2021 Munich motor show preview – sustainability to take centre stage

Germany’s biennial show is back in a different city and format, with plenty of new metal to come after more than a year of virtual reveals

The Munich motor show is now just days away, and after a hiatus on these sorts of events for obvious reasons, this year's show continues to build with plenty of global debuts and concept cars on show. As well as reintroducing the motor show format, this year also signals a change from Germany's usual host city, Frankfurt, to a new location in Munich.

So while the city and era might be new for the IAA show, its importance to the German car industry doesn’t seem to be waning, with all the major German manufacturers using it as a platform to reveal a variety of new models and technologies. And it is clear that there will be an emphasis on sustainability by all the manufacturers during the show.

As with all German motor shows, manufacturers from other parts of the world will have a smaller presence, especially given the recent confirmation that the more neutral Geneva show will return in 2022.

Indications of what we can look forward to seeing are only just now coming to the fore. However, here’s what we can expect on 6 September when the show opens its doors.

Audi

Of the big three premium players, Audi is expected to have the smallest presence at the show, and won’t reveal any new models. Rather it will act as a showcase for its more distant future, something we got an insight into when the Sky Sphere concept debuted at Monterey Car Week a few weeks back as the first of three design studies that will be continued in Munich with the Gran Sphere.

The Grand Sphere will showcase a new type of flagship EV that is expected to sit beyond the traditional A8 saloon, forming part of the Volkswagen Group’s Artemis EV architecture. More than just a new EV platform, the Artemis project also encapsulates the integration of further autonomous driving elements into the core architecture of the chassis.

BMW

BMW will showcase multiple new technologies in Munich, starting with a new iX5 driven not from batteries, but from a hydrogen fuel cell. Despite the focus on electrification to reduce emissions, manufacturers are waking up to the fact that pure EVs are not, and will not be, the one and only solution, making alternative technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells a crucial element of their respective decarbonisation efforts. The iX5 specifically is also representative of the collaboration between BMW and Toyota in hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

BMW’s rapidly expanding range of EVs is also expected to be on show, including the recently updated iX3, but BMW’s imminent 7-series and its all-electric i7 twin are still yet to be confirmed. While large saloons often represent the image of a rather traditional buyer, they often also showcase design and technology that we can expect to see in a manufacturer’s wider range, something that should be no different when the all-new 7 is revealed.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has announced a spread of new models due to be debuted in Munich, with a total of seven global reveals. The most important of these will be the EQE, a smaller yet higher-volume midsized take on the EQS which was revealed earlier this year and which was developed alongside the EQE on a bespoke EV platform. The EQE will be joined by equivalent SUV models, one of which will also be shown in Munich as a concept. This will be the EQS SUV derivative, shown off in Maybach form which will also eventually reach the market.

However, it’s AMG’s new models that will arguably be of more interest to our sort of crowd, with the (very) long-awaited GT 4-Door E Performance arriving to top AMG’s four-door range with an expected 800bhp combined power output thanks to its new electrified rear axle arrangement. AMG will also reveal its first all-electric model with a derivative based on the EQS, although we suspect it’ll hold fire on a full-bore Taycan Turbo S rival given the EQS’s focus on ultimate luxury.

Elsewhere, Mercedes will also show off its new C-class All Terrain, and a bulletproof S-class, but we’ll have to wait just a little longer to see Merc’s new SL and plug-in hybrid AMG C-class, both of which are expected to surface later in the year.

Porsche

Porsche will be revealing a mysterious new concept car, one that’ll be both ‘motorsport inspired’ and all-electric. That first element is crucial, suggesting it won’t be the new Macan-sized SUV or a Taycan-based derivative, rather something more focused.

For now, our only preview of the concept is an image of its headlight, which shares the usual four-element design with many production Porsche models. Other than that, we’ll have to wait for more, although rumours of a new all-electric hypercar persist...

Volkswagen 

Volkswagen’s progress with its MEB range will get another addition in Munich with the reveal of the ID.5. The new model will join its EV range as a sleeker ID.4 derivative in the same sense as the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback. We expect it to mimic the ID.4 in powertrain and specification, topped with a twin-motor GTX model producing 296bhp combined.

There will also be VW’s updated Polo GTI, which will join the wider recently updated Polo range with some subtle styling and tech tweaks. Key mechanical elements will remain unchanged, so that’ll be the usual EA888 2-litre turbo four, seven-speed DSG and front-wheel drive, but despite the somewhat underwhelming performance of the current generation, it is only solid tweaks away from becoming something rather more interesting.

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