Concepts give us a look at where a manufacturer is devoting its most forward-thinking R&D. These futuristic designs can also give great insight into a soon-to-come vehicle – one that may have tuning potential. While we unfortunately did not see any hints at a forthcoming Toyota Supra at this year’s LA Auto Show there were some very interesting unveils across the board. From a video game inspired Mercedes to Honda’s latest hydrogen fuel cell Jetsons design there was a concept of every type.
Concept trends at the 2013 LA Auto Show focused around going the greenest, the performance-driven compact SUV segment and riding in luxury at a more affordable price. While this feature may be outside the stout tuner builds normally highlighted on this page, it shows us where the industry is headed and the body styles we may one day modify.
Honda FCEV Concept
The next generation in Honda’s Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle tech and hint at the future of the current FCX Clarity comes this white spacepod. The wild zero-emission design, according to Honda, has a 300-mile range and refuels in three minutes thanks in part to a significantly smaller fuel cell stack.
Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of Honda Automotive Operations said about the brand’s green tech, “The big difference is Honda is actually walk the talk. We actually have the [FCX] Clarity that you can lease and drive. There are real people that are driving these cars and giving us information all of the time. We are learning from their experiences, which allows us to perfect our fuel cell technology moving ahead. We’re not talking about it; we’re doing it so there is a lot of credibility behind what we are doing.”
Subaru Legacy Concept
The biggest news at the Subie car booth was the unveiling of the 268hp 2015 WRX sedan that is said to have a significantly stiffer chassis and boost in overall performance. But the beefier concept seen here also garnered a crowd.
Tom Doll, President and COO of Subaru of America said, “The big thing with the Legacy Concept car is the athletic, wider stance and being able to see more of the coupe line as opposed to a standard box. Also, the front of the car has some design cues from the production model that will debut next year.”
Lexus LF-LC Concept
Debuted in the 2012 auto show circuit, this LFA-influenced hybrid coupe has still not received official production green light – maybe next year. The LF-LC has a big cat look with RWD reflexes. Its style still stands out and its cockpit displays are space age.
Driver-aid technology includes: twin 12.3-inch LCD information and navigation screens; remote touchscreen control device that does not alter driver line of sight when used; touchscreen surfaces in door panels that control windows, mirrors, seat and personal audio options; vehicle information display that shows items like temperature or speed in front of the driver using LCD and multi-layered analog technologies. If computer tech isn’t your thing the interior is outfitted with a pretty penny’s worth of wood, brushed metal, aluminum and suede in the name of hybrid sports car luxury.
Volkswagen Design Vision GTI Concept
Is a 500hp powerplant with DSG transmission and AWD the future of a VW GTI R model? Performance and styling cues from this concept are said to be inspiration for future production generations. Christian Buhlmann, spokesperson for Volkswagen A.G., elaborated on this topic:
“What we envision is the single idea of what can carry over into the series or into the aftermarket and customization of the GTI. The GTI is the idea of making a hot hatch (beginning in 1976). This is the 7th generation and finally with this vehicle we have brought all of these ideas together. The strong C-pillar, for instance, is lifted out of the body. We have a 3.0L V6 TSI that has been double charged, so it has 500hp - those are ideas to be carried over. The engine is based on the modular toolkit MQB - 40 different models are based on the MQB. Everything is very tight, which makes you feel like you are sitting in a race car but it still has the abilities of an everyday car. This is not for serious production right away, but over time and for different purposes such as the race track.”
Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept
This hybrid midsized SUV concept fits between the VW Tiguan and the Touareg in terms of positioning. It showcases the brands focus towards the midsize segment it currently does not hold stake in. Expect a similar type of production variant in the $30,000 range for North America in the future.
Christian Buhlmann, spokesperson for Volkswagen A.G. said, “It is a parallel hybrid, which means you can run the components individually. You don’t have to put the power into one system; actually you can decouple for instance the V6 engine and only have the electrical drivetrain or combine both together. This is more efficient than power split hybrids Japanese makes do. The same is true for the all-wheel drive, which functions electrically and therefore you save tunnel space for the battery.”
Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept
Holy smokes, Batman! Behind the wildly smooth lines of this AMG showstopper is a video game heart. Created for Sony Playstation 4’s Gran Turismo 6, this concept will live digitally in the much-anticipated racing simulator that features almost 1,200 cars.
Kazunori Yamauchi, Polyphony Digital CEO and Gran Turismo 6 creator said, “All of the Mercedes design centers around the globe (Japan, China, Korea, Europe, North America) created over 100 different designs for the Vision Gran Turismo Concept.”
Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG Concept
As more and more brands step into the compact SUV segment, Mercedes showed off a sportier variant in conjunction with AMG. An AMG 2.0L turbocharged engine with an output of 355hp and 332 lb-ft of torque equates to 0-60mph in less than five seconds. All-wheel drive and an AMG Speedshift DCT 7-speed sports transmission is icing on this concept cake.
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH said, “With this concept, we are setting a stake firmly in the ground of the strongly growing market segment of compact SUVs. Our customers – a young target group who set great store by styling, dynamism and independence – can now start looking forward to a dynamic high-performance car. The most powerful four-cylinder engine in the world and the AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system add up to make the Concept GLA45 AMG a unique proposition.”
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept
What’s impressive about big rims if you don’t roll a vehicle of equally substantial portions? Bringing it home for ’Emerican luxury is this cigarette boat-long Cadillac Elmiraj Concept. It is literally one inch longer than an Esclade at a gangster 205 total inches.
Called the second chapter of the CL it features light architecture, RWD and a GM twin turbo V8 engine. It is undeniably baller.
BMW X4 Concept
Here is another powerful concept built for the compact SUV market. Think BMW Coupe with the added versatility of taking it off-road. Its low-slung look will be soon found on the road with the soon-to-come production model.
Aggressive stance, distinguished lines and a cool blue hue make it a nice option for those requiring a higher line of sight.
Jaguar C-X17 Concept
The C-X17 is one more luxury crossover concept spotted across the globe’s auto shows. Displayed in white for its North American unveil at the LA Auto Show, it has not been given the official green light just yet but count on something similar coming to market down the road. Jaguar does not currently offer a sport crossover vehicle and its competition does so assume something similar will be road-going soon.