FAI 2016 – Festival Automobile International
The Festival Automobile International (aka FAI 2016) is organized every year in Paris in late January, under the Invalides dome (once the event is finished, RM Sotheby’s usually fills the spot for their Paris auction). The Festival Automobile International is also known as the “salon du concept car”, aka the “concept car motor show”. It is a pretty cool event with great partners that allows us to see very rare and exclusive cars, all the while staying very “small and welcoming” (no more than 30/40 cars present). To give you an idea, back in 2015, they brought the Ferrari F12 TRS, Aston Martin DP100 and many more rarities. The 2016 edition was no different, and it surely made sensation. The star of the show was without a doubt the unique Bugatti Vision GT (it was MY focus).
So I arrive early in the morning, the show will open for 2/3 hours for the press, before the public gets to see them. It’s raining massively, and I can’t wait to get inside. It’s always exciting when you’re there before the doors open, waiting, you can feel the excitement. However, when it’s raining, it’s immediately less fun. Good thing I had an umbrella, rain and glasses don’t usually mix well. So they finally open the doors, after a bit of controls, you’re in. And the fun can start. As with every event, I only cover what *really* interests me, which is why I will limit this small report to only a few cars here and there. I reckon this is my strength and personal touch: I will only show you what I felt you guys might like, what I liked. I don’t want to be too exhaustive, too long, too boring = straight to the point, straight to the facts, straight to the good stuff. Evidently, this sometimes leads to me forgetting a few things here & there, wishing I had focused a bit more on this or that. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right? 😀
The Bugatti Vision GT – FAI 2016
This very interesting concept car was designed by the french brand Bugatti for the Gran Turismo video game franchise. Therefore, though it has a working engine, it is in theory not meant to truly drive, neither for racing. And, if you’re a potential client and interesting in buying this? Well, I’m also positive Bugatti isn’t selling. As far as I know, they’ve only made one, blue with dark blue parts & carbon-fiber, and the purpose of the car will be to be showcased here and there (dealerships, events…).
From what I read on other websites (so always take with a pinch of salt), the car produces more or less 1600hp (1500 from thermic engine + 150 from electric engine), which is quite a lot, and is capable of achieving speeds as high as 450km/h, with a 0 to 100km/h in 2 seconds. That’s quite an unbelievable performance, if you ask me. But it can all make sense if you take into consideration this information: apparently, it is said that the Bugatti Vision GT has inspired the new Bugatti Chiron, which will be reveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor show (it will arrive sooner than we expect it). So this is the base, the drawing board for the new model. And when you know what Bugatti has in stock for the Chiron (as far as performance & specs go): everything is possible.
Well, I guess I kinda like it. The Veyron DNA is clearly present in this concept car, there’s no doubt about that. The lines of the car, though more agressive, more brutal, can’t hide the Veyron beneath, just like a Koenigsegg Agera ressembles a CCXR. So is Bugatti’s legacy of the horseshoe front grill, which I’ve always deeply loved and cherished as a cool little detail. So all in all, if this is what the Bugatti Chiron will look like, though slightly less racey? I’m game.
The BMW 3.0 CLS Hommage R – FAI 2016
Again, this was a pretty cool surprise. Though I had already seen this car at the Chantilly Concours d’Elegance (back in September 2015), it is a pleasure to see it again. The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R was built by BMW to pay hommage to the “old” BMW M3 3.0 CSL. The latter is one of the most iconic BMW cars for me, ever since I’ve filmed it during the Tour Auto. On another note, bear in mind this is probably the coolest livery for the famed BMW “art cars”, which was reproduced on the Hommage R. Though modernized, you can tell it’s the same livery, or at least the same idea, the same message.
Something cool we couldn’t do during the Chantilly Concours d’Elegance = take a look at the interior! And you’ll have to trust me on that (or watch the video, whatever): it’s absolutely magnificent. Modern to such an extent it becomes ridiculous. Carbon fiber everywhere, I’m finding minimalism rules modern interiors. The colour pattern of blue, white & red is repeated throughout the whole car (from the helmets, to the seatbelts, etc). There were a lot of nifty and good-looking digital screens in there as well, enough to make a tech guy wet. I’m not sure they’re touch-screens though. If you watched the video, you might’ve noticed the Laguna Seca race track pre-installed on the car’s computer and shown on part of the dashboard. God, I love concept cars. Again, according from what I’ve heard, the helmets are litterally *connected* to the car, and they give you all sorts of useful info THROUGH the protective glass (GPS, etc) when you’re driving. I think it’s safe to say augmented reality is already here.
The Mazda RX-Vision – FAI 2016
I’ve never known much about Mazdas. I mean obviously, I know the RX-7 and RX-8, but that’s pretty much it. I’ve never been very interested in Japanese car brands, despite a few very interesting models in the supercar & general car-culture areas of wisdom (like the Lexus LFA, Mitsuoka Orochi, Nissan GTR, Acura NSX…). However, when I’ve seen the first pictures of this car pop-up on social media, I was bluffed. And instantly seduced.
