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Practicality will top panache at Paris show

'Automotive News' reports on debuts at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.

Automotive News

Amid gloomy predictions for 2009 sales and escalating environmental concerns, the world's automakers kick off the fall auto show season in Paris next week. Expect increased talk of electric, fuel-cell, and hybrid powertrains:

  • Honda will unveil its Prius-fighter, the Insight hybrid.
  • General Motors will show the production Chevrolet Volt it displayed during 100th birthday festivities last week.
  • French automaker Renault's Ondelios concept uses electric motors on the wheels to augment a diesel engine.
  • Suzuki will display two hydrogen fuel-cell models: the SX4-FCV, which uses a GM fuel-cell stack, and a fuel-cell powered electric motorcycle.

But this is Paris, after all, so don't count out glamor entirely. BMW rolls out its new 7 series, for example, and Ferrari will show its California two-seater.

Here are major Paris debuts scheduled for the Oct. 2-3 press-preview days:


Audi will unveil a near-production concept for its A1 hatchback. The entry-premium car will compete with BMW's 1 series and Mini models.

Adding the A1 to its lineup is part of Audi's goal to sell 1.5 million cars a year by 2015. Audi will aim the A1 at young male buyers who want a sportier-looking car than the Mini. It will cost about $28,400.

The Paris concept will be a further development of the Metroproject Quattro plug-in hybrid concept that Audi unveiled at the Tokyo auto show last autumn. The car likely will go on sale in Europe in March 2010. There are no plans to sell the car in the United States.

Audi also will show a new version of its most powerful A6--an RS6 powered by a twin-turbocharged, 580 hp 5.0-liter V-10 engine.


BMW wants its 7 series to become the world's top-selling upper-premium sedan, so it will target Mercedes-Benz S-class customers when the fifth-generation 7 series goes on sale in Europe in November.

Last year the 7 series was No. 3 in the upper-premium segment with global sales of 44,421, compared with S-class sales of 85,000 and 71,760 sales of the Lexus LS.

To attract new customers, BMW is offering lots of new technology, including an eight-speed transmission, four-wheel steering, in-car Internet access and a night-vision feature that warns drivers of people near the roadway.

The new 7 series has a smoother, more elegant look than the current model. BMW will introduce mild and full hybrid versions of the 7 series.

BMW also will show a concept for its X1, a premium SUV that will be the smallest and cheapest of the carmaker's X range, which includes the X3, X5 and X6.


Chevrolet will unveil the Orlando and the Cruze.

The Orlando concept previews an SUV-styled crossover that could become Chevrolet's first seven-seat vehicle in Europe. The boxy concept combines the characteristics of an SUV, a minivan and a station wagon.

Chevrolet has not said whether the Orlando will be built, but the concept shows that the brand getting ready to expand into the multipurpose family vehicle market using an SUV design.

The Orlando is based on General Motors' lower-medium Delta architecture and uses the same 150-hp, 2.0-liter diesel engine as the Cruze, which Chevrolet also will unveil in Paris. The four-door Cruze is a lower-medium sedan that will go on sale in global markets in March as one of Chevrolet's new core models.


Ferrari will debut the California, which will be the sports car maker's fourth model and its first convertible with a retractable hard top. The two-seat California will be similar in size to the F430 Scuderia coupe. It has a V-8 engine like the F430, but the California's 460-hp, 4.3-liter engine is placed in the front behind the wheel axle rather than the back. California sales in Europe will begin by the end of the year, priced about the same as the F430, which in Italy starts at about $227,000.

The California will be the first Ferrari to have a dual-clutch transmission, which debuts with seven speeds and a direct-injection gasoline engine.


Ford will unveil three models: a replacement for the Ka minicar, the performance Focus RS and a fuel-efficient Fiesta. Ford has considered bringing the Ka to the United States, but most recently has said it does not plan to do so.

The new Ka will be unveiled 12 years after the original model was first shown at the same venue. It has a fresh design and will be offered with a diesel engine for the first time. The minicar will be produced in Fiat's plant in Tychy, Poland.

Ford also will unveil the Focus RS, which has a top speed of 161 mph. It uses a reengineered version of the turbocharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine from the Focus ST with 300 hp instead of 225 hp.

The Fiesta ECOnetic is Ford's most fuel-efficient Fiesta. It is powered by a 90-hp, 1.6-liter diesel engine whose CO2 emissions have been cut through improved aerodynamics, longer gear ratios and low-resistance tires.


Honda has revived the Insight name for a dedicated gasoline-electric hybrid that will take on the Toyota Prius.

Like the Prius, the new Insight will be a five-door, five-passenger hatchback. A concept will debut in Paris. A production version will go on sale in spring.

With its new Insight, Honda aims to attract buyers who have never considered a hybrid. Honda says the Insight will be priced significantly lower than any other hybrid but has not released the price.

The Insight will have a new platform in which the battery and control unit are beneath the cargo space.

Honda expects to sell about 200,000 Insights globally, about half in North America.


Hyundai will unveil its i20 small car and several fuel efficient technologies. The five-door i20 hatchback will be built in India.

