Read the August issue of Fixed Ops Journal, the parts,
service and collision magazine from Automotive News.

From minis to flagships, makers put on the glitz

World debuts
Production
Audi A4 Cabriolet

BMW 7 series

Citroen C3

Fiat Stilo

Ford Fiesta

Hyundai Tiburon

Lamborghini Murcielago

Mazda 626

Maserati Spyder

Mercedes-Benz Vaneo

Mercedes-Benz SL

Nissan Primera 5-door hatchback

Opel Combo

Skoda Superb

Volkswagen Polo


Concepts
Jaguar R-Coupe

Opel Signum 2

Pininfarina Ford Start

Renault Talisman

Saab 9x

Seat Tango

Volvo Performance Concept Car 2

Automakers consider the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show an opportunity to strut their stuff in Europe's largest market. This year is no exception. Vehicles ranging from superminis to a super flagship will debut this week.

At the high end, BMW introduces its redesigned 7-series flagship sedan. Mercedes-Benz unveils the SL AMG 55, a roadster that promises 0-to-60 mph acceleration in under five seconds. And with its first new car since being acquired by Audi, Lamborghini debuts the successor to the legendary Diablo.

At the low end, Volkswagen hopes to shake up the supermini segment with its redesigned Polo, as does Ford with the Fiesta and Citroen with the C3. All are debuting in Frankfurt, along with the all-new Honda Jazz.

Jaguar is expected to stir the crowd's emotions with the R-Coupe, a low-slung four-seat concept, as is Renault with the Talisman.

But two luxury German cars expected for Frankfurt won't be seen: Volks-wagen's D1 sedan and DaimlerChrysler's Maybach will be saved, possibly for the 2002 Geneva show.

This brand-by-brand Frankfurt preview was prepared by Chris Wright, Edmund Chew, Luca Ciferri, Wim Oude Weernink, Mark Rechtin, Sylviane de Saint-Seine and Colin Whitbread, all of Automotive News Europe.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo returns to its roots with sporty versions of its 156 sedan and wagon. These models will be labeled GTA, and each have horsepower and suspension enhancements. Sales begin early next year.

The 156 GTA has been extensively re-engineered.The 250-hp, 24-valve engine is the latest evolution of Alfa's long-serving V-6, bored out from 3.0 to 3.2 liters. The suspension is heavily revised, with reduced ground clearance and stiffer damping settings. Alfa also plans a 147 GTA, due in late 2002 or early 2003.

Audi

Audi expands the redesigned A4 line with the four-seat Cabriolet. The convertible will share powertrains with the A4 sedan and wagon lineup. Audi also is expected to unveil the RS6, a low volume, high-performance sedan.

Bentley

Bentley's Arnage Long Wheelbase Personal Commission is meant for exclusive business driving during the week and leisurely spins on the weekend. The stretched Arnage features a black-and-white interior, Sony Vaio computer, Sony PlayStation, TV and DVD player.

The car was styled by Dirk van Braekel, formerly the top designer at Skoda.

BMW

The redesigned 7-series sedan is a tour de force in technological applications due to BMW's determination to lead the luxury segment.

BMW says its new flagship is expected to command higher prices, higher margins and higher volume than the previous model.

Regarding pricing, the automaker points to the chassis structure, body, suspension, drivetrain and engines, which all are new or significantly re-engineered.

A new six-speed automatic transmission with controls at the steering wheel is standard.

The introducton of the flagship will be surrounded by a wide array of product and technical news. The automaker will demonstrate its commitment to alternative fuels - especially hydrogen - with clean-energy variants for the Mini and the 7 series. With the Mini, BMW wants to prove that hydrogen is applicable for smaller cars, while the 7 series will be available for specific experimental fleet use.

BMW also will unveil the lightweight M3 CSL concept, which is expected to enter production soon.

Other introductions include a 4.6-liter V-8 engine for the X5 and the re-engineered 3 series. The 3 series receives suspension modifications and new 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter second-generation common-rail diesel engines.

