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Gallery: the concepts of this year's Paris motorshow

  1. Words: Paul Horrell 

    The Paris Motor Show’s crop of concept cars was fertile. Some more real than you’d think, some less so. To help, here’s a guide to what they all mean, in handy cut-out-and-keep-form. (Hint: don’t literally try to cut this out. It’ll scratch your screen and blunt your scissors.)

    First, the VW Golf GTI Concept. Easy-peasy. The only thing about this car that’s concept is the word Concept. It’s as real as the nose on your face, and you can buy it next summer. We’ll be driving it soon.

  2. And the Peugeot RCZ-R Concept? Also real. A similar timetable, available next summer, and with 260bhp, the fastest Peugeot ever built. Looks good, right?

  3. Almost as real, though less buyable unless you inhabit the own-a-football-team financial stratum, is the McLaren P1 Concept. The final car will hit the road next autumn. It’ll look very similar, except it’ll have even more air intakes around the nose. By then we’ll know about the engine, and exactly how will arrive at the otherworldly 600bhp per tonne it’s already claiming. And we’ll learn about the interior too, as the Concept’s was hidden by deep-tinted glass. It’s concept car as a means to tease.

  4. Peugeot had one of those, too. The 2008 Concept, another one with darkened glass and locked doors. Though to be fair the gush of hormones it created was rather more low-key. Anyhow, there will be a crossover this shape, but - Dieu Merci - not this colour, next year. They’ve even said which factories it’ll be built in. And that it’ll launch a brand-new 110bhp turbo version of Peugeot’s 1.2 three-cylinder engine. They’re calling it an ‘urban crossover’ because it’s small, but also be because there’ll be no 4WD option, unlike the Nissan Juke or new Vauxhall Mokka.

  5. BMW’s ActiveTourer is pretty real too. The interior has been jollied up a bit versus the production car, but Adrian Van Hooydonk, BMW’s design chief and a man who talks straight, told me the exterior surfaces are exactly what the production machine’s metalwork will be. “This is very very close to the finished thing.”

  6. Moving further down the reality spectrum, we find the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, Smart Forstars and Lexus LF-CC Concepts. The Porsche previews a version of the next-gen Panamera for 2016 or so. It’s not just the tail that’s new: subtle but definite changes throughout the body have transformed the car from grim to gorgeous. The Sport Turismo also uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain that will be sold in the current Panam, and Cayenne, and various Audis, from next year.

  7. The Lexus is a preview of the new IS saloon and coupe, but you’ll need to strip away some of the tinsel first.

  8. And the Smart is also a preview of the upcoming production Fortwo. But the production car won’t be rolling on double dubs. That information will not surprise you.

  9. The Audi Crosslane is Audi’s nod to the fact it’ll be building a Q2 before long, a crossover to go below the Q3 and have a go at the Mini Paceman. But the concept had lots of tech-wizardry that won’t go onto the real Q2, including a beautifully engineered and crazily costly structure of carbonfibre and aluminium. Audi doesn’t do this sort of thing for fun, and quiet voices tell us it’s related to the frame of Audi’s upcoming BMW i3 rival.

  10. Nissan’s TeRRA SUV’s design isn’t meant to point to anything serious for production. Instead it’s a way of drawing attention to the fact Nissan is working hard on fuel cells. But Nissan looked a bit dopey when Hyundai announced that it’s actually going into full production with a fuel-cell iX35.

    Still, nice to see Nissan’s designers having a bit of fun on the TeRRA SUV. Their bosses clearly don’t want them to get bored and leave. Free-form concept cars like this are getting rarer these days, but they do give us a look into the ways designers think cars will change a decade or so away. Not the overall form of cars, but elements: the curve of a wing, the shape of a seat, the glint of a light cluster.

  11. In that tradition, over the years Peugeot has done several crazy supercars for its hometown Paris show. The Onyx was one of them. Will Pug build a supercar out of paper and copper, powered by the sadly-redundant Le Mans engine? No way. Is it good to see the designers being allowed off the leash of dreary production constraints? Absolutely.

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