Every year, concept cars create the most buzz at the Detroit Auto Show -- partly because they provide the surprise element the media and public crave when they visit the show and partly because the concept cars are accompanied by the flashiest music, dancing and lights.
Dozens of new models are unveiled at each year's extravaganza -- yet perhaps only a dozen are concepts. Auto executives watch carefully and gauge the response to their singular creations. If a concept car gathers enough buzz, then it may go into production. But if it doesn't, the model may never be seen again.
Click ahead to see some of this year's most innovative concept cars at the Detroit Auto Show.
Posted 16 Jan. 2013
The new NSX Concept design is founded on a "Human Support Cockpit" theme, focused on "the synergy between man and machine," according to press materials.The interior package boasts an exotic driving position and an intuitive "Simple Sports Interface" that minimizes interior clutter, allowing the driver to focus on driving.
The Acura NSX will be powered by a midmounted, direct-injected V-6 engine mated to Acura's Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. The Acura Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is a three-motor hybrid system that combines torque vectoring all-wheel drive with hybrid efficiency through the use of three electric motors – one motor integrated with the V-6 engine and two motors driving the front wheels – along with a dual-clutch transmission.
The "Aero Sculpture" styling of the 2014 MDX Prototype aims to appear "compact and premium," according to Acura -- with low, wide and sleek proportions; a clean, efficient and uncluttered design; and premium detailing, including LED headlights.
The 2014 MDX exterior encases what will be a more spacious and versatile cabin compared to the outgoing 2013 MDX. The prototype features a longer wheelbase that increases second-row legroom and improves third-row seat access.
The new MDX will also feature the next-generation AcuraLink cloud-based connected car system, featuring music and text messaging plus personalized news, information and media feeds via the customer's compatible smartphone and data plan.
The "smart" brand debuted an electric Sport Utility Coupe concept vehicle named the "smart forstars." The tongue-in-cheek name refers to the vehicle's glass roof, which offers passengers a view of a starry sky or, via the video projector in the hood, turns the car into a drive-in on wheels.
The "smart" allows its owner to set the car's interior temperature in advance with a smartphone; it can also be charged with a regular socket, according to press materials.
The car has a 60-kilowatt magneto-electric motor and a top speed of 80 mph. With its lithium-ion battery, the "smart" has a capacity of 17.6 kilowatt-hours of electric power.
The Urban SUV Concept is intended to be fun to drive while remaining fuel-efficient; it features what Honda describes as "aspirational design, flexible packaging and next-generation connectivity targeting active lifestyle customers." It also has a hidden rear door handle, giving the SUV a coupe-like presence.
Measuring 169.3 inches long, the Urban SUV Concept is 9 inches shorter than the Honda CR-V.
The HCD-14 Genesis tries to convey a look of liquid-metal combined with gemstone-like design surfaces, according to press materials. The front fascia surrounds brushed metal grille surfaces with a deep vertical grille opening. The corners of the rear hood incorporate heat extractor design accents that integrate with exterior mirror design. From the side view, rear-drive sport sedan proportions are conveyed by short overhangs, large-diameter wheels and a short rear deck.
The power train features the Hyundai Tau V-8 engine, displacing 5.0-liters, with direct injection. The HCD-14 Genesis uses optical recognition to identify the driver and initiate the starter, while gear selection for the eight-speed automatic transmission is performed via paddle shifters.
The MKC will be the first of four new Lincoln vehicles created to appeal to new luxury consumers. Called progressive luxury consumers, they are "affluent individuals who no longer purchase to maintain an image for others, but instead seek fresh new alternatives that appeal to them because they found a truly unique choice," according to press materials.
The MKC Concept includes a highly crafted rear-view appearance with full-width tail lamps. The exterior is augmented by cream-based white metallic tri-coat paint, 20-inch premium wheels with polished chrome rims and a panoramic roof that runs the length of the vehicle.
The Resonance is a five-passenger crossover 4-wheel drive hybrid electric vehicle, with boomerang-shaped headlights and tail lights; spatial architecture with "floating" construction for an open feel; a "floating roof" with a large glass roof panel and orange exterior color, according to press materials.
Inside, it features what the company describes as an upscale "VIP Lounge" interior design; leather seats; "floating" instrument panel design; and a graphically layered instrument panel screen designed to provide a holographic experience.
The car features a 2.5-liter DOHC internal combustion gas engine, a high-performance electric motor with advanced control technologies, and one-motor/two-clutch hybrid technology.
The Furia is designed around a theme of "Iconic Dynamism," according to Toyota, using pure surface elements to create a "confident, decisive and recognizable appearance" appealing to more youthful consumers. The compact sedan is designed to look more athletic, with its 19-inch wheels pushed to the vehicle's corners to help emphasize its long wheelbase.
The design includes a swept windshield, with a sloped roof line and pronounced fender flares, to help communicate a sense of motion. The car also features sculpted front LED headlamps and a styled front fascia with a blacked-out grille treatment. Carbon fiber accents adorn the Corolla Furia Concept's wheel wells, rocker panels and rear valance, which includes ornate metal exhaust outlet surrounds to add a sense of modern athleticism.
The CrossBlue would flesh out the Volkswagen SUV lineup with a seven-seat midsize crossover that slots in above the Tiguan and below the premium Touareg, according to the company.The CrossBlue features a plug-in hybrid power train that mates a clean diesel engine with two electric motors, a dual-clutch transmission, and an electric all-wheel-drive system that is dubbed "prop shaft by wire."
Volkswagen's estimated fuel economy rating is 89 mpg combined in electric mode and 35 mpg as a hybrid. The CrossBlue runs in zero emissions mode either at the press of a button or automatically. With a fully charged lithium-ion battery, the CrossBlue can travel up to 14 miles in all-electric mode. The overall driving range is 661 miles.