(Pocket-lint) - The Frankfurt Auto Show is Europe's biggest car show — quite literally, as we already have sores on our feet from the 12 miles walked on day one.
Despite a series of high-profile absentees in 2017 — there's no Volvo, Peugeot, Fiat, Alfa, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce… the list goes on — this year Frankfurt feels different.
Lots of big names might be missing, but those that are still there — notably the German brands, on home turf — are putting on a true spectacular. We can't remember the last time that Audi, BMW and Mercedes turned up with so many new cars and concepts at one event.
But it's part of a concerted effort to show the customer — and Silicon Valley, of course — it doesn't intend to have its world eaten up by new contenders. Or, indeed, that it's not going to be caught asleep on the job when it comes to electric-mobility and autonomous driving technologies.
So, yes, there might be many concepts which seem fanciful, but they each tell a story of a future that's a tech-lovers dream. Everything is becoming electric, highly-connected and able to drive itself.
Signs are that such electric-autonomous futures might still come packaged in an SUV body style — beyond the bonkers-looking super-future visions and concepts, the design of choice is still the SUV crossover, which shows no signs of slowing down its domination with the buying public.
Audi's new concept takes up the same space as an A8L of today, but is a Level 5 — i.e. fully autonomous — car without steering wheels or pedals. It comes with a virtual assistant and lie-flat style seats. But the coolest thing is the eye-tracking selection of the interface.
Honda Urban EV Concept
One of the sweetest cars of the show, unveiled right at the end of the first press day, the Urban EV concept signals Honda's intention to become fully electrified.
BMW i Vision Dynamics concept
The real surprise of the show, the i Vision Dynamics concept appears to fudge together the rumoured i5 and a future 3 Series-sized electric BMW saloon. Makes a beaver's tooth mouth out of the kidney grille - to problematic effect.
Mercedes Concept EQA
Previewing a future A-Class sized car, on Mercedes' new electric platform, the EQA looks a real disappointment. Eschewing the traditional Mercedes grille form, it felt generic and representative of the crisis German car makers find themselves in as they try to adapt to a new electro-mobility world.
Mercedes AMG Project One
Hyper cars are all the range (see Aston Martin Valkyrie, Porsche 918, LaFerrari) and with the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team continuing to do so well, it's hardly a surprise to see Mercedes cashing in with its own race car for the road.
BMW X7 iPerformance Concept
BMW describes the front of the X7 as having been designed to hog the attention. We can't help thinking it resembles a hog of another kind. Massive SUVs are never the prettiest, but this takes the, um, truffle. It will hopefully improve in production — because, yes, the X7 concept previews a 7-seat SUV that sits above the X5 in the BMW range.
Hard to photograph or understand, because Renault had hidden the concept in a house it built on its stand, the Symbioz is the company's vision for a future electric concept.
Can a Korean 5-door really stake a claim for most beautiful car at the show? We reckon it can. This long fastback-meets-wagon concept previews the next Kia Ceed. If it looks even fifty per cent as good as this, Kia will have a winner on its hands.
Bugatti brought along a new Chiron, which has just broken the world record for an acceleration run of 0-249-0mph. It took it just 42 seconds to do those numbers. The mind boggles.
VW ID Crozz
An updated version of the car seen in Shanghai, VW's ID Crozz is a high-riding cross-over that's fully electric.
Launched a couple of weeks prior to the show, Frankfurt was our first chance to see the T-Roc, VW's new small SUV — it's Polo-based, but packed with new technologies and we reckon is better looking than its cousin, the Audi Q2.
BMW Concept Z4
Shown earlier in the summer at the Pebble Beach Concours, the Z4 previews BMW's forthcoming small roadster. Co-developed with Toyota — there'll be an equivalent wearing a T-badge — it goes back to a canvas hood, and hopefully will keep a 6-cylinder engine (or at least as an option).
Mini Electric concept
The Mini Electric concept isn't the company's first electrified car — remember the prototype Mini E? The Electric concept takes today's car, adds some electric details and ends up arguably worse off for it. Interesting wheels, eh?
Bentley Continental GT
The new Bentley actually shares its underpinnings with the Porsche Panamera — which is no bad thing, given how that car drives. Lighter, lither and longer than the car it replaces, the big deal is the interior, which sports a 3-sides Toblerone-shape centre section that can spin between screen, dials and clean dashboard panel.
The Cayenne follows the recent Porsche approach of looking a little lighter, more athletic and less bulbous than the car it is replacing. But otherwise it's pretty much the same as before. There'll be a V8-powered turbo version, alongside E-hybrids and the diesel that most of Europe will still buy. Inside, it's got the same giant 12-inch touchscreen as its brother, the Porsche Panamera.
The E-Pace was revealed earlier in the summer, but Frankfurt is our first chance to see it among peers. Jag's baby SUV takes the aesthetics of the F-Type and stretches them (pretty convincingly) onto a small SUV that will compete with cars like the Audi Q3.
Seat's small SUV shares much with Skoda's Karoq and VW's T-Roc. Snazzy colours, a digital dashboard on upper models and the usual range of petrols and diesels.
Chery Compact SUV
With better-known names making way, Frankfurt was an opportunity for the emerging Chinese brands to show their progress. Chery is one of the Chinese leaders, and its Compact SUV previews a march into new market territories — like Western Europe.
Like its sister car, the Seat Arona, the Skoda Karoq is the company's small new SUV — one that shares a lot with the VW T-Roc.
The replacement for the ever popular, cheap and cheerful Duster looks very similar to the last car, but is noticeably higher quality and fitted with more tech and safety equipment. Expect it still to be the best value car in its class.