Top 10 most innovative new cars at the 2013 IAA Motor Show

Smart Forjoy concept IAA motor showAt we love new car trends, advanced technology and marketing strategies that break boundaries. When a new car is introduced we look with a sharp eye what the manufacturers are doing. There is no better opportunity to see car brands battle it out than at an international motor show. That is why we went to the 2013 IAA 2013 Motor Show to check out the most innovative cars at display there. We will count down the top 10 most innovative new cars at the IAA, from 10 to 1.

10) Smart For joy

Smart Forjoy concept IAA motor showThe Smart For joy is an exotic preview to the new Smart two and four door cars that will be revealed next year. The car is electric-drive-only, with a 55kW motor powering the rear wheels.  The front seats and rear bench, with an “organic, sculptural shape” are claimed to be modeled off modern lounge furniture, while the dashboard design rips Smart into the twenty-first century with a sweeping concave design and two integrated iPhone docking stages. Two longboards for short distance inner-city travel are integrated in the roof. The helmets can be stored in dedicated enclosures in the trunk.


9) Ex aequo Opel Monza and Volvo coupé

Volvo concept sport coupe

Both are said to be design studies that hint the future design language of both Opel and Volvo. Opel Monza name dates back to eighties when the Monza was a coupe version of the Opel Senator. This Monza design study, however, has little in common with the Monza of the eighties. The engine is also a hint towards what General Motors might have in stock for its future production cars. The Monza Concept is an electric vehicle with a range-extending engine of  1.0-liter. Three-cylinders running on  natural gas.

The Volvo Concept  Coupé takes design cues from the classic P1800 – shown in the back. The concept shows off a new design direction for the Scandinavian automaker. Similar to the Monza the Concept Coupe features a hybrid drivetrain. It also marks the introduction of Volvo’s a new infotainment interface.

Opel Monza 2013

8) Peugeot 308

Peugeot 308R

The all new Peugeot 308 is the only non-electric car that made it to our list. Designwise this French Golf-beater is good looking but not spectacular. For its high spec R version, shown here in the photo, they even created a two tone color body to give it some extra zest. The type of design was first shown by Peugeot in the spring of 2013 on its Onyx concept sports car. Whether or not you like it, is a matter of taste, but it certainly is different.

The 308 scores its points when it comes to the interior. The car has a small steering wheel with the gauges above it and a larger display centrally in the dashboard. This results in a unique driving position. It’s something Peugeot is calling “i-cockpit”. The central screen gives control over regular items, such as climate and navigation. The system can be extended with apps from the Peugeot market.  Weather info, gasoline prices and hotel information and reservation by Some of the items are obviously not new to cars, but the combined package is innovative for a mid-range priced family hatchback.

Peugeot 308 interior with i-cockpit Peugeot 308 R i-cockpit Peugeot 308





7) Audi Quattro Concept

Audi Sport Quattro concept car

The Audi Sport Quattro concept car is a plug-in hybrid with an output of 515 kW (700 hp). It is presented as a successor to the legendary Quattro sports and rally car from thirty years ago. The “Ur-Quattro” has many racing victories under its belt in the world rally championship and won the 1987 Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.

Today’s Quattro is powered by  a four-liter, twin-turbo V8 in combination with a 110 kW. Nm electric disc motor. The V8 has a cylinder on demand (COD) system, which deactivates four cylinders under part load, and a start-stop system makes the unit very efficient. The Quattro concept can cover up to 50 kilometers on electric power alone.

6) Mercedes-Benz S class coupe – Intelligent drive – S 500 Plug-in hybrid

Concept S-Class Coupé

Mercedes-Benz shows a trilogy at the IAA with its concept for the S class coupe, plug in hybrid technology and intelligent drive.  The Concept S-Class Coupé provides concrete vision of the next model generation of the top of the line Mercedes-Benz. Whatever you think of this design, it makes an impression, that is for sure.  The technology inside is even more stunning. Mercedes-Benz is taking serious steps towards an autonomous driving car.  The system is named “Intelligent Drive”.  Two “camera eyes”  can get a three-dimensional view of the area up to about 50 meters in front of the car and can detect the position and movement of objects.  It monitors the surroundings ahead of the vehicle over a range of up to 500 meters. These data are combined with the data from the radar and ultrasound sensors. A multitude of assistance systems monitors the surrounding traffic for the driver. This helps to reduce the burden on the driver and other road users are also protected.

When it comes to the engines the car will most likely be offered with the engines as they are known in the S 500 limousine. In that car Mercedes-Benz now offers a plug in hybrid system. The S 500 has a 80-kW electric motor and a externally rechargeable battery, which makes emission-free driving for about 30 km possible.  The system itself is not that remarkable, but the application in a high end luxury sedan sets new standards with regards to efficiency for the segment as a whole.

Concept S-Class Coupé





5) Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron combines sporty power with efficiency. Its drive system combines a 110 kW (10 hp) 1.4 TFSI engine and a 75 kW electric motor. Total system power is 150 kW (204 hp). ­ This five-door electric A3  will be available to purchase from spring 2014. The car may not seem as sophisticated and innovative as its brother, the Audi  Quattro, at position 7 in this list. The A3 e-tron collects its merits in the category everyday practicality and expected sales volume. With the price in Germany announced around 37,000 euros, the success of car will be huge in countries, where the taxation of a car is based upon CO2 emission or in countries where low-emission vehicles qualify for tax deduction.

