Click here to read the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show Coverage.
Just as kids are returning to school, the auto show season gets an early start with the Detroit-dwarfing Frankfurt Motor Show. Spread out over eight massive halls, the 60th International Motor Show (IAA) Passenger Cars featured 125 world premiers.
Our staff was there to capture the all-new production and tantalizing concept cars in pictures and video even before the doors opened to the public. The bi-annual event was as impactful as ever, with a list of noteworthy debuts, including Aston Martin DB9, BMW 6 Series, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and Volkwagen Golf V among the major stories.
We've finished updating our photo coverage of this diverse and wild event and have shifted our focus to video production. Check back, as the first batch of videos will be loaded soon, as well. As always, don't forget to click on any gallery photo to see its enlargement.
And also, after you've had a chance to peruse the 50 vehicles presented here, share your opinion with other enthusiasts in our general discussion forums, or visit our associated polls and vote to tell us which is your favorite production vehicle, and which is your favorite concept car.
Debuting alongside the X3, the new BMW 645Ci Coupe promises power and performance within a breathtaking, contemporary design typical of BMW. The first BMW to wear the 6-Series badge in more than a dozen years, the new model is powered by the same 4.4-liter V-8 engine found in the luxury 745i, and offers three different six-speed transmissions, including one sequential manual gearbox. BMW promises 0-60-mph times in just 5.6 seconds, and a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph thanks in part to a judicious use of lightweight materials keeping the car at a 3528-pound curb weight. Additional niceties include an adaptive cruise control that maintains a programmed distance from the car ahead, swiveling headlights for improved visibility, and run-flat tires. Key options will include Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Drive suspension, and Active Steering, making the 6 Series a technological tour de force. Pricing will be announced when it debuts in the United Kingdom in December.
Hyundai teamed with the convertible specialists at Karmann to create a concept car that paves the way for a production Hyundai Tiburon droptop. This 2+2 show car features a three-phase roof with glass ceiling, open top, and full convertible stages. Because the glass slides over the top, headroom is not compromised in this mode. Despite the expected complexity, Hyundai claims the retracting mechanism has fewer pivot points than most other convertibles. The show car shares its 2.7-liter V-6 and six-speed transmission with the production coupe, though the interior has been fitted with brown leather Recaros and a 280-watt Becker/Infinity audio system. The exterior is updated with new light clusters, front and rear, along with distinct 18-inch wheels.
The baby Landie continues to mature, adopting more Range Rover cues and even performance. New front bumper, headlamps, and grille distinguish the 2004 model, with a revised rear bumper and taillamps completing the exterior enhancements. The interior boasts a more dramatic freshening, with new instruments, switchgear, door trims, seats, and upholstery. Europeans will also get a Sport model, with 18-inch wheels, firmer suspension, and lowered ride height delivering improved on-road performance. Land Rover claims the Freelander Sport will be the sharpest handling production model offered by the British firm.
The charismatic French firm has wrapped its distinctive design themes around a sporting 2+2 concept that threatens to make hatchbacks cool again. Termed a concept, the 407 Elixir reportedly paves the way for the 407 production model expected to be shown later this fall. Behind the grinning grille is an all-new, 2.7-liter V-6 diesel engine producing more than 200 horsepower matched with a manumatic-style transmission, with full auto and clutchless manual modes. At each corner is an independent suspension, with double wishbone configuration up front and multilink to the rear. Interior packaging offers identical leather buckets for each passenger, massive glass roof panel, and absence of rear package shelf. Key safety equipment includes an electronic stability system and nine airbags, including a knee bag fitted in the steering column.
Renault unveiled two concepts named Be Bop offering slightly different, decidedly French takes on the compact MPV. One Bopper is a 115-hp all-terrain vehicle, while the other Bopper is a more performance-oriented, 225-hp model from the Renaultsport brand. Both draw styling influence from previous Renault designs, along with the natural aerodynamic sleekness of a water droplet. The aero theme carries over to the streamlined floor plan as the designers seek to cheat the wind to aid fuel efficiency. The SUV-variant features rear seats that can disappear under the front seats with the push of a button and a rear hatch system that lifts the glass above the roof, opens the lower portion downward, and slides out a package shelf. Both models use LCD instrument panels and feature appropriately artistic interiors.
