THE 2018 Paris Motor Show, dubbed the world’s busiest, kicks off in early October with the usual slew of mouth-watering global reveals from mainly European car brands.
The 120-year-old event shares the limelight with its partner, the Frankfurt Motor Show, with each city hosting Europe’s premier automotive event on alternate years.
This year it’s the turn of Paris, and the show will introduce a slightly different focus, adding “mobility” – the automotive industry’s sweeping catch-all for the new wave of autonomous vehicles, digital innovations and and last-mile solutions that will complement the traditional car ownership model – to the mix for the first time.
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Known for its designer flair, the Paris Motor Show is the home ground of the French brands – the likes of Citroen, Peugeot and Renault. But Europe is also the second home of a few outsiders, such as Hyundai and Kia, which will also be keen to make a lasting impact on potential buyers in the region, and the world over.
We can definitely expect a few surprises. At the top of our list, though is the now French-owned German brand Opel, which has already promised it will have something spectacular to woo car enthusiasts the world over. In 2016, the brand showed the Australian-designed Opel GT concept, so could GM’s Antipodean outstation stump up the goods again?
Let the countdown begin.
ASTON MARTIN DBS SUPERLEGGERA
The Aston Martin DBS “superlight” won’t actually make its appearance at the show. Instead, the privately held car maker – major shareholders include racing group Prodrive and a clutch of Kuwaiti-based investors – will ambush the show to reveal the most hardcore version yet of the DB11 to potential buyers. An early reveal of the hyper-GT displays more aggressive, ground-hugging aerodynamics that cut even further into the fascia and bonnet, gills on either side of the wheel arch and deep side sills. It’ll need to be sticky; the Mercedes-AMG-sourced twin-turbo 5.0-litre V12 resting underneath that restyled bonnet produces 533kW.
AUDI A1 SPORTBACK
The German baby hatch is expected at Paris as a rival to the Volkswagen Polo, and featuring a variety of engines including a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo, 1.4-litre petrol and 1.8-litre petrol choices. The new Sportback potentially marks the end of the Audi A1’s slower-selling three-door version (there’s no mention of it in press material), and also the death of the diesel – an engine not offered as part of the Australian line-up. Slightly longer and wider than the generation it replaces, the fresh-look A1 should offer more passenger space.
BMW 3 SERIES
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A seventh generation of BMW’s compact executive shuttle is expected to lob in production form at Paris, featuring looks that don’t stray too far from the proven three-box sedan formula – nice in an era where everyone wants headroom-robbing fastback styling. The showroom heavyweight – the 3 is by far the brand’s best-selling model globally – is expected to add a hybrid-engined version, while the range-topping M3 is expected to follow the same path as the M5 and adopt all-wheel drive for the first time. The range is expected to include engine choices ranging from an entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder option right up to an in-line six-cylinder.
The long, slow tease of the upcoming BMW X5 – consistently one of the most dynamic SUVs on the market – will come to a close at Paris as the covers are expected to come come off the fourth-generation model. Built on the same platform as the upcoming 3 Series, the new X5er should be larger, lighter and drive even more like the passenger cars it aims to displace from prospective buyers’ driveways.
It’s no secret that the BMW Z4 will have a lot in common with the co-developed Toyota Supra, however BMW will stump up its own engine tune and performance features, distinguishing themselves from the Japanese car-making giant. The dynamic roadster carries the BMW Z4 M40i, a powerful in-line six-cylinder engine, a lowered sports suspension with electronic dampers, and an M sports brake system. As well as the Supra, the Z4 will go head to head with the Porsche 718 Boxster and the Audi TT.
The premium French brand should have its Audi Q2 and BMW X 2 competitor at Paris, with the Crossback the first step in the French brand’s plans to electrify its range by 2025. The small SUV will likely have a 450km range on a single charge. The chances of the electric DS3 being offered in Australia are slim at the present, but if it does arrive here it will compete directly with other oil-free rides including the Hyundai Kona EV.
HYUNDAI i30 N FASTBACK
The N Performance-fettled hatch is already on sale in Australia, but we’re yet to see the handsomely proportioned Fastback version introduced here. We can only watch on from afar, then, as Hyundai extends its N badge to the tailgate of the slightly bigger version of the hatch, with theN-badged fastback also expected to introduce a dual-clutch transmission. The fact we are yet to see the normal fastback i30 on sale here probably tells the story of when we can expect the N-badged version.
KIA PROCEED SHOOTING BRAKE
Rumours suggest the production model of the 2019 Kia Proceed Shooting Brake will arrive at Paris, with the showroom version lobbing a year after it was unveiled in concept form at Paris’s alter-ego, the Frankfurt Motor Show. Based on what we saw last year, the Kia Proceed should come across as sportier than the already existing wagon and hatchback models. The third member of the Euro-only Ceed family would give customers plenty of options to choose from.
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The milder version of the wilder A45-badged version of the all-new hatchback is expected to make its official arrival at Paris. As well as a less-stonking 2.0-litre turbocharged powerplant – the current A45 produces a staggering 280kW and 475Nm – the all-wheel-drive A35 is also anticipated to feature much milder styling, right down to round dual exhausts replacing the more potent car’s trapezoidal ones. This version of the A-Class could aso herald a technological leap, featuring an electric compressor that steps in at low revs to minimise turbo lag.
MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS SEDAN
We’ve already seen this car in long-wheelbase form after the latest generation of the fastback sedan was unveiled in Beijing earlier this year. The A-Class boasts a traditional sedan roof line allowing for extra passenger room, and should feature the same range of turbocharged small capacity engines as the closely related A-class hatchback. The booted version of the A-Class is also expected to gain the same high-quality interior as the hatch version that wowed car enthusiasts when it was revealed earlier this year.
