While new car launches were few at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show, some were significant. Mini brought around the Clubman, a stretched version of the Cooper. Volkswagen showed off its new crossover, the Tiguan, and Audi had a significant model update for the A4. Dodge also came to play, putting a crossover called Journey on the floor.
BMW updated its 6 series, accentuating its sharklike front end through grille and headlight details, in an attempt to restore the spirit of the original 6 series, which was known as "the shark". BMW didn't fix the rear of the car, however. For the European market, BMW will offer a diesel engine.
Dodge built the Journey for the world market, with a design intended to appeal to everyone. Singles, families, retired people--the Journey is supposed to work for them all. It's a crossover, intended to combine the ruggedness of an SUV, the space of a minivan, and the drivability of a sedan. We say, don't stop believin'.
The stack looks pretty high. Going up from the bottom it has audio controls, a CD slot, climate controls, a radio display, vents, and a pod for an LCD. The Dodge can be optioned with the MyGig infotainment system, which combines a hard-drive navigation system with a music server. With many options, you can have it any way you want it.
Feeling the need to come up with a car somewhere in between the big Touareg and the Passat, Volkswagen designed the Tiguan as a small SUV crossover. With its sharpened nose, the Tiguan looks like it has real off-road clearance. It comes standard with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, and all of its engine choices are turbocharged.
The Tiguan can be had with hard-drive-based navigation, a system with 30GB of space that we assume has room for ripped music. We find it interesting that there's a button marked Traffic on the side of the navigation bezel, suggesting that live traffic reporting comes with the navigation system. The car also has a self-parking system available.
Mini's long-anticipated stretched Cooper is finally here, and it's called the Clubman. Its squarish rear has double swing-out doors. Beyond the body style, the Clubman is the same as the Cooper, using the same engines and dashboard layout.
Mini designed the Clubman with asymmetric doors, which might be difficult for people to accept. On the driver's side, it has one long door, while on the passenger side, it has a regular door and a half door that opens suicide style. Will they reverse this door arrangement when they move the wheel over for U.K. models?
Mazda did an excellent job of redesigning the exterior of the Mazda 6, giving it a smooth look. But the interior is basically the same as current Mazda models, so don't expect any interesting new tech.
Ford built the Kuga as a crossover for the European market, apparently ignoring the fact that it already had the Edge crossover in the U.S. The Kuga is a nice-looking car. As we also like the European Focus and Mondeo, we think Ford should offer its entire European lineup in the U.S.
Audi redesigned its A4, moving the front axle forward to give it better handling. LED running lights have been added to the headlight enclosures, giving the front of the car a unique look. For the U.S. market, expect the engine choices to remain a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder and a 3.2-liter V-6.
The major difference we noticed on the A4 dashboard is that the MMI controller moves off the stack and onto the center console, just like in the current A6 and A8. For transmissions, Audi is offering a six-speed manual and a tiptronic automatic.