Over the last few years we've see all sorts of sexy cars on display for huge crowds around the world at auto shows. Though most of these concepts will never hit the streets in the manner in which they're displayed, we can still appreciate their beauty and remarkable engineering. And often, one can even catch hints of future production cars in the swoop of a headlight or the lines in a grill.
Here are a few of our favorite concepts from the last couple of years. Most of these cars will never see the open road, but their fleeting presence has made them all the more alluring. Head on through to see the best of the past and, at the same time, a glimpse of the future.
Porsche 918 SpyderWhen the nasty 918 Spyder debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in 2010 Porsche fans begged for a production model. The German automaker answered their pleas with something even more impressive.
With a 700 hp engine, the original hybrid concept was fast. But 700 hp was so 2010. The production version of the 918 Spyder brings power numbers up to 887 hp and an incredible 940 lb-ft of torque. This left us wondering if Porsche wanted to push their supercar to new heights on the race track or achieve low earth orbit. Either way, this is arguably the most impressive car Porsche has ever built.
Audi A2Nothing says 'The Future is Now!' like lasers. The Audi A2 had them, as well as an all electric drivetrain and built-in internet connection. Audi revealed the A2 at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2011. The all-electric vehicle came with a huge 31-kWh battery pack, yet due to weight-saving technologies tipped the scales at only 2,535 lbs.
The big battery gave the little A2 a range of 124 miles and took only 1.5 hours to charge. And while the laser was only a safety mechanism, projecting a triangle from the rear fog light in low visibility conditions, it was still 100 percent more laser than all other production cars had. With a touch of a button the roof could turn transparent or opaque in a matter of seconds by sending specific currents through light-blocking crystals sandwiched in the glass.
Toyota FT-1Another one of our favorites at this year's Detroit Auto Show, the Toyota FT-1 Concept was pure cool. FT-1 stood for Future Toyota 1, and it's a future we hope comes to fruition. The athletic design suggested nothing but pure performance, hinting at a future sports car from the Japanese automaker.
The cabin was snug and a colored heads-up display created the sense that it was more cockpit than car interior. Auto enthusiasts have been begging for a Toyota Supra replacement for years. It appears they may be getting close to having one.
When the Cadillac Elmiraj was first unveiled at Pebble Beach in 2013 it was an instant hit. It seems crazy, but there was a moment when Cadillac wasn't sure a production version of the Elmiraj would ever see that light of day. Luckily, recent spy shots indicate Cadillac may have come to their senses.
The big coupe was a modern interpretation of the classic GT formula, with its short front overhang, long hood, understated roofline and petite rear deck. It was heavy at almost 4,000 lbs, but could still be light on its feet with a a twin-turbocharged 4.5-liter V8, estimated to produce 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.
Kia GT4 StingerKia has come a long way from the econo-boxes for which it used to be known. The automaker's first foray into sports cars, which debuted at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, had tantalizing lines and a slick, low-slung body, as well as a legit turbo four-cylinder racing engine that could produce a respectable 315-horsepower.
While the GT4 hasn't been confirmed to grace dealer lots anytime soon, Kia did make mention in their debut of the Stinger that it has a history of producing cars that very closely resemble the concept. There's hope yet.
Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran TurismoAuto writers often describe cars as 'muscular,' but this is one concept from Mercedes-Benz actually looked like it hit the gym. You'll never see it on the road, sadly, as this car was designed for the release of Gran Turismo 6, a Playstation 3 racing video game. Mercedes-Benz couldn't leave a car this cool completely to the digital realm, though. The prototype was center stage at the celebration of the opening of the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The design may be fun and games, but the engine was not. The center-balanced 577-hp AMG V8 engine put out 590 lb-ft of torque. An aluminum spaceframe and carbon fiber components helped the big GT keep its weight down to just 3,053 lbs.
Audi Sport Quattro ConceptAudi released a similar car in Paris in 2010, but that car was more flash than dash. This concept from the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show was much more serious. Its aggressive blunt face and low, wide stance were definitely cool, but it was more about what was under the hood. Its plug-in hybrid powertrain mustered 700 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, launching the concept from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 190 mph.
This aggressive ride seems destined for production, but with a cost likely significantly higher than the R8 supercar, it's certainly not for the casual enthusiast.
Acura NSXThe Acura NSX had been in the works for a few years, but financial meltdown of 2008 prompted the automaker to shelf its plans. But not forever. When it came back at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show it was mashing success. The futuristic design was striking, but not over the top. We were especially big fans of those space-age headlights.
The concept incorporated a traditional gas engine and an electric motor with a dual-clutch transmission. Two additional motors could instantly send negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering for improved handling and efficiency, and the whole package could be tailored via software. Production of the NSX is supposed to start in 2015.
Lexus LF LCThe Lexus LF-LC was released at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show to a healthy amount of fanfare, even after it leaked online. Auto enthusiasts have been much more enthralled with Lexus ever since it released the LFA supercar, and Toyota's luxury arm hoped to continue that trend when it showed this sleek and sporty concept. The LF-LC employed gorgeous styling and an interesting gas-electric hybrid driveline said to produce close to 500 hp. It also included some impressive technology, such as a pair of 12.3-inch screens that could each pull information and navigation duties, respectively.
The super sleek styling of the LF-LC has been incorporated into the new Lexus RC Coupe, which was unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.