Based on the corporate VW MkV platform, shared with the Audi A3 and Golf, the Altea will be the first SEAT product to be developed within the new Audi Brand Group. Spanish automaker SEAT has displayed its compact Multi Sport Vehicle (MSV) concept to prepare the market for the Altea's 2004 calendar year introduction. The elegant box is described as offering a "mono space" that doesn't distinguish tradition vehicle compartments. Nonetheless, there is a 2.0-liter behind the grille with 150 PS, and shifted through a six-speed automatic transmission and sequential Tiptronic gearbox.
Developed in cooperation with Mitsubishi, the Smart ForFour adds a second, larger line for the trendy automaker, as it prepares to expand into new markets. On sale in Europe this fall, the ForFour carries the two-tone appearance and wafer-thin overhangs that help distinguish the brand's diminutive vehicles. Despite the name, there will also be a five-passenger model offered. As with the smart city-coupe, customers can choose between a plastic roof, a panorama glass roof, and an electric glass sunroof for the smart ForFour. A Brazil-built ForFour variant will be offered in the United States, likely with a more aggressive exterior, increased power, and possibly all-wheel drive.
The CS&S proves that being green can more fun than Kermit ever let on. Making its world debut, the CS&S (Compact Sports & Speciality) concept applies the lauded Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain to a mid-engined sports car. Simply stated, the rear wheels are motivated by a 1.5-liter gasoline engine, while the front wheels are spun by powerful electric motors as needed. Designed in the South of France, the CS&S has a removable canopy that allows it to transmogrify from two to four seats. Taking it a step further, the front passenger seat can become a security cover for the forward row. The CS&S also introduces Space Touch holographic controls that out-geek the controversial BMW iDrive controller. This unique system projects spheres that appear to float in space, but when touched they allow the user to control the air conditioning, audio, satellite navigation or even Internet connections. Sized between the current Celica and MR2 models, the CS&S has us seeking trees to hug.
Among eight overflowing halls of European machinery, the all-new Volkswagen Golf may not be a head turner, but it is among the show's most significant unveilings. The fifth-generation Golf advances VW's best-selling model line through refinements, size increase, improved performance, and greater safety features. The Golf will again be offered in three- and five-door models, being longer, wider, and taller than the MkIV it replaces. Initial power choices will include 1.4-liter/75 hp and 1.6-liter/115-hp gas and 1.9-liter/105hp and 2.0-liter/140-hp turbo diesel offerings, with sportier options promised in later phases. Engines are matched to five- and six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions and electromechanical steering for perky performance. MkV will eventually spawn convertible, sport/utility vehicle, and crossover wagon variants.
The model that defined the hot hatch segment that still thrives in Europe, the GTI, made its world debut in concept form based on the all-new Golf. Visually distinguished from the volume Golf models, this concept draws arrow-shaped influences from the Concept R roadster, color cues from the first-generation GTI, and adds twin exhaust pipes and rear spoiler. The interior features GTI cues, from three-spoke steering wheel to embroidered logos, and it is dressed in aluminum trim and suede leather. Lively performance is ensured with a turbocharged 200-horsepower engine matched with a direct selection gearbox, sport-tuned suspension, fortified brakes, and large 18-inch wheels. Will VW build the GTI? Look for the production model to appear at the 2004 Paris Motor Show.
A true stunner, the mid-engined Volkswagen Concept R reveals the direction for an expected, future sports car. This 3.2-liter V-6 delivers 260 horsepower to the rear wheels for a brisk 5.3-second 0-60 mph time. A six-speed direct-selection gearbox puts the driver in command, racing to the car's nongoverned167 mph top speed. For clever show-car features, the Concept R has adjustable springs...in the seats. Measuring 164 inches, the two-seat Concept R is approximately the same length as a three-door Golf. This sharp sportster is on our wish list, and VW insiders say wishes can come true.
The all-new S40 makes its world debut in Frankfurt, becoming the first Volvo to use a shared Ford platform. Part of Ford's C1 Technologies program, the platform will also be used for the next-generation Focus and the Mazda 3, also being unveiled in Germany. The S40 draws clear design inspiration from the larger S60 and S80 sedans, rightly suggesting big-car caliber safety and luxury features will be offered on this compact range. Powertrains to range from four-cylinder turbodiesel to five-cylinder gasoline, with the top output for the performance-oriented T5 model to be 220-horsepower. The S40 will be joined by a wagon variant named V50, fitting with Volvo's revised even/odd nomenclature for distinguishing body styles. America is expected to be the largest market for the S40.
