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Opel Astra, BMW 6 series to contain engineering surprises at Frankfurt

Frankfurt. The unveiling of the new Opel Astra and the BMW 6 series coupe will be among the highlights of the IAA auto show in Frankfurt, which runs September 11-21.

Around 1,000 exhibitors from more than 40 countries will participate at the 60th International Automobile Exhibition.

Two of the technical innovations in Opel's third-generation lower-medium Astra are the cross-linked: adaptive suspension system "IDS Plus" which comes with an electronic shock absorber control, and adaptive light control.

The new Astra comes with a choice of five four-cylinder gasoline engines ranging from 90hp to 200hp, and three diesel engines with 80hp, 100hp and 150hp.

Volkswagen executives in Wolfsburg are watching closely.

"Design and dynamics are also our main focus. The fifth-generation Golf V has comparable engineering features and a lot more besides," a VW manager said.

The VW group said it would disclose further details in the next few days. The Golf V will be launched on the market in October -- about six months earlier than its rival based in Russelsheim.

BMW will have a world premiere with its 6 series coupe, which will enter the market by the end of 2003 at a starting price of about 74,000 euros.

Between 1976 and 1989 BMW sold 86,000 units of its first 6 series, and the company plans to sell 20,000 units of the latest version per annum. There will also be a convertible from spring 2004.

The 6 Series coupe will at first will be available as a 645i with a 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 333hp. The new BMW has many technical innovations and is positioned to compete with the Mercedes CL coupe and other high-end models such as the Jaguar XK8 coupe, the Maserati GT and the Porsche 911.

The 6 series is the only large coupe on the market with an optional head-up display, which projects information for the driver onto the windshield. The panoramic glass sunroof, which is only available as optional extra, will make the cabin much brighter.

BMW's main focus is, as with the 5 series, on so-called "intelligent light metal engineering."

The bodywork of the 6 series is based on a modern alloy-steel-plastics composite design. The rear hatch is made of synthetic material; engine hood and doors are made of alloy; and the front sidewalls are made of thermoplast.

Pre-production will start in September at the Dingolfing plant.

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