2019 Frankfurt Motor Show recap: Debuts from BMW, Land Rover, Porsche and more

High-end sports cars, long-range EVs and wild concepts come together at this year's 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Andrew Krok
Steven Ewing
11 min read
BMW Concept 4
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BMW Concept 4

It might lack the nonstop barrage of concepts that we get at the Geneva Motor Show, but definitely don't sleep on the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. Taking place every other year (with Paris picking up the off years), this German auto show is thick with big-name reveals from around the world.

No matter what you're interested in, there's something for you in Frankfurt. Do you like electric race cars? Great. High-horsepower wagons? There's at least one of those, too. Here's a full look at everything that debuted in Frankfurt this week.

Audi AI:Trail concept

Audi's AI:Trail Quattro concept takes wild design into the wildnerness

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Watch this: Audi AI:Trail: An autonomous off-roader with its own fleet of drones

Audi's onslaught of concepts that start with "AI" continues in Frankfurt with the AI:Trail concept.

As the name suggests, this concept will focus on off-roading. Its sharp features ride atop a body with some proper ground clearance, and the cabin itself appears to be mostly made of transparent materials. Like similar Audi concepts, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect some degree of autonomy, in addition to a battery-electric powertrain, but we'll gain some certainty following its Frankfurt debut.

Audi RS6 Avant

2020 Audi RS6 Avant is the fast wagon we've been waiting for

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Watch this: 2020 Audi RS6 Avant: Are you ready for 190 mph Costco runs?

Many of Frankfurt's debuts aren't meant for the US, but the Audi RS6 Avant definitely is. Meant to compete against other high-power wagons like the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and (long inhale) Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, the RS6 Avant packs a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo, mild-hybrid V8. It'll send 592 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque through all four wheels, allowing the car to hit 62 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds.

The RS6 Avant is a sharp looker, with loads of heavy sculpting on just about every surface and one of the wildest diffusers we've seen on a station wagon. The interior is just as luxe as you'd expect, with plenty of tech and high-quality materials to enjoy.

Audi RS7 Sportback

2020 Audi RS7 Sportback has all the uber, none of the wagen

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If you love the idea of a nigh-on 600-hp four-door Audi but just can't get into the idea of the RS6, then Audi would be happy to sell you the mechanically almost-identical RS7 Sportback. It's got the same drivetrain but has the swoopy-coupe-rear that you know and love. Audi says that it only shares a roof, hood, hatch and front doors with the more pedestrian A7 and that it's almost two inches wider at the front fenders than that car.

BMW Alpina B3 Touring

Alpina B3 Touring is one mean, green wagon

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Alpina made its name modifying BMWs to be more powerful and more luxurious than usual, and its latest creation is likely no exception.

The Alpina B3 Touring will be based on the latest generation of BMW's 3 Series station wagon. It has a plusher interior, more power under the hood and, perhaps most importantly, Alpina's trademark multi-spoke wheels. Its chances in the US are slim, but holding out hope doesn't cost anything.

BMW Concept 4

BMW Concept 4 previews two cars at once

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BMW brought a nice surprise to the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show: the Concept 4 coupe.

This concept previews the new design of the next-generation BMW 4 Series, but also shows us what could be in store for the new i4 electric sedan. (That huge kidney grille just screams i-car, after all.) Big, 21-inch wheels give the Concept 4 an impressive stance, and we quite like the way it looks from the rear three-quarter view.

BMW i Hydrogen Next

BMW i Hydrogen Next looks sharp with blue accents

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BMW's new hydrogen-powered development car is based on the X5 SUV. But this isn't just some one-off concept -- BMW says its next hydrogen-powered vehicle will launch in 2022.

BMW hopes to sell multiple fuel-cell vehicles by 2025, but as it notes in the i Hydrogen Next's press release, "the timing very much depends on market requirements and overall conditions." Either way, this showcar proves that forward-thinking ideas don't have to look like weird spaceships from the future, and we dig that.