It doesn’t take me much to spark an interest in a car. There are so many elements that can play a role on your global feeling you get from a car. As petty as that might be, I find that colour is actually a very important criteria when meeting something new. And this sort of cherry red on the Mazda RX-Vision was simply stunning.
The looks of the car satisfy me plenty as well. Very sport with an incredibly long hood which doesn’t look out of place either. Beautiful set of wheels as far as I’m concerned. The front of the car is probably its greatest feature: I’ve always loved those MASSIVE front grills from concept cars which are clearly not designed with car plates in mind. From the 3/4 backview, it even reminds me of an SLS AMG. What a gorgeous car. And everyone there seemed to share my point of view, which was nice (though I don’t need anyone’s approval lol). And yet another thing I’ve heard: apparently, Mazda will actually BUILD this concept car. Though I’m sure some of its charm & cool features will be lost along the way to the final step of the production car.
The Porsche Mission-E – FAI 2016
The Porsche Mission-E was also present during the Festival Automobile International (FAI 2016). The Mission E is a fully electric concept car designed and built by the german manufacturer from Zuffenhausen. As far as I know, the Mission E is bound to be Tesla’s big rival in the upcoming years, when the battle for electric supremacy will take its toll. Indeed, with more than 600hp and 500km of autonomy in one charge. Considering the autonomy of electric car is BY FAR the biggest problem nowadays therefore the biggest priority to work on, it does sound very promising on paper, as I already said. I guess we’ll have to wait & see. The Mission E was built to demonstrate the prowess & new technologies of the brand, capable of building a 4-seater electric car (yes, 4 people can actually fit in there, though it is hard to believe).
The looks of the Mission E vaguely remind me of both the Panamera and the 918 spyder (and probably a bunch of other Porsche as well). On a side-note, I believe this is one of the first times we could see the interior of this promising concept car as well. And the interior looked very simple, too. Not too many shenanigans, it didn’t feel super luxurious nor your everyday car. It was just the right interior to me.
The Peugeot Fractal – FAI 2016
The Peugeot Fractal isn’t really a big surprise as far as I’m concerned. The car was displayed for about 3 months on the Peugeot dealership on the Champs-Elysées, and I had the opportunity to take a quick look (and I had seen it at other events). However, this is the first time I get up-close & personal with the car. And to be honest, I think it looks spectacular. And I’m not only saying this because it’s a french car (even if it helps). The interior is so cool, with a bunch of triangular shapes all around on the leather. Though there seems to be an incoherence of proportions when you go from the front to the back, it’s merely a mirage. The back-lights are very very impressive and cool with their light-show (let’s call it like that). Though I’m fairly certain that no production car will ever have those kind of things, at least not in the next 5 years (uh-oh, waiting for someone to prove me wrong)!
One of the coolest things that day was when the Peugeot Fractal started playing some music, very loud. At first I wondered what that was all about. And then a friend explained to me that the Peugeot Fractal’s interior was designed as a sound-proof room from the inside. Which means that most of the sound coming from the inside doesn’t get outside. Sound isolation is a pretty cool trick, though I don’t know if it’s the best idea in a car, where you need to master all of the external stimuli (even if the sound-proof goes only one-way). Well, that at least explains the triangular shapes all over the interior, doors, floors etc – kind of like in a recording studio.
Some of the other cars at FAI 2016
There also were many other cool concept cars. We had the Renault Alaskan, a big pick-up truck that feels very smooth and spotless, mainly due to the matte silver paint, and very modern design. You would expect a pick-up truck to be RAW. Whereas this looks like something out of i-Robot. But other than that, it looks pretty cool. I personnally never was very interested in pick-up trucks, but you have to admit they *do* look good and impressive, and furthermore, for some people they ARE very useful and efficient.
Ligier, the french car manufacturer, also had a pretty awesome full-black race car over there. Looked like something built for Le Mans, maybe LMP1 or LMP2, I wouldn’t know exactly. But it did look very good, that’s all I know. From what I gathered, the WHOLE car is built of carbon-fiber, making it much lighter. The full-black made it veery sinister, especially because there was a full-black wall right behind it. Almost like camouflage.
Other cars were an Aston Martin DBX. Yet another concept car from Aston Martin, some sort of SUV – didn’t look bad. Had massive wheels. Only two-doors though, a bit odd for what seemed like an SUV. Right next to it, the Mercedes-Benz “Concept IAA. The cool detail of this car where the windows = they had some sort of film on it, one-way and mirror effect on the outside. Neat. KTM also presented their new X-Bow, and it’s doorless = front windshield opens up from the front and you get inside over-stepping the sideskirts, like a pod (very much like the KTM X-Bow, though it’s much easier to get in now).
The Renault Talisman (which I voted for at the FAI 2016’s little game to chose the best one) won “best car” – it’s not really a concept too considering it’s already on the road. Just felt like mentioning it.