As always, this list doesn't necessarily reflect a vehicle's overall importance to the market, a specific segment, and so on. Instead, we're choosing from our cheese-and-wine-filled guts, focusing on what caught our eyes as being the most unique, interesting, or show-stopping.
So, what made the cut? Have a look below to read about our five favorite debuts from the 2014 Paris Motor Show.
5th Place –
INFINITI Q80 INSPIRATION CONCEPT
CHRIS BRUCE: I love a concept so full of over-the-top features as this one. Headlights the shape of bird wings? Why not. Suicide doors? Sure. A boat-tail rear? Absolutely. This vehicle is packed with so much design excess that it just makes me smile.
GREG MIGLIORE: Infiniti is serious about building a true flagship, and its ambitions were embodied by the swoopy Q80 Inspiration concept. It caught our eye with its long hood, piercing headlights and dramatic fastback roofline, while simultaneously piquing our curiosity with a new autonomous driving system. This concept lives up to its name, with Inspirational style and substance.
SHARON CARTY: I can't expect Infiniti will ever make anything this beautiful, but it looks like some ambitious car designer sketched out something from a dream and managed to find someone to wrap it in sheetmetal.
4th Place –
2015 MERCEDES-AMG C63
JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: As much as I love the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe that could also slot into this position on my ballot, my preference for sedan shapes and actual practical ability put this 503-horsepower, 516-pound-feet monster onto my list.
CHRIS BRUCE: Make no mistake, the new Mercedes-AMG GT is a gorgeous car, but I just can't justify its beauty in my mind. The C63 takes the same engine and several pieces of tech off the GT and transplants it into a vehicle you could use every day to carry four people around. It's the perfect solution to a common problem of practicality.
STEVEN EWING: The outgoing Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG holds a special place in my heart, mostly for its monstrous, naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter V8. But this new era of C-Class is a stunning thing to behold, and with the lessons learned from the AMG GT project, I have no doubt that Merc's M3-fighter will be even more impressive than ever. I'll take one in black.
3rd Place –
CITROËN C4 CACTUS AIRFLOW 2L CONCEPT
SHARON CARTY: This quirky car uses compressed air to aid the engine in acceleration and city driving. Plus, it looks cool with the Airbumps on the side and the awesome wheels.
BRANDON TURKUS: Ignoring my borderline obsessive love of the Citroën C4 Cactus, how can I not reward some points to a car that runs partially on compressed air, consumes just two liters per 100 kilometers and can comfortably seat five people and all their stuff? The C4 Cactus is awesome on its own, but the Airflow 2L Concept adds groundbreaking powertrain and aerodynamic features that transform the lightweight hatch into a world-class fuel sipper.
STEVEN EWING: You know who loves the Citroën C4 Cactus more than Brandon Turkus? Me. And when I first laid eyes on this concept in Paris, I started giggling with joy. It looks rad, and super French. But the good graces of this Cactus Airflow concept extend far beyond its unique looks. This thing is estimated to achieve up to 141 miles per gallon (on the Euro cycle) because of its revolutionary new powertrain technology. Efficiency, fun packaging, and c'mon, freaking Aribumps. What's not to love?
2nd Place –
LAMBORGHINI ASTERION LPI 910-4 CONCEPT
NOAH JOSEPH: The Asterion for me is less about its exterior styling than it is about its powertrain. 900 horsepower is hard to argue with, after all. And that interior looks awesome.
BRANDON TURKUS: As impressive (and unlikely) as the Asterion's hybrid powertrain is, what I find most interesting is what it shows us about the future of Lamborghini's designs. The severe, angular styling of the Huracán and Aventador have given way to something smoother and more organic with the Asterion. It's good, and I can't wait to see what it means for future Lambos.
GREG MIGLIORE: I like the design, and I applaud the risks Lamborghini took with the curves and angles to potentially forge a new (old) direction. The hybrid powertrain seems par for the course for every concept these days. Naturally, the production questions are next, and I wonder how exactly this would fit in Lambo's lineup. Currently, it doesn't. With the SUV and sedan concepts lingering at the edge of enthusiasts' consciousness, it seems like Lamborghini has a separate lineup of ghost cars that could completely alter the company's future, if it were to proceed that way.
1st Place –
VOLKSWAGEN XL SPORT CONCEPT
GREG MIGLIORE: It looks like an Audi R8 hooked up with a Nissan GT-R; I like that. The powertrain is really intriguing, and VW paid serious attention to the materials and aerodynamics, which makes me wonder how long this will be just a concept.
SEYTH MIERSMA: Take the considerable list of items that were already cool about the Volkswagen XL1 – insane fuel economy, built-by-the-wind styling, those doors – and add in a serious dose of aggression. With a screaming Ducati V-twin adding a huge punch, the XL Sport would seem to be the kind of sporting concept that driving enthusiasts and hypermilers can all agree on.
NOAH JOSEPH: VW's lightweight, aerodynamic wonder – an engineering feat as impressive as the Veyron, but for different reasons – hot-rodded with a Ducati engine. Love it. Want it.
SEBASTIAN BLANCO: Do I really need to explain why this is the star of the show? VW has already proved it can make a "production" XL1, and showing off a more normal looking vehicle that can still inspire a head turn and should get amazing fuel economy at a hopefully somewhat more sensible price (I know, I'm dreaming) means that VW is looking into every nook and cranny to find extra MPGs laying around.
JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: This thing just oozes cool. Not only does it get its power from one of Ducati's most excellent V-twin engines, it's also a stunningly attractive creation with performance that can easily back up its aggressive looks. VW: If you build it, they will come.
As we've done with our past Editors' Choice lists, each staffer had 25 points to distribute amongst five cars, with no one car receiving more than 10 points. After everything was tallied, here's how the Top Five fell:
- Volkswagen XL Sport – 62 points
- Lamborghini Asterion – 43 points
- Citroën C4 Cactus Airflow – 23 points
- Mercedes-AMG C63 – 16 points
- Infiniti Q80 Inspiration – 15 points
With so much to talk about in Paris, there are obviously a fair amount of vehicles that didn't make the Top Five cut. Of course, the Volkswagen and Lamborghini were the runaway stars, but after that, things sort of leveled out. Also, something to consider: If the Mercedes-AMG GT, Jaguar XE, or Land Rover Discovery Sport hadn't been revealed several weeks before the Paris show, would their fresh-in-our-minds presence have earned them more votes on this list? Food for thought, for sure, but nevertheless, here's what we also liked at the French expo.
- 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT – 14 points
- 2016 Jaguar XE – 13 points
- 2015 Ducati Scrambler – 12 points
- 2015 Renault Espace – 6 points
- Audi TT Sportback Concept – 5 points
- 2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale A – 5 points
- Toyota C-HR Concept – 5 points
- 2016 Volvo XC90 – 5 points
- Honda Civic Type R Concept – 5 points
- Citroën Divine DS Concept – 4 points
- Renault Eolab Concept – 4 points
- 2015 Volkswagen Passat GTE – 3 points
- Mini Superleggera Concept – 3 points
- Peugeot Quartz Concept – 3 points
- 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport – 2 points
- 2015 Peugeot 308 GT – 2 points