As you may have guessed from our coverage this week, the Frankfurt motor show is currently in full swing. As one of the most important events in the motor industry calendar, it is the place at which the majority of car manufacturers choose to unveil their new hardware.
This year has been no exception, with a wide range of stunning concept cars and production-ready models being shown off. The AOL Cars team is on the ground covering events, and to guide you through the best the show has to offer, we've shortlisted the ten most important cars that have made their debut.
Ford Vignale Concept
The svelte Vignale Concept signals a fresh statement of intent from the Blue Oval, with the brand looking to encroach on the territory of the premium German brands by offering plusher versions of current models. The first car to be offered in this new exclusive trim level will be the next generation Mondeo in 2015, and customers will benefit from preferential treatment at showrooms, including a dedicated contact and concierge services.
Audi Nanuk Concept
Not content with proving the benefits of diesel by winning Le Mans no less than five times with a TDI engined racer, Audi has now fitted its latest supercar concept with an oil-burner. A joint collaboration with Italdesign Giugiaro, the Nanuk concept uses a 5.0-litre V10 diesel motor that endows it with supercar pace, but also returns 36mpg fuel economy. No word on a production version yet, but given that Audi's last diesel supercar – the R8 Le Mans Concept – was canned, it's not looking promising.
A more down to earth, but no less exciting addition to the show, the Mazda 3 stands proud amongst the wacky concept cars with its confident, distinctly Japanese styling; a pleasing alternative to the familiar Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Laden with kit, including Mazda's efficiency-minded SKYACTIV tech, the 3 will be the company's first ever car with smartphone based Internet connectivity. It's likely to be reliable too – Mazda drove the cars at the show from its factory in Hiroshima, through the length of Russia, without (much) incident.
Click play to watch footage of the Mazda 3 from the Frankfurt show (with thanks to Motors.co.uk)
Peugeot 308 R Concept
Peugeot seems to have got its confidence back. Fresh from proving to the world that they hadn't dropped the ball with the 208 GTI hot hatch, the company is now turning its attention to the bigger 308, with the aim of chasing down powerful rivals the Ford Focus ST and RenaultSport Megane. It's powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine developing a credible 270bhp – more than enough firepower to compete in this class. Officially this is just a teaser, but expect a customer version to reach showrooms in 2014.
Audi A3 Cabriolet
British drivers (mostly) love Audis. We also inexplicably buy more convertibles than any other European country, so we're pretty sure the new A3 Cabriolet will walk out of showrooms when it arrives here next March. With such a winning formula, you can't blame for Audi for playing it safe with this new model. The engines are slightly more powerful and economical, the cabin is more refined and the new acoustically tuned fabric roof can be raised and lowered in just 18 seconds. Order books open in October.
Mercedes S-Class Coupe Concept
Long sold under the 'CL' badge, Mercedes has now decided to include its flagship two-door coupe as part of the new S-Class range. Expect some of the more exaggerated styling features to be toned down for the final version, but the rakish profile and menacing front-end styling are likely to remain. As with its saloon sibling, it will feature cutting edge technology and an interior environment up there with the best Bentley and Rolls-Royce have to offer. The concept's shape also hints at the possibility of a convertible S-Class for the first time, something which has been a long rumoured addition to the line-up.
Range Rover Hybrid
Yes, an eco Range Rover. It might sound like an oxymoron but the Gaydon-based marque is taking its new battery assisted model very seriously. It offers credible efficiency benefits over the standard 3.0-litre V6 diesel model on which it is based, managing 44.1mpg and emitting just 169g/km of CO2. It will also run silently on batteries alone, but only for a mile at a time. Deliveries begin early in 2014.
BMW's long awaited foray into battery-electric motoring hasn't disappointed. The production i8 looks every bit as stunning as the futuristic concept version and its incredible drivetrain hasn't been toned down either. It's powered by a 1.5-litre (yes, you read that correctly) four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to an electric motor for a combined power output of 357bhp. That's enough for a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds. Who said electric cars couldn't be exciting?
Kia Niro Concept
Kia has bucked its reputation as a provider of cheap and cheerful cars, largely thanks to improved quality and bold designs across its range. The newly unveiled Niro Concept continues this theme, showcasing the talents of designers at the company's Frankfurt studio. The Niro has been designed very much with European tastes in mind, though Kia is playing its cards very close to its chest with regards to any possible production model.
Jaguar C-X17 Concept
One of the most eagerly anticipated cars of the Frankfurt show, the C-X17 sees Jaguar breaking new ground, being the first high-riding 4x4 in its history. Not wanting to compete with the talented off-roaders from sister company Land Rover, Jaguar revealed to AOL cars that it will be much more biased towards sporty on-road dynamics. If the rest of the model range – particularly the fabulous F-Type roadster – is anything to go by, the C-X17 will be more than a match for its most driver focussed rivals the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5.