Among the new model launches and the concepts on display, the Paris Auto Show features a collection of familiar models that have been given a tech makeover for 2007.
Buttons for setting the Touareg's new adaptive cruise control are mounted on the steering wheel. Another button on the end of the left-hand steering column stalk enables the driver to cancel the settings.
A rear-seat video entertainment system will available as a late option on the Sebring. Other comfort tech options include voice-memo recording via a microphone integrated into the rearview mirror; a heated and cooled front cup holder with a range of 35 to 140 degrees Fahreneit; and front- and rear-seat LED interior lighting (also a late-availability option).
The longer, wider, second-generation Audi TT coupe incorporates a number of internal and external tech upgrades. New performance and safety features for the 2007 TT include available adaptive headlights, run-flat tires, a tire-pressure monitor, park-distance control, and a speed-controlled rear spoiler that deploys automatically when the car reaches speeds of more than 75mph.
Honda's popular crossover SUV is going up the tech scale, with an arsenal of performance and safety upgrades. The model on show in Paris is set for release only in Europe, but it provides a good indication of what we can expect when the CR-V is updated in the States. The new CR-V comes with active cruise control and Honda's Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), which is a variant on a theme we have seen from luxury brands such as Lexus and Mercedes. The CMBS detects any reduction in speed in the car ahead and calculates time to impact. If this time gap drops below certain preset levels, the car will sound warnings, flash lights, apply tension to the seatbelt, and finally apply the brakes to reduce the impact of any collision.
Inside, the CR-V gets an all-new navigation system, which features built-in Bluetooth phone integration for hands-free calling. A new function of the Bluetooth system is its ability to automatically pair itself to a Bluetooth-enabled phone, giving drivers instant access to their phone books. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are also new for the 2007 model.
Audiophiles will be attracted to the new Pajero's 12-speaker Rockford Acoustic sound system with an 860-watt amplifier, digital sound processing (DSP), and 5.1 channel surround-sound. The car also comes with a 30GB hard disk drive navigation system with integrated music server; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system (standard on premium models); and a backup camera.
Mitsubishi's Pajero (sold as the Montero in the United States, but about to be discontinued) was another SUV to get a substantial technology makeover. As well as a new body style, and improved performance features, including the addition of a rear differential lock, the Pajero's cabin received a bundle of high-end equipment. Although we won't be seeing the new model over here, some of the car's cabin technology features are more than likely to show up in other Mitsubishi models, including any future upgrades to the new Outlander.
Inside, a navigation system and a Bluetooth telephone interface come in the form of a monochrome six-inch display, which is controlled with an MMI-style button cluster mounted on the center stack. According to Audi, an optional color monitor for navigation will also be offered with the TT shortly.
Chrysler's next-generation navigation system features a 6.5-inch LCD touch-screen display and incorporates real-time traffic updates. The screen can also be used to play movies, which can be stored on the Sebring's built-in 20-gigabyte hard drive. A USB port in the Sebring's head unit allows drivers to play audio and video files and to upload them to the car's hard disc. An aux-in jack also enables audiophiles to stream music from portable digital music players.
As well as a new body design and four new engine options, including a V-6 and a turbodiesel, the 2007 Chrysler Sebring takes the accolades of being the model that has received the most upgraded technology features. An updated navigation system, the availability of the UConnect Bluetooth phone interface, the addition of hard drive storage for media and map information, plus a range of other comfort features, endow the Sebring with the kind of tech usually found in cars twice its price.
Externally, not much has changed on the Mini Cooper from its first incarnation. Apart from some cosmetic tweaking to the front grille and the headlights, you could be forgiven for mistaking the new Mini for the old one. That's because the major upgrades to the Mini are under the hood: the Mini Cooper S now packs a 1.6-liter turbocharged power plant (gone is the supercharger) making 175 horsepower, while the Mini One now comes with a 1.4-liter engine, making 120 horsepower (up from 115). A turbodiesel version of the Mini Cooper is also in the works.
Among the other updates to the Mini is the integration of electronic power-assisted steering, which adjusts the responsiveness of the car's steering based on current speed. The car also features a central-arm rear axle to enhance the car's already go-cart-like handling.
Volkswagen's luxury truck looks pretty much the same from the outside, but a number of interior tech upgrades have brought it up-to-date and enabled it to hold its own in the cutthroat luxury SUV market. The 2007 Touareg borrows a couple of features from its Audi Q7 cousin, including adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot detection warning system that alerts the driver to vehicles in their blind spots when the car's turn signal is activated.
SI Drive works by regulating the engine control unit, the automatic gearbox control (where appropriate), and the responsiveness of the Legacy's electronically controlled throttle to deliver a three-mode performance management system. Drivers can select Intelligent, Sport, or Sport Sharp modes, depending on whether they want maximum fuel economy, maximum performance, or a compromise between the two. According to Subaru, use of Intelligent mode can result in increased fuel efficiency of up to 10 percent.
First unveiled at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, Subaru's 2007 Legacy spec.B is also on display in Paris. Tech upgrades on the Legacy for the 2007 model year include a touch-screen navigation system, an MP3/WMA-compatible stereo, and the inclusion of Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive), a system that enables drivers to set the car's level of engine performance using a dial mounted in the cabin.