 4) Volkswagen e-up! / e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf

On no. 4 we find another ex aequo and they are two high-volume production models:  It is the duo e-up! and e-Golf from Volkswagen. The e-Golf is powered by a 113-horsepower motor and has a 24.2-kWh battery, 190 km driving range and LED headlights as standard.

Both the e-Golf and e-up! Set benchmarks for electric efficiency, says Volkswagen.  With the e-up! You can drive 100 km for €3, with the e-Golf the same trip would cost around € 3.30. Everyday practicality is again the keyword here.

Volkswagen e-up! DSC_1578 Volkswagen e-Golf engine





3) Porsche 918 Spyder Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche has debuted the long-awaited production model of its 918 Spyder. Yes, this is not some overdesigned concept car, it is the production version. Ready to be yours, if you will pay almost € 800.000. This plug-in hybrid super sports car is designed to strike a balance between performance and efficiency, 887 HP, acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 340 km/h. The fuel consumption is miserly low with an estimated ECE cycle of 3 liters per 100 km. Porsche says, this car is their genetic blueprint for the future.

Porsche 918 Spyder e-hybrid Wheel and brake caliper Porsche 918 Spyder Porsche 918 Spyder





2) BMW i8
BMW i8 white

“A new generation sports car”, says BMW. The BMW i8 is a 2+2-seater,  lightweight and offers it driver the pleasure of emission-free driving on city roads and sports performance where it is possible. Its plug-in hybrid system consists of a turbocharged 1,5 l three-cylinder BMW turbo petrol engine, which develops 231 hp and drives the rear wheels of the BMW i8. The 131 hp electric drive sends its power to the front wheels and allows an all-electric range of up to 35 kilometers. Other brands such as Porsche with its 918 and Mc Laren with its P1 still rely on high cubic inch gasoline engines in combination with electric motors to create super car performance. BMW, for decades renowned for their straight six in line engines, has made the daring move to introduce a small three cylinder engine as the one of the power plants of their flagship in the i car line. It grants them the no.2 in our innovation top 10.

BMW i8 rear dark grey BMW i8 dark grey

Video of the unveiling of the BMW i8



1) BMW i3

BMW i3

The BMW i3 is the world’s first premium car conceived from the ground up to provide all-electric mobility. Its electric motor develops output of 125 kW/170. The BMW i3 weighs just 1,195 kilograms  and offers a range of 130 – 160 kilometers in everyday driving. This can be increased to a maximum of 300 kilometers if the two-cylinder range extender combustion engine that is available as an option. Although small in size, the ground up electric car design makes the interior space of the car roomy. Compared to for instance other plug hybrids in the same price range the i3 is definitely the roomier car. The roominess is accentuated by the absence of a center tunnel. Normally such a tunnel is found in conventional vehicles or in some other PHEV the battery packs are stored in that location. Opposing “coach” doors, the absence of B-pillars result in a high degree of spaciousness and freedom of movement inside the BMW i3. The controls in the interior breathe innovation as well. Both the instrument cluster and the iDrive operating system’s Control Display are freestanding.

The i3 is a connected car in every sense of the word as it is fitted with a SIM card as standard. The SIM module unlocks the BMW ConnectedDrive services: navigation specially tailored towards EV-driving, an Intelligent Emergency Call function, interaction with public transport and many other functionalities.

BMW claims it has already collected over a 100.000 test drive requests. If those are indeed converted to sales, no other car deserves it more than this one to be the no. 1 car in our innovation top 10 of the IAA 2013.

BMW i3 white DSC_1469 BMW i3 with charge station




We rated the cars on display at the 2013 IAA Motor Show on the following aspects:

1)      Is it concept or a final model ready for immediate production? Concept cars score less than final production models. A concept car for a show can have fictional specs. It is no secret brands show sometimes a car with an engine under the hood with the most briljant numbers, while in fact there is no engine at all in the car on display. The technology for a production ready model is a fact. That is how it will be shipped to the consumers.

2)      Technologically advanced? Cars with low CO2 emission, electric engines, new items, such as in-wheel engines, plug in hybrids, etc. score higher than when for instance conventional fossil fuel technology is applied.

3)      Electric? Car manufacturers seem to agree that electricity is the fuel of the future. Whether it comes from an outlet or from hydrogen. Electric, hydrogen  and plug in electric vehicles receive additional bonus points.

4)      Connected? A car can get extra points when it offers in car apps, assisted driving options or other new web based functionalities.

5)      Design ? Does the design reflect the innovative character of the car? Obviously in statement about design, there is a matter of taste involved. In this case however we tried to objectify it by adding points if the design reflects the new technology. For example the VW e-Golf is designwise more or less the same car as a VW Golf that runs on fossil fuel. The BMW i3 was from scratch created as an electric car. In his category the i3 scores higher than the e-Golf.

6)      Is it a mass production product or is it intended a small series niche product? If aimed at a mass market, the car receives an extra score.

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