Concept cars. For many the heartbeat of a motor show; the barometer to judge the carmakers’ confidence. So with the Detroit motor show oozing all manner of conceptual models, there were plenty of highlights. Here are our top five. 

Toyota FT-1

The Toyota FT-1, says Toyota, isn’t the new Supra. But it is "a true enthusiast's track car in the lineage of the 2000GT and Supra." Tantalisingly, FT stands for Future Toyota. Remember the FT86, and what a breathtaking sports car it became?

Toyota won’t be drawn on mechanical specifics, saying only that it isn’t a hybrid and powered solely by an internal combustion engine. Its striking looks may pure dramatic sports car, but it was penned with the words of Akio Toyoda to create cars that sparked people's emotions ringing in their ears. 

Volvo Concept XC Coupé

Look at the Concept XC Coupé, imagine it with a larger and fuller look, and you’ll come close to the design of the all-new Volvo XC90, due at the end of the year. That car is important for many reasons, least of all that it heralds a new design and will be based on the new SPA platform.

It is the second of three concepts penned by Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlathand despite the sleek lines looking more ‘sport’ than sports utility, the concept has been designed with those with an active lifestyle in mind. 

Audi Allroad Shooting Brake

The Allroad Shooting Brake gives a both a look at the next-generation Audi TT coupé and a possible production version of a TT Shooting Brake. Audi has also thrown its latest technical highlights at it, with an e-tron transmission combining a 2.0-litre TFSI engine and 8.8kW battery and aluminium carbonfibre-reinforced plastic bodywork.

Audi describes the concept’s powertrain as ‘high-end’ and it develops a fairly fantastic 402bhp and 480lb ft. Enough, says Audi, for a 0-62mph time of 4.6sec. Encouragingly for the next production TT, bosses say it must “be a leader in technology and design”.

Kia GT4 Stinger

Kia is now firmly positioned as a purveyor of solid models representing decent value for money. What it needs now is a gilt-edged brand builder. Step forward GT4 Stinger, a concept that according to Kia: “Harks back to the days of affordable sports cars”. 

The rear-drive Stinger uses a 315bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Toyota and Subaru have proven a market for a usable, affordable, rear-drive sports car. In concept, at least, the Stinger looks to be a handsome and intriguing alternative. If it makes production… 

Nissan Sport Sedan

It’s not that the strikingly sleek Nissan Sport Sedan provides a strong indication as to the styling of the US-market Maxima saloon that’s significant, but it showcases a raft of styling cues that will be seen on the firm’s long-awaited VW Golf rival. Nissan’s hatch will mark a return to the core of the C-segment, building on the new-found confidence through huge sales of its Qashqai and Juke crossovers.

The floating roofline here is pure GT-R and there’s a bolder version of the chrome ‘V’ grille. But a range of more subtle design cues will appear on all manner of future saloons and crossovers. And even the next-generation Micra.