The 10 Coolest Cars of CES 2016
By Alex Colon, PC Magazine, 8 January 2016.
By Alex Colon, PC Magazine, 8 January 2016.
CES used to be all about gadgets, but this year, you can easily argue that cars stole the show. There were so many cool new concepts, technologies, and vehicles on display, that I’m almost wondering what’s left for the Detroit Auto Show next week.
Things started off with a bang, with the futuristic FFZERO1 from Faraday Future getting tons of buzz before the show floor even opened. Ford followed up strong, announcing partnerships with Amazon and DJI to bring home and drone control to future vehicles. The company also detailed plans to focus on autonomous vehicles, showing off its third-generation test cars, which use a brand new sensor from Velodyne.
Not to be outdone, Kia announced plans to release partially autonomous driving technologies to market by 2020, and a fully autonomous vehicle by 2030. And Volkswagen tried to distance itself from its recent troubles by introducing an all-electric concept van. That’s right: an electric VW bus.
There were plenty of cool technologies on display as well, like new user interfaces and dashboards. We even saw a smart steering wheel. But I’m focusing on the 10 best cars here, and every vehicle included here represents a significant step forward in design and/or technology.
Of course, many of these cars are concepts. But bits and pieces of the ideas and technology are sure to make their way into future vehicles. And with such a heavy focus on tech, it’s no wonder why these cars were some of the biggest talk of this year’s show.
1. Faraday Future FFZERO1
It’s already been said many times, but it bears repeating: The Faraday Future FFZERO1 is as close as we’ve come to a real-life Batmobile (or, more realistically, a real-life concept Batmobile). It’s a fully autonomous vehicle with a 1,000-horsepower engine and is controlled by your smartphone. Of all the concept cars on display at CES this year, this one seems least likely to actually hit the road as-is, but it’s also the one that looks the coolest to drive.
2. Ford GT
The Ford GT race car was named the official vehicle of CES 2016 ahead of the show, and it’s easy to see why. It serves as a technology showcase for the company’s EcoBoost engine, with sleek aerodynamics and a lightweight carbon fibre construction. It isn’t quite as heavy on the tech as many of the other cars at the show, but with a look like this, we’re not complaining.
3. Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Test Car
Also worthy of a place on this list is Ford’s new, third-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous test vehicle. The car uses Velodyne’s new Solid-State Hybrid Ultra Puck sensors (you can see them on the top), which provide precise information for detailed mapping and accurate real-time 3D models of the environment surrounding the car. Ford is putting 30 of these test cars on the road, which is more autonomous vehicles than any other automaker.
4. Kia Drive Wise Autonomous Vehicle
Speaking of autonomous vehicles, Kia’s new Drive Wise brand also has a test car. The car is focused on highway driving, with the ability to interpret lane markings and stay in its lane or switch lanes without input from the drive; urban autonomous driving for navigating through cities; as well as the ability to keep a safe distance from the car ahead.
5. 2017 Chevy Bolt EV
Not just another concept, the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV from GM is slated to go into production this year. It will offer 200 miles on a single charge, and cost around US$30,000 after government incentives. The battery is incorporated in the car’s chassis and mounted underneath the passenger cabin, so the floor is totally flat. The vehicle can seat up to five passengers, with 17 cubic feet of cargo space. But really, it’s the price and battery life that are key here. This is one of the long-range electric cars that people will actually be able to afford.
6. BMW i8 Spyder
Back to concept vehicles, another very cool car came in the form of the BMW i8 Spyder. The Spyder has a 21-inch display over most of the dashboard on the passenger side, and uses a new gesture control system called AirTouch, which lets you choose menu items simply by pointing at them. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see the Spyder itself hit the road, but AirTouch certainly sounds promising.
7. Volkswagen BUDD-e
In light of its recent troubles, Volkswagen is going back to its roots to remind people why they loved the brand in the first place. The BUDD-e is an all-electric concept van that harkens back to the original VW bus. The vehicle can get 233 miles on a charge, and Volkswagen is calling it “the first social vehicle” because passengers can share music, video, and other content from their mobile devices on a screen in the center dash.
8. Volkswagen e-Golf Touch
Volkswagen also showed off its e-Golf Touch prototype. It’s different from the regular Golf mostly due to its use of gesture controls. In addition, the center stack is home to a series of interactive tiles, which let you configure the infotainment controls to your liking. Of all the concepts on display this year, the e-Golf Touch definitely seems the closest to actually hitting the road in the near future.
9. Audi E-Tron Quattro
Audi’s E-Tron Quattro was already shown off back at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year, but we got to take a closer look at an updated model at CES. Expected to arrive in 2018, the Quattro should get 311 miles on a charge, and be able to reach 62mph in 4.6 seconds. Not bad for an electric SUV. It will also have autonomous driving features like Piloted Driving, which can be used on the highway.
10. Toyota FCV Plus
Easily the most interesting-looking vehicle on the show floor, the FCV Plus represents Toyota’s push for hydrogen power. The concept vehicle is capable of generating electricity directly from hydrogen, which could usher in a whole new wave of alternative fuel vehicles.
Top image: The Faraday Future FFZERO1. Credit: Faraday Future.
[Source: PC Magazine. Edited. Top image and some links added.]