Cadillac

Cadillac is aiming at the BMW 5 series with the 2003 CTS sedan, built on General Motors' new rear-wheel-

drive Sigma platform. The CTS is powered by GM's new 3.2-liter 220-hp V-6. A five-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmission will be offered. The CTS will be available with right-hand drive.

Citroen

The C3 is the focal point of the Citroen stand.

The all-new supermini is meant to fill a gap between Citroen's Saxo mini and the Xsara lower-medium model. The C3's mission is to compete with the Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo.

A five-door is the only model offered.

Some people see the supermini's styling as the successor to the famed 2CV because of its rounded lines - notably its roof and hood. But Citroen seeks to dispel this notion, insisting that, unlike the austere 2CV, the C3 will be packed with the latest technology.

The C3's platform is expected to be shared with the next generation Peugeot 207.

Daewoo

Its future may be uncertain, but Daewoo keeps generating ideas. Frankfurt will showcase the financially troubled carmaker's supermini and large-segment vehicles.

The Kalos is an all-new supermini contender, fitting into the Daewoo lineup between the Matiz and Lanos. The Kalos is due in the third quarter of 2002.

The Vada prototype is an early clue to the look of the Nubira replacement, although an introduction date hasn't been set.

Ferrari

Ferrari has no stated plan to display any production cars or even a representative Formula One racing car to commemorate three consecutive world titles.

Fiat

Fiat replaces the Bravo and Brava with the Stilo, a model that moves the line upscale. It is based on Fiat's new C-D-H modular platform.

Though sharing a single name, the three- and five-door Stilos are distinctly different. They share only the headlamps and engine hood. All other body and glass panels are specific to each model.

Standard equipment includes antilock brakes and six airbags. Options include features that are upscale in the European market such as cruise control, dual-zone climate control with an automatic air quality system, keyless entry and xenon headlamps.

After the success of the Connect information center on the Alfa Romeo 147, Fiat will offer eight levels of Connect on the Stilo. The top level includes wireless application protocol for Internet navigation, voice commands for the cell phone and audio system, MP3 music player and a 7-inch color monitor.

Ford

Ford unveils one of the most important cars in its European lineup: the redesigned Fiesta. Engineers and designers worked to create a stylish small car with increased interior space. It is 49mm wider, 97mm taller and 89mm longer than the current model. The longer wheelbase provides rear-seat passengers with more knee room.

New engines include a 1.4-liter lightweight aluminum turbodiesel with second-generation common-rail injection technology; 1.4- and 1.6-liter double-overhead camshaft gasoline-powered engines developed from the 16-valve Duratec four-cylinder engine; and a low-friction, 1.3-liter Duratec eight-valve gasoline engine.

Ford also will unveil mid-cycle changes for its Focus line and two performance models. The Focus ST170 delivers 170 hp in three- and five-door variants, and the Focus RS is a 220-hp rally replica with Brembo brakes and a stiffened suspension.

Hyundai

The redesigned Tiburon coupe receives its world debut. It will be available in 1.6-, 2.0- and 2.7-liter V-6 versions. The V-6 has a Porsche-designed H-matic transmission.

Also on the stand will be the Pinifarina-designed Matrix, Hyundai's compact minivan that will be displayed for the first time. Rivaling the Citroen Picasso, Nissan Almera Tino and Opel/Vauxhall Zafira, the Matrix will be available with 1.6- and 1.8-liter gasoline and 1.5-liter turbo-charged diesel engines. It will be on sale across Europe by the end of October.

Jaguar

The Jaguar R-Coupe concept seeks to steal the show. The low-slung, four-seat coupe represents Jaguar's attempt to return to its golden era of form, stance and proportion in vehicle design.

The R-Coupe also is about performance with a V-8 powertrain, Formula One-inspired paddle-style gear-shifting, four-piston brake calipers and xenon headlamps.

The interior is inspired by design trends in luxury jewelry, watches and luggage.

