Fired Up for the Future

There have been plenty of vehicles, over the years, that have graced the silver screen as beacons of a technologically advanced future –– bastions of a dystopian society, secret weapons of superheroes. There’s the militarized, creature-like Batmobile that tore through the streets of Christopher Nolan’s Gotham; the $9 million Acura concept from The Avengers; the gadget-bedecked Mach Five driven by Emile Hirsch in the 2008 film Speed Racer. And who can forget the white Lotus Espirit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me, that sleek, finned submarine masquerading as a sportscar? 

We’re living in an exciting time for autophiles, because even the most cutting-edge, otherworldly concept vehicles these days are not entirely beyond the realm of possibility –– especially when you take into account the advances that have been made in electric vehicles. 

Below we take a look at three concept cars by the elite brands of the automotive world, ones that are catapulting luxury straight into the future. 

Aston Martin Lagonda Vision Concept 

The Aston Martin Lagonda concept made its debut at the Geneva Motors Show 2019. Lagonda has ambitiously set about to become the world’s first zero emission luxury brand, creating a high-performance vehicle that will also boast an emission-free powertrain and autonomous driving technologies. The company describes this “Vision Concept” as “a near future study that provides the first clues to the Lagonda models of the future.” 

While it may be shorter and lower than traditional limousines, radical design choices mean impressive efficiency of interior space, with plenty of room for four adults to truly stretch out in comfort. The cabin is lavish (designed in collaboration with David Linley, an English furnituremaker who also happens to be the 2nd 

Earl of Snowden), with modern materials like carbon fibre and ceramic tiles decadently complemented by British wools, silks, and cashmere. The most mind-boggling detail that will make it feel most like a limo is the fact that the vehicle anticipates level four autonomous driving, making it capable of navigating all routine circumstances on all recognizable roads. What this truly means is that the steering wheel can retract entirely, enabling front seat passengers to rotate their seats and engage with back seat passengers while the vehicle purrs its way to a given destination. 

Rolls-Royce 103EX Concept 

Rolls-Royce introduces the 103EX Concept with a quote from Sir Henry Royce himself, solidifying the fact that a company vision formed over a century ago is no less true today: “Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” 

The Rolls-Royce 103EX marks the luxury brand’s very first vision vehicle. It endeavours to represent the pinnacle of autonomous travel in a seriously sophisticated body –– the automotive equivalent of haute couture. The Spirit of Ecstasy, that prestigious ornamental sculpture that graces the hood of each Rolls-Royce vehicle, will be given a voice in the 103EX: Eleanor, the vehicle’s artificial intelligence companion. She will intuitively complement the driver’s personality as she guides the vehicle along its journey. 

Rolls-Royce promises a highly bespoke experience in the 103EX, with dimensions, form, space, and materials all customizable. Standard specs, however, include a roof canopy that opens entirely and a panoramic skylight. Those cloaked wheels create the illusion that the car moves independently of speed and time, transporting passengers through a different dimension before silently arriving at a destination. 

Audi AI: TRAIL 

This beast of an off-road vehicle concept debuted at the 2019 International Motor Show in Germany. Its body, shaped like a cut diamond and made entirely of glass, is modeled after the cabin of a helicopter; it is designed to provide passengers with panoramic views of the surrounding environment. Design Project Manager Oliver Keyerleber has described this design choice as a way to connect passengers with the outside world, whether that be deep forests or desert sandscapes, while keeping them protected from whatever dangers may be lurking in those environments. The colour, at least for this initial concept, is reminiscent of the Northern European wilderness. 

The Audi AI: TRAIL features the brand’s signature singleframe grille. This electric vehicle’s quattro drive –– a flagship for Audi –– makes it powerful enough for off-road, challenging terrain. The battery is situated on the underbelly of the vehicle, giving it a low centre of gravity. Various levels of autonomous driving will be possible on forest roads and paved streets, though when things get especially rough, the driver can take over and command the vehicle with some manual prowess. 

Two features make this concept vehicle stand out amongst the rest. One is the design of the interior. Its rear passenger seats are actually hanging chairs that function like hammocks and can be removed and brought along on hiking or camping excursions. Other evidence of this outdoors motif can be found in the grab handles, which are made from climbing rope, and the anti-bacterial armrests that have been coated in dirt-repellent. 

The most intriguing feature, however, is undeniably the fact that this Audi concept has replaced its headlights with five accompanying LED drones, which follow the vehicle and illuminate the terrain not just in front, but on either side. These play double duty as cameras and can dock on the roof when not in use. 

Now that’s a vision of the future. 

KHACHILIFE Editorial