That the C-Airlounge scores a wind-cheating 0.26 drag coefficient does not seem like justification enough for this rolling egg homage. However, beneath the smooth, scarab-esque exterior is a practically sized passenger space that explores interior design through modular seating. Configurable for four or five passengers, the C-Airlounge can also adapt to the occupants' mood through fiber-optic lighting and video projectors in the carpet and armrests (click image to see). Because the black show vehicle was parked in a darkened enclosure to show off the wild light show, we must turn to the manufacturer photo on this one. This fantasy Parisian limo may be one more reason not to visit France. Vive la resistance!
Like last year's Jaguar concept, the R-D6 explores a potential configuration for a premium coupe, or at least a coupe-like sedan. The sensuous aluminum- and composite-intensive car reveals a design style that we're told will be used with future Jaguar cars. The interior is an interesting blend of premium materials and modern, minimalist design, combining the words of luxury sedans and racecars. Under the hood is a 2.7-liter bi-turbo diesel engine that produces 230 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, a combination strong enough to propel the lightweight car to 60 mph in less than six seconds and reach an electronically limited 155-mph top speed. Makes diesel sound more appealing, doesn't it?
The latest concept from Korea's oldest automaker is a small retractable-hardtop convertible designed to appeal to budget-minded Gen Y drivers. Unveiling this distinct show vehicle at Frankfurt is deliberate, for Kia drew inspiration from European vehicles to appeal to that youth market. Although intended to be an affordable vehicle, the 2.0-liter-powered KCV-III has several features more often found on upscale vehicles, such as adaptive cruise control, anti-whiplash headrests, brake assist, electronic stability control, and parking assist. While the car itself is truly a concept, Kia confesses that several showcased technologies will appear on its future models.
Amid a hall overflowing with Italian machinery, Lamborghini debuted the Murcielago R-GT race car concept. Built in reaction to customer demand for a track-ready car, the R-GT was developed in cooperation with Audi Sport and motorsports experts Reiter Engineering. Built to the requirements for FIA and ACO, this Murcielago was converted from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive, with a sequential gearbox. Total weight will be under 2425 lbs. to satisfy regulations. Power will come from a 6.0-liter V-12, though specific output was not released. Priced over $500,000, the production Murcielago R-GT will be ready for events like the FIA GT Championship and American Le Mans Series.
"Room" is the spacious interior goal and "roadster" is the driving feel that comprised the goal for this funky concept car. The Volkswagen division Skoda explores a potential configuration for a future, compact family vehicle. Beyond the airplane-like front glass appearance, the most distinguishing feature for Roomster is its asymmetrical design that has only a single C-pillar on the passenger side. This creates a wraparound on the driver's side that makes the interior feel larger. In keeping with the theme, the rear seat can slide longitudinally and fold forward for storage flexibility. Skoda also displayed 1/4-scale Roomster variants, showing alternative body styles and applications, such as a pickup, taxi cab, and convertible. Skoda claims that the Roomster does offer a glimpse at future product.
BMW enters the luxury compact SUV market with the all-new X3, little brother to X5. Termed a Sport Activity Vehicle, the X3 has the same responsiveness that is readily identifiable with BMW. Off-pavement adventures are aided by a new xDrive all-wheel-drive system that quickly distributes power to the wheels with traction. To further enhance traction, the X3 is fitted with Dynamic Stability Control. Other notable features include adaptive headlights, two-piece panorama roof, and tire-pressure monitor. It is expected that the 3 Series wagon will not return to America with the next generation, leaving the X3 to fill its role in this SUV-hungry market.
The BMW X5 gains more power for the 2004 model year, with the top V-8 now displacing 4.8 liters and producing 360 horsepower. BMW claims swift a six-second 0-60-mph time for this high-performance package. The now-midrange 4.4-liter engine receives numerous enhancements for the new model year, including several refinements adapted from the prestigious 7 Series sedan. The X5 benefits from the new, intelligent xDrive all-wheel-drive system that can infinitely vary the distribution of forces to the front and rear axles. The system works with onboard sensors, monitoring yaw rate and steering input, to predict when stability control intervention or motive force distribution is required. While the hardware marks the most significant updates, the exterior has been modestly updated for the new model year.
