Hopeful whispers about a new Volkswagen Microbus concept have been vibrating air molecules and filling blog pages for much of the five years since Volkswagen last showed a modern minibus concept in the Bulli. It's finally here and it's called the Budd-e. What it lacks in historically honest styling, it makes up for with an explosion of high-tech features big enough to get road trippers, neo hippies, surf bums and daily commuters alike excited for what's to come.
If CES concept cars are any reliable indication, the automobile interior is going to have a load of digital screen space in the future. Whether we're talking about the array of large displays in fully autonomous concepts like the 2015 Mercedes F 015 or the touchscreen controls of the 2015 VW Golf R Touch, concept car designers are showing little restraint in packing the car cabin with digital displays. Bosch's all-new, all-flashy CES 2016 show car offers yet another take on digital screen overload, presenting the driver with a full-length digital dashboard that bleeds into the doors and center console.
Volvo's recently unveiled Concept 26 is its vision for the autonomous car of the future. Its "Relax Mode" would allow occupants to watch video content while the car takes care of driving. Working with Ericsson, Volvo is now developing the tech to stream that content to a car on the move.
When you have as fun-filled a year as Lexus had in 2015, you don't let it end without one last stunt. The luxury carmaker has followed up its hoverboard and cardboard IS sedan projects with an equally weird-but-compelling design: an NX crossover riding on a set of ice wheels. The special one-off gives the term "driving on ice" new meaning.
Ever since the 2013 Italdesign Parcour and Audi Nanuk concepts, we've been waiting and hoping for a legitimate off-road supercar that blends Italian styling with burly drive-anywhere construction. We're not quite there yet, but Turin-based design studio Camal has given us its take on a "hypersuv" it calls the Ramusa.
When it comes to designing concept cars, Rinspeed doesn't just think outside the box; it crushes the box down, rips it to shreds and uses the shreds to light the bonfire it stares into as it daydreams about its next idea. Next year, it's abandoning its longstanding convention of debuting a creative concept at the Geneva Motor Show, instead using the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. The Etos concept adds a little consumer electronic tech to the Swiss think tank's way-beyond-the-box thinking.
Since the start of 2015, Gizmag has racked up plenty of sky miles chasing stories about the latest cars and in-car technology at the world's major motor shows and beyond. From American heroes at the LA and Detroit shows to the latest from German powerhouses in Geneva and Frankfurt, we've seen all manner of concept cars. As usual, some of the best concepts of the year were high-end sports cars that point to the future of performance driving with clever powertrains, slick aerodynamics and dramatic styling. Here are our picks for the best of 2015.
There's not another automaker out there that has the cojones to bring quirky concept cars to life like Citroën does. In the French automaker's own words, it aspires to bring to market "cheery, optimistic vehicles that are different from the rest." The all-new E-Mehari fits that description to a T, as an all-electric crossover cabriolet based on the recent Cactus M concept and inspired by the classic Méhari.
McLaren says that it wanted to peer into the future and "imagine the art of the impossible." The result of that vision quest by the company's design team is the McLaren MP4-X Formula One concept race car. This is a sleek, powerful ride that makes the current crop of cutting-edge technology used in F1 racing look primitive, with everything about this concept, from its sculpted exterior to its hidden gems of advanced electronic wizardry, far out, but achievable.
Having debuted the lightweight S-FR concept at this year's Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota has turned to in-house racing company Gazoo to pump up its styling ahead of Tokyo Auto Salon 2016 next month, further raising speculation this concept could make the jump to production.