Lamborghini

Lamborghini's successor to the Diablo will bow. The coupe is called the Murcielago, which means "bat" in Spanish, and is Lamborghini's first new car since Audi took over the Italian company in July 1998. The car was designed by Luc Donkerwolcke at Audi's styling center in Ingolstadt, Germany.

The Murcielago uses a steel spaceframe, similar to that of the Diablo, with a welded steel roof. The doors are made of aluminum, while the fenders and hood are carbon fiber. The Murcielago's overall dimensions are close to the Diablo's, but the interior has more room.

The engine is the latest evolution of Lamborghini's 48-valve V-12, bored out to 6.2 liters with an output of nearly 570 hp. All-wheel drive is standard. A roadster will bow at a later date.

Lancia

Frankfurt will be the site of a second unveiling for the Lancia Thesis. After revealing the exterior of its new flagship in Geneva in March, Lancia will unveil the Thesis' interior this time.

The luxury car is due to be launched in early December, but sales may be delayed until spring.

The Thesis replaces the Kappa, which was discontinued in summer 2000. The much larger Thesis is aimed at filling a niche between the Mercedes-Benz E class and S class.

Maserati

The Maserati Spyder is not just an open-top version of the 3200 GT coupe - it is a new car. The Spyder features the automaker's new 390-hp 48-valve, 4.2-liter V-8 and a transaxle in front of the rear differential. The coupe has the six-speed gearbox mounted immediately behind the engine in the front of the car.

The automaker says engineering enhancements and a shortened wheelbase give the Spyder a nearly balanced weight distribution, with 53 percent on the front axle and 47 percent on the rear.

Like the coupe, the Spyder was designed by Italdesign-Giugiaro.

The major styling difference between the two cars is in the rear lights: Thin light-emitting diode tubes for the coupe and triangular-shaped lights housed in the fenders for the Spyder.

The Spyder's canvas roof is electrically operated.

Mercedes-Benz

Like the Citroen Berlingo, Renault Kangoo and Opel Combo, the Mercedes-Benz Vaneo was developed initially as a light-commercial vehicle. But growing demand for minivans means Mercedes first will launch a passenger version this fall with the commercial model coming next year.

Mercedes plans to build 70,000 Vaneos annually. The passenger version is expected to make up about 70 percent of production.

The Vaneo is small, using the A-class drivetrain and sandwich floor construction. The model is about 160 inches long, has sliding rear side doors and will be offered with a long list of leisure options.

Mercedes-Benz also will show two versions of its redesigned SL roadster: The SL500 and high-performance SL- 55 AMG. Both models are packed with leading edge technology including brake-by-wire. The SL55 AMG has a new V-8 supercharged engine that produces 476 hp. Mercedes promises 0-to-62 mph acceleration in 4.7 seconds.

Updated versions of the M class and G class also will be displayed.

MG Rover

The struggling British car company battles on. Despite saying it would no longer appear at auto shows in order to keep costs down, MG Rover was present at Geneva in March. Now Frankfurt makes it two consecutive major auto shows. There will be no surprises in terms of production models, but MG Rover will unveil two MG-styled and performance-tuned cars.

Opel

Frankfurt is the first motor show for Carl-Peter Forster as Opel's chairman. But all the new vehicles were developed under his predecessor, Robert Hendry.

The big news from Opel is the Combo, another light-commercial vehicle that also will be developed as a minivan.

Equally important for Opel, although not yet a production model, is the Signum 2 concept. The Signum 2 gives a clear indication of the design direction of the next Vectra, which will debut at the 2002 Geneva auto show in March.

The redesigned Vectra will be larger than the current model and will be offered in four models: sedan, five-door hatchback, station wagon and a new lifestyle wagon, the version most closely related to the Signum 2.

Interior packaging is said to be a strong point, with luggage storage areas under the seats.

The Signum 2's front-end styling will be shared by future Vectra models, as will some of the rear-end design cue.