Amid new vehicle launches, BMW showed off the new 5 Series sedan fitted with the 4.4-liter V-8 engine shared with the 745i. This engine boasts almost 50 more horsepower than the lauded previous-generation 540i. Shifted manually, the new 545i can run 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. And despite more power from a larger car, the 2004 545i is more fuel-efficient than the much-loved previous-generation 540i. Naturally, the suspension, wheels/tires, and brakes have all been upgraded to complement the powertrain. Likewise, the interior is better dressed and more fully equipped than that found in six-cylinder models. BMW spotters will note the chromed vertical grille slats and round tailpipes are the exterior telltales for the 545i, besides the oft-removed badging.
Looking like an escapee from a Ginza, Tokyo, toy store, the i Concept is more than a static show machine, it has served test duty for a car to be launched in Japan in 2005. Already, the i has achieved maximum 5-Star ratings (lowest environmental impact) in fuel consumption and emissions testing performed recently in Germany. The key is an ultra-efficient 1.0-liter engine with Stop-Start, which shuts off the powerplant when the vehicle is stationary. This wee engine is fitted midship and powers the rear wheels to improve crashworthiness and maximize interior space.
Video producer Jay McCarthy has toured the massive facility committing the most significant concept and production vehicles to tape. Guided vehicle tours will be posted online as soon as the road-weary crew edits the hours of footage down to concise segments.
Kia has stuffed this spicy little Picanto with value, aiming it at young, active families in need of versatility. Outside, the Picanto has Euro-inspired flair, while the interior focuses on functionality and ergonomics, offering no fewer than 18 cabin storage nooks and 31 cubic feet of stowage (with rear seats folded). The five-door A-car is powered by a choice of 1.0- or 1.1-liter gasoline engines capable of making 62 or 63 horsepower respectively. With that, Kia claims 0-60-mph times of 15.8 seconds and a top speed of 94 mph, all while managing fuel economy as high as 56 mpg. Standard features include ABS, electronic brake force distribution to help prevent skidding and aid wheel grip, driver and passenger airbags, and an instant mobility tire system that replaces the spare and reduces vehicle weight. Kia expects to sell 120,000 of the poquito Picantos per year globally.
Audi has taken the genes of its three-time-LeMans-winning R8, and cooked them into its high-performance LeMans Quattro concept. The stunning car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.0-liter V-10 that promises about 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. That power is transferred through a sequential-shift gearbox operated via steering wheel paddles, to catapult the two-seater from 0-62 in just 3.7 seconds and to a 155-mph (limited) 214-mph (unlimited) top speed. Despite speculation by some that the Le Mans concept is a dramatic look at the next TT, it was designed to test the market for a premium Audi sports car. If the reaction is strong enough, Audi will work aggressively to make the business case. As the brand becomes increasingly performance-oriented through its impressive S vehicles, the German automaker will crave a hallowed performance icon. You just may be looking at it with the Le Mans concept.
Adventure is on the horizon with Nissan's Dunehawk concept, a tough seven-seat SUV that is destined to be capable both on- and off-road. A rugged ladder frame chassis, high ground clearance with short front and rear overhangs, and jumbo 20-inch wheels promise performance on difficult terrain and for towing. Its imposing design features smooth surfaces noticeably absent of door handles or rearview mirrors--entry is via touchpads and dashboard screens use cameras to display what's behind. Inside, an overhead aircraft-style center console offers stowage, HVAC outlets, and DVD monitor. Following Nissan's recent design trend, the center console is flanked by a glazed roof that creates an airy interior ambience.
It would be easy to overlook the new S4 Cabriolet in the bustling Audi booth, as the Le Mans and Nuvolari concepts drew crowds. But on the well-trodden path to the VW Golf exhibit was a red convertible sporting a 4.2-liter/340-horsepower V-8. The S4 Cabriolet is distinguished from its six-cylinder siblings by the large front air inlets, titanium surrounds encircling the Xenon headlamps, aluminum side mirror trim, dramatic tailpipes, and 18-inch wheels. The interior is also treated to subtle enhancements, such as special S gauge faces and three-spoke steering wheel. The formidable power is controlled by a six-speed manual or Tiptronic transmission, then routed through the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The result is a swift 0-60-mph time under six seconds. Handling is also elevated beyond a traditional A4 thanks to a sport-tuned, aluminum-intensive suspension.
