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The Hottest Cars at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show

The Frankfurt auto show, officially known as the International Motor Show or IAA, is the largest of its kind both in terms of scale and the volume of new vehicle debuts. It's also a chance for the European auto industry to shine and for German car companies to unveil their most important models and coolest concepts.

This year it was also an opportunity for beleaguered German brands embroiled in the diesel emission imbroglio (which broke two years ago during the biennial Frankfurt show) to look forward to a brighter future filled with electric and autonomous vehicles, although there were still plenty of good old-fashioned petrol-fueled performance sports car to be found at the massive Messe Frankfurt fairgrounds.

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  • 1

    Mercedes-AMG Project ONE

    The talk of the show, the Mercedes-AMG Project One is the only road-legal production supercar with a genuine Formula 1 hybrid powertrain and other mechanical parts shared with the automaker's grand prix race car. With more than 1,000 horsepower on tap, this supercar can reach top speeds above 200mph and rockets from 0 to 124mph in under six seconds. But the sexy two-seater beast will also set you back $2.5 million.

  • 2

    Smart Vision EQ Concept

    Also in the massive Mercedes-Benz pavilion in Frankfurt was the Smart Vision EQ, parent company Daimler's vision of an autonomous robo-taxi. It features translucent doors and a front screen that can display messages or the names of the people it's picking up. The self-driving Smart Vision EQ has no steering wheel or pedals, but there’s a large touch screen to show occupants a map of their route and destination, and the car can connect with occupants' portable devices to create a profile based on their preferences for, say, music and other content.

  • 3

    Bentley Continental GT

    The dash-to-axle ratio of the latest Continental GT has been extended to make the luxury coupe look even longer, lower, and sleeker than its predecessor. And with a 6.0-liter 626-horsepower engine that propels the new Conti GT from 0 to 62mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 207mph, it's also more powerful. Of course, occupants are cossetted in an opulent interior that features brushed metal, lush leather, and lavish wood trim, while the center console rotates between three different configurations.

  • 4

    Land Rover Discovery SVX

    Leave it to Land Rover to develop a high-performance variant of the legendary Discovery that can go almost anywhere while still delivering a posh experience for passengers. The Discovery SVX received an overhaul by Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations treatment, which tweaked the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine to deliver 517 horsepower and added extra ground clearance, unique bumpers, and skid plates, and a standard winch that allows the lux rig to get out of any jam.

  • 5

    Ferrari Portofino

    As the successor to Ferrari l California convertible, the Portofino keeps its predecessor’s 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8, but gets an additional 39 horsepower that puts it at just under 600 total and gives it a 0 to 60mph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of "at least 199mph," according to Ferrari. It also keeps the California’s retractable hardtop that makes the car looks gorgeous whether the roof is open or closed.

  • 6

    Borgward Isabella Concept

    This automaker’s moniker may sound like something out of sci-fi thriller, but it dates back to a defunct German car brand that disappeared in 1961, and has been resurrected by Chinese backers. After launching a pair of SUVs in China, the brand unveiled the Isabella concept coupe in Frankfurt that combines the two-tone color palettes and elegant exterior of the brand’s past cars with modern touches such as an electric powertrain, sliding doors, a three-piece steering wheel, and a multi-layer touch screen that flows from the center of the dash.

  • 7

    Honda Urban EV Concept

    There was almost as much buzz about the Honda Urban EV Concept as the Mercedes-AMG Project One, but for entirely different reasons. While it looks like a concept and Honda provided few facts on it, the automaker did confirm that a production version of the Urban EV will go on sale in Europe in 2019 (no word on whether it will come to the US market). It also previews a new EV platform as well as a bold new design direction for the normally conservative Japanese automaker.

  • 8

    Renault Symbioz Concept

    The Renault Symbioz was one of the wildest concepts shown in Frankfurt in that the car is designed to integrate into a modern home. It's meant to be driven into a house instead of a garage, where it doubles as an extra room. And since it’s an EV, the Symbioz can either pull juice from the house or send it the other way once fully charged. Oh, it’s also self-driving and has 670 horsepower.

  • 9

    Hyundai i30N

    Not every car in Frankfurt was autonomous, electric, or exotic. The Hyundai i30N is the Korean automaker’s entry into the hot hatch segment and designed to compete with budget boy-racers like the Ford Focus ST and Subaru WRX. With 271 horsepower and dynamics tuned on the famous Nürburgring test track, the i30N will likely be a welcome track-day weapon for the masses.

  • 10

    Toyota CH-R Concept

    Toyota’s C-HR HY-Power concept is a hybrid version of the automaker’s new C-HR midsize crossover that not only sips fuel, but boosts power and performance above the 122 horsepower of the tepid gasoline-only European version. Toyota said it doesn't plan to offer the C-HR HY Power in the US, but hopefully it will bring the hybrid’s hipper styling here.

