- Renault Twin’Run
- BMW Concept CS
- Toyota S-FR
- Alfa Romeo Mito GTA Concept
- Mercedes Vision EQXX
- Volkswagen BlueSport
- Mazda RX-Vision
- Mini Rocketman
- Aston Martin Vanquish
A love of concept cars often leads to heartbreak. Half the time, these incredible exercises in design and beauty don’t make it beyond motor show halls, and when they do, their brilliance is dulled in the pursuit of regulatory compliance. Perhaps we shouldn’t be spoiled with pure design exercises that can never be made real? We’d say not. Sad though it is when they’re not made, we do love to see them when they come along. So, with that, we thought we’d take look back at a few recent favourites from the past 15 years or so, that never saw the light of production day, or at least not yet.
Sometimes a seriously hot concept serves merely as a preview of the cooking model that’s yet to be released, with a version of the concept never coming to be. A classic case in point is the Renault Twin’Run, which counts the Renault 5 Turbo, Clio V6 and many more mad machines among its influences. The reality for this V6-powered monster however was far duller. It was a preview for the third-generation Renault Twingo and very little more. They didn’t even make the cool square LED fogs a fun option. Boo.
BMW Concept CS
Sometimes a concept is a simple suggestion of design language and where it’s headed, which was exactly the case with the 6.0-litre V12-engined BMW Concept CS. Revealed in 2007, it was a look ahead at what post-bangle BMW would look like, with the 7 Series of 2009, the 5 Series of 2010 and indeed, the 3 and 6 Series of 2012. CS as we know stands for Coupe Sport in BMW nomenclature, so it was also a hint to the Mercedes CLS-rivalling 6 Series Gran Coupe that would come out six years later. The CS to our eyes wasn’t a simple language indicator. It was a complete design that could have held its own in BMW showrooms of 2008. A bit ahead of its time? Yes, intentionally. A shame it was never destined for more? Absolutely.
Given how GT86 sales were, it’s both a surprise that it got a successor in the GR86 and unsurprising this even smaller sportscar idea never made it out of the Tokyo Auto Salon. Still, the S-FR is an extremely appealing little thing. Cute, but not so much you don’t take it seriously like a Daihatsu Copen, this little ripper looked almost feasible for production. The lights weren’t silly, the wheels and tyres were production spec, the cabin wasn’t a million miles away and the bodywork and dimensions were entirely realistic, yet it never made it to showrooms. The Mazda MX-5 could have had a real rival in this thing and Japan could have had another Kei car like the Honda S660. Sadness.
Alfa Romeo Mito GTA Concept
The above Toyota would have been great, make no mistake, however, if the Mito GTA were put into production, with a Busso V6, it would have been terrible. And we’re still devastated they didn’t do it. Just look at the thing! Those vents, that diffuser, those exhausts! This car would’ve hijacked the hearts and minds of Fiesta ST and Corsa VXR buyers the country over, regardless of its performance and handling prowess. But it wasn’t to be. Of course, this was 2009 and Alfa Romeo, a company never exactly thriving even when times are good, was in no position mid-recession to take a punt on such a car in a market that frankly, might not have accepted it.
Mercedes Vision EQXX
A concept doesn’t have to be long gone to be a known loss. The Mercedes Vision EQXX only appeared last year but one of the first things we were told about it was that it’s an experimental vehicle with zero prospects for production. Battery pack engineering, weight saving and aero efficiencies are taken to the absolute Nth degree in this experimental vehicle, resulting on a real world-tested 700-mile range, meaning if this were rated by WLTP, it’d likely be rated for over 800 miles. There’s active aero, a thinner rear track, sculpted teardrop bodywork and much more to get there, and yet, this dedicated exercise in efficiency could much easier be sold alongside the AMG GT than the Four Door Mercedes actually sells. Stunning looks entirely informed by innovation. There’s a satisfaction to be had from that and a sadness that it won’t be made real.
While the mega Merc above is very much a poster child for the positive future of eco motoring, the BlueSport was Volkswagen’s in 2009. Yes, right in the middle of the diesel evangelism era, which is why this is an MR2/Boxster-like sportscar with… a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. It followed a pair of fabulous Volkswagen sportscar concepts in the Concept R and the EcoRun, but the BlueSport looks the most complete and the best to our eyes. Especially given it previewed the coming Mk7 Golf era of design, aka the very best Volkswagens have looked since the early 1980s. Leave the diesel, fit an EA888, keep that fabulous interior and give it!
Perhaps the most heartbreaking concept that never made it to production on this list is the Mazda RX-Vision. Good lord, it’s got to easily be in the top ten best-looking concepts of the past 30 years. This sexy low-slung sportscar had proportions to make an Aston Martin look lumpen, and curves to humble Touring Superleggera. The styling was a perfect blend of callback design language and totally modern touches. Most importantly, under the bonnet was a screaming rotary engine with new combustion tech that Mazda said could make a viable case for bringing it back to production. Alas, it’s now been seven years and still no sign.
While most of these so far were doomed to never see production, the Mini Rocketman might get its time on sale in the coming years. For now though, it’s the Mini we all wanted that we never got. All the way back in 2011 the Rocketman imagined a Mini that was actually small, with innovative storage solutions and minimalist design, thoroughly in the spirit of how innovative the original Mini was. Whether we’ll get the tailgate or double hinged doors remains to be seen when the all-electric Mini Minor, as it’s rumoured to be called, arrives. We’ll be delighted to see it make production all the same.
Aston Martin Vanquish
The Vanquish is a bit more of a cert than the Mini but it’s still not here yet, since the concept’s debut in 2019. Plus, Aston’s recent track record is changing the concept we originally saw quite substantially for production – we’re looking at you, Valhalla. In that case it might be for the best; in the case of the Vanquish, it’d be a crime. This is a drop-dead gorgeous and quintessentially ‘Aston’ take on the mid-engined supercar genre. During Tobias Moers’ tenure too, the name Vanquish was very much at risk, which would have been a shame. We hope both the car and its name make it to dealers virtually unchanged.
Are there any concepts you wish were made that we missed? Are there any on this list you’re happy to see die as a concept? Let us know your thoughts…