Citroen launched its pocket-sized C2 range in Frankfurt, promising an injection of fun into the important urban commuter segment. Four engines are offered, ranging from fuel-sipping 61 to 110 horsepower. More stimulating is the SensoDrive automatic transmission with well-placed paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel's backside. This transmission operates in full automatic or manual modes, with an adaptive mode allowing the automatic setting to adjust to road conditions and driver input to map the shifts for optimum fuel economy. Other big-car features include ABS with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, automatic lights, and automatic air conditioning. Space in these small cars is made more usable by split rear seats that slide forward/aft independently.
A rolling design and technology showcase, this sleek coupe reminds of James Bond's famous Aston Martin DB5 with more than its styling. The four-place Visos concept transforms from sedate street machine, to high-performance autobahn missile. When the driver engages Sport mode, a front air splitter, rear diffuser, and rear spoiler are deployed, while the door-mounted rearview cameras retract, all enhancing the aerodynamics. Similarly, the interior can change personality with its automatically hugging bucket seats, mood lighting, and next-generation Sony LCD dash displays. Underhood is a 3.0-liter bi-turbo inline six-cylinder engine routing 350 horsepower to all four wheels. Expect to see styling and tech elements appear on future Ford models.
Destined to replace the three-time World Rally Champion Peugeot 206 WRC, the 307 WRC made its debut in Frankfurt. It features a different engine than the 206 WRC, using a 1.8-liter powerplant shared with the production 406. However, in race trim, this engine has been increased to 2.0 liters with 320 horsepower. Numerous other enhancements were made throughout the car, including the transmission, suspension, structure, and roof -- no longer a retractable unit in race trim. Launch date depends on readiness to fulfill the mission of winning races and ultimately selling production cars. Look for the 307 WRC coming to a video game near you.
This wild concept is the dreamchild of Stefan Schulze, a 32-year-old graphic artist who won a Peugeot design contest earlier this year. The web-based contest drew 2800 entries from amateur designers creating their vision of retro, futurist style. The submissions had to have a clear Peugeot theme, recall a historic model, and be innovative. Beyond a cash prize, Schulze earned the privilege of seeing his creation transformed into a full-scale clay model for show in Frankfurt. The design inspiration was a 1936 Peugeot 406, which shares a similar grille with hidden headlamps. With the model enhanced by aluminum, fiberglass, exhaust tips, door mirrors, and 21-inch wheels/tires, the ultimate effect is very convincing.
Subaru will catapult the Legacy into the mainstream midsize sedan fray with its all-new sedan and wagon series. Contemporary design is essential to compete in that hotly contested arena, but the Legacy may make a mark with its sporting personality. While the car is wider than its predecessor to increase interior space, the new Legacy is also notably lighter. Factor in lower mounting positions for the boxster engines, stiffer structure, and longer wheelbase, and the Legacy has the ingredients for improved dynamics. The American market will get the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines, though a high-output turbo engine may be offered down the road.
Built for adventurous drivers, the Outback Wagon features distinct exterior treatments, with thicker bumpers, wheel arch flares, side cladding, creased hood, and available two-tone paint schemes. Several detail elements such as front grille, sill guards, and contrasting roof rails further distinguish the Outback. Ready to tread off the beaten path, the Outback utilizes Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and almost eight inches of ground clearance. Like the more pavement-oriented Legacys, the new Outback also benefits from a sporty, clean interior design that feels upscale compared to mainstream competitors. The optional navigation system offers intuitive touch-screen controls, and doubles as a graphic trip computer.
With a Stomp-like dance and percussion number, Mazda revealed its all-new 3 sedan and wagon in Frankfurt. These stylish cars are based on the new global Ford compact platform that underpins the new Volvo S40 (also revealed in Germany) and the next-generation Focus. Perhaps even better looking than the attractive Protege range, the 3 improves on the breed with a larger interior with a clean, sporty design, a more rigid platform, and more powerful engines. Five variants of the MZR four-cylinder engine family will be offered around the globe with choice of five-speed manual or four-speed Activematic transmission. A sport appearance package will be offered with distinct fascias, aerodynamic package, roof/decklid spoiler, and fog lamps.
