Auto shows give an invaluable glimpse into the state of the automotive industry. Concepts, supercars, and dream machines dot the landscape, giving the public a rosy picture of where the industry stands and where it will take us into the future.
But sometimes, a few of these high-concept machines can stick out a little more than their contemporaries. Maybe its styling is just beyond avant-garde, or its angles are a bit more extreme than the others on the show floor. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, these cars manage to stick out just a bit more than the rank-and-file auto show fare.
At this year’s New York Auto Show, there weren’t many all-new, out-of-this-world concepts, but automakers were able to sneak in more than a few of their favorites to keep things that much more interesting. Even though some of these concepts are now a few years old, they each had an undeniable pull, whether they were attractive, memorable, or just plain weird — they certainly all had a presence.
Whether they’re headed for production or are just designer flights of fancy, here are five weird concept cars that really drew a crowd in New York.
5. Kia Soul’ster
Kia seems to revel in the offbeat reputation of its Soul crossover, and the brand brought a host of unique concepts to New York that showed just how versatile the Soul can really be. Originally named Concept Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009, the Soul’ster may be ancient for the auto show circuit, but its part Jeep Wrangler, part old-school roadster looks are still striking enough to attract a crowd.
4. Mercedes-Benz Metris Luxury Van
Its strange enough that a Mercedes-Benz is about to debut a sub-$30,000 minivan in the American market, but the Metris Luxury Van concept takes that strangeness to a whole other level. Up front, the interior is clad in vinyl and hard plastics. Out back, however, Mercedes installed a space worthy of the new Maybach.
The upright bench seats are replaced with two executive recliners that have heating, cooling, and massage functions, and the trunk has been replaced with two massive subwoofers, as well as a Mercedes-branded wicker picnic basket. Amid all this opulence, the van’s party piece is its massive 48-inch plasma screen separating the passengers from the driver. Tempting as it may be, don’t expect this screening room on wheels to hit showrooms anytime soon.
3. Honda FCV
Toyota may be the first to enter the hydrogen fuel cell market with the all-new Mirai sedan, but Honda isn’t willing to give up the segment without a fight. If the Mirai’s styling is polarizing, then the FCV is downright weird. Long, wide, and streamlined, the car looks like a 1950s version of future cars and seems to stretch on forever. While it’s still a concept, Honda insists the bulky FCV will reach U.S. showrooms sometime in late 2016. Hopefully, there will be enough hydrogen fueling stations for it to be worthwhile.
2. Toyota i-Road Concept
Tucked in a corner near a line of bland Camrys and Priuses stood Toyota’s 2013 i-Road concept. Envisioned by the company as “the future of urban transport,” the three-wheel, all-electric i-Road has a fully independent front suspension that allows it to lean rakishly into corners like a motorcycle. It may not be realistic and may not look like your average Toyota, but with its biomorphic styling and iridescent paint, it’s anything but boring.
1. Toyota FV2
Next to the i-Road stood the outrageous FV-2 concept. Looking like something out of Blade Runner, the FV2 is Toyota’s idea of a “fun to drive” car from the future. The FV2 originally debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, and, unsurprisingly, there are few performance details for the car. Its body is skinned in a material that transmits “illuminations,” or graphics that change in real time to show different colors and patterns, or “emotions,” as Toyota calls them. The FV2 may be purely a concept, but sitting in the middle of the Toyota stand, it was nearly enough to make most of the company’s lineup look obsolete.
This year’s New York Auto Show was packed with exciting new releases and concepts, but these outrageous machines still had an undeniable presence. Each car give insight into a company’s unfettered creative process, and even if they never see production, they’re each an interesting “What if?”