Paris Show Opens To Press Today with Extreme, Green ThemesBy Bill Visnic September 29, 2010
Nobody can say there isn't variety on offer as the Paris motor show kicks off for the press today and tomorrow.
Environmental improvements are the way to go these days, trumping the big-horsepower swillers that used to be relied upon to captivate the press, and while the Paris show definitely is chock-full of green work, there are a few high-performance goodies to remind that it is a major international auto show, after all.
Green Performance In A Big Way
Blending the two ideas of "green" and "mean" - and one of the show's total eye-openers - is the Jaguar C-X75 concept car, another of those "extended-range" hybrids, like the Chevrolet Volt, that operates for a certain relatively short initial distance solely on battery power, then a combustion engine kicks in to continue supplying electricity to the drive motors.
But for the C-X75, Jaguar offers two intriguing high-tech twists to: first, the fossil-fuel-burning part is handled by a pair of gas turbines, not a piston engine. And second, there is a drive motor incorporated into the hub of each wheel, imparting the car with all-wheel drive and all manner of potentially interesting chassis-dynamics tricks.
All told, the supercar's drivetrain generates 778 horsepower, enables a 0-to-60 miles per hour run of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph, all while making possible a theoretical fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon. Jaguar says this sub-3,000-pound car's battery-only range is 68 miles.
The highlight from the home team French automakers might be the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4, what's being billed as the world's first diesel-engine hybrid-electric vehicle. The 3008 will get up to 62 mpg from its 2-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine and electric motor powered by a low-tech nickel-metal hydride battery pack, likely to keep down costs. The diesel drives the front wheels, the electric motor the rears and the car goes on sale early next year.
Renault has no intention of producing the marvelous DeZir concept coupe, with its way-cool reverse-swinging gullwing doors, but the company does say it's an indicator of a new design language, so that's okay. Meanwhile, nobody seems to know what to make of Citroen's oddball Lacoste Picture concept.
Production Cars Are People, Too
Although it's hardly been kept a secret, the Paris show's big launch probably is the full line of Ford's 2012 Focus, complete now with the addition of the performance ST model unveiled in Paris. The ST uses an EcoBoost-enhanced version of the standard Focus' 2-liter 4-cylinder that makes 247 horsepower, while fans of Ford's Stateside in-house Special Vehicle Team tuner unit may be dismayed to hear the high-perf Focus will be marketed in the U.S. as the Focus ST rather than the Focus SVT.
Ford's main rival, GM, shows up in Paris with that most American of ideas, the woodie, the treatment being done to a Chevrolet Spark subcompact. Of more relevance is the hatchback version of the Chevrolet Cruze, which recently went on sale in the U.S. as a 4-door sedan.
The trunked version of the Cruze has been on sale in other regions for as much as two years, but for some reason GM says the handsome Cruze hatchback isn't for the U.S. - despite the fact it also is showing an all-new Aveo hatchback at the Paris show. With Ford now insisting hatchbacks are hot in the U.S., we sense a marketing battle a-bornin'.
The Japanese attend the Paris show with the expected array of hybrids and fuel-sippers and a little of their own weirdness.
Infiniti needs to abbreviate the alphabet-soup of its IPL G convertible, though the car itself isn't as bad as the name. The IPL stands for Infiniti Performance Line, and this is the second of the breed, the first being the IPL version of the G coupe shown earlier this year.
And some wonder if Mazda's Shinari coupe concept, also unveiled earlier this year, presages Mazda's next move with either the RX-8 or the Miata.
What would a major international auto show be without a new Ferrari? And one that's sold out even before it's officially launched?
That's the story for the SA Aperta, a convertible variant of the 599 GTB Fiorano. Rumors are it will cost a half-million dollars, but the 80 most interesting men in the world who already bought up the entire production run obviously don't care about such banalities.
Photos by automakers
1. Jaguar C-X75 concept
2. Peugeot 3008 diesel hybrid
3. Renault DeZir concept
4. Chevrolet Spark Woodie
5. Ford Focus ST
6. Infiniti IPL G Coupe concept
7. Ferrari SA Aperto