Mazda created the Kusabi concept to explore another approach to fun, affordable cars, which the Japanese automaker sees as a growth niche. Based on the Mazda 2, the four-seat Kusabi is powered by a 1.6-liter common-rail diesel engine with a six-speed transmission -- a reminder that fun in this segment is based heavily on style and dynamics, rather than power. Looking a bit like a cross between an RX-8 and a Toyota Matrix, the two-door Kusabi has a clever Twin-Lift hatchback that allows the rear to lift traditionally and to also hinge in the middle in a gullwing fashion. Access to the second-row seats is equally innovative, with the front buck seat backs swinging inward, rather than folding forward. A small car with attitude, we hope this portends of a future production model.
Combining elegant coupe lines with practical sedan functionality, the Vision CLS splits hairs to create an interesting hybrid. The CLS showcases the 265-horsepower bi-turbo diesel engine that is both fuel efficient and strong, capable of pushing this sizable car 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds. A full complement of Mercedes technology is featured, including the 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic transmission and bi-xenon Active Light System. While some have speculated that the Vision CLS may be the next-generation S-Class, Mercedes is seriously exploring this "coupe" study as a potential new vehicle to add to the range. To judge the seriousness of this concept, look no further than the history of past "Visions" that have lead to the SLK, M-Class, and SLR.
The biggest draw of the show was arguably the SLR, a 21st-century Gran Turismo coupe destined to earn a place in motoring history alongside the fabled namesake 1950s SLRs. Constructed almost entirely from carbon fiber, the stiff, lightweight SLR uses the latest F1-developed technologies to create a lust-worthy machine. Under the long, sloping hood is a 5.5-liter/626-horsepower supercharged V-8 paired with a next-generation AMG five-speed automatic with SportShift R. This combination is good for a claimed 3.8-second 0-60-mph time and reach a 207-mph terminal velocity. To achieve such high speeds, Mercedes tapped McLaren for its aerodynamic expertise, leading to a nearly smooth undercarriage, slick body surface, and speed-adjustable spoiler. Best put in your order soon, as there is already a two-year-long waiting list.
Seeming huge and defiantly American, the Chrysler 300C Touring concept loomed over numerous smaller machines. The latest in the Chrysler product offensive, the 300C Touring offers a thinly veiled look at the production counterpart to the 300C sedan shown earlier this year. Underneath the exterior bravado is a Hemi V-8 engine, signaling the return of American muscle family style. Exclusive to the wagon model will be an available all-wheel-drive system, expanding its appeal into crossover territory. To further aid all-weather safety is Electronic Stability Program (ESP), traction control, anti-lock brake system, and High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps. Look for the production car to debut as a 2005 model, priced in the $30s.
Toyota has treated the RAV4 sport/cute to a midlife freshening, making numerous changes throughout to increase its appeal and help stave off encroaching competition. Most obvious is the redesigned front bumper, headlights, grille, and fog lights in front, and new taillight and spare tire cover designs in the rear. The RAV4 exterior will be available in five new colors, as well. The interior features a redesigned steering wheel, instrument cluster, and center dashboard area, along with new fabrics. The standard equipment roster has expanded to include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), tire pressure monitor, 3-in-1 AM/FM/cassette audio system with six speakers, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, power windows, power door locks and power mirrors, and variable intermittent windshield wipers. The 2.0-liter engine has been replaced by a 2.4-liter powerplant producing 161 horsepower. With more then $2000 in additional standard equipment, the 2004 model starts at $18,350.
The majestic new Pininfarina-designed Maserati Quattroporte builds upon the tradition started with the first Quattroporte model in 1963 by combining a luxury sedan with a sporting engine and chassis. With a distinctly Italian design, the new Quattroporte promises to dramatically expand the reach for the revitalized Maserati brand. With nearly 400 horsepower from the 4.2-liter DOHC V-8, the Quattroporte will deliver true Trident-grade performance, with a claimed 0-62-mph time of 5.2 seconds and 171-mph top speed. Well-rounded dynamics are ensured by Skyhook adaptive damping system, cross-drilled Brembo brakes, and choice of 18- or 19-inch wheels. Likewise, the pampering interior offers not only hedonistic fine materials and high-technology features, but also numerous opportunities for personalization. This fine coach is expected to be available early 2004 at just shy of $100,000.
