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Top 5 most important cars at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show

Wed, 11 Sep 2013

The five most important memorable cars in attendance at the world’s biggest motor show

Nothing is as controversial as irritating your core enthusiasts, and the Audi Sport Quattro concept risks doing just that. Its name and styling riff off one of the most iconic cars in Audi’s back catalogue – and in WRC history – yet the new yellow version unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show has abandoned the five-cylinder engine, manual gearbox, and respectable kerbweight of the 2010 Quattro concept. In its place, we’ve an RS7-based coupe with the power of a Lamborghini Aventador (691bhp), twice the claimed economy of a Golf GTD (113mpg), but only because of a twin-turbo V8 mated to a hefty hybrid powertrain, and that means this new Sport Quattro weighs as much as a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (1845kg). Blimey.

Setting aside our cynicism with the retro theme – and horror at the obesity of its hybrid powertrain – we should be grateful the Quattro is back. It’s been revived to rejuvenate enthusiasm in the idea of a rally-inspired flagship, sitting above the R8 in the range and made in limited numbers for high-performance Audi enthusiasts. And despite our reservations over its new petrol-electric philosophy, we still want to see it built, and to drive one. Time to put your Vorsprung Durch Technik where your mouth is, Ingolstadt.


This is brave. Whether or not punters are truly ready for all-electric superminis is hardly proven, yet BMW has gone and built them one: the i3. And not content with that technical headache, here’s a matching supercar stablemate, the i8. You can’t deny BMW’s got ambition, and it’s not just us watching with interest: you can bet everyone from Audi and Mercedes, to Tesla and Ferrari will be keeping a close eye on the i8’s on-road and sales spreadsheet performance.

The i8 costs as much as an Audi R8, at £95,000 or so, and will keep up with a the outgoing BMW M3. It’ll also be more eco-friendly than a 320d, thanks to lightweight carbonfibre construction, and a petrol three-cyinder/electric powertrain. BMW could’ve invested a fraction of the i3 and i8's development budget in a conventional (and more profitable) supermini and supercar (M5 V8 in something suitably wedgy, anyone?) but instead it’s put its chips down on range-extenders and spun the wheel. This could be the Frankfurt motor show we look back to in two decades’ time and recognise as the moment BMW changed the face of mass-market and high-performance motoring in one coup – or at least set the ball rolling.


The world’s (and CAR's) favourite modern supercar gets lighter, louder, and faster – and it’s supposedly even more adept at making ham-fisted drivers look like oversteer heroes, thanks to the new Side Slip-angle Control function. The bodywork changes are a bit awkward from some angles, and the optional National American Racing Team-inspired stripe won’t be to all tastes either. But, you can’t deny a near-600bhp horsepower V8, revving to 9000rpm with nary a turbo in sight is going to be anything other than utterly exceptional. McLaren and Porsche have tried, but it could be that the only car to beat a 458 is a better 458.


Honda didn’t reveal the new Civic Type R is physical form at the show, but it did give us this video, and a mountain of confident bravado that it’s on the verge of creating an all-time great hot hatch. If it’s to be faster around the Nurburgring than the current class benchmark, the Renaultsport Megane Cup, and do justice to the Type R badge, it’ll need to be just that.

It’s been officially confirmed that the new Civic Type R will have a turbocharged (wince) 2.0-litre petrol engine, a manual gearbox, front-wheel drive, and use a mechanical limited slip differential. Power will be ‘at least 280PS’ (or 276bhp, identical to the Vauxhall Astra VXR’s output), and the car will beat the RS Megane’s 8min 7.97sec front-drive Nurburgring lap record. A sub-eight minute hot hatch? It could be on the cards…


Almost certainly the star car of the 2013 Frankfurt show – even though Jaguar’s official party line is the C-X17 is by no means a production dead-cert. After the reaction it’s garnered this week, it’s impossible to imagine Jag dealerships not clamouring for the things – likely to be named QX – come 2015.

Compare the C-X17’s reception to the last time a well-respected sporting British marque unveiled a mould-breaking SUV: the Bentley EXP 9F. Even with Asian buyers ready to pay through the nose for a Flying B-badged mud-plugger, reaction was so vitriolic a full redesign was ordered. By contrast, Ian Callum and his Jaguar design team looks to have pulled off another crowd- and customer-pleasing masterstroke with Jag’s 4x4.

If you’re still convinced a Jaguar crossover is sacrilege, take solace in the knowledge that at least a year before the purported QX arrives, the show car’s 'iQ-Al' aluminium architecture will be used to underpin a cheaper, more agile sports saloon to rival the BMW 3-series. And it'll banish thoughts of the X-type faster than that ‘neuralyser’ memory erasing gadget from Men In Black.



Honourable mentions:

• Caterham Seven 160 – Space-saver tyres, 660cc three-pot engine, 80bhp, less than £17,000. Set to punch way above its (sub-500kg) weight
• Porsche 918 Spyder – yes, we’ve seen Porsche’s 875bhp hybrid supercar before, but no-one really saw that sub-7min Nurburgring lap time coming – least of all McLaren
• Renault Initiale Paris concept – new Espace gets some design joie de vivre and real-world F1 engine tech

Dishonourable mentions:

• Brabus B63S-700 6x6 – 690bhp V8 six-wheeler single-handedly undoes all the planet-saving work done by VW Bluemotion, Greenpeace, and Al Gore
• Bugatti Veyron Vitesse ‘Jean Bugatti’ Legend Edition – we thought it impossible to make an 1183bhp, 265mph hypercar boring, but with another meaningless ‘special edition’ Bugatti manages it
• Lexus LF-NX concept – posh crossovers are hot property, but the LF-NX’s eye-popping design robs it of being taken seriously

By Ollie Kew