The 2012 Paris Motor Show featured several auto makers flexing their design muscles on both production and concept vehicles. Here are our seven favorite models representing the best of imaginative European design.
A true concept car—one created to inspire and provoke conversation, and not likely to see a production line anytime soon—Peugeot's Onyx is made from copper, carbon fiber and recycled newspapers. The Onyx is imagined as a lightweight, hybrid supercar with a 3.7 liter V8 engine that doles out an impressive 600 horsepower.
Peugeot went beyond the automobile for its concept vehicles, also including three two-wheeled explorations. The eDL 132 is powered by a hidden battery and is modeled after classic urban commuters while the eDL 122 is a compact city bike complete with a briefcase cargo hold and front wheel-mounted electric motor. A sister design to the Onyx, Peugeot also presented the Onyx bicycle concept, which ditches motors altogether for a velodrome-ready racing bike.
Built around a "monocage"—McLaren's term for a carbon fiber monocoque and safety cage—the small and lightweight McLaren P1 is an unsuspecting supercar. Fans of Formula 1 will undoubtedly be familiar the prestigious McLaren racing team as well as the 20 year-old F1 design that is the predecessor to the P1. A rear wing lifts from the slippery body and can be pitched to adjust aerodynamics, apply downforce and act as an airbrake. McLaren plans to manufacture a production version of the P1 in 2013.
Eight by Orange
Partnering with the Espera Sbarro Montbéliard School of Design, European phone company Orange presented the Eight at this year's show. Built in a mere eight weeks and powered by a Maserati 360 horsepower V8 engine, the Eight is mainly an experiment in telecommunication. An Apple iPad is used in place of the traditional console, and also appears in the dash in the passenger seat to keep your co-pilot entertained. The car is equipped with wireless charging as well navigation, media and car maintenance apps powered by Orange.
Citroën arguably does retro-futurism better than any other manufacturer out there, and they certainly didn't disappoint with the Tubik concept van. A nine-seater passenger vehicle, the Tubik turns heads with a pair of massive gullwing doors—one of which runs the full length of the body. The front cabin is tube-shaped and features a rear-facing passenger seat. Other quirks include a gaping purple grill and a group of small side windows that have been stylishly cut out of the side panel.
Citröen Numero 9
First seen earlier this year at the Beijing Auto Show, Citröen's Numero 9 made its European debut with its elongated shooting brake design and mesmerizing aubergine color. Seated alongside the brand's other models, and those of other French brands, the concept hammered home yet again why we love going to Paris: The French automotive design aesthetic is avant garde and always makes a statement. The Numero 9 has been well received and is rumored to be on its way into production.
Audi Crosslane Coupé
Audi opted to tell a design story through materials in the Crosslane Coupé. Their "Multimaterial Space Frame" is constructed from aluminum, carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass fiber-reinforced polymer. In some ways consistent with Audi's current trajectory—single frame grill, stylized LED lights—the Crosslane Coupé is also a departure to a more aggressive, blockier body that ditches the company's curvilinear past.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
In a promising aesthetic direction for the current Panamera, Porsche's Panamera Sport Turismo's elongated roofline, blade-like head and sliver tail lights will turn any Panamera hater into a fan. The plug-in hybrid's interior takes a bold step with an oversized TFT color display in the console, and monitors on either side of the navigation screen show a video feed from rear-facing cameras.
Images by Evan Orensten