In a hall overflowing with rival sports cars, Porsche unveiled the first 911 Turbo Cabriolet since 1989. The convertible is naturally based on the existing 911 Turbo coupe, sharing its body, powertrain, all-wheel-drive system, suspension, and brakes. Translation: tremendously impressive performance from a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter/415-horsepower six-cylinder engine, fitted with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Porsche claims a 0-62-mph time of 4.3 seconds, with a top speed of 189 mph. To fortify the open-top car, the structure has been enhanced with reinforced with double-thick side-sills, additional junction plates, and reinforcements behind the B pillar. Porsche Stability Management (PSM), hard top, wind deflector, Bose audio system, and navigation system are all standard. Price will start at $128,200 when the 911 Turbo Cabriolet goes on sale this fall.
First shown in Geneva, the Subaru B11S captivated us enough to share it again. Developed to demonstrate the Japanese automaker's future design direction, already evidenced with the new Legacy, the Subaru B11S exhibits flowing curves tempered by crisp detail lines. With the philosophy of Gran Utility Turismo, the B11S focuses on performance with a horizontally opposed twin-turbo engine six-cylinder engine producing nearly 400 horsepower, five-speed automatic transmission with VTD (variable torque distribution), and symmetrical AWD. Two pairs of side doors open like gates and latch in the middle without a conventional B-pillar, an arrangement that allows easy access to its spacious four-seat interior. Heir to the SVX and Mazda RX-8 competitor? We can only hope.
Based on the Maserati 4200GT, this carbon-fiber sports car draws upon the Italian marque's rich motorsports history for inspiration, as it looks to set the course for future vehicle design. Even the name refers to racing accomplishments, with "8c" being a signature moniker from the 1930s and 1940s, and "Competizione" paying tribute to the 6C 2500 Competizione, the sports coupe driven by Juan Fangio in the famous 1950 Mille Miglia race. Walking around the red two-seater reveals cues from the 33 Coupe Stradale (front) and Giulia TZ (rear). This show machine boasts more than 400 horsepower from its 4.2-liter DOHC V-8. Routed through a six-speed manual transmission, and put to the pavement via 20-inch tires, this power translates to a claimed 4.5-second 0-60 mph time. Even sitting still, it can cause heartbeats to race.
The elegant 166 sedan made its world debut in Frankfurt giving the Americans more reason to anticipate this storied Italian marque's return to the States later this decade. The interior continues the body's clean lines and design restraint, with the cockpit being tastefully driver oriented. The sedan range is made up of three comprehensive packages: Impression, Progression, and Distinctive. Six engines are offered, with two turbodiesels and four gasoline powerplants offering up to a 240-hp V-6. Available features on this Alfa flagship include ABS with electronic brakeforce distributor, vehicle dynamic control, side airbags, window airbags, automatic climate control, bi-xenon headlights, parking sensor; 10-speaker audio system, and navigation system.
Front and center in the Alfa Romeo booth is the sporty, elegant GT coupe. Developed in cooperation with famed Bertone design house, the GT is derived from the 156 sedan. It is packaged to be both a spirited driver and to offer more interior space and comforts than typical for a sporty two-door model. Four powertrains are offered, with three falling between 140 and 165 horsepower. Performance enthusiasts not deterred by European-scale gas prices will be drawn to the GTA version, packing a more potent 3.2-liter/240-horsepower DOHC V-6. The GTA also features sport-tuned suspension, more responsive steering, and larger brakes. Across the range, options include vehicle dynamic control, six airbags, MP3-compatible audio system, xenon headlamps, and navigation system.
Destined to replace the most successful Aston Martin model in the British company's history, the DB7, is the all-new aluminum and composite-intensive DB9. This ultra stylish 2+2 gran turismo will slot into the lineup above the upcoming AMV8 Vantage, and below the flagship Vanquish. Power comes courtesy of Aston's 6.0-liter/450-horsepower DOHC V-12; transmission choices include a six-speed sequential manual gearbox and a conventional six-speed stick. The company claims the smg-equipped DB9 will hit 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds (4.9 seconds with the manual) with a top speed for both of 186 mph. Beginning a new era for Aston Martin, the DB9 will be the first car hand-built at the new Gaydon, Warwickshire, facility, where all future Astons will be developed and constructed. The DB9 comes to market next spring in coupe form, with a convertible version likely to follow in 12-18 months.
