What to look out for at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2013

The best of the new concept cars and production models set to be unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

The list of new concept cars, model unveilings and car talk at the Frankfurt Motor Show is frankly exhausting, so rather than list them all, we’ve put together just a sample of the most exciting things to be happening this week in Frankfurt. The big names have plenty to boast about – many of them have already begun! – but expect more than a few hidden surprises.

Kia Nitro

kia nitro new

Kias aren’t known for being particularly eye-catching cars. The years spent trying to get the more important aspects of their design process sorted (i.e. engineering), presumably took up most of their time, and so looks suffered. But, given that they’ve got the task of designing smart, fun and frugal cars near-perfected, we might expect more output like the Nitro. It is to be debuted in full at Frankfurt, but pictures have shown it to be a stylish and sleek Juke-esque crossover with gull-wing doors, plenty of LED bling and a low slung body. Whether any of this will actually make it into the production models (for the moment it is still a concept) is unlikely, but it’s a bold sign from the Korean manufacturer and one definitely worth keeping track of.

Lexus LF-NX

Lexus LF-NX

One of the more aggressive-looking vehicles to be unveiled at Frankfurt, the Lexus LF-NX is a hulking beast that the Toyota luxury arm call a mid-sized crossover; putting it in competition with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK. Power will come from a revised version of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system currently used in the Lexus ES300h saloon, but what really sets the car apart is its looks. Pictures show the LF-NX to be in possession of gaping grille, sharp angular lines, plenty of swooping panels, high reaching wheel arches, and a general look of aggression. There’s little about it which says refined; nor luxury for that matter. Design project manager Nobuyuki Tomatsu has been quoted as saying that he wants it be an influential car which will “make its rivals look boring.” If by ‘boring’ he means ‘better’, he might be on to something.

Smart Fourjoy

smart four joy

The Smart Fourjoy concept car is the eye-catching forerunner to the new Smart  Forfour generation, set for a late 2014 launch, but set to be previewed in Frankfurt. With an eccentric and unique design, it is free from doors, a roof and rear window, and is fully electric. Designed in partnership with Renault, the Fourjoy features a lounge-style back bench giving it four-seat practicality, and is crafted on the company’s Tridion cell, a bar metal frame upon which plastic panels are secured. The production car is likely to take a decidedly more sedate approach than the exaggerated Fourjoy, but will likely keep many of the same city car dimensions.

Toyota FCV-R

Toyota FCV-R

Toyota aren’t particularly known for their modernity of their innovation. If anything they’re better known for being staid and calm, yet it is the Prius that arguably did more for the advancing of hybrid technology (by popularising it), than any car which came before it. With the aim of taking their green credentials a step further, the FCV-R study from the Japanese brand is a bold step towards a production-ready hydrogen powered car. The model displayed at Frankfurt will be a sneak peak in anticipation of a full debut in Toyko later this year, and a production release in 2015. Expect something which looks less revolutionary than the pictured 2011 model, or at least something less forest-bound.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

ferrari 458 speciale new

Stylistically, the 458 Speciale isn’t much of a radical departure from its base model Italia, but a number of aerodynamic revisions such as moveable aerodynamic rear and back flaps give it a more aggressive look as well as a reported better control at speeds. Control when under extreme speeds, considering the engine; Ferrari’s most powerful ever naturally aspirated V8 with 597bhp, 398lb ft of torque and an official 0-62mph time of 3.0 seconds. It might not be quite as visually ground-breaking as the Smart Forjoy, but it is a Ferrari, and very fast. Two things which are all but guaranteed to please the crowds.

Jean Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Legend

jean bugatti veyron

Bugatti announced in July that they were to release six limited edition Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse models in honour of some of the brand’s most prominent drivers of the past. The first of these models, the Bugatti Legend Jean-Pierre Wimille, named after the double Le Mans-winning driver of the 30s, was unveiled at Pebble Beach in August. The second – revealed yesterday at Frankfurt – is made entirely from black clear-coated carbon fibre, features a platinum grille and diamond cut alloy wheels. The new model is named after Jean Bugatti, founder Ettore Bugatti’s son, who took over the company from his father, but was killed three years later.

Citroen Cactus

citroen cactus

The new C4 Cactus concept, to be unveiled at Frankfurt, shows Citroen’s aims to produce unique, stylish cars which are altogether more upmarket than their more family friendly forebears. Although eye-catching and modern, Citroen say the concept is designed to be functionally simple above all else. So three pedals becomes just two, while three buttons on the steering wheel (one for Drive, Neutral and Reverse), replace the regular gear lever, and a central touchscreen is in place instead of several individual dashboard controls. Rather than regular bumpers, the Cactus will feature Airbump, an innovative system of air-filled bubbles on the side of the car and around the headlights. A production model is set to be released in February, and is expected to include many of the features seen on their concept cars.

Jaguar C-X17

jaguar c-x17

The first pictures of the new Jaguar SUV concept have arrived ahead of its debut in Frankfurt. Details are thin on the ground for Jaguar’s first ever SUV, but they have said that it will be using the brand’s “highly-advanced, modular aluminium architecture”. The pictures reveal what looks to be a typically Jag design, featuring a prominent grille and imposing front, a surprisingly compact cabin, and meaty, rugged and ready wheels. How close the unveiled concept cars will be to the production models is also unclear, but all is likely to be revealed this week.

Renault Initiale Paris Concept

renault initiale paris

Renault aren’t shy to the idea of pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box. Past concept cars they’ve released include their electric supermini the Zoe, the petite and eccentric two-seat urban electric car the Twizy, and the muscular sportscar the Dezir. Until last weekend all we had to go on was a teaser image of an angular headlight, and Renault’s claim that it is to embody its “vision of Premium motoring”. Leaked pictures and details reveal that the concept is the predecessor to the next generation Espace. Reputedly called the Initiale Paris Concept, it is likely to be launched in 2014, first as a luxury trim level for existing models.

Audi Spacer

audi logo question mark

Perhaps in response to BMW’s Active Tourer concept, Audi are working on their own plans for a tall-hatchback/MPV A3 variant. Audi refer to it as an “elevated space vehicle”, but those in the know have taken to calling it the Spacer; a name infinitely more catchy and classy that the purely descriptive one Audi have adorned it with. Said to be 4.5 metres long and to have up to seven seats, its presence at Frankfurt isn’t yet confirmed, although it’s strongly suggested. If it does arrive it is likely to be a thinly veiled concept version – the production car is only expected in 2016.


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  1. Has anybody seen the Audi Spacer yet? After seeing all these cars it’s a build up to the Spacer being something fantastic to be unveiled at the show….. but at the same time the name ‘Spacer’ doesn’t exactly fill me with excitement!