The 2017 Frankfurt motor show was as big, crowded and hectic as ever and among the usual contemporary electric and autonomous cars on show, performance cars from right across the spectrum were pleasingly abundant.
From a 114bhp Volkswagen Up GTI to the 986bhp+ Mercedes-AMG Project ONE, the Germans were out in force at their home motor show. But that doesn't mean it was all Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, as the Japanese had a small, yet forceful impact on the show with the Suzuki Swift Sport, suggesting that Japan might well be on its way to ruling all levels of the hot hatch ladder after the introduction of the intense Honda Civic Type R earlier this year.
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Below are our favourites from the 2017 Frankfurt show, including a few surprises we didn't expect...
Mercedes AMG Project ONE
The Project ONE just had to be on this list. We may have reservations about some aspects of the styling and proportions, and even question the relevance of such a car given its otherworldly performance and price, but the history of the motor car has always been punctuated by technological leaps at the very pinnacle of what’s possible, and integrating a hybrid F1 engine that revs to 11,000rpm into a road car is one such moment.
Suzuki Swift Sport
Arguably the antidote to the Project ONE, the Swift Sport is one of the forthcoming new cars that we’re most excited about on evo. Why? Because it’s a hot hatch in the traditional mould that weighs just 970kg. So despite ‘only’ having 138bhp, it’s 170lb-ft of torque should make it very lively indeed, not to mention the dynamic benefits of having a package that weighs less than an old Renaultsport Clio 172.
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring Package
If we place our cynicism over whether Porsche will actually sell you one to one side, the Touring Package-equipped GT3 is a glorious thing, and the thought of having that incredible 4-litre flat six hooked up to a manual gearbox, in a car that doesn’t shout too loudly about its extreme performance, promises to be a terrifically desirable combination.
Renault Sport Megane RS
Expectations couldn’t be higher for this car. We expect the very best from Renault Sport, on account of their back catalogue, and when they fail to deliver - even just mildly so, as in the case of the current Renaultsport Clio 200 - then the groans of disappointment can probably be heard in outer space. But the new Megane looks very promising indeed, with a choice of manual and twin clutch gearboxes and the kind of bespoke wide-arch exterior styling that proves you don’t need big wings to look suitably imposing.
Volkswagen Up GTi
Along with the Swift Sport, the Up GTi carries our hopes that a new generation of fun, relatively affordable hot hatches will soon be a reality. It seems to have taken VW a while to see the project through, but the little Up gave off all the right signals in Frankfurt. Now we await a drive of the production car to see if VW has rediscovered that simple but oh-so-appealing GTi magic.
The hot hatch market may effectively be new territory for Hyundai, but all the signs suggest this is a no effort spared attempt at joining what is a ferociously competitive arena. Hyundai has hired well, clearly spent plenty, embraced motorsport and even adopted its own pantone number, and the result looks very promising indeed.
Bentley has the opportunity to really ace the GT market with the new GT, a car that most agreed is easy on the eye, has an interior even more spectacular in design and detailing than the previous Conti offered, and from our drive of a prototype recently, is vastly more dynamic from behind the ‘wheel. If Bentley has maintained the old car’s comfort and refinement, it could be a class leader.
Honda Urban EV
If Honda can retain enough of the Urban EV concept’s retro yet simultaneously futuristic styling, and deliver on the range and performance figures (not yet released), the Urban EV could kickstart their EV range in spectacular style when in goes on sale in 2019.
Audi R8 RWS
‘That time Audi built a rear-wheel drive sports car’. Will Frankfurt 2017 mark a sea change in the direction of future fast Audis, or in time simply be seen as a blip in the history of the company and its relationship with four-wheel drive. Either way, the prospect of a rear-drive R8 sounds is one to relish.
Seat Leon Cupra R
When word first came through that there might be a more expensive Leon at Frankfurt with bronze detailing, more than a few eyebrows were raised in the office. However, the more we learn about the engineering changes under the R’s widened ‘shell, the more interesting it sounds. New suspension geometry, new steering rack, stiffer engine mounts...suddenly it appears Seat Sport may well have built a serious Civic Type R challenger.