Three cool coupes and compact SUVs, in Frankfurt

This year's Frankfurt auto show made it clear that compact SUVs are the latest trend in the automotive industry, but coupes may also be making a comeback, with entrants from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.

FRANKFURT -- The Frankfurt auto show was good news for automotive enthusiasts, as it played host to the debuts of three new coupes and a boodle of compact SUVs. The best cars in the world have been coupes, and for good reason. The format allows breathtaking design and sporty handling.

Compact SUVs, a new segment, are cool, too. They tend to be nimble, but offer utility and comfort. Judging from the show, premium brands are showing huge interest in compact SUVs.

So let's take a look at what is on offer in Frankfurt this year.

Josh Miller/CNET

Volvo Concept Coupe
Volvo hasn't been known for sports cars, but the Concept Coupe shows the company could do one. And with a 400-horsepower hybrid drivetrain, it would be very impressive. This is one of those concept cars where you just want the company to put it into production now.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe concept
Usually when Mercedes-Benz presents a concept vehicle, it is a far-flung design with all sort of very futuristic technologies. Not so the S-Class Coupe concept. All the tech in this big Mercedes-Benz exists today, and many of its features and design elements can already be found in the new S-Class sedan.

Josh Miller/CNET

BMW 4 Series
The once-great 3 Series gets replaced with a new Ultimate Driving Machine, the BMW 4 Series. This coupe is longer and lower than the 3 Series, better-looking and promising more exciting handling. Being a BMW, it benefits from an excellent turbocharged 3-liter six-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 2-liter.

Josh Miller/CNET

Jaguar C-X17
Now we move on to the compact SUVs, and, surprise, surprise, the first one comes from Jaguar. The company known for some of the sleekest coupes and finest sedans in the world seems to be exploring the idea of an SUV, but looks to err on the diminutive side. I would say leave the SUVs to sister brand Land Rover, but the C-X17 is intriguing.

Josh Miller/CNET

Infiniti Q30
Infiniti says its Q30 concept sits somewhere between crossover, hatchback, and coupe, but really, guys, it's a compact SUV. More interestingly, it is definitely the path to a production model that will benefit from the input of Sebastian Vettel, Infiniti's new performance chief. I hope that means more than a signature and a few quotes, and translates into real-world handling.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
Mercedes-Benz is showing big interest in smaller models, but doesn't want to bring an A-Class over to the US, which would diminish its brand perception. Instead, we are getting the nicely designed and equipped CLA-Class, announced last year, and the GLA-Class, an entirely new compact SUV shown in Frankfurt.

Josh Miller/CNET

Kia Niro
Kia's Niro concept is a mix of real-world and futuristic elements. On the outside, it looks like a compact crossover from a post-apocalyptic world, but under the hood is a realistic 1.6-liter turbocharged engine combined with an electric motor. Given the current popularity of compact SUVs, there's no reason Kia shouldn't put this one into production.

Josh Miller/CNET

Frankfurt auto show mega gallery
If you want to take in all the sights of the 2013 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, check out our mega gallery of photos from all over the show grounds.

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About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.



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