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5 4×4 concepts that never got the nod





19 June 2018


Vehicle manufacturers produce concept models for international shows and events. They do this for a variety of reasons, including gauging public interest, showcasing future design trends and creating halo brand models. This month we look at five very cool vehicles that made it the concept stage, but – sadly – not to the production line.

Ford Bronco Concept

The first Bronco was introduced in 1966 and many regard it as the first SUV ever. While that statement is certainly up for debate, there’s no denying that the Bronco was one of the first 4x4s to combine go-anywhere ability and relative comfort.

The 2004 concept was a no-brainer for Ford. It had a name people remembered fondly, the US economy was in rude health, but, somehow, the Bronco never made it all the way to production.

It might have something to do with the tiny proportions and proposed engine.

You see, it might look like it has a big block V8 under the ‘hood’, but it was actually equipped with a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel. It produced 95kW and 330Nm of torque, which is healthy even by today’s standards. And while it may look big in this photograph, it was actually a fairly compact 4×4.

So the world laughed it off and that was the end of it. Funny, isn’t it? It’s 14 years later and most manufacturers would kill to have a compact 4×4 with retro styling and a frugal, yet powerful diesel engine.

Toyota Kikai

Fans of mechanical engineering will love the 2016 KiKai concept. It was built purely to showcase the beauty of automotive engineering.

Every component of the KiKai was built to be on display: from the upper control arms soaking up the bumps to the Atkinson cycle engine and battery working together to form the hybrid powertrain.

It was never built as a crossover, but its styling is a steampunk-like blend of hot rod and beach buggy. We can only imagine how much fun it would be on a dirt road. The instant power from the electric motor and the satisfaction of seeing the various components actively deal with the demanding surface…

The driver sat smack-bang in the middle with two passengers slightly to the rear on either side. It seems no distractions were allowed, as it was only ever equipped with a rev counter, speedometer, temperature and fuel gauges and a compass to keep you pointed in the right direction.

Toyota has become more radical over the last five years, but we doubt this car will ever see the light of day. What a pity. This has ‘ultimate weekend toy’ written all over it.

BMW X Coupé

The X Coupé is interesting, because it was actually approved for production, albeit not in its original guise.

Believe it or not, the car you see here morphed into what we now know as the BMW X6. The X Coupé was built and showcased in 2001 to see whether such a thing was of interest to the car-buying public, and the rest, as they say, is history. Not only did it spawn the X6 and X4, we also have a host of competing products thanks to the X Coupé.

When it made its debut, it was powered by a 3.0-litre straight six turbocharged diesel with around 120kW and 450Nm on tap.

The automotive media gave a collective shrug and sauntered off to go have a closer look at whatever sedan also had its debut that year.

Had we only known it would kick-start an entirely new segment. This segment would eventually include a model so close in spirit to the original, that BMW should have just named it the X Coupé. We know it as the X2.

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Volkswagen Concept T

Back in 2004, Volkswagen had already had great success with the modern Beetle, introduced in 1997.

It made sense to build on that success so VW took a look back at the long illustrious history of the original and found the Beach Buggy.

Like the old Beetle, VW dragged the Beach Buggy into the new millennium.

Since the world had become power obsessed, a small engine simply wouldn’t do. Instead of going the traditional route and fitting the engine from a Beetle, VW slotted the 3.2-litre petrol V6 from the raciest Golf into the back of this thing. This meant you could, in theory, barrel along the beach at 240km/h.

There was zero chance of it receiving the green light, however. For proof, look no further than the Lamborghini doors.

Jeep Hurricane

The Hurricane might just have the coolest name ever slapped on the rear of a car, and we honestly hope Jeep uses it on a future model.

This concept is a perfect example of a manufacturer building a car to showcase what its brand is all about. Back in 2005, Jeep claimed that it was the most capable off-roader ever built and looking at the technical details, it’s hard to disagree.

It’s basically a stripped-out, elongated Wrangler fitted with not one, but two 5.7-litre Hemi V8s. That’s right, folks. Both the front and rear axles had their own V8, which brought the combined power output to 520kW.

With almost no overhangs, a ground clearance of 360mm and chunky tyres the size of an A-segment hatch, nothing was ever going to stand in the way of the Hurricane.

It was unique thanks to its turning radius, which was claimed to be zero. To help it manoeuvre in tight spaces, Jeep developed a system that allowed the front and rear wheels to turn inward. This meant is could basically turn 360 degrees without moving an inch.