Concept cars rarely end up looking much like the production car, but that doesn’t stop them from being memorable. And awesome. Ben Griffin rounds up the best of 2015.
There were plenty of inspiring cars this year, but it was the concepts that really impressed. From a souped-up BMW M4 and a beach buggy with no rear doors to a self-driving Nissan that wants to make you a better driver, there was no shortage of four-wheeled things to talk about.
2016 has, therefore, some big shoes to fill. More like clogs, in fact. In the meantime, here are our favourite concept cars from 2015.
When it comes to concepts, sound is rarely a major focus beyond a roaring engine. But Peugeot went the extra mile with the Fractal, a two-tone, all-electric looker of a car that uses directional sound to aid the navigation system, sound-proofing in the doors and the most stylish infotainment system we saw all year (and probably every year before that). Looks fantastic, too, in a meaty yet elegant way only the French can.
Citroen Cactus M
If there was one car that retained a lot of the concept’s quirky looks, it was the C4 Cactus. So hopefully the beach-oriented Cactus M falls just as close to the design tree because it looks like bags of fun, especially if you like to lug a wakeboard or surf to and from the sea. Best of all, there are no rear doors so you have to clamber over. Best of all, the rear area becomes a sleeping area so you can gaze at the stars after a day of cutting up the waves.
BMW M4 GTS
We’ve driven the BMW M4 a lot this year and every time it makes us a bit giggly. But it could do with a touch more excitement, which is where the GTS concept stepped in. Power is hiked from 425 to 460bhp while torque also gets a boost. 0-62mph is expected to take less than four seconds, backing up its far more aggressive styling with genuine performance. German lairiness you should be able to buy in 2016.
Audi TT clubsport
Audi has a good track record of turning ordinary cars into tarmac-tearing monsters. This time, it unveiled an extremely potent ‘clubsport’ version of the TT, complete with two electrically-driven turbos that improve acceleration as well as the usual quattro all-wheel drive. Total output is 591bhp, which explains the 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 192mph. Chuck on a rear spoiler that’s longer than Santa’s Christmas present list and you have a recipe for a very potent track car.
2015 has had its fair share of concept beauty, but it all pales in comparison when you look at the Mini Superleggera. Okay, so it was originally unveiled in 2014 but BMW gave it the production go-ahead in 2015 and we bloody love the look of it. That magnificent styling is partly down to coachbuilding company Touring Superlegerra, hence the name. Earmarked for a 2018 release, we can hardly wait for what has been described by its design team as an ‘Italian Barchetta with British soul’.
Infiniti has a long way to go before it has the prestige of its Germanic rivals, but with concepts like the Q60 Concept the right steps are being taken. It’s designed to be a sports coupe, which explains the aerodynamic lines, stealthy black alloys, menacing headlight design and potentially the thinnest wing mirrors ever. In case you do miss all that, the Infiniti badge has blue lighting behind it.
You could accuse the Nissan IDS of being ugly, but this is a concept that cares more about the drive. Or rather, the lack of. The focus is on self-driving, but instead of taking over the role completely it has been designed to complement it. In essence, it aims to be fun to drive until the moment you react too slowly or do something stupid, at which point it takes over and saves the day. With an all-electric powertrain and a 60kWh battery, it’s eco-minded too.