BMW's 2020 X6 is faster, fancier and smarter than ever

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Watch this: 2020 BMW X6 in Vantablack virtually disappears

For several months, the BMW X5's shapelier sibling, the X6, still rocked last-generation looks. That changed in July with the debut of the 2020 X6, with updated styling and tech -- and a glowing grille. Frankfurt will mark the first time anyone's seen the utility vehicle in person.

The X6 was previewed before the show in one of the weirdest ways. BMW created a new X6 clad in Vantablack, the darkest pigment known to man, capable of absorbing 99% of visible light. The color managed to obscure just about every major crease in the body, not that we didn't already know what was under there.

Byton M-Byte

Byton unveils final design for M-Byte electric SUV

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Watch this: Byton's M-Byte electric SUV is ready at the Frankfurt Motor Show

We first saw the concept that previewed the Byton M-Byte SUV in early 2018. Now, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, we're getting our first glimpse of the electric utility vehicle in its production-ready form.

The M-Byte will come in one of two flavors. A rear-wheel-drive variant will sport 268 all-electric horses, while an all-wheel-drive variant will ratchet the output up to 470 hp. But, whereas many automakers are quick to use that power to create a sports-car-like feel, Byton's taking a different approach. We learned on an early prototype drive that the company is not interested in riding the ragged edge of performance, instead aiming for something comfortable and quiet.

Cupra Tavascan

Cupra Tavascan electric SUV is one sleek concept

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This one comes from Cupra, the performance sub-brand of VW Group subsidiary Seat. The Tavascan concept is part crossover, part sports coupe, with some sharp styling that should preview future Cupra vehicles.

Like many other concepts, the Tavascan concept is electric. While we don't have too many details just yet, we do know it packs a 77-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that should be good for about 280 miles of range by European WLTP estimates. Two electric motors combine to send 302 hp to all four wheels. Best of all, it's built atop VW Group's modular MEB electric platform, which will underpin dozens of future electric vehicles.

Honda E

Honda E is the cute little city car we can't have

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It's been a long time coming, but Frankfurt will mark the first time that we've seen Honda's electric E hatchback in production form.

Thankfully, not much has changed since the Honda E's thinly disguised "Prototype" version was shown in Geneva. It's still tiny, cute and electric, with cameras in place of side mirrors. Its rear-wheel drive platform doesn't pack the most power in its two trims (134 or 152 hp, both with 232 lb-ft of torque), and its 136-mile range estimate isn't the highest, but it should be a perfect choice for urbanites who want to go green.

Hyundai 45 Concept

Hyundai 45 EV concept throws it way back

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We knew Hyundai would be getting weird again when it debuted the wildly styled Sonata. Now, its latest concept shows the Korean automaker is doubling down on polarizing looks.

The 45 concept is meant to simultaneously invoke past and future styling, the former coming by way of the first production Hyundai ever. It's blocky, but it's not bulky. We dig it.

Hyundai i30 N Project C

Hyundai i30 N Project C gets racier

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The Hyundai i30 is better known in the US as the Elantra GT, and its latest iteration has us hoping that Hyundai will bring some more hot-hatch credentials to its stateside sibling.

The i30 N Project C starts with a Hyundai i30 N hot hatch, with a few twists. The Project C will be lighter, thanks to the automaker's use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic and lightweight alloy wheels. Expect more aerodynamics and perhaps a bit more power, although the i30 N's 271-hp output is already plenty. Only 600 will be built, all of which will go to those lucky Europeans.

Hyundai N ETCR

Hyundai Veloster N ETCR
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Hyundai Veloster N ETCR

This Veloster N is Hyundai's entry into the ETCR electric race car series, which kicks off in 2020. And while it might look a lot like the Veloster N TCR race car, it's a whole different animal.

A midmounted electric motor replaces the TCR's engine, though it's unclear how much power it makes. What we do know is that the race car uses a rear-wheel drive configuration, and we should see it hit the track next year.

