Concept cars are an auto show staple. Manufacturers love rolling out these design studies that provide a window into the future of the company and help attract showgoers to their display.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced the cancellation of almost all major automotive shows this year, but the automotive industry still found the time to unveil a handful of cool new concept cars. We’ll probably have to wait until next year or even 2022 to see any of these concept cars in person, but for now, let’s take a look at the five coolest concept cars that were shown online this year.

5. Sony Vision-S

The Sony Vision-S is the only concept car on this list that was physically shown at an auto show this year. The Vision-S first debuted at CES 2020 in January – just a couple of months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down events across North America.

The Vision-S does not preview a future production vehicle from the Japanese electronics manufacturer. Instead, this surprisingly handsome little sedan is intended to serve as a rolling showcase of potential future Sony automotive technology. The car features Sony’s “360 Reality Audio” system with speakers built into each seat, along with onboard artificial intelligence, 5G internet connectivity, and over-the-air system updates.

The Sony Vision-S incorporates various exterior sensors and cameras, enabling highway drive assist functionality and automated parking, among other semi-autonomous driving capabilities. An onboard facial recognition system also examines the facial expression and body movement of the driver to gauge their concentration and fatigue levels, displaying alerts as necessary.

The Sony Vision-S isn’t intended for mass production, but you can be sure the technology showcased in this concept will find its way to production vehicles from established automakers.

4. Polestar Precept

The Polestar Precept concept, originally to debut at the Geneva Motor Show, previews an upcoming battery-electric sedan from the Geely-owned electric vehicle company. The four-door will put established EVs like the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan in its crosshairs when it enters production and will offer standard all-wheel drive thanks to its dual-electric-motor powertrain.

Sustainability is a key part of the hyper-futuristic-looking Precept. The doors and seatbacks are made of flax-based composites, for example; while the seat upholstery is made out of recycled plastic water bottles and the carpets are made from repurposed fishing nets. The seat side bolsters and the headrests, meanwhile, are constructed out of recycled cork.

3. Mini Urbanaut

The Mini Urbanaut is the German automaker’s vision for what its products might become when fully electric and fully autonomous vehicles are commonplace. The interior features a lounge-like layout with a daybed, swivel chair, and a houseplant, making the Urbanaut’s cabin appear more like an Ikea showroom than a car interior.

Mini envisions the Urbanaut as being able to switch between fully autonomous and human controls when necessary. We’d probably rather take a nap on that stylish and comfortable daybed than drive in traffic, however, so we’re not sure why anyone would want to take over the controls from the computer.

A future where fully autonomous vehicles roam free is probably still pretty far away, but if the Mini Urbanaut is any indication, it will be one very cozy future indeed.

2. Hyundai Prophecy

The Hyundai Prophecy concept received almost universal praise for its handsome exterior design and its easy to see why. This battery-electric sedan concept, also set to debut at the cancelled 2020 Geneva Motor Show, is a great example of futuristic design that isn’t too over-the-top.

The sedan will be the second new Hyundai EV to arrive – after the production version of the 45 concept goes on sale in the not-too-distant future – and will ride on the Korean automaker’s new E-GMP electric platform. If you’ve been waiting for a sporty electric sedan that can compete with Tesla’s offerings, look no further than the Prophecy.

1. Nissan Z Proto

The Nissan Z Proto is a concept for the upcoming next-generation Nissan Z sports car (likely to be called the 400Z) that will launch in Canada for the 2022 model year. The retro design of the car, which pulls inspiration from previous Z models like the 240Z and 300ZX, is still subject to change. Despite this, the Z Proto exterior and interior designs are believed to be largely representative of the upcoming production model.

Under the hood of the Z Proto is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine, which is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. Nissan hasn’t said how much power the twin-turbo V6 will produce in the next-gen Z car, but it’s safe to say that it will have more power than the 350-horsepower 370Z that it replaces.