The Frankfurt Motor Show: the hottest concepts

This week it’s all about concepts.

Ahead of September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, big name manufacturers have been keen to generate a bit of buzz by unveiling their latest concepts. So let’s take a closer look…

Kia Niro Concept

Kia Niro

Gullwing doors, fluorescent trim and chunky wheels housed inside large wheelarches – the Kia Niro is a compact and mean-looking crossover concept car that looks to have taken inspiration from Nissan’s popular SUV, the Juke.

Inside? Well, it’s all minimal, with a sleek trim and all switches and dials kept to an absolute minimum – and no technical details have yet emerged about the ‘innovative new powertrain’ that Kia has said the Niro will showcase.

Unfortunately Kia don’t have plans to build a production version of the Niro, but say that it’ll be used to gauge customer reaction and help design future Kia cars.

Volvo Concept Coupe

Volvo Concept Coupe

A Volvo that’s all about style? That’s what the Volvo Concept Coupe is all about.

Designed by Volvo’s newest styling chief, Thomas Ingenlath (who’s previously worked with Volkswagen and Skoda), the Volvo Concept Coupe demonstrates the power and flexibility of their new multi-million dollar in-house modular platform: Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).

The concept shows the new direction (we hope!) Ingenlath will be taking with future Volvos and inside showcases an ultra-modern interior with a hand-cut crystal gear lever, large touch-screen display in the centre console and brushed gunmetal and leather dash.

Under the bonnet, it’s able to deliver a performance that’s on a par to a V8 by utilising one of Volvo’s new Drive-E, 4-cylinder petrol engines and hybrid systems.
But will it be built?

Don’t count on it.

2013 Ford S-Max Concept

Ford S max concept

Ford has unveiled their new, economic and sporty MPV, the S-Max concept.

In terms of style, with its sweeping, bullet-like appearance, the S-Max looks closely related to the Fiesta ST Mountune, a sportier, edgier Fiesta that’s due to be released later in the year.

And it’s full of features.

The S-Max boasts on-board wifi, tablet docking in the rear of the front seat headrests, heart rate and glucose monitoring technology as well having Ford’s new 1.5 litre ‘Ecoboost’ petrol engine under the bonnet – an engine that’s set to replace the 1.6 litre version.

The car also features ‘car-to-car communications’, which is one of the latest technologies to be taken up by car manufacturers. Cars with this on board will be able to share information with one another about road accidents, the weather and the traffic, in the hope of increasing road safety and improving traffic flow.

We’re not entirely sure how the production version of the S-Max will differ from the concept that’ll appear at the Frankfurt motor show, but what’s important is that it will undergo production, with a release scheduled for early 2015.

BMW recalls over 700,000 cars Worldwide due to electrical faults

German car giant BMW has just announced plans to recall various models in its 1 and 3 Series range. The recall could affect cars manufactured from March 2007 up to July 2011 and sold in North America, Canada, Japan and South Africa.

2009 BMW 3-Series: just one of the models affected

The recall came about when potential electrical problems became known after one Canadian motorist suffered a minor crash.

The problem is said to be due to the potential degradation over time of the connector for the positive battery cable connector and corresponding fuse box terminal.

Reviewing the failures, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS) have said that the loss of electrical power caused by a failing connector could cause the vehicle to stall unexpectedly, increasing the risk of death.

Luckily, currently cars of these models sold in Europe aren’t affected.

New 2013 Range Rover Sport Reveal & Mini Acrobatics????

Things are hotting up as we’re getting closer to the big reveal of the all-new 2013 Range Rover Sport.

Range Rover’s latest is expected to closely match the specifications of the new 2013 Range Rover, and include the much hyped, all-new V6 turbocharged diesel engine, capable of delivering 255bhp and generating an impressive 442lb ft of torque.

More dynamic than current models, and around 300kg lighter than the entry-level model you can buy at the moment, the Sport looks set for a big release.

The new Range Rover Sport is set to be revealed fully in late March, at the New York motor show.

Also in the news…

Mini acrobatics?

Freestyle rally driver and professional skier Guerlain Chicherit performed a breathtaking stunt a few days ago in the snowy French skiing resort of Tignes. Accelerating to 37mph, Chicherit sent a Mini Countryman John Cooper Works SUV into a complete 360 degree backflip, landing safely.

Launching the Mini off a specially modified ramp, the Mini back flip is said to be the first-ever complete back flip ever made in a car.

Check out the full stunt on YouTube.


Driverless RobotCar for UK’s roads?

Some of us don’t even trust our friends to drive, so we’re not entirely sure how Google’s self-driven car has managed to fare so well in its bid for road-legal status over in America.

Google’s car – which is actually a modified Toyota Prius – passed for use on the roads in Nevada back in 2012, and its success seems to have pushed a team from Oxford University into gear in their own bid to create driver-less vehicles for use here in the UK.


Hands-free driving: the converted Nissan LEAF in action


A converted Nissan LEAF, the RobotCar is said to be a breakthrough in the development of safe, everyday driverless vehicles capable of reducing congestion and road accidents.

The team have been careful to implement a number of safety precautions in their new car. Before you can start the car’s driverless system you need to nagivate through a few safety checks on the car’s internal user interface which, it turns out, is actually an iPad.

Lasers mounted around the car scan the roads ahead to watch out for crossing pedestrians and other dangers, and bring the vehicle to a controlled stop should anything get in its way.

We’re not entirely sure when the self-driving car will be available, but we’re certainly looking forward to seeing it!

Find out more about how the car works at RobotCar UK.