  • 11

    Chery Tiggo Coupe Concept

    One of the cool things about the Frankfurt Auto Show is seeing all the Chinese automakers’ crazy concept cars. Case in point is Chery’s Tiggo Coupe, an autonomous plug-in hybrid with a sleek shape and ample LED lightings all around the car. Inside are four armchair-like seats that swivel to turn it into a mobile living room, complete with several large screens for personal entertainment.

  • 12

    Audi Aicon Concept

    The Aicon Concept is Audi’s vision of an autonomous driving future that has no steering wheel or pedals. The car uses eye tracking, voice control, and haptic surfaces for passengers to communicate with PIA, an “empathetic electronic vehicle assistant.” (The AI in the concept’s name stands for artificial intelligence.) In place of traditional headlights are more than 600 individual front-facing pixels that also serve as a digital display to present information to other vehicles and pedestrians.

  • 13

    Audi Elaine Concept

    Displayed next to the Aicon on the Audi stand was the Elaine concept electric SUV that the automaker said will be available "in a few short years." It features an electric motor on the front axle and two on the rear to power all four wheels, while a battery pack delivers a range of over 311 miles. Like the Aicon, the Elaine concept also uses artificial intelligence to anticipate the wishes of drivers or passengers.

  • 14

    Porsche Cayenne

    Porsche is known for its more powerful variants, and less than two weeks after unveiling the new 2019 Cayenne the automaker unwrapped the 2019 Cayenne Turbo version of the midsize SUV in Frankfurt. The new Cayenne Turbo is faster than the prior-generation Cayenne Turbo S, thanks to a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that produces 550 horsepower. It also features Porsche’s new double-row front lighting for night driving and an adaptive rear roof spoiler designed to enhance acceleration and braking.

  • 15

    Mini Electric Concept

    After teasing the Mini Electric Concept leading up to the Frankfurt show, the BMW sub-brand finally took the wraps off the production model, which is expected to go on sale in 2019. The lines of the car are unmistakable Mini, but with visual cues indicating that it’s an EV, such as headlights, a front grille, and other body parts sporting a plug icon. There's no word on the car's range, specs, or cost, but since the Mini Electric shares an electric drivetrain with the BMW i3, the two vehicles will have roughly equal performance.

  • 16

    Kia Stonic

    The Kia Stonic is the Korean brand’s compact crossover, and corporate cousin to the Hyundai Kona that also debuted at the Frankfurt show. It features the automaker’s familiar 1.0-liter 3-cylinder gas engine and 1.6-liter diesel used in Europe and the company’s trademark "tiger-nose" grille. The exterior also has black plastic cladding, a "floating" two-tone roof, and a raised ride height. The Stonic goes on sale in Europe next month, although pricing was not announced.

  • 17

    BMW i Vision Concept

    Considered BMW's future Tesla fighter, the i Vision Dynamics concept is an electric four-door coupe designed to fit the wide gap between the i3 and i8. While still a concept, BMW is targeting a 373-mile EV range, acceleration of 0 to 60mph in 4 seconds, and a 120mph top speed. The interior wasn’t shown in Frankfurt but the size of the vehicle and its full-length glass roof indicate a large and airy cabin.

  • 18

    Aspark Owl Concept

    While it didn’t get the attention of the Mercedes Project One, the Aspark Owl electric supercar prototype also boats 1,000-horsepower—and a staggering price tag. Backed by a wealthy Japanese tech entrepreneur, the Owl claims to be the world’s fastest accelerating electric road car, and the most expensive at $2.7 million. The Owl sits just 39 inches tall—an inch lower than the Ford GT—and its 3.5 inches of ground clearance will make it barely road legal.

  • 19

    Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster

    This new open-top version of the Lamborghini Aventador gets its hardtop sibling’s naturally aspirated V12, which packs 730 horsepower and has a 0—60mph time of three seconds and a 217mph top speed. It also keeps the coupe's four-wheel drive system and active suspension and—in a move that’s sure to peeve purists but please average Lambo owners (if there is such a thing)—the Aventador S Roadster also gets Apple CarPlay.

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Facebook’s Kodi box ban is nothing new