Hyundai also will display a gasoline-electric hybrid car based on its Santa Fe SUV. The hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter gasoline engine and a 30-kilowatt electric motor.

The seven-seat iX55 SUV also will make its debut. The iX55 is based on the Veracruz, which is on sale in the United States. It has been retuned and restyled extensively for European tastes.

Hyundai also will show a Genesis Coupe design study that cuts weight with a carbon fiber hood and roof.


Kia is targeting the Soul at young urban buyers. The carmaker describes the five-door Soul as an "urban crossover."

The Soul will go on sale in Europe in February with a choice of 126-hp diesel or gasoline engines. The Soul was first shown as a concept at the Detroit auto show in 2006. Three more concepts first appeared at the Geneva auto show in March.


Lexus will unveil a convertible version of its IS lower-premium sedan. The IS 250 C will be the first four-seat convertible from Lexus. Currently Lexus only sells a 2+2 seat convertible called the SC430.

Lexus also will unveil a facelift for its IS sedan: new interior and exterior styling, plus modifications to the suspension, steering and paddle-shift technology.

Lexus will also show the LF-Xh hybrid concept and the four-wheel- drive version of its flagship LS46.


The Kiyora concept provides clues aboutMazda's new city car.

The concept has bold styling and is powered by a four-cylinder direct-injection engine. It has a stop-start system, which improves fuel economy and reduces CO2 emissions.

Mazda will also show a facelifted MX-5 roadster.


Mercedes-Benz will unveil a design study called Fascination that previews the front-end styling for the next E-class due in 2010.

The concept also previews an E-class coupe that will replace the CLK. The coupe will expand the E-class range to three by adding another variant to the current sedan and station wagon.

The two-door, four-seat Fascination combines the sleek looks of a coupe with the extended rear of a station wagon. The concept is powered by a new fuel-efficient Bluetec diesel engine. Mercedes says the 204-hp, 2.2-liter engine has the same power output as its current 3.0-liter CDI diesel.


Mini will unveil a crossover concept that hints at the BMW-owned brand's planned sports activity vehicle.

The Mini crossover is due in the second quarter of 2010. Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr will build the car.

Mini says the concept has the brand's first all-wheel drive.

The concept is the longest Mini so far: 13 feet, 1.5 inches.


Nissan will unveil its production Pixo minicar and the Nuvu concept for an electric minicar.

The Pixo five-door hatchback will aim to meet the growing demand for fuel-efficient, low-priced minicars. It will be positioned below the Micra, the smallest car Nissan currently sells in Europe. The Pixo is powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-liter gasoline engine, and will be built by Suzuki in Delhi, India, alongside Suzuki's new Alto minicar.

The Nuvu is Nissan's vision for a car that city dwellers will be driving by about 2015. The concept has two regular seats and a fold-down third seat.

The concept contains some of the technology that will be in an electric car that Nissan says it will unveil at the 2009 Tokyo auto show and launch in Japan and North America in 2010.

Nissan also will show a facelifted version of its Note small minivan.


Opel will unveil the station wagon version of its new Insignia upper-medium car. Called the Sports Tourer, the wagon will go on sale in Europe in the spring, four months after the November sales launch of the sedan and hatchback variants. The Insignia range replaces Opel's Vectra/Signum models in Europe. The current Saturn Aura sold in the United States is based on the Vectra.

The Insignia wagon will have Opel's new front camera system that can read and memorize road signs and alert drivers if they unintentionally veer off the road.

An EcoFLEX Sports Tourer with low emissions and fuel consumption also will debut in Paris.


Suzuki's new Alto will be a new entry-level car for the brand in Europe below the Swift. The five-door Alto will be built in Suzuki's factory in India alongside a Nissan version called the Pixo. It will go on sale in Europe in December. The car will have a 65-hp, 1.0-liter gasoline engine.

Suzuki also will display its latest two hydrogen fuel-cell models in Paris: the SX4-FCV, which uses a fuel-cell stack from General Motors, and the Crosscage fuel-cell powered electric bike motorcycle.


Toyota will unveil three models: the Avensis, iQ and Urban Cruiser.

The carmaker has given the third-generation Avensis, its European flagship model, a sleeker, more dynamic design that resembles that of the Lexus IS and GS cars. The Avensis will go on sale during the first quarter of 2009.

Toyota says its iQ minicar will be the smallest four-seat car on the market at about 9 feet, 9.5 inches long.

The rugged-looking Urban Cruiser will be shown with all-wheel drive and a 1.4-liter diesel engine. The Yaris-based SUV will be positioned below the RAV4 medium SUV and will go on sale early 2009.


Volkswagen will unveil the sixth generation of Europe's best-selling car, the Golf.

The Golf, known as the Rabbit in the United States, is sold in 180 markets. Last year VW sold 763,491 Golfs globally, including 548,942 units in Europe, according to market researcher JATO Dynamics.

The new Golf uses the same platform as the current model, but 60 percent of its components are new, including the doors and many interior parts.

The new Golf will be replaced by an a new model in 2012, giving it a life span of four years, which is shorter than its predecessors.

(Via: Automotive News)

See all coverage of the 2008 Paris Motor Show.