Naysayers predict traditional auto shows are not long for this world. With shrinking budgets and more direct ways to target buyers, many car companies are cutting back on once-extravagant displays at sprawling convention centers. One exception? The Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), better known as the Frankfurt Motor Show, which remains one of the world’s largest venues for unveiling some of the most exciting new vehicles. Here are some of this year’s standouts.
Land Rover Defender
The iconic SUV that dates back to 1948 is reborn in the form of a modern, capable 4×4 that can wade through nearly three feet of water, traverse a 42-degree incline, and tow more than 8,000 pounds. Several variants will be available on both long- and short-wheelbase versions of the vehicle: the four-door, three-row Defender 110, and the two-door 90, which will be available later in the year.
The base engine for the US market will be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 296 hp. The more powerful version is a mild hybrid that combines an inline-six-cylinder gasoline engine with a 48-volt electric supercharger and a lithium-ion battery pack that captures and stores energy. Both use an eight-speed automatic transmission with twin-speed transfer case. With a starting price of $49,900 for the four-cylinder model and $62,250 for the mild hybrid, the 2020 Land Rover Defender steeply undercuts its closest competitor, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.
Lambo’s first hybrid hypercar combines V-12 power with electricity for a heart-pounding 819 hp and a low power-to-weight ratio that sends it hurtling from zero to 62 mph in less than 2.8 seconds. The Sián’s design combines both future and past, with cues that pay homage to the Lamborghini Countach supercar made in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Designers describe the long, sculptured contours of the car as pure and uncluttered; Lamborghini’s classic “Y” shape can be found in the headlights and in the side air intakes in the doors. Other Countach-like details include the roof with its “periscopio” tunnel and the hexagonal shape in the rear, including six hexagonal tail lights. Only 63 examples of the Sián will be made, and all are spoken for. None will be alike, with each individually configured by the owner.
Although it was first unveiled at a media event last week, Frankfurt is the first public showing of Porsche’s revolutionary new, all-electric sedan. Keeping many of the same design cues as the original Mission E Concept shown a few years ago, the Taycan—which roughly translates to the “soul of a spirited young horse”—first debuts in top-level Turbo (from $150,900) and Turbo S (from $185, 000) variants, with less powerful (and less expensive) models to follow later.
The Turbo S makes a hefty 460 kW, or about 625 hp, with a power boost of up to 560 kW, or about 760 hp. That’s enough to sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds, an incredible feat considering the car’s weight of more than 5,000 pounds. The Taycan Turbo S promises a range of up to 256 miles, while the Turbo can achieve nearly 280 miles. Although the technology is not yet widely available in the US, charging for the Taycan can be done at 800-volts, which means the battery can be 80 percent charged in less than 23 minutes.
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS Concept
Billed as an all-electric future version of the flagship S-Class sedan, the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS concept features a radical, pared-down design based on a “single bow” shape with a 360-degree band of light that runs around the entire car. The imposing front grille is decorated with hundreds of LEDs, and holographic headlamps create a captivating, 3D effect. Front and rear accent lights are in the shape of the Mercedes logo, the three-pointed star. Inside, an expansive dash doubles as a projection screen for vehicle information and functions can be controlled by a central tablet or by voice control.
The EQS uses intelligent all-wheel drive and is powered by two electric motors that make a combined 469 hp and 560 ft lbs of torque, with an estimated range of up to 435 miles. Gorden Wagener, chief design officer for Mercedes-Benz, tells us that a production version is coming and will feature several of the design elements shown on the concept car.
Audi RS6 Avant
Wagon enthusiasts rejoice: The high-performance Audi RS6 Avant will be coming to the US sometime next year with a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that will make somewhere in the neighborhood of 590 hp and 590 ft lbs. of torque (exact specs are TBA). The exterior uses Audi Sport’s RS-specific parts and features a wider body, unique honeycomb-shaped front grille and big fender flares that suggest the Quattro all-wheel-drive configuration beneath.
An adaptive air suspension comes standard and a sport suspension with single-tube dampers is optional. The RS6 Avant uses an eight-speed automatic transmission with a launch control function and torque vectoring by braking for maximum traction and cornering speed. The interior also gets RS-specific design cues, including honeycomb-shaped embossed leather and a sport steering wheel. Telemetry can be displayed via Audi’s “virtual cockpit” interface. Pricing and ordering information will be announced at a later date.