Our editors have been plenty busy scouring the show floor of the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show -- but in between running to and from press conferences and battling spotty Wi-Fi connections, they picked their three favorite concept and production cars at the show.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
I'm a sucker for anything that Ian Callum has designed for Jaguar, and this C-X16 concept is no different. Although there are definite traces of the XK family in this car, it is far more aggressive and more modern than other members of the Jaguar lineup. Every curve, angle, and detail draws my attention each time I ogle this concept. Even if the supercharged V-6 hybrid powertrain doesn't make production, I'm really looking forward to seeing -- and driving -- a production Jaguar based on the C-X16.
The styling on this car is totally wild and out there, as is the drivetrain, but the Evos does preview the future of Ford styling. Mixed in with the show-car-only butterfly doors, squinty lights, and bucket seats are hints at the evolution of the One Ford design language. My take is that Ford will continue to build edgy, attractive vehicles that manage to look interesting, even if they don't break the mold. The Ford Evos really looks pretty good, even if it's one of the wilder concepts on show in Frankfurt.
Opel RAK e
The two-seat RAK e electric car is in many ways similar to Audi's Urban concepts, but I like the Opel more. For some reason, the race car-like styling and jet-fighter canopy really draw me to the RAK e. It appears to be the simplest expression yet of the "sustainable urban mobility" that every manufacturer at Frankfurt seems to be promoting. The car is incredibly affordable, costing just one euro to drive 62 miles, and can even be legally driven by 16- and 17-year-olds in Europe.
Ford Focus ST
I've been excited about this car ever since it was first shown as a concept in Paris. The aggressive styling really accentuates the punchy, dynamic lines of the 2012 Ford Focus hatchback. And with a 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and six-speed manual transmission, the ST is sure to be a blast.
It may seem a strange choice, but the small Up! is one of my favorite new production models here. The packaging manages to maintain the upscale, premium feel of Volkswagen's larger offerings, all while cramming everything into a compact shape. VW also showed off several concept Up! variants, including a compact crossover and an open-top dune buggy. If the future means we'll all be driving smaller, super-efficient cars, the Up! is the one I'd want in my garage.
Ferrari 458 Spider
The noise of the 458 Italia is seductive already, so when packaged into a top-down vehicle that lets you better savor exhaust blats, the draw is incredible. I think the Ferrari 458 Spider is more attractive than is coupe brother. The way the roof swivels out of the way in just 14 seconds is super cool. And of course, it's still a Ferrari. If I had to pick just one vehicle to take home from the Frankfurt show, it might just be this Ferrari convertible.