Pininfarina

With the Start compact coupe concept, Pininfarina wants to celebrate the beginning of its cooperation with Ford Motor Co. Announced at the Geneva show in March, the agreement involves Pininfarina engineering and producing niche vehicles for Ford.

In 2003, Pininfarina will begin building the StreetKa, the roadster version of the Ka. It also is said to be working on a convertible version of the next generation Focus, as well as a secret niche vehicle that will be built in the United States.

Porsche

Porsche will show an open-air Targa version of its 911 and another 911 novelty, the Carrera 4S

The Carrera 4S features the styling and suspension setting of the 911 turbo. But it has all-wheel drive and an engine that produces 320 hp, giving it a top speed of 173 mph, the automaker says. Porsche is the only German carmaker not committed to that country's voluntary 155 mph speed limit.

The Porsche 911 Targa will feature a roof module developed with CTS, a specialist company partly owned by Porsche and DaimlerChrysler.

Renault

The French automaker will unveil the Talisman concept, an upmarket four-seat sports coupe with an exterior reminiscent of the Vel Satis luxury sedan.

The Talisman's interior design is deliberately minimalist and is said to package complex technology in a simple, user-friendly way. Gullwing doors open upward with the assistance of an electro-hydraulic system, sans a central pillar to hinder access to the cabin.

The Talisman's seats are fixed. Instead, the instrument panel and pedals can be adjusted. Air-filled cushions under the seats inflate or deflate to adjust the seat height. The seats are lightweight and slim, features that Patrick Le Quement, Renault's chief designer, expects to become popular as carmakers try to build lighter vehicles.

Saab

Saab's 9x concept is claimed to incorporate the features of a coupe, roadster, station wagon and pickup. It is Saab's first concept since the 1985 EV-I, and it showcases the direction of Saab's design philosophy.

"I regard this car as a statement of intent," said Saab CEO Peter Augustsson. "It is real physical proof that Saab is embarking on an exciting journey."

The 9x spearheads a major product offensive from Saab. The Swedish carmaker says it will announce at least one new product or concept every year for the next six years.

Seat

The Seat Tango's styling is clearly related to design chief Walter de' Silva's earlier Salsa and Salsa Emocion design concepts. The Tango also serves as an indication of Seat's overall design direction.

The Tango has a curvaceous exterior and a stripped-down interior. Unpolished aluminum tubes are visible throughout the interior, as are parts of the chassis.

Skoda

For the first time in more than half a century, Skoda will market a sedan in the full-sized C-D segment. The Superb is a production-ready sedan similar to the Skoda Montreux concept study shown this year at the Geneva auto show. It shares a platform and styling cues with the VW Passat.

Sales begin in the second half of 2002.

Smart

DaimlerChrysler's Smart brand is planning a surprise, a concept that will be a long-term study. Although no details were released, sources say it won't be an evolution of the concept that was shown two years ago because that car is too close to production.

Volkswagen

The redesigned Polo, the star of Volkswagen's Frankfurt display, is one of Volkswagen's most important models. Last year, VW sold nearly 300,000 Polos in Europe.

The redesigned supermini is larger than the current model and is the second VW group car off the automaker's new modular platform.

The Polo follows the Skoda Fabia by a few months, but it debuts ahead of the Seat Ibiza replacement due in 2002.

The Polo will face stiff competition in the supermini segment from several new models, including the Citroen C3 and Ford Fiesta, which also are being unveiled in Frankfurt.

In this competitive environment, Volkswagen says it will focus on the Polo at Frankfurt, leaving its new D1 luxury sedan and sport wagon for next spring's Geneva show.

Volvo

Volvo will display the Performance Concept Car 2, its vision of a future high-performance V70 wagon. It features a 300-hp, 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive and an electronic damping system that can change the degree of grip for each wheel up to 500 times per second.

Volvo also will showcase an integrated starter generator, which stops the engine while the car is stationary to save gasoline and uses 42-volt technology.

0

Shares

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Newsletters