Surf’s Up at the Frankfurt Auto Show

One of the world’s oldest and largest motor expos, the Frankfurt Auto Show (in 2011, Sept. 15 – 25) will be debuting numerous new vehicles and prototypes when the doors open tomorrow. The most radical-looking drives tend to be concepts that induce a sort of artificial high in visitors, who know in their heart of hearts that the production version will be but a pale shadow of the runway car. Then again, most is not all: The following formidable five are all the real deal and worth tagging with some guten.

1. 2013 Fisker Surf
When the headlines are screaming that your vehicle is not a concept, you know you’ve got a hit on your hands. Due next year, the Fisker Surf is mind blowingly elegant in appearance alone, but takes it up a notch by being a hybrid on two fronts: shooting brake design (coupe in front, wagon in the back), and ambitious plug-in hybrid drive system. It comes on the heels of Fisker’s Karma coupe, delivered earlier this summer, and shares Karma’s powertrain and chassis. Said powertrain yields 403 horsepower and, ahem, 981 lb-ft of torque. Not only can your two adorable children (or two lanky buddies) ride in back — instant carpool-lane access — you’ve also got a solar roof panel generating supplemental electricity. Look at you, Mr. Green!

The Surf may be the most sensational five-door in Frankfurt, but there are at least four newly released worthies to keep it company:

2. 2012 Audi S7
True, it looks an awful lot like the A7. But who would be petty enough to complain when a car is this easy on the eyes? The S7 is pretty on the inside, too, with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo TFSI V8 borrowed from the S6. Beauty and brawn in one go.

2013 Ford Focus ST
The already-impressive people’s favourite has been further improved with an athletic powertrain (247 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque), lowered sports suspension and gutsy styling (more inside than out). Available only with a six-speed stick – just as it should be.

4. 2013 Mazda CX-5
This compact crossover is getting rave reviews for drivability. The SkyActiv-G engine (think they laboured over that name?) is lighter, more fuel-efficient and cleaner than Mazda’s previous engine – but cyberspace is noisy with North Americans bemoaning the fact that the diesel version won’t likely make it across the pond.

5. 2012 Subaru XV
Subaru loyalists will be happy as the proverbial clams with this crossover, while the rest of us will respectfully acknowledge that it is very nice. XV borrows heavily from Impreza’s styling and technology, but, with its 18-inch wheels and generous ground clearance, it’s begging to hit the trails.

IF YOU’RE STILL JONESING FOR A HIT OF THE CONCEPTUAL, CHECK THESE OUT: Kia GT, which is nothing short of gorgeous and may just bowl you over; the BMW i8 coupe, which looks something like a car trying to fight its way out of another car, but in a good way; and Volvo’s Concept You, whose name is either vaguely threatening or downright embarrassing, even if the rest is peachy.

2013 Fisker Surf image courtesy of Fisker Automotive.


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