x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

The Air Bag: Concept cars? It's time to get real

Every motor show sees more and more outlandish concept cars. And you know something? I've had enough of all this show and no-go.

Concept cars. Don't you just love 'em? Those (usually) four-wheeled teases that show just how creative manufacturers of even the most boring cars can be when they put their minds to it. Every motor show throughout every year sees more and more outlandish styling exercises. And you know something? I've had enough of all this show and no-go.

Just take a long, lingering look at the Ford Evos concept. It's stunning, yet it'll likely never make it to production. Instead, we will no doubt see echoes of some of its design cues in the next Mondeo, Fiesta and all the rest.

But can you imagine, if Ford actually went to the effort of building an affordable car for the masses that looked EXACTLY like the Evos, how many it would sell?

It would be the next Beetle. It would sell so spectacularly well that the motoring landscape would be changed forever.

But no. Ford will reject calls to build the Evos on the grounds that it would be commercially impossible to build a mass-produced model with such a complex design.

I understand that. But ditch the fancy door openings, give it a slightly more realistic (yet still futuristic) interior and, really, what's stopping them? Ford, sort it out - it's recession-proof.

And yet there's hope. Some models we see on the roads today did start life as pure styling concepts.

Peugeot's RCZ, Audi's R8 and the brand new Range Rover Evoque.

The public and media, understandably, went nuts for them and the respective manufacturers had no choice but to supply the demand.

They practically had their hands forced and every time I see one it brightens up my day. We need more.

But in case you're thinking that all cars start life as motor show conceptual design studies, you should be aware that's not the case.

Back in January 2007, for instance, Jaguar blew everyone away with the C-XF at the Detroit Motor Show.

I saw it a couple of months later in Geneva and was similarly gobsmacked. But when the actual XF was revealed much later that year I was entirely disappointed.

It was good looking all right, it just could have been more dramatic, had more visual impact. The production version should have looked like the "concept".

The truth of the matter is that the XF's styling had been approved and signed off at least two years before the C-XF broke cover.

The "concept" was the result of some of Jaguar's designers enjoying some free rein, away from the constraints of commercial sensibility.

They had some fun with it and it showed. And, surprise surprise, the XF's mid-life styling refresh has revealed some of the very design elements that made the C-XF so visually arresting.

Sticking with Jaguar for a moment, at least one genuine concept has been given the green light for production: the glorious C-X75.

But back to the Evos. It's obvious that Ford has no intention of building it, so this concept car will simply serve to garner a few headlines in the press before it's consigned to the history books as a "could have, should have" moment.

But perhaps, if the groundswell of public and critical opinion is sufficiently powerful, Ford will have to give us the next Beetle. I live in hope.