Three manufacturers reveal three similar new SUVs at Frankfurt
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SUVs and electric cars are the two key themes behind this year's Frankfurt Motor Show (with a light sprinkling of 'purist' sports cars, too). So it's no surprise that a bevy of different SUVs have headlined the latest wave of announcements as the show prepares to kick into top gear.
Three of them all came at once overnight; revised variants of the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz II concept, Skoda Vision E concept, and the Audi Elaine concept (a retooled chop and swap of the E-Tron Sportback concept). All three SUVs are products of the Volkswagen Group stable, and all are based on Volkswagen Group's new MEB architecture.
In the red corner comes the weirdly named but decidedly production-ready looking I.D. Crozz II. We got our first look at this concept in April, when it was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show. Only this time, Volkswagen toned it down a little from the sci-fi Shanghai concept.
For a start, the car sports wheels that don't look like a work of fantasy (they're still 21-inch behemoths, mind you), and some of those harsh and aggressive edges have been softened. However, most of the design remains the same. That goes for the interior too, which still comes with a monstrous panoramic sun roof, four bucket seats, 10.2-inch infotainment screen, and minimalist styling throughout.
The power source and figures are the same too. Dual electric motors produce 225kW and a top speed of 180km/h — as per the original concept. Really then, the I.D. Crozz II is a more production-orientated version of Crozz I. Encouraging signs in other words, for those who want to see this join the Volkswagen range unchanged when the production version is launched in 2020.
Then there's Skoda's new Vision E concept, and straight off the bat it comes across as the most production-ready of the group. This comes mainly off the back of some drastic changes to its body shape since it broke cover in late March.
The main change are guards, which cut a much more subtle silhouette around the car's four wheels. Along with that the front bumper has been re-profiled, and the car now wears some fetching turbine wheels. The mustardish yellow from the first concept remains.
For Skoda, this car is a big deal. It's the Czech manufacturer's first fully electric machine, with the same powertrain as the aforementioned Crozz II under the skin also developing 225kW and a top speed of 180km/h.
The key difference between the Skoda and the VW is that the former hasn't been confirmed as part of the manufacturer's production plans — though they have outlined a goal of having five fully electric cars in their range by 2025. And, they'd be silly not to include the Vision E in those plans...
The last, and perhaps most curious of the trio, is the Audi Elaine concept — the next phase following on from the E-Tron Sportback that Audi revealed in April.
The Volkswagen and Skoda both contain level 3 autonomy (meaning, they can speed up, slow down, find parking spaces and park, communicate with other road users, and so on). The Audi though is level 4, which means a much more sophisticated mix of technology that, in short, makes the car much more independent of the driver.
This is achieved through innovations such as Audi's new Highway Pilot system, and the Personal Intelligent Assistant technology (the car's artificial intelligence). There's also technology like Audi Fit Driver in the mix, which will be able to measure the driver's body temperature and heart rate among other things through a wearable wristband. If the car thinks you're not in the best shape, the car will reflect that in its behaviour. Both neat, and a little bit freaky...
The Audi's also more powerful than the Crozz and Vision. With a fully electric three-motor set-up, it creates 370kW and a top speed of 210km/h, while not harming range (still in the ballpark of 500km per charge).
The other difference is where the Elaine fits in with the E-Tron Sportback, which is already heading into production in 2019. Of the trio, it's the most advanced and ambitious — something that reflect's Audi's position as one of Volkswagen Group's benchmark brands.
Regardless of how you feel about SUVs or electric cars, you've got to admit that the speed at which this technology is moving (no pun intended) is an incredible thing.