Ever since the Buick Y-Job created the concept-car genre, people have been excited by these looks at what’s next. Whether it’s a design exercise, a preview of a production model, or a crazy one-off, a concept is meant to make you stop and stare for a moment and maybe get you thinking. This year provided a bumper crop, and we’ve combed through them to select our favorites. Click through to see our picks for 2016.
Image Credit: Jaguar
Jaguar I-Pace Concept
If nothing else, the I-Pace is proof that our electric future will not be filled with pod-like transportation capsules. If Jaguar has its way, style will still be involved. While it may not be as slinky as the automakers other wares, the I-Pace mixes enough of the current Jag design philosophy with the right amount of futurism to keep us interested. The four-second 0–60 run and 220-mile range are promising enough as well.
Image Credit: Jeep
Jeep Wrangler Trailcat
You can’t argue with a 707-horsepower Hellcat V8 stuffed into a Wrangler. Go on, just try. Jeep gives us several gifts every year in the form of its wacky Easter Jeep Safari concepts, and there were some great ones this year, but the Trailcat just wins by default. It was stretched to fit the massive powertrain and has a manual transmission for extra trail cred plus lots of custom touches inside. But most important, it makes a glorious noise.
Image Credit: BMW
BMW 2002 Hommage
We happen to love the BMW M2 – it’s the most-BMW car BMW sells right now. Put a crazy body on it that recalls the BMW 2002 Turbo – complete with “obruT” graphics – and we’re deeper in love. One of several BMW “hommage” cars, the 2002 Hommage is successful in its mission of marrying the old with the new. The same car was done up as a Jagermeister-referencing Turobmeister later in the year, which was kind of fun, but we prefer the cleaner silver-blue version.
Image Credit: Mercedes-Maybach
Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6
At 18 feet, this Maybach coupe concept also wins the award for longest concept of the year. For reference, that’s about the length of a Chevy Suburban for something with just two seats. It’s mostly hood, then some gullwing doors, then an almost boattail rear end. Concept-y touches include a Minority Report-style windshield-as-display, 738 horsepower’s worth of electric mojo, and seats that sense what kind of outfit you’re wearing and tailor the car’s settings accordingly. Because of course they do.
Image Credit: Buick
Buick Avista Concept
Buick has gotten really good at teasing us with big, pretty rear-drive things lately – first with the Avenir concept in 2015 and this year with the Avista. There’s a lot of promise in the Avista: It’s a Camaro-based luxury coupe that would bring back something Buick hasn’t had in years. We’re just not so sure Buick is planning to fulfill that promise, as it took the Avenir’s design and applied it to the front-drive LaCrosse. We can hope, though, because this one’s a beaut.
Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Extreme Concept
It’s Jurassic Park meets Mountain Dew. Everything about this Sprinter dump truck – from the fake mud on the sides, to the fake boulders it’s carrying – is simply too much. Extreme, you might say. But it has exhaust stacks, lots of lights, and it’s just plain silly. The Sprinter Extreme concept woke up a pretty sleepy Chicago Auto Show, and for that we thank it.
Image Credit: Genesis
Genesis New York Concept
The unimaginative name aside – “Hey, we’re showing it in New York, so let’s call it… New York!” – this 3-Series-sized Genesis concept shows some promise. Where the G80 and G90 are pretty staid, with mostly carry-over anonymous styling from the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, this smaller sedan takes some design risks. There’s a much more pronounced and distinguished grille up front, plus some real differentiation in the profile shaping – there’s even something unique to look at around the window openings, all of which we hope makes it through to the production version in a year or so.
Image Credit: Toyota
Toyota Setsuna Concept
It’s made mostly of wood – many pieces of cedar, birch, and zelkova so that catches your eye at first. Then there’s the thought that went into it: The idea is for the Setsuna to be timeless, a family heirloom to be passed down, emphasized by the “100-year meter” on the dash, which counts days and years over the car’s life. Wood was chosen so it ages like furniture. It basically is furniture. Japanese joinery techniques that don’t require screws or nails were used to assemble it, and the exterior body parts are removable and replaceable. It is definitely different and most certainly unique, aspects we celebrate in any good concept.
Image Credit: Renault
Renault Trezor Concept
No, not the Trent Reznor concept – we think that’s a solo album stuck in production somewhere. The Renault Trezor was the only true, off-the-wall, not-grounded-in-reality concept at this year’s Paris show. What’s powering it? We don’t know and frankly we don’t care. The top half of the car lifts off so you can climb over the sides and get in. It’s pretty and crazy and, yeah, pretty crazy.