Although a clear depature for Jaguar, there is really nothing more British than offering an "estate" or wagon variant. Jaguar expects the stylishly rendered wagon to expand the X-Type's appeal, reaching out to families looking for more versatility and cargo-toting ability than a traditional sedan. With crossover craze fueling new niche vehicles, the standard all-wheel-drive system will lend further appeal to the Estate. All three trim levels boast more cargo space than the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagons. Like other 2004 X-Types, the Estate will be available with a sporty carbon-fiber accented fascia and Alcantara seat trim. Look for the Estate to go on sale spring 2004.
While the stunning Insignia concept dominated attention in the Opel booth, the bread-and-butter Astra also made its debut. The third-generation compact range is spearheaded by this five-door model, to be followed by a three-door hatchback and longer-wheelbase wagon in the spring. For a volume model, there is a wide variety of intriguing features offered on the Opel, such as 40/20/40-ratio rear-seat back, Hill-Start Assistant, or the innovative "Quickheat" electric auxiliary heater. The Astra pushes the technology envelope for the class with adaptive Interactive Driving System suspension with electronic Continuous Damping Control. This allows ESP and ABS to speak with the suspension system for both active safety and one-touch sport mode. Sold in 80 countries, the Astra boasts 10 available engines, with the top 2.0-liter/262-hp turbo four-cylinder continuing the OPC performance tradition.
GM's Opel division creates its own muscle car concept off the same Holden-sourced rear-drive platform on which the new Pontiac GTO is based. Designed with the look to the future versatility demanded by customers, the Insignia is at heart a coupe, though its rear-powered doors make it a near-sedan. Underhood is pure American-grade horsepower with a Corvette-sourced 344-hp V-8 promising 0-60-mph times in the high-five-second range. The obligatory show-car trick feature is an electrically powered fifth seat exposed when the tunnel separating the rear right and left seats motors away into the trunk. In four-seat mode, the leather-wrapped, ebony wood-trimmed tunnel provides a DVD player with LCD screen, coolbox for two bottles, and a humidor. The luxurious five-seater explores the design direction for the next-generation Omega flagship. For us, it reveals the greater potential in sharing rear-drive platforms across GM brands.
Porsche extends the breadth of the Cayenne range with a new six-cylinder variant expected to be priced well below $50K. The first V-6 ever offered in a Porsche produces 247 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 229 lb-ft of torque at 2500 rpm. This engine will be offered initially with a six-speed Tiptronic S, to be joined next calendar year by a six-speed manual transmission. Porsche claims this Cayenne will run 0-60 mph in 9.1 seconds with a 133-mph top speed. Although a more affordable SUV, it will still pack the Porsche Traction Management and Porsche Stability Management systems that give the big V-8 versions such impressive all-terrain ability. The ride-height-adjusting air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management will be available. Pound for pound, this may be the best Porsche value since the 924.
For the first time, American enthusiasts will be able to purchase a 911 GT3 -- a special street-legal race car with manners refined enough for real-world driving. Modifications throughout, from lightweight engine internals to fortified brakes, enable the 911 GT3 to push the envelope for naturally aspirated Porsche performance. But there's an even more special 911, the GT3 RS. Built to commemorate the model's 40th anniversary, this immediately recognizable car is dressed in classic white body with blue or red stripes. Priced at just over $100,000 Euros, this modern classic will not be offered in North America.
Saab has explored the hatchback market with a series of three-door concepts over the past couple years, but with the 9-3 Sport-Hatch the GM division closes in on a future production model. Adapting cues from the 9-3X crossover coupe concept (namely the front clip), the Sport-Hatch makes a tasteful, modern wagon. Targeting essentially active Yuppies, this four-seater features a glass roof with integrated cargo anchors, powered tailgate with integrated bike-carrier, and additional underfloor storage. The "Sport" name is justified by a lively 2.0-liter/250-hp turbocharged engine with a Sentronic automatic transmission. Saab was not shy about its production intent, with the 9-3 Sport-Hatch expected to help expand the Saab line-up along with the 9-2 and a sport/utility vehicle.