Weird and wonderful

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2011, 12:00am


Ferrari's new 458 Spider could be the star of the Frankfurt Motor Show, which opened on September 13. It's the world's first mid-rear engined Berlinetta, with a retractable hard top, and it looks stunning.

Then there is Porsche's new 3.4-litre Carrera, which belts supercar speeds, 8.21 litres of petrol per 100km and carbon dioxide spew of just 194g/km.

Meanwhile, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid promises 2.2l/100km and CO2 emissions of 49g/km, almost half the standard Prius, thanks to a compact, longer-lasting lithium-ion battery.

Beyond the show's headline-making halo cars, there are some weird and wonderful concepts that seem fresh out of the lab, could cut the cost of commutes and still look terrific.

The Spyder version of Audi's 1+1-seat urban concept showcases the marque's latest lightweight construction and has two lithium-battery powered e-tron electric motors. The city car also has a low, continuous window area, and its doors open upwards diagonally on 21-inch wheels.

Volkswagen's boffins seem to have worked overtime on the NILS, a single-seat electric concept vehicle that 'offers a glimpse of a new form of minimalist mobility', with an aluminium space frame, wing doors and 17-inch free-standing wheels. Just 3.04 metres long, the 460kg NILS has a range of 65km, a top speed of 130km/h, is fitted with an automatic distance control system, and 'would be the ideal vehicle for the majority of commuters in Germany', the marque says. German government statistics say 73.9 per cent of all Berlin and Munich commuters cover less than 25km on their way to work, and 'over 90 per cent travel alone'.

Renault's creative Frendzy is a 'commercial business vehicle which can double as a comfortable car', with one conventional door and a sliding side opening that incorporates a 37-inch widescreen display and a host of cabin electronics, but Citroen's nine-seater diesel-hybrid Tubik van must be the most unforgettably styled hi-tech vehicle at the show, which closes on Sunday. The 4.8m vehicle's bonnet recalls the corrugated ribbing of the marque's Type H van and its body incorporates two large doors to the driving position and the 'living area'.

Its 'cyclotron' module groups the seat, pedal assembly, steering wheel and curved head-up display in one circular form. The display screen provides navigation information, reversing and rear-view cameras and the driver is identified by a fingerprint-recognition system.