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Autoblog's Top 10 Concept Cars of 2010

Autoblog's Top 10 Concept Cars of 2010 – Click above to read the list

Just under 70 concept cars were rolled out by automakers from around the globe at this year's major auto shows. These swoopy, futuristic showstoppers usually preview what's to come in terms of new designs and technology, and in some cases, concept cars directly foreshadow full-on production models that aren't too far down the pipeline.

We've scanned back through our full raft of concept car coverage over the past year to pick these examples, our ten best concept car and truck reveals from 2010, ranked in order as judged by our staff. See what we were most eager to point our cameras at after the jump, then sound off with your own favorites (or take us to task for ours) in Comments.

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10. Jeep Nukizer Concept

Jeep Nukizer Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

While most of our favorite concept vehicles from 2010 fall firmly into the on-road end of the automotive spectrum, there's surely a little room for something a little more... ready to rumble. Meet the Jeep Nukizer. Designed as an homage to the legendary Kaiser M-715, this beastie makes use of a J8 two-door body and an aftermarket AEV Brute pickup bed. Chrysler's engineers built that leaning front nose out of carbon fiber and stretched the frame to 124 inches to make a little more room for the new bodywork. It only gets better when we start talking drivetrain. For its beating heart, the Nukizer 715 uses a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder mated to a four-speed slusher. A Dana 44 axle sits up front, backed up by a Dana 60 in the rear, both with 5:38 gear ratios. Jeep: Please build us a pickup.

Jeep Nukizer Concept
Jeep Nukizer Concept
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Photos copyright ©2010 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL

9. Lotus Esprit Concept

Lotus Esprit Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Lotus shocked the world at this year's Paris Motor Show by bringing five – count 'em, five – new concepts showing the future of the brand's portfolio. The one that most captures our interest, though, is the Esprit – a much-heralded nameplate that Lotus intends to bring back to production in the year 2013, and based on the concept we saw in Paris, there's indeed much to look forward to.

The Esprit concept is powered by a 620-horsepower version of Toyota's 5.0-liter V8, meaning 0-60 will happen under 3.5 seconds. More significantly, the Esprit will be offered with a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), a system used by Formula 1 racers to recover heat and energy generated during braking. The whole package is substantially different than the Elise, Exige and Evora we've grown to love in recent years, but with a body so shapely and an engine so brutal, that we're sure the new crop of Lotus sports cars will still be unsurpassed on the road – and track.

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Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

8. Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta by Pininfarina

Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta by Pininfarina – Click above for high-res image gallery

Well, the name could use a little massaging, but the return of the classic Alfa Romeo Spyder is a concept we can really get behind – especially considering that the famous Italian marque is finally headed back to the United States thanks to parent company Fiat's recent tie-up with Chrysler. Take one part crisply tuned sports car chassis, add two parts sensuous, uncluttered styling by Pininfarina and mix well. The end result? A Mazda Miata fighter with undeniable Italian flair. Alfa Romeo succeeds at seducing us yet again

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Photos copyright ©2010 Damon Lavrinc / AOL

7. Renault Dezir Concept

Renault Dezir Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Leave it to a French automaker to debut a show-stopping all-electric supercar at the Paris Motor Show. The twisty, curvy Dezir concept uses Audi R8-style aluminum sideblades and cross-hinged butterfly doors, and when those details are combined with flashy wheels, an aggressive front fascia and some finely crafted sheetmetal, the end result is a concept car that we can't seem to take our eyes off of. Renault says its electric powertrain is only capable of mustering up 150 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque – not exactly supercar-spec numbers – but with a body so sexy, we'll easily cut this concept some slack.

Paris 2010: Renault Dezir Concept
Paris 2010: Renault Dezir Concept
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Photos copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL

6. Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Break Concept

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Break Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Want to know the quickest way to grab the automotive media's attention during an international auto show? Debut a wagon concept. Mercedes-Benz did just that at the Auto China show in Beijing, using the new CLS-Class shape as a base for this modern day shooting brake (or Shooting Break, as Mercedes-Benz insists).

The sexy lines of the new CLS are only emphasized with the addition of a sloping rear hatch, and we can't help but fall in love with the idea of a four-door shooting break being created for retail consumption. We'll take it in CLS63 AMG guise.

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Photos copyright ©2010 Sam Abuelsamid / AOL

5. Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Bloat. Its effects have been felt in the automotive realm for the last several decades, from compact economy cars all the way up to the most hyper of supercars on the planet. No more, says Lamborghini, whose Sesto Elemento concept from the Paris Motor Show weighs in at just 2,202 pounds (999 kg) thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber and reinforced plastics. Throw in a mid-mounted 570-horsepower V10 engine and you've got a rocketship that can catapult itself to 60 miles per hour in just 2.5 seconds. Oh, and did we mention it looks like a Countach from Hell?

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Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

4. Mazda Shinari Concept

Mazda Shinari Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

When an automaker chooses to hold a special event simply to debut a concept car, we know it's big news. Mazda did just that with its Shinari concept back in August, and our photographer extraordinaire, Drew Phillips, was on hand to capture the shapely new Shinari from every angle.

Shinari, which loosely translates to "resistance to being bent," will provide the basis for Mazda's new design language, and we can look forward to seeing a lot of these styling cues on the next round of vehicles from the Japanese automaker. We'll gladly go on record saying that this is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful designs to ever come out of Japan, and we can't wait to see how its rakish lines trickle down to showroom-ready Mazda vehicles.

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Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

3. Jaguar C-X75 Concept

Jaguar C-X75 Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

In terms of design, Jaguar has done a complete 180 in the last ten years. The brand that was once known for producing Ye Olde Styling in the late 1990s and early 2000s has indeed got its groove back, and the current crop of Jags are some of the most beautiful cars in their respective classes.

The C-X75 range-extended electric supercar shows what Jaguar's designers and engineers can come up with when no plans for production are being considered. Jaguar says that the C-X75 is one of the most innovative and most beautiful cars the company has ever produced, and while we'd gladly accept a Jaguar supercar in the C-X75's shape, we'll just chalk it up as one of the biggest showstoppers of 2010.

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Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

2. Audi Quattro Concept

Audi Quattro Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

The thing about concept cars is that, in most cases, they have absolutely no business being on the road. The vast majority of these cars are very carefully bolted together and only need to be capable of driving at loading-on-and-off-the-truck speeds.

Not Audi. Directly after the car made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the automaker pulled us out to some California canyon roads and let us give its Quattro concept a go. This car not only serves as an homage to the original Ur-Quattro that stole our hearts a few decades back, but it shows that lightness and sex appeal indeed have a place within the brand's future sports car lineup. Build it, Audi. We know you want to.

Audi Quattro Concept
Audi Quattro Concept
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Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

1. Porsche 918 Spyder Concept

Porsche 918 Spyder Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Porsche 918 Sypder is so much more than just another concept car. Not only does it suggest that future supercars will indeed be influenced by electric drivetrains, it shows that the future of battery-backed motoring doesn't have to be bland. Offering both brains and beauty, the gorgeous 918 debuted in concept form at this year's Geneva Motor Show, boasting a claimed 78 miles per gallon from its plug-in hybrid powertrain. And did we mention that the fuel-sipping electric motor is matched with a 500-horsepower V8? Checkmate.

So, why does the Porsche 918 rank as the best concept car debut of 2010? Because Porsche is going to build it. It's very rare that outrageous concepts like this are approved for production, and though the roadgoing 918 will likely be a bit watered-down compared to the concept we saw in Geneva, new Porsches are never anything to complain about.

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Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

All photos copyright ©2010 AOL

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