Frankfurt Motor Show, Europe’s largest and most significant car exhibit, revealed the disparity between premium and volume carmakers. While Europe’s mass-market brands are still feeling the pinch, caught up in the worst sales decline for two decades, the more exclusive marques have generally escaped the drama - capitalising on the growth in China, the US and South America. There were new exhibits on almost every pavilion, yet it was the luxury manufacturers who showcased emerging trends in design and technology.

See the top cars from Frankfurt Motor Show 2013

The show has historically been about the main German marques - Volkswagen Group, BMW and Mercedes-Benz - flexing their muscles. So it was no surprise to see their giant halls - in the case of Audi, a stand-alone pavilion designed by Schmidhuber + Partner for the show - bursting with products. Frankfurt was the scene for the full production debut of the BMW’s ground-breaking i3 and i8 electric cars (above), Audi’s striking Sport Quattro Coupé concept (top image), Mercedes’ graceful S-Class Coupé and the VW e-Golf and e-Up electric cars.

Meanwhile, Jaguar captured what appears to be the current vogue for compact sports luxury crossovers with the C-X17, a confident design study that confirms an upcoming small Jaguar. Lexus also stayed with the small SUV theme with the LF-NX, albeit with a rather awkward sculpture featuring tiresome surface changes. Infiniti, too, revealed the Q30 compact crossover concept.

However, what Frankfurt 2013 ultimately proved is that there is really no clear direction in terms of car design, product or sustainable mobility. Every marque is searching for its own solution, making for a rather puzzling show.