Concept cars, they're expensive to build, but are now an almost expected part of motor show stands and 2011 gave us an excellent selection.
Some preview new models; others showcase new technology or new ideas. Either way, all are desireable ways to look into the future.
We've put together our favourites from the year and the models we would love to see taken a step further by their owners.
The coolest concept cars of 2011
The coolest concept cars of 2011
With a body made of carbon-fibre, a composite chassis, seductive styling, a 1.75-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 250bhp and an expected price of £38,000 the 4C has got to be a hit. Let's hope that the production car drives as good as it looks.
Designed to test out new styling ideas, small car packaging, ultra-lightweight construction and driveline efficiency these two Audi's look more like modern day versions of the Messerschmitt Kabinenroller. Underneath, they both sharea common central carbon fibre monocoque tub and race car-style pushrod suspension that supports the outboard 21-inch wheels.
Set to be a production reality and on sale in the UK by 2013, the BMW i8 will be an alternatively-powered range-topper. A dramatic departure for the brand, one of the highlights besides the swoopy looks and the gull-wing doors has to be the performance. Despite being a plug-in hybrid, it has an impressive 349bhp, a sub five-second 0-60mph time and yet is still capable of 104mpg.
The Tubik concept is a nine-seater MPV that takes its styling influence from the company's classic Type H van that started life in the 1930s. At 4.8m long, it's as big as a Volkswagen Caravelle, but the Tubik seats nine with lots of high-tech equipment that creates a so-called lounge environment in the back.
Just when you thought that Fiat had taken the 500 as far as it could go, the Italian company surprised us with this neatly executed coupe version by the Zagato design studio. Design highlights include the typical Zagato double bubble roof and curvier rear styling.
Okay, so it's not the next Capri, but what it does do is preview future Ford design. Ford's Kinetic design language, first seen on the 2005 Iosis has run its course and the Evos previews 'Kinetic 2.0' - a more premium and technical version of Kinetic design. Design highlights include the Gullwing doors, short overhangs and the rear styling which features a high-set light strip that runs right across with slim lights like the front. The Evos's plug-in hybrid drivetrain is also a devlopment of the one that will be in the forthcoming Ford C-Max Energi.
The concept car attracted the most attention at the Frankfurt show this year, so the production version is likely to attract the same attention. Beautiful, quick and likely to give the Porsche Cayman a run for its money; the C-X16 is fitted with a Formula 1 style boost button on the steering wheel, giving an extra 94bhp for up to ten seconds.
This year's Frankfurt Motor Show was a good one for Land Rover, as it showcased two Defender concepts. Designed to show the possible future design direction of the brands most rugged and iconic vehicle; the DC100 looks to be more production ready of the two, with the Sport version majoring on 'freedom and leisure'. Described as concepts for now, I hope that like the Range Rover Evoque, they make it to production relatively unchanged.
MINI went back to its 'miniture' roots this year, after the controversially large Countryman and Paceman concept with the Rocketman concept. It might have a stupid name, but there was nothing silly about the new baby MINI with it's lightweight carbon spaceframe construction, clever 3+1 seating and neat design touches such as the double-hinged doors. Come on MINI, please build it!
Apparently a SEAT crossover is on the way, but it's uncertain as to whether it will look anything like the neat IBx that was shown at the Geneva Motor Show back in March. If some form of IBx makes production, expect it to be powered by direct injection diesel and petrol engines with a hybrid drivetrain. We shall watch with interest.