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10 Concept Cars that Disappointed in Production

The 10 Worst Concept Cars of all Time

Updated May 18, 2018

Calvin Escobar
Calvin Escobar

Concept cars are great ways for manufacturers to have a little fun, and oftentimes these fun concepts aren’t the ones that make it to production, as they are simply design studies. However, sometimes manufacturers slate these design studies for production, getting buyers excited for something truly unique. These are some of the worst concept cars out there, because 9/10 times, they don’t deliver anything close to the original and way cooler promise.

With the bulk of 2015’s auto shows just around the corner, we decided to have a look at some of the concept vehicles that disappointed us the most in production. Keep in mind that not all of these production vehicles are terrible; they are just massively different from the concept that got all of us excited.

 

Pontiac Sunfire

1990 Sunfire Concept

The Pontiac Sunfire is certainly near the top of my list of great concept cars that did little more than piss me off in production. The 1990 Sunfire concept was a sexy 2+2 coupe that had sleek lines, slick aerodynamics, and a silhouette that almost looked like a downsized Firebird; it was freaking perfect! Hell, it even had a 190-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which was unheard of for GM in the 1990s.

Then, GM’s bean counters rolled in and nitpicked at it until they stripped the Sunfire down to a slightly modified Cavalier. Great job, GM…

Subaru WRX

2013 Subaru WRX Concept

When the 2013 Subaru WRX Concept hit the floor at the 2013 New York Auto Show, jaws everywhere joined it on the show floor. It was simply stunning, and gave us all hope that Subaru would finally make the WRX look as awesome as it drives. It was muscular, it was sharp, and it was modern.

However, Subaru managed to remind us that it remains one of the most boring automakers when it comes to design when the production WRX launched. Fortunately, in terms of performance – where it really matters – the WRX was and remains a slam dunk.

Chevrolet Volt

2007 Chevrolet Bolt Concept Photo by: NAParish

In no way is the Chevy Volt a failure as a model, but it just doesn’t deliver the goods that its concept had. Definitely one of the worst concept cars on the list, the Volt concept that debuted in 2007 was both edgy and a little sexy, while the final production model was bland and boring by comparison. Fortunately, the Volt’s drivetrain did deliver about the same performance as the concept, so it at least lived up to that hype.

Dodge Charger

1999 Dodge Charger RT Concept

While the 1999 Dodge Charger concept wasn’t a sexy car by any means, at least it was unique. Its curvy body was modern, but it still managed to hark back to the Chargers of the 1960s. Additionally, Dodge did a great job at disguising the two rear doors, thereby satisfying traditionalists who hated the thought of the Charger being a sedan.

On the flip-side, the production Charger isn’t a flop by any stretch, but the first generation was pretty bland. As the years have pressed on, the Charger has gained some character, but it may be about time for a full overhaul. Considering how cool the Charger has become today, I think it’s safe to say this is one of the worst concept cars on the list. Still, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Pontiac Trans Sport

Trans Sport ConceptIt’s hard to think about a minivan actually being cool, but the Trans Sport concept was intriguing for its era. The production model did draw inspiration from the concept, but it lacked the bubbled front windshield, the gull-wing door, and relatively powerful 2.9-liter V-6 engine. The move from concept to production for the Trans Sport was likely a blow to minivan fans of the 1980s.

By today’s standards, most people would laugh off the 1986 Trans Sport concept, but it was futuristic for that era, and that’s precisely what the public craved.

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Pronto Concept

The PT Cruiser had a loyal following and continues to have one to this day, as it is one of the more versatile vehicles available in the used-car marketplace. However, if you were to look back at the Chrysler Pronto concept that previewed this funky, retro-inspired wagon, you may wonder why Chrysler changed it so much.

The Pronto’s body was sleeker than that of the PT Cruiser, giving it a more modern look, and its coupe body catered to younger generations. We got a taste of this coupe setup with the short-lived PT Cruiser GT Convertible, but it still lacked the sexy curves of the Pronto.

I think most would agree that this is not only one of the worst concept cars on this list, it was also a terrible production vehicle to boot.

Toyota Corolla

furia_01
The Toyota Corolla has long been one of the most boring cars on the planet, but where it has failed in excitement, it has excelled in reliability and pricing. When Toyota debuted the Corolla Furia concept car in 2013, it looked like we were about to see a new chapter in the story of the Corolla.

While the Corolla that the Furia previewed did take some styling cues from the concept, there was still a lot of disappointment. The Furia had attitude that oozed from its striking headlights, well-proportioned wheels, sleek roofline, angled glass, aggressive taillights and dual exhaust. What’s more, the dual exhaust alluded to the possibility of some added performance credentials.

Unfortunately, Toyota toned the production Corolla way down and the dual exhaust was nothing more than a show item… sigh…

Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki Concept Kizashi Photo by: AlexanderFPbusse

The Suzuki Kizashi is the ultimate example of an automaker overpromising with concept cars, then sorely under-delivering with the production car that followed. The Kizashi actually had five concepts, all of which were nothing short of stunning, particularly for a fringe brand like Suzuki.

All five concepts featured sleek bodies with sharp lines and modern features. Under their hoods were unique powertrains, including a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel, a 300-horse V-6, a 275- to 300-horsepower turbo unit, and a 2.0-liter hybrid.

Unfortunately, what made it to production was a ho-hum midsize sedan with a four-cylinder engine that produced 180ish horsepower. It’s quite possibly one of the most disappointing concepts out there.

Dodge Avenger

2003-dodge-avenger-concept

The Dodge Avenger actually lived two lives, and neither one was overly successful. At the 2003 Detroit Auto Show, the Avenger name wound up on a vehicle unlike any of its two production examples.

The 2003 Avenger concept was actually a precursor to the very annoying crossover coupe fad going on now. It was the X4 and X6 before there was an X4 or X6, as it was essentially a jacked-up four-door coupe with all-wheel drive and a sloped rear hatch.

Although I find this segment annoying as hell today, back in 2003, this was actually innovative, and the Avenger could have really made an impact on the market had it carried this into production. Instead, we got a craptacular sedan that used some of the styling cues of this concept.

 

Renault Captur

Renault Captur Concept Photo by: Overlaet

This sleek concept for the Renault Captur that debuted in 2011 showed us a coupe-like SUV with oversized fenders, swoopy curves, big wheels, a sporty greenhouse, and uniqueness. Despite all of that, the production Captur arrived as nothing more than your everyday compact crossover. You can tell that some of the cues from the concept carried over into production, but overall, t was a major buzzkill.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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