Where fiction meets reality.

Ever since the early days of Motor1.com, we’ve created and shared a great number of renderings. As you are probably aware by now, these represent more than just a simple shot in the dark as the digital design exercises are based on real spy shots of prototypes, but without the annoying camouflage to get in the way. 

Of course the real proof of whether a rendering was good, great, or otherwise, comes when the predicted model is actually revealed to the public for the first time. Below, we put our own powers of prognostication to the test.

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Chevy Corvette ZR1

2018 Chevy Corvette ZR1 render
2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1

Rendered: September 1, 2017

Revealed: November 12, 2017

Grade: A 

Caught testing on the Nürburgring on numerous occasions, the Corvette ZR1 wasn’t shy to show off its massive rear wing, big air vents, and a plethora of aero tweaks. It made our work much easier as turning the spy images into a render did not take too long. The actual 755-horsepower (563-kilowatt) monster from Chevy didn’t stray away too far, which is a good thing – we were quite fond of the rendering and we’re glad the ultimate C7 looks the way it does, be it the coupe or the convertible.

Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf render
2018 Nissan Leaf U.S. Spec

Rendered: August 4, 2017

Revealed: September 5, 2017

Grade: B

More revolution than evolution, the second-generation Nissan Leaf brought some significant design changes compared to its predecessor. Our render – posted about a month before the EV’s actual debut – was quite accurate. It’s even difficult to tell which one is fiction and which one is real. Upon closer inspection, the headlights are slightly different and the front bumper of our imaginary Leaf doesn’t have those slats. It’s also missing the black panel below the V-Motion grille, but overall, it’s very similar.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS rendering
2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Rendered: June 16, 2017

Revealed: November 29, 2017

Grade: B

Thanks to a plethora of spy images depicting barely disguised prototypes, we had a lot of sources of inspiration when rendering the new Mercedes CLS in its production metal. Sharper than the model before it, our CLS illustration – posted months before the official premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show – managed to paint an accurate picture of the actual car. The two are quite similar overall, though the creases on the hood are not the same and the flat upper character line meets the door handles on the real car compared to the rendered CLS on which the crease is located above and is slightly curved. The render has a glossy black piece of trim around the air vents of the front bumper, which you won't find on the production model. The latter boasts a spoiler lip that extends onto the bumper's side on the wheel arches whereas our CLS lacks these the add-on pieces.

Bentley Continental GT

2018 Bentley Continental GT render
2018 Bentley Continental GT

Rendered: May 12, 2017

Revealed: August 29, 2017 

Grade: A

Having introduced the stunning EXP 10 Speed 6 concept, Bentley left little to the imagination as far as the design of the new Continental GT was concerned. Knowing they had a winning recipe, the designers from Crewe did not make any drastic changes to the grand tourer’s styling, hence why were able to see into the future of the Continental months before its release. Sure, the fins of the front bumper are configured differently and the side crease is longer as it goes from the headlight to the rear fender. But these are minor details, rather than big ones. 

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 Render OmniAuto
2018 Volvo XC40

Rendered: May 5, 2017

Revealed: September 21, 2017

Grade: A

Volvo’s new design language has worked wonders for the XC90 and XC60, so logic told us their smaller brother would follow suit. That it most certainly did, and the XC40 is a chip off the old block. Truth be told, we had a bit of help from Volvo as the 40.1 concept shown in 2016 was basically a taste of things to come. As illustrated above, our render blurred the line between fiction and reality, way before the crossover's debut.

Hyundai Kona

2018 Hyundai subcompact crossover render
2018 Hyundai Kona

Rendered: February 24, 2017

Revealed: June 12, 2017

Grade: C

The appearance of Hyundai’s small crossover was a bit trickier to predict using the trusty Photoshop tool, as the Kona kept its disguise right until the last minute. Even so, peeking through the camo was the unconventional split headlight arrangement, which immediately made us think about the Jeep Cherokee. In the end, the real Kona turned out better, though it’s safe to say the differences between the two are on a subtle level. We're missing the horizontal slat above the front grille, the chrome accents on the lower section of the doors, and the piece of black trim on the rear pillar. We could go on by talking about the design of the front bumper, particularly about the central area below the grille, which as you can see is vastly different on the production model.

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Audi A7 Sportback

2019 Audi A7 Sportback render
2019 Audi A7

Rendered: February 9, 2017

Revealed: October 19, 2017

Grade: B

Knowing Audi and how its cars go through discreet design changes from one generation to another, imagining the latest A7 Sportback wasn’t a difficult task. The four-ring company did manage to surprise us with the sleek continuous brake light first seen in the A8 flagship, but everything else was more or less on a par with our render. We should point out some of the things that we didn't get right, with the most important ones being the shape of the headlights and how the roofline is more inclined towards the back on the real A7 to give it a coupe-like silhouette.

Audi A8

2018 Audi A8 render
Audi A8 with Sport Package

Rendered: January 13, 2017

Revealed: July 11, 2017

Grade: B

Audi promised the A8 would usher in a new design language for the Ingolstadt-based luxury marque, but the truth of the matter is, it’s merely an evolution. We had more than just a hunch the next-gen model would greatly build upon the styling direction of its predecessor, and the adjacent render goes to show our intuition was correct. Of course, this is not a carbon copy of the actual A8 as our hood has a much more intricate design with additional creases. The front grille is taller on the real car and is flanked by bigger headlights featuring a significantly different configuration. These are some of the obvious discrepancies between the two, but there are others minor ones as well.

Lexus LS

2018 Lexus LS speculative render
2018 Lexus LS 500h

Rendered: January 6, 2017

Revealed: January 9, 2017

Grade: D

Posted just three days before the car’s big debut at the Detroit Auto Show, the rendering turned out to be a wee bit off the mark, to say the least. Drawing inspiration from the LF-LC, our image was molded after the imposing sedan, but the final LS went on to look significantly, especially when it came to design of the front bumper. You will also notice the headlights meet the daytime running lights, whereas our digital LS has two separate clusters. Not only that, but we're also missing the metallic finish of the spindle grille and ours has a different pattern.

Audi RS5 Coupe

2018 Audi RS5 Coupe render
2018 Audi RS5 Coupe

Rendered: December 23, 2016

Revealed: March 7, 2017

Grade: C

You could say we were a bit too enthusiastic when we drew the newest RS5 from Audi Sport as the high-performance coupe did not receive that rear wing illustrated in our digital design exercise. Beyond that, we got the front bumper quite wrong, as well as the position of the four rings, and the front spoiler lip.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo render
2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo: First Drive

Rendered: December 17, 2016

Revealed: March 1, 2017

Grade: A

If it weren’t for the Motor1.com watermark, you probably wouldn’t notice the image on the left doesn’t actually come from Porsche. The talented folks from Stuttgart didn’t fiddle too much with the design when transforming the Panamera into a more practical wagon, which is why the rendering could be easily mistaken for an official press image. To be fair, our vision of the Panamera Sport Turismo is missing the deployable rear spoiler.

So there you have it, these renderings are proving to be sort of like a crystal ball by being able to see into the future. They will never be entirely accurate, but should still be relevant enough and a way to ease the wait until the official release.

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