Lamborghini Sian

Lamborghini Sian is an electrified bull with 819 hp

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It wouldn't be an auto show without a limited-edition exotic car, and at this year's Frankfurt show, it's Lamborghini's turn to get wild.

The Lamborghini Sian puts out 819 hp, most of which comes from a good old-fashioned V12 gas engine. But instead of a lithium-ion battery providing some electrification, the Sian uses a supercapacitor in conjunction with a 34-hp electric motor. The automaker claims that the supercapacitor can charge and discharge faster than a typical battery, helping the Sian reach 62 mph in just 2.8 seconds, making it the quickest Lamborghini of all time. Color us excited for this one.

Land Rover Defender

2020 Land Rover Defender looks like an angry little bulldog

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Watch this: The new Land Rover Defender is futuristically old-school

Previous iterations of the Defender were limited to non-US markets, but not anymore. This new Defender will once again go on sale in the US, following a multidecade disappearance.

The Defender will be offered in two-door 90 and four-door 110 models. Both 2.0-liter turbo I4 and 3.0-liter turbo I6 engines will be offered, and the little SUV should be an absolute rock star off-road. We can't wait to get our hands on it, and soon.

Mercedes-AMG GLB35

Mercedes-AMG's GLB35 is small, boxy and fast

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Watch this: 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB35: Benz's compact three-row gets the AMG treatment

The Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class SUV revives the rectilinear styling that made the last-generation GLK-Class such a pretty car. Sure, things have been smoothed over, but it's nice to see styling that isn't just another cookie-cutter design, since so many Mercedes SUVs now look alike.

In GLB35 form, it becomes a tiny little rocket ship. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 puts out 305 hp, which is sent through all four wheels. Like every other new Mercedes-Benz vehicle, it's positively loaded with tech, including the latest MBUX infotainment system. And, perhaps best of all, it will make its way to the US in late 2020.

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Coupe

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Coupe electrifies

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Watch this: 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Coupe: A sleeker GLE53... if you're into that

The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe is a curvier, less capacious version of the GLE-Class SUV. We've already seen the mild-hybrid GLE53 in long-roof SUV form, and now, we'll get to take a look at the Coupe variant of this green-themed hustle-mobile.

Under the GLE53 Coupe's hood is a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 gas engine putting out 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, augmented by an electric motor that can produce an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft. An air suspension is standard, adding up to 2.2 inches of ride height on demand. It should go on sale in the US by the middle of 2020.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS is a sleek EV for the C-suite

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Watch this: Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS concept is the electric S-Class of the future

Mercedes has long promised an electric sedan along the same lines as the EQC electric crossover, and Frankfurt provides us with our first look at it.

Mercedes introduced the Vision EQS concept Frankfurt. Likely previewing the EQS electric luxury sedan (although it hasn't been confirmed), this concept shows us the next direction Mercedes' EQ electric sub-brand will head. With one SUV and one van now having debuted, EQ is only getting started.

Mercedes-Benz EQV

Mercedes-Benz EQV is emissions-free van life

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Vans are cool and all, but electric vans? Even cooler.

Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the EQV electric van, which will make its public debut in Frankfurt. Its electric motor will produce 201 hp, while a 90-kWh battery should provide a WLTP-estimated range of 250 miles. DC fast charging will bring the battery up to 80% charge in under 45 minutes, and adjustable brake regeneration should help maximize its efficiency.

Mini Cooper SE

2020 Mini Cooper SE zaps its way onto the scene with battery-electric power

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Watch this: Mini goes electric with the SE at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Like the EQV, the Mini Cooper SE had its digital debut a while ago, but Frankfurt will mark the first time anyone sees it in person.

The Mini Cooper SE uses a single electric motor on its front axle, producing 181 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Its 32.6-kWh battery is on the small side, giving it an estimated range of 146 to 168 miles by European estimates. Otherwise, it's basically a standard Mini Cooper hatchback. It's a bit of a compromise car, but it's better than nothing. Given its 2020 model year designation, it should be on sale soon.

Opel Corsa-e

Opel Corsa-e becomes world's first electric rally car

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The world's first electric rally car comes to us from PSA subsidiary Opel.

