The Audi Quattro rally cars are so iconic to the Audi brand that all other vehicles after it use a lowercase "q" when referring to the automaker's all-wheel-drive system. The Quattro is kind of a big deal. So, it's almost no surprise that the biggest draw to Audi's booth this year will be the Sport Quattro concept, the latest in a tradition of Sport Quattro concepts that celebrates the best of available Audi technology. In addition to this hypothetical halo car, we also expect to see the next generation of the automaker's flagship model in the updated 2015 Audi A8.
Ferrari will be showing off the 458 Speciale, a hotted up version of the 458 Italia that boasts 35 more prancing ponies than the standard model, bringing the total to 597 horsepower. The Speciale also sheds almost 200 pounds while gaining a variety of aerodynamic and performance tweaks. The details can be found over on XCAR, but we'll get our first peek at the sheet metal and carbon fiber at the Frankfurt show.
Fiat celebrates the 50-year anniversary of the 595 performance variant with a limited edition 595 performance variant. Cheeky. The 299 examples of the 595 will be powered by a 180 horsepower version of its 1.4-liter T-Jet engine -- the most powerful version of the engine yet, but only by about 2-3 horsepower -- which will be matched with the paddle-shifted "Abarth Competizione" automated manual transmission. Like a proper homage, the edition will be decked out with a historical logos and "Fiat Abarth 595" graphics. The automaker will also be showing a new "GQ Editions" styling variant of the standard 500 model.
It's no secret that the Lincoln luxury brand is running into a few stumbling blocks in the US market, so it appears that the automaker is taking a different tack with its European upmarket offerings. The Mondeo Vignale looks to be the first in a line of "Vignale" models that include upgraded chrome trim and wheels, quilted leather trim, and other luxury touches, such as a specialized dealer experience and a concierge service similar to those announced by the Lincoln division for the US market during the 2012 car show season.
While I'd want to see a new shooting brake from this Indian-owned British automaker, but all signs point to the Jaguar C-X17 concept being a small crossover. (Because every automaker just has to have one.) The concept will share its aluminum underpinnings with the automaker's current lineup of sedans and should share their styling and design cues. Just try not to confuse it with the CX-7.
Of course, Lamborghini is showing yet another Gallardo variant. The Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse's suffix translates to “Race Team,” indicating that it is based on the model that competes in the Gallardo Super Trofeo race series, only this race car is street legal. Like the Super Trofeo, the Squadra Corse is powered by a 562 horsepower V-10 engine, loses a good deal of weight over the standard Gallardo, features aerodynamic tweaks to help it hold the road, and a tricolor decal strip with the colors of the Italian flag.
Lexus' newest vehicles are pretty odd-looking, bordering on flat ugly. The rendering released of the LF-NX hybrid crossover concept debuting in Frankfurt hops right over that border and lands deeply in fugly territory. The automaker's controversial design language, overly complex headlamps, and spindle grill are presented in their most exaggerated iterations yet. Meanwhile, the crossover's bodywork looks like it would cut if you tried to touch it. I'm just hoping that it looks better in the round than it does onscreen.
Mazda hopes to repeat the successful reception of its Mazda6 during last year's car show season with the debut of the smaller, completely redesigned Mazda3 in hatchback and sedan configurations. The compact earns its mpg the old-fashioned way: with weight savings and an efficient, small engine. Will we hear any news, rumors, or inklings of info about a high-performance Mazdaspeed3 variant?
Mercedes-Benz will be debuting its new GLA small crossover in production guise at the Frankfurt show, which will be based on the compact platform that underpins the front-wheel drive CLA sedan. Speaking of the CLA, the small sedan will also be in the spotlight outfitted for racing as the CLA 45 AMG Racing Series concept car. Specs are limited because Mercedes-Benz wants the car to be adapted to fit the specs of multiple racing series, but you can expect a racing suspension, the usual array of weight reduction and aero improvements, and race safety equipment including a full roll cage, a fire extinguisher, and racing seats that can accommodate a HANS device.
The image above was shot in 2010, but years of teasing, concepts, announcements, and press releases come to a head in Frankfurt this year when Porsche finally shows us the production version of the 918 Spyder hybrid supercar. Before you roll your eyes at that oxymoron, consider that hybrid supercars are sort of a big deal these days. OK, now you can roll your eyes.
For Porsche purists, there's rumored to be a new 911 Blue Edition that lowers the entry point for the rear-engined icon. This variant is said to be less powerful than other current 911 models, but also lighter, more efficient, and -- perhaps most importantly -- less expensive.
When Toyota announced that it was debuting a Yaris-based Hybrid-R concept at Frankfurt, I assumed that it would largely be a styling and suspension exercise with a nominal power bump. However, the latest info released by Toyota puts the power of this concept's truly racing-derived engine at 420 horsepower. Hey, I can admit when I'm wrong: hail to the hybrid hot hatchback.
After a lukewarm reception of the last generation of its Golf R, Volkswagen strikes back with nearly 300 horsepower on tap, a new all-wheel-drive system, and more for the next generation R, which should reach US shores in 2015. At the other end of the Mk7 Golf spectrum is the E-Golf (and its smaller sibling the E-Up), which should net over 100 miles of silent electric driving when driven with care.
While Volvo's latest concept probably won't make me feel any better about the automaker trading its most interesting hatchbacks and wagons for crossovers and SUVs in the US market, the glimpses we've been given of the Concept Coupe are simply stunning. I see hints of a "sweded" BMW front end, but I won't hold that against the Swedish coupe if it looks this good in the flesh.