the Dodge Demon, right? Well before the 626kW road-legal drag strip destroying version of the Challenger hit the ground running, Dodge applied the name to a very different, but no less desirable car.
In 2007 the Demon was wheeled out as a potential Mazda MX-5 rival, featuring a back-to-basics two seater cabin, 128kW four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual, and rear wheel drive. A buff and angular body, huge 19-inch wheels and dramatic cab-rearward stance only served to increase its desirability.
Realistically the engine was a bit limp, Dodge had no real reputation for build quality finesse, and a suitable chassis didn’t exist in the broader DaimlerChrysler family meaning the Demon was always going to be a non-starter. Such a pity.
Peugeot 307 Cameleo
Technically the Peugeot 307 did make it to production, but not like this. Small hatches aren’t exactly known for their adaptability to dual-cab workhorses – a fact the Cameleo well and truly proved.
Despite the addition of a ‘load container’ at the rear, the 307-based ute was still too small to carry a mountain bike comfortably. That’s awkward. An athermic glass roof ensured excellent visibility of whatever went on the roof, at least.
So, practical it may not be, but there’s a certain charm to the tiny dual cab. Particularly with an interior swathed in black leather and orange suede. Just as the Subaru Brumby developed a cult following Down Under it’s hard to imagine the Cameleo as anything but a sure-fire hit, perhaps not with the same rural clientele though.
Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta
One of the products that could have played a part in Alfa Romeo’s revival (but didn’t) was the achingly gorgeous 2uettottanta, an absolute masterwork of proportion and restraint at the hands of Pininfarina.
If you pronounce the 2 at the start of the name as a D the Duettottanta makes more sense. The mechanical layout meanwhile is much simpler to decipher: 1.75-litre turbo four-cylinder (with no outputs given, but it’s good for 177kW in the 4C range) and rear-wheel drive, sounds like fun to us.
Alas, Alfa Romeo shelved plans for a revived Duetto with Fiat Chrysler instead repurposing the Mazda MX-5 as a Fiat roadster. Though it may be fun, the 124 Spider has nothing on the almost-sensual styling of this roadster proposal.
It’s always a little hard not to cringe a little when an automaker wheels out a concept claimed to be designed specifically for female drivers. The Volvo YCC (Your Concept Car) thankfully avoids the condescension that typified similar concepts from the 1950s.
Instead, Volvo wheeled out a sharp gull-wing coupe that played host to an interior about space and versatility, plus changeable colour panels for extra customisation. Press a button on the remote and your nearest door will open – Genius.
Going further Volvo displayed capless filling for things like fuel and washer fluid and claimed the hybrid engine could go 50,000km between oil changes. It’s all encouraging, thoughtful design.
It’s clear from one look at the 2006 Renault Altica concept that the French brand was after a more premium audience. It was big and bluff, with a dramatic shooting brake shape and imposing butterfly-hinged doors.
The side profile reveals a dirty secret though – a long front overhang and short dash-to-axle ratio tell the story of front wheel drive underpinnings. That’s forgivable after a quick glimpse at the spacious and minimalist interior, which even includes a steering column suspended from the dash.
Renault’s reputation for quirky luxo cars that are impossible to sell (witness the Avantime and Vel Satis) means no matter how well-received the Altica was, it never stood a chance of rolling down a production line.
Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour
If a jaw-dropping supercar were to be crossed with the go anywhere capability of a hardcore 4x4 the result wouldn’t be one of the show-pony soft roaders you see littering roads everywhere, it would be the Italdesign Parcour.
Up top the Parcour is covered by taut and muscular bodywork with a strong wedge profile and bulging wheel arches as a perfect exaggeration of traditional Italdesign themes. Under the skin lurks a Lamborghini V10 engine from the Gallardo, chunky tyres, all-wheel drive, and height-adjustable suspension.
Everything about the concept seems wrong, but it works so well together that it’s hard not to think perhaps Lamborghini should have turned its back on the unsightly Urus and made an all road GT car like the Parcour instead.
What did you think of our list? Do you have any favourite Geneva concepts from the past that you wish had made it off the show stage and into showrooms?