The Opel Corsa-e rally car uses a 50-kWh battery and an electric motor that produces 136 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque, which is the same output as the non-racing electric Corsa. Of course, it's otherwise been thoroughly modified for racing, sporting an integrated roll cage, underbody production, a fire extinguisher and not a single electronic driver aid. It will run in the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup, and each of the 15 cars being sold to customers will cost the equivalent of about $55,000.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 is all about that base

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992-generation 911 debuted almost a year ago in Carrera S form, but it's taken a while for the non-S version to show up. Thankfully the wait for them is over, because the brand debuted the Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet, and they both look awesome. The base Carrera 4 packs a 379-horsepower flat-six engine and eight-speed PDK transmission as standard. It also has a liquid-cooled front differential that allows for more aggressive tuning and better handling. The hardtop C4 starts at $104,700 and the C4 convertible will cost you around $13,000 more. 

Porsche MacanTurbo

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo is a 434-hp, go-fast SUV

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Porsche loves a good trickle. When the refreshed Macan debuted, not all of its trims came along for the announcement. Now, a few months later, we're being treated to its latest freshened-up variant.

The Porsche Macan Turbo will make its in-person debut in Frankfurt. Power comes from Porsche's 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which in this instance produces 434 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque, a 34-hp bump over the outgoing version. In addition to its newfound power, the Macan Turbo also picks up the same changes as the other members of the Macan lineup, including revised exterior aesthetics and a 10.9-inch touchscreen running the latest PCM infotainment system.

Porsche Taycan

2020 Porsche Taycan is a Tesla Model S fighter with up to 750 horsepower

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Watch this: 2020 Porsche Taycan is ready to tackle Tesla

Porsche's first all-electric sports car is here, and it's a good one.

Porsche unveiled the Taycan the week before Frankfurt, but the public will get its first look at the car at the show. Available in two trims, the Taycan will produce up to 750 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque, enabling a sub-3-second sprint to 60 mph and a quarter-mile run in the high 10-second range. When the first examples come to the US later this year, expect a price tag no lower than $150,900, with the hotter Turbo S trim coming in at $185,000.

Smart EQ Fortwo, Forfour

Smart Fortwo, Forfour debut with chiseled looks

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Smart might not exist in the US any longer, but Daimler's diminutive subsidiary is still alive and kicking in Europe.

At the Frankfurt show, Smart will introduce the next-generation EQ Fortwo and EQ Forfour electric vehicles. In addition to some sharper looks, the interior ramps up the tech by way of an 8-inch touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both cars will utilize a 17.6-kWh battery and an electric motor making 82 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque.

Volkswagen ID 3

Volkswagen ID 3 wants to make electric cars common

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Watch this: VW ID 3 proves popular at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Volkswagen's first all-electric vehicle under its ID sub-brand made its debut in Frankfurt on Monday and it looks even better than we expected.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated reveals at the show, finally seeing the ID 3 without its funky camouflage was a bit of a shocker -- pun intended -- because if anything, it's more conventional than we thought. The automaker has already been collecting preorders -- a whole bunch of them, in fact. We now know that the ID 3's battery will be good for around 261 miles on the WLTP cycle and that it's rear-wheel drive. Its electric motor produces 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque and as promised, it'll retail for less than $34,000.

Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

The Volkswagen T-Roc has dropped its top

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The convertible-crossover segment first reared its awkward head with the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet, but it's taken off in recent years with creations like the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. In Frankfurt, we'll get yet another addition to this wacky little sub-segment.

The VW T-Roc Cabriolet is a two-door version of the T-Roc compact crossover, albeit without a fixed roof. Its soft top takes 9 seconds to open at speeds of up to 18 mph, and it will launch in Europe with two different engines -- a 1.0-liter I3, and a 1.5-liter I4. A manual transmission is standard, but a dual-clutch unit will also be available. This one will remain forbidden fruit, as the entire T-Roc lineup is not destined for Stateside sales.

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