MERCEDES-BENZ EQ C
A production version of the battery-powered crossover is expected to make its debut at Paris. The production car is expected to keep much of the concept’s futuristic exterior, advanced interior and high levels of comfort and luxury. Drive will come from a pair of electric motors, sourcing their power from a lithium-ion battery pack hidden under in the floor. Mercedes claims this, the first of its EQ sub-brand cars, will have a driving range of up to 500km.
The former M-Class SUV is expected to pick up the almost driverless car mantle for the German luxury brand among a raft of other changes sweeping through the BMW X5 rival. The GLE moves to Mercedes-Benz’s next-gen MRA platform that underpins the E-Class sedan, wagon and, in All-Terrain form, wannabe-SUV range and will bring significant weight savings via the use of significantly more aluminium. Like the E-Class, the all-new GLE is expected to grow its wheelbase slightly to yield more room in the passenger cell. AMG and AMG-lite (potentially featuring a performance-honed hybrid system) models are expected to be among the mix.
The French brand has a long, proven reputation of unveiling concept cars that instantly make car enthusiasts weak at the knees, and then immediately placing them in the too-hard basket. Who remembers the geometric Fractal, the stunning, V8 mid-engine proportioned Onyx, the fastback-styled Exalt coupe and the two-doored, Aston Martin-style Instinct?
Are we likely to be disappointed yet again at Paris?
The Porsche Macan – the German sports car and performance SUV brand’s best seller in Australia – will get a significant midlife makeover for Paris, featuring Panamera-like styling around the front with a different DRL signature, and a subtle makeover down the rear that links the tail-lamps across the rump to emphasise the SUV’s width. Of note, the current turbocharged 3.6-litre V6 hangs up its hat in place of a new 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 version that’s already serving duty in the Audi stable. The Macan is also expected to introduce its first petrol-electric hybrid version using technology handed down from the Panamera.
We’ve seen the images of Porsche’s new electric four-door, but we’re yet to experience its form in the bright, glaring lights of the show floor. Mark Webber’s driven it and given his tick of approval, even if the moving vision of him behind the wheel was heavily edited to remove any indication of just how quick this Tesla Model S fighter is likely to be.
SKODA KAROQ RS
It has already set a class record at the Nurburgring for the fastest seven-seat SUV to lap the famous Green Hell (but, we note, significantly slower than an Opel Zafira OPC people mover). At Paris, the Czech brand will discard all the disguise to show us the most warmed over SUV-styled breeder bus the car maker has ever produced. The Skoda Octavia RS will spring from 0-100km/h in around 6.6 seconds; expect the RS-badged Karoq to do the same in around (pause to check watch) 7.0-ish.
SKODA KAROQ SCOUT
Skoda’s latest addition to its Karoq line-up will make its public debut in Paris after being revealed online ahead of the show.
Dubbed the Karoq Scout, the Nissan Qashqai rival will have all-wheel drive as standard, with a selection of three powertrains available (two diesels, and a petrol).
The Scout variant is a more off-road focussed version of Skoda’s Karoq small SUV, with fresh styling tweaks including chrome and silver-coloured scuff plates. Inside the cabin, the Karoq Scout is fitted with unique fabric seat upholstery.
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If you’ve been to outback Australia in the last couple of decades, you’ve probably seen swarms of these skipping over the rain-induced mud while everything else around them become instantly stuck. Yep, Jimny is back, baby, keeping most of the formula that made the original so outbackedly famous; small, boxy and light. It’s even built, in true off-roader style, as a body on frame. It’s potentially in line for an Aussie reintroduction late this year.
Never heard of them? We’re not surprised, as this is the name of a Vietnamese car maker that plans to have two cars – an SUV and a hatchback – on the global stage by 2019. It has teased a couple of sketches designed by Euro styling houses Pininfarina (now owned by Indian carmaker Tata) and Italdesign Giugiaro. VinFast, a subsidiary of a Vietnam-based property group, wants to scale up to build 500,000 cars a year in a relatively short space of time, a goal that will make it Asia’s biggest vehicle manufacturer.
The four-ringed German mid-sizer is due for a facelift, and Audi is expected to crash BMW’s party by revealing its updated A4 at Paris, where the new 3 Series is also slated to debut. The revised A4 will no doubt bring slightly tweaked styling, and additional equipment filtered down from its more expensive siblings.
PEUGEOT 508 SW
Peugeot is expected to reveal its sleek 508 SW wagon in the metal at the Paris Motor Show. The French manufacturer has revealed photos of the 5008 alternative online, but this will be the first opportunity to see the car for real. There’s also a good chance the French brand will use its home event to showcase something unexpected, as Renault did two years ago with the Trezor concept.
SKODA VISION RS
Along with a bevy of jacked-up SUVs, Skoda will reveal a hatch concept at the Paris show called Vision RS. It’s likely to spawn a production car to replace Skoda’s ageing Rapid, an alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. A Golf GTI competitor is also expected in the form of a vRS variant.
There is a rather long list of manufacturers choosing to abscond from this year’s Paris Motor Show. The French-owned Opel and Vauxhall brands have confirmed they will not be attending, instead stating they will be putting “a stronger emphasis on our own events for the upcoming product launches.”
They join the likes of Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan, Fiat, Jeep, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and McLaren who will also be missing the second major European motor show of the year.
Collectively, these brands account for almost 40 percent of European new car sales.