The future is here, sort of. Technology in new cars progressed by many leaps and bounds, like a rabbit with massive springs attached to all four paws.
Self-driving cars edged closer to reality, but car manufacturers exercised every inch of their imagination to deliver some otherworldly concept cars in 2017.
Here are five of our favourites…
What’s the point of a steering wheel in a car that can drive itself? Not much, exactly. The steering wheel has been an omnipresent feature in every automobile ever, but Audi demonstrated how it could finally be consigned to history with the Aicon concept.
Similarly, the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals are erased to “offer all the comforts of modern communications electronics and perfect ergonomics”, Audi says.
This futuristic philosophy is reflected in its design, with super slick curves, piercing three-dimensional headlights and reflective silver finish.
Audi’s big idea is represented by the concept’s physical size too; it stretches for almost 5.5 metres and sits on gaping 26-inch wheels.
BMW Concept Z4
The Z4 is a lovely roadster but since going on sale in 2009, the current gen model has been outmoded by cars like the Mazda MX-5. So it was with great delight to finally see the Concept Z4 in August.
It has a shorter bonnet than the second-gen Z4, as well as vertically stacked headlamps, a stretched nose, slimline rear lamps and metallic rollover bars.
One of the guys behind its design said the next Z4 – due to emerge at some point in 2018 – will be “an all-out driving machine”. Bring it on!
Mazda Vision Coupe
When concepts are devised, the designers usually have to think ‘where would the engine go?’. Not so with the Mazda Vision Coupe, which was imagined purely from an aesthetic angle; if it looks cool, then it stays.
Concept cars are typically thrown together in less than 12 months. However, Mazda’s design boss Ikuo Maeda spent two years working on this sleek two-door, making ten sculptures and scale models in that time before presenting his Vision Coupe to the world.
Mercedes-AMG GT Concept
2017 marked the 50th birthday of the Mercedes-AMG division, so what better way to celebrate than showcasing an 804bhp petrol-electric hybrid that can clear 62mph in under 3.5 seconds?
The chairman of Mercedes-AMG promised it would deliver “impressive driving dynamics, high efficiency, [and] an innovative drive system” when a production version arrived in 2019. Yes please.
Nissan Leaf Nismo
The Nissan Leaf may be a fantastic, mould-breaking electric vehicle, and while it may be deceptively nippy, it ain’t no racer. Up step the Leaf Nismo.
It seemed inevitable that Nissan would eventually let its performance division have its wicked way with the Leaf and the potential results were sure to be amazing.
Whether it’ll make production remains to be seen but considering how heavily based it is on the regular Leaf, it seems likely.