The Paris Auto Show is one of those must-visit events for those of us charged with reporting on the latest and greatest new vehicles.
So many manufacturers now develop products for a world market so these early European shows often offer a glimpse of what’s coming next to our shores.
Here are five machines that caught my eye.
Let’s start with a dream machine. The Lamborghini Asterion concept car was certainly a showstopper. Sidestepping the current design approach of angular shapes with hard edges, this new Lambo has a more curvaceous look that almost mimics a front engine car. What is wedged in the middle of this exotic is a hybrid system that marries a naturally aspirated 5.2L V10 engine with three electric motors (Two in the front producing all wheel drive and another in the transmission for full electric drive capability), producing a whopping 910hp with acceleration that will see this car run to 100km in just three seconds. The Asterion is capable of running on just electric power for roughly 30km and, providing silent driving in a wickedly sexy machine. This is a just a concept at this point but with mounting pressure on car makers to reduce carbon output and the fact the Porsche brand (Another VW Group brand) already has the 918 hybrid, this looks like it could make it to market within the next few years.
Ok, now back to earth. With the trend towards all-wheel-drive (AWD) gaining more and more momentum it was only a matter of time before cars previously without AWD start to appear with this option. Take the popular VW Golf wagon, soon to be available in Europe with AWD and a slightly higher ground clearance. Called the Alltrack, this more rugged looking and capable VW will certainly appeal to buyers of the Subaru Outback or Audi Allroad. In North America, we don’t buy many wagons but we certainly love when manufacturers add a slightly higher ride-height, lower body cladding plus AWD and call them a crossover vehicle. Sales jump. Not available in Canada but after chatting with VW Canada executives, they have put in a request to Germany to get this car for our AWD-loving climate. Stay tuned.
Imagine a pure electric, three-wheel, scooter-like vehicle, with a fixed roof, steering wheel and can drive up to 45km/h with 50km of electric range. The Toyota i-Road attracted big crowds when it was demonstrated at this year’s Paris Show. The small wheel at the rear of the i-Road pivots at low speed for amazing maneuverability, plus when driven at higher speeds the entire vehicle tilts over like a motorcycle with the front wheels rotating independently of each other. It looks odd and must feel odd to drive but the upside is covered driving, without a helmet, and emissions free transportation. The i-Road is being tested in Japan and will be used in the French city of Grenoble as part of a vehicle-sharing program. This type of vehicle already exists in Europe but the tilting and pivoting elements make it unique. This would not be popular on our wider roads in North America but the i-Road will fit right in on Europe’s busy streets.
The Chrysler Groups’ parent company Fiat is at it again, taking the best that its European brands have to offer and marrying them with American brands. The Fiat 500L has had a mild reception here in North America so now they have taken the same platform and produced the Jeep Renegade. To complete the circle, the same Renegade approach is being used with this Fiat 500X, basically, taking the same Jeep-like elements and making them into a Fiat. The 500X will be available with front wheel drive (FWD) or AWD and a variety of engine and transmission options in Europe. The engine choices have not been divulged for our market but expect to see the 170hp 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder and the 184hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engines here. The Fiat 500L has not been a hit for Fiat but, yet again, add a more rugged look and the sales will likely follow.
Will the introduction of an all-new, full-size XC90 SUV be enough to save Volvo here in North America? Time will tell but the crowds at the Volvo stand in Paris were packed with people combing over every pert of this attractive SUV. It has been over ten years since Volvo introduced the original XC90 and the years have not been good to this vehicle or the brand. Sales for the XC90 and Volvo in general have been pathetic in North America. This new XC90 has a lot going for it and Volvo hopes it will help revive the brand. The XC90 will be sold in Canada with AWD in the T6 or T8 engine variants. Both are turbocharged and supercharged and are matched to an 8-speed automatic. The T6 has 320hp and the T8 comes with an additional 80hp electric motor for improved power and efficiency. The three-row design remains intact but the interior is larger for more space. The dash is a standout with a vertical iPad-like application in the centre for class-leading connectivity and usability. The price of the T6 will start at $60,700 and the T8 will start at $73,400.
If this short list this isn’t enough to satisfy your curiosity, check out my Paris gallery at drivewaybc.ca