Instead of remaining auto show displays, these five concepts currently at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show are all entering production. By Jay Traugott, Editor At Large
We've heard and seen it all before. When automakers show off amazing concept cars at auto shows, we're too often left simply staring and just hoping they'll be arriving in dealer showrooms at some point before we're too old to drive. Then the automaker claims that their concept is simply a "design study" for potential future models and production is very unlikely. In other words, keep dreaming.
However, there are times when automakers are on the verge of building a production version of a concept that not only excites, but also sticks closely to its outlandish styling. This is called listening to what the public wants. So here are five concepts currently on display at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show that will be going into production in the near future. And the best part? All will be sold in the U.S.
Toyota FT-86 II Concept Having made its first appearance at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, the FT-86 kind of represents a new beginning for the Japanese automaker. After several years of building unexciting cars for people who only care about getting from point A to point B, Toyota is preparing to re-enter a segment that it helped define: the affordable, simple, rear-wheel-drive performance coupe.
And after three different versions of the concept, Toyota claims that the production model will debut at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show this December.
However, the FT-86 will be sold as a Toyota in Europe and Japan only. North America will see the car rebadged and sold as the Scion FR-S. Power will come from a Subaru-developed 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine that will produce around 260 horsepower. Buyers can also opt for a six-speed manual that sends power to the rear wheels. And in addition to the Toyota/Scion models, Subaru will also launch their own version, called the BRZ, which will be the first rear-wheel-drive Subaru ever. Pricing should start at around $27,000.
Ford Fiesta ST Concept Ford is currently striking gold with their new Fiesta subcompact. Long popular with buyers in Europe and now North America, the Fiesta is proof that small cars don't have to feel cheap. It has a high build quality and comes with many standard features not normally associated with cars of this class. And like the larger Focus ST, Ford's new global performance vehicle strategy is now turning its attention to the Fiesta. It's powered by a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with around 180 horsepower and mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
With its lowered stance, widened wheel arches, 17-inch alloy wheels, and an ST body kit, it has motorsport-influenced performance and handling taken directly from competition Fiestas in the World Rally Championship. All told, it can go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in less than seven seconds. An official production announcement hasn't been made yet, but we've seen plenty of prototype spy shots in recent months, so it's only a matter of time.
Jaguar C-X16 Concept Without a doubt, Jaguar has always built some of the most beautiful cars on the road. With such classics like the XK-120 and the E-Type, the British automaker is also synonymous with performance and racing. Mixing its rich history with modern technologies, Jaguar is now looking to take on the Porsche Cayman with their upcoming two-seat sports car. In concept form, it's called the C-X16, but Jaguar will be putting it into production as both a coupe and convertible. Mounted on an aluminum chassis, the concept is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 376 horsepower.
There's also an F1-inspired hybrid boost system in the eight-speed transmission that provides an additional 92 horsepower. This extra power is activated by a steering wheel mounted 'Push to Pass' button. All told, it can go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 186 miles per hour. Jaguar is currently testing prototypes, so a production version is not far away.
Volkswagen Beetle R Concept Although it may seem hard to believe, the new Volkswagen Beetle is only in its third generation. Considering the original debuted back in 1939, its overall styling characteristics have remained in place. But unlike the second generation that premiered in 1998, Volkswagen plans on launching a true high-performance version this time. Best example: The new car doesn't have the dash-mounted flower vase. Instead, Volkswagen will be offering some real power, as seen in the Beetle R Concept.
Powered by a turbocharged 2.0 TSI four-cylinder engine and mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, it produces some 200 horsepower. With its 20-inch "Talladega" alloy wheels, oversized front brakes, and two sets of dual chrome tailpipes, there's also widened front and rear bumpers to give it an overall meaner appearance. The interior is decked out with upgraded black Nappa leather sport seats and brushed aluminum pedals. There's also a sports car style tachometer in the middle of the instrument cluster. If reaction to the concept is strong enough, a production version is likely.
Alfa Romeo 4C Concept First revealed at the Geneva Motor Show last March, the Alfa Romeo 4C Concept is vital to the Italian brand's future. Not only will the production version strongly resemble the concept, but Alfa Romeo plans to use it as the launch vehicle for their big North American market re-introduction. Although an official launch date has yet to be announced, we know that Alfa's upcoming Porsche Cayman fighter concept is constructed from lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum.
It's powered by a mid-mounted direct-injected turbo four-cylinder with just over 200 horsepower and is mated to a dual-clutch transmission. The first concept was painted matte red and was downright beautiful. Then we saw this one and its "fluid metal" finish. Love can actually happen at first sight. Pricing will likely begin in the $50,000 range and it may even be sold alongside the newly introduced Fiat 500 at the growing number of Fiat dealerships across the country. Bottom line: An affordable Alfa Romeo coupe that'll go head to head with the Porsche Cayman? Life is beautiful.