Conceptual stars and speedsters

Bobby Cheetham

THIS year's 65th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt was one to remember. It was the year that electric and hybrid vehicles were the stars. But the sports and concept cars are always the ones that draw the crowds, perhaps because these super-machines are the vehicles petrolheads aspire to, but many will never be able to afford.

Top of the list is the Ferrari 458 Speciale.

This is the fastest sports car Ferrari has produced so far with the most powerful V-8 engine ever, which will rocket the car to 100km/h in a neck-snapping three seconds, reach 200km/h in 6.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 325km/h!

The price in Italy starts at ß238000 (about R3.1-million).

It was shown in Ferrari red, with a blue-and-white racing stripe that traces the hood, roof and back of the car.

Then there was Jeremy Clarkson's favourite car, the Bugatti Veyron. This year there were two models, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport to choose from, the cheaper aluminum-clad – for ß1.96-million (R25-million) – and a black carbon fibre model, the Jean Bugatti – for ß2.28-million (R30-million).

This, the world's fastest car, reaches 409km/h and is quicker than the Ferrari reaching the 100km/h sprint in just 2.6 seconds.

Power comes from a 16-cylinder engine which packs 895kW.

My personal favourite was the fantastic Porsche 918 Spyder.

The is Star Wars stuff, a plug-in hybrid equipped with a V8 (661kW) engine and two electric motors which should give one a staggering 3 litres per 100km fuel consumption figure claims Porsche.

The sprint to 100km/h is in the same league as the Bugatti reaching it in 2.8 seconds. Price is ß768026 (R10.1-million)

Last of the supercars, is the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse: This street version of the Super Trofeo racing machine has an aerodynamic rear spoiler and the same V-10 engine as the race car.

The magical 0 to 100km comes up in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 320km/h. Price is ß191100 (R2.5-million).

The good news for South Africa at the show was the new BMW i8, a sports car of the most contemporary variety – forward-looking, intelligent and innovative, which will be coming to our country next year.

The BMW i8 has a unique plug-in hybrid solution which brings together a combustion engine and an electric drive system to create an extraordinary driving experience complemented by extremely low fuel consumption and emissions.

Not to be outshone from Kia came the futuristic Niro concept, a B-segment contender which attracted many to the Korean car manufacturer's stand.

The car was designed at Kia's Frankfurt design studio – less than a kilometre away from the IAA – under the direction of Gregory Guillaume, chief designer in Europe.

Accepting any challenge that the assured modern motorist may throw at it, Niro combines a mischievous character in a clearly robust and substantial yet stylish body shape featuring a mix of contrasting materials – including stainless steel elements – in compact, purposeful dimensions.

Let's hope the concept soon becomes a production model!