According to recent reports, Facebook has updated its Commerce Policy to specifically ban the sale of Kodi boxes on its site – that is, devices that come with pre-installed Kodi software, which are often used for illegally streaming digital content. However, the ban is not a new one – Facebook confirms its policy on Kodi box sales hasn’t changed since last summer, and its external Policy Page – the one being cited as evidence of the new ban – was updated in December. It’s true that the changes have flown under the radar until now, though. The policy change was first reported by Cord Cutters News, and later linked to by TorrentFreak and Techdirt. The original report claims that Facebook added a new rule on its list of “Digital Media and Electronic Devices” under “Prohibited Content,” which specifically calls out Kodi boxes. It says that Facebook posts “may not promote the sale of devices that facilitate or encourage streaming digital content in an authorized manner or interfering with the functionality of electronic devices.” The Policy page lists a few examples of what this means, including wiretapping devices, jamming or descrambling devices, jailbroken or loaded devices, and, then “promoting the sale or use of streaming devices with Kodi installed.” (The only permitted items are “add-on equipment for Kodi devices, such as keyboards and remotes.”) But this ban on Kodi boxes, Facebook says, is not a recently implemented policy. According to a Facebook spokesperson, it launched a new policy last summer that prohibited the sale of electronic devices that facilitate or are intended for unauthorized streaming or access to digital content – including Kodi boxes. This policy has not changed since last summer, but its external Policy Page – this one being cited by the various reported – was updated in December 2017 to offer additional illustrative examples and more detailed information on all its policies, including the one related to unauthorized streaming devices. In other words, Facebook has been banning Kodi boxes since it decided to crackdown on unauthorized streaming devices last year. It’s just now being noticed. The ban affects all posts on Marketplace, Buy and Sell Groups, and Shop Sections on Pages. Facebook explains it takes a very strong enforcement approach when “Kodi” is mentioned with a product for sale. As Techdirt pointed out, that’s problematic because the Kodi software itself is actually legal. However, device makers like Dragon Box or SetTV have been using the open-source Kodi platform and other add-ons to make copyright infringement easier for consumers. Facebook does seem to understand that Kodi software isn’t illegal, but it knows that when “Kodi” is mentioned in a product (e.g. a device) listing, it’s very often a product designed to circumvent copyright. The company tells us that its intent is not to ban Kodi software altogether, however, and it’s in the process of reviewing its guidelines and these examples to more closely target devices that encourage unauthorized streaming. That could mean it will, at some point, not outright ban a device that includes Kodi software, but focus more on other terms used in the sale, like “fully loaded” or some sort of description of the illegal access the box provides, perhaps. (Facebook didn’t say what might change.) As for Kodi, the company says Facebook’s move doesn’t affect them. “It doesn’t impact us, since we don’t sell devices,” says Keith Herrington, who handles Business Relations at the XBMC Foundation (Kodi). He said his organization would love to talk to someone at Facebook – since they’ve never been in touch – in order to ensure that devices that are in compliance with Kodi’s trademark policy are not banned. Both Amazon and eBay have worked with Kodi on similar policies, he added. “We’ve gotten thousands of devices which were in violation of our trademark policy removed from eBay,” Herrington said. It’s unclear how well-enforced Facebook’s ban really is – I’m in Facebook groups myself where people talk about how to jailbreak “Fire sticks” and include posts from those who sell them pre-jailbroken. (It’s for research purposes. Ahem.) Industry crackdowns go beyond Facebook Facebook isn’t the only company that’s attempting to crack down on these devices. Netflix, Amazon and the major studios are suing Dragon Box for facilitating piracy by making it easy for consumers to access illegal streams of movies and TV shows. In January 2018, a U.S. District Court judge handed down a preliminary injunction against TickBox TV, a Georgia-based set-top box maker that was sued by the major studios, along with streaming services Netflix and Amazon, for profiting from the sale of “Kodi boxes.” Google has removed the word “kodi” from the autocomplete feature of Search, along with other piracy-related terms. And more recently, the FCC asked Amazon and eBay to stop selling fake pay TV boxes. It said these boxes often falsely bear the FCC logo to give them the appearance of legitimacy, but are actually used to perpetuate “intellectual property theft and consumer fraud,” the FCC said in letters to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO Devin Wenig. Why Streaming Piracy is Growing There’s a reason Kodi devices are so popular, and it’s not just because everyone is being cheap about paying for access to content. For starters, there’s a lack of consequence for consumers who do illegally stream media – it’s not like back in the day when the RIAA was suing individuals for pirating music. While there has been some activity – Comcast several years ago issued copyright infringement notices to Kodi users, for example – you can today basically get away with illegal streaming. The copyright holders are currently focused on cutting off piracy at the source – box makers and the platforms that enable their sale – not at the individual level. The rise of cord cutting has also contributed to the issue by creating a highly fragmented streaming ecosystem. Shows that used to be available under a single (if pricey) cable or satellite TV subscription, are now spread out across services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Sling TV, HBO NOW, and others used by cord cutters. Customers are clearly willing to pay for some of these services (largely, Netflix and maybe one or two others), but most can’t afford a subscription for each one. And they definitely don’t want to when all they’re after is access to a single show from a network. That’s another reason they then turn to piracy. Finally, there is the fact that film distributors have forever withheld their movies from streaming services for months, creating a demand for illegal downloads and streams. Though the release window has shrunk some in more recent years, the studios haven’t yet fully bought into the idea of much smaller windows to cater to the audience who will never go to the theater to watch their movie. And when this audience is cut out the market, they also turn to piracy. Eventually, the record industry adapted to consumers’ desire for streaming, and services like Spotify and Apple Music emerged. Eventually, streaming services may be able to make piracy less attractive, too. Amazon Channels, could become a key player here if it expands to include more add-ons. Today, it’s the only true a la carte TV service available. And that perhaps – not skinny bundles – is what people really want.

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