Concepts cars are designed to impress and garner attention, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when a production model resembles its concept.
Automakers often use concept cars as a way to preview a future production model — it’s just too expensive to create something totally unrealistic that will never see the light of day. By taking concepts to auto shows worldwide, automakers gauge the public’s reaction and use the feedback to improve the product in hopes it will be a sales success when it hits dealerships.
What often happens, however, is that automakers unveil amazing-looking concepts and then when the production model debuts, it looks totally different and too toned down, which is a huge disappointment.
Here’s a list of 10 production cars that looked just like their concepts, no matter how outrageous they may have seemed when they first debuted.
10. Plymouth Prowler
The Plymouth Prowler concept made a surprising debut in 1993, serving as a retro-futuristic hot rod and making many wonder if Chrysler would actually pull the trigger and produce it. Well, the American automaker did and four years later, it was produced alongside the Dodge Viper in 1997. The wild-looking Prowler still has a cult following and although its production ended in 2002, the company really stuck to the concept and made only subtle changes for the production model.
9. Ford Atlas Concept / F-150
As the best-selling vehicle in America, Ford took a gamble with overhauling its popular F-Series pickup truck. The company previewed its new F-150 with the Atlas Concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, which had a bold design and was a big departure from the traditional F-Series styling. When the production F-150 arrived, it looked a lot like the concept while shedding weight, thanks to the use of aluminum.
8. Toyota C-HR
Toyota previewed a wild crossover with the funky-looking C-HR Concept, and although the production model toned down a few of the styling elements, the overall shape and design lived on. Originally planned to head to the U.S. market as a Scion model, Toyota has since killed off the brand, meaning the new compact crossover will be sold under the Toyota name in the U.S.
7. Honda Civic Hatchback
It’s been a long time coming, but the Honda Civic hatchback is returning to the U.S. and enthusiasts are quite excited. The Japanese automaker previewed the model with a concept at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and, surprisingly, Honda kept its aggressive front end intact for the production model that recently enjoyed a public appearance at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Honda also previewed the next Civic Type R in Paris, and hopefully that production version sticks to the concept as well.
6. Infiniti Q60
Infiniti has been on a roll lately, debuting attractive concepts one after another. The Japanese luxury automaker previewed the new Q60 coupe with a stunning concept at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The design got toned down a notch for the production model, but for the most part, it carries over the design and styling previewed by the concept. For years, the G35 and G37 coupe models have been popular with entry-level luxury buyers and it appears the Q60 will continue that tradition for years to come.
5. BMW i8
The BMW i8 was actually first previewed by the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, and even then, the concept closely resembled the BMW i8 we know today. But before that production model headed to dealerships, the German automaker showed off the BMW i8 Concept that served as a more accurate representation of what it intended to do for a hybrid sports car. Futuristic from bumper to bumper, many were surprised to see so much of the concept in the production car.
4. Audi Le Mans Quattro Concept / R8
The Audi Le Mans Quattro Concept that debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show went on to become the Audi R8, which was named after the very successful Audi R8 LMP race car. At the time of its debut, the Le Mans Quattro Concept wowed the media and automotive enthusiasts, and the German automaker surprisingly changed very little of the concept supercar’s design for the production model. The Audi R8 has gone on to be a successful halo sports car for the brand, with the second-generation getting improvements bumper to bumper.
3. Jaguar C-X16 Concept / F-Type
Originally debuting as a hybrid sports car at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Jaguar C-X16 Concept headed to production as the F-Type sans electrification. The attractive coupe also has a convertible variant, as well as high-performance models like the F-Type SVR, which has a supercharged V8 engine with 575 horsepower.
2. Lexus LF-LC / LC500
Lexus rolled out the jaw-dropping LF-LC Concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show but disappointed the crowd by saying that it will never be produced. Well, here’s a solid reason why we should take statements like that with a grain of salt. At the time, the company said the LF-LC previewed the “third phase of Lexus,” where the brand would add in the emotion and passion that has been lacking for much of its history. The goal of the LF-LC Concept was to preview design elements that would eventually end up on various Lexus models throughout the automaker’s lineup. But the company must have gotten so much positive feedback about the coupe’s design that it decided to green light it for production. As a result, the Lexus LC500 debuted at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show four years later as a production car.
1. Acura NSX
Like the Lexus LF-LC Concept, the Acura NSX Concept debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show and set the automotive market on fire. Following its debut, the Japanese automaker went on a marketing blitz, having the car appear in The Avengers and in a Super Bowl advertisement with Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. The car went on to be featured in Gran Turismo 6 before the production model was finally shown at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. After numerous delays, the NSX finally arrived with the production vehicle looking just like the concept car.
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