Worst concept to production car fails

I remember seeing a forum on the website Jalopnik about the times companies released some pretty innovative concept cars, but yet when it came to production, they extremely lost all the innovative tech that made them futuristic, and barely showed off the new technology at all. So I thought I’d see if anyone on here knew about any. So I’ll start it off…

Probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve seen was the Pontiac Sunfire. You’ve probably seen the concept and the production version before, but just look at what they wasted!

That is a good example. Why even call it the same thing at that point?

Wow…not a detail was carried through.

Wow, so this is what an engineering team sees when taking over a concept.

Less drastic but I had a similar feeling when Renault came out with the 2011 Captur concept vs. the production version.

The Dacia Duster was a bit of a radical concept, but the production version came out kind of stripped down.
The model wants to be modern but in reality is not bad but just seems a bit off.
It is not a fail though because these sell very well in Europe and are supposedly nice to drive as well.

How about 3 in 1? The Suzuki Kizashi Concept 1, 2, & 3. While the production Kizashi wasn’t that much of a let down in production, and it did actually look kind of cool, it did show itself as a watered down variant with not much of the technology used in the concepts, but it did seem to get some influence from the 3rd concept.

Isn’t pretty much every car concept sucky when it becomes real?


It seems some brands can do it (Audi, Land Rover, Porsche…), and most others can’t. I wonder what the rationale is or if it is just bad collaboration within the company. I mean look at that V-curve on the front of the Sunfire, the engineers have implemented it perpendicularly on the bumper instead, in Z-direction! They see design mostly as adding a face to the machine. They could definitely have implemented more of the concept in the production version for all of these examples.

This is why I hate brands referring to concept cars as design projects. Unless it’s actually intended to and becomes a real product - it’s art, not design. And there’s nothing wrong with art in the form of a car. It takes a ton of creativity, skill, and hard work and produces some of the most interesting and beautiful objects out there. But to sit around and pretend like a brand is showing the strength of their design work with concepts like these infuriates me. In my mind it actually shows how inept they can sometimes be at the design process by producing a final product that is infinitely less inspiring than its sketch (in this case a physical sketch.)

I blame car designers. Sketches with no basis in reality. In any other industry if you sketched something with impossible proportions, that can’t be manufactured and has no business use you would be out of a job.


Kim Kardashian and a fleet of plastic surgeons say “Challenge accepted”.

Some manufacturers have been better in recent years about making their concepts much closer to “pre-production”. BMW for example did a pretty good job of this with the Z4 and 8 series. (Whether or not both concept AND production cars were disappointing is another story).

It’s not much different than seeing Tom Cruise in person and realizing he’s just a little man in extra tall shoes.

Most of the time it feels like you’re seeing Tom Cruise in person and realizing he’s Ben Stein.

I’d submit Volvo’s 40-series concepts from 2017 as some of the best concept to production translations. In fact, when they presented the concepts they specifically said something to the effect of, “The important thing to remember is that the cars will actually look like this.” I still prefer the some of the proportions and details of the concepts, but it 100% feels like they were designing for production rather than just for a cool looking model.

Volvo 40.1 concept (top) vs production XC40 (bottom)

That one is really close.

A few things I’m sure had to change, like the bumper strike surface being further out than the peak of the hatch. The tail lamps are a little sweeter on the concept.

Other changes seem purely a choice, like the upper grille texture, and the wheels.

Maybe some others were cost, like the LED fog lamps on the concept’s lower bumper… would have been nice to keep those.

There are a couple of these in my neighborhood and they look good on the road.

another famously close one is of course the TT.

The top images are of the original concept car from 1995 (crazy that it was so long ago)

The others are my actual car which started production in 1998 (this one is a 2001).

another famously close one was the original Dodge Viper

Agreed. As someone who hates the generic look of small and medium-sized SUVs these days, for my money the XC40 is far and away the best looking in its class. I’d put the Land Rover Evoque in at a close second, though it’s tough to get over how impossibly small and impractical the interior is on that thing.

Exactly, the definition of a concept is something that can be conceived; it already needs to meet various requirements. The Volvo is a great example, the gross majority of concept cars is better called an experimental car, research car or art car. So innocent people do not have to hope for cars like Renault Dezir to ever hit the road.

Smart is also very good with the unrealistic teaser cars:

Then on the road we got this: