VW Golf is main event in Paris
BMW also steps into the spotlight as it unveils front-wheel-drive concept car
Volkswagen will take center stage at the Paris auto show with the launch of the latest Golf, overshadowing French rivals Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen on their home turf.
The compact hatchback is Europe's best-selling car. But the seventh generation will face tougher competition than ever as Mercedes-Benz, with the new A class, and BMW, with the 1 series, aim to capture the segment's upper-range car buyers.
The Paris spotlight will also be on BMW as the company unveils a concept car based on its new front-wheel-drive platform, which eventually may underpin up to nine smaller BMWs and future Minis.
A key debut for Ford is the mid-sized Mondeo, the European version of the Fusion. General Motors' Opel and Chevrolet brands, meanwhile, will launch products in growth segments. Opel introduces the Adam minicar, and Chevrolet showcases the Trax crossover, a sibling of the U.S. Buick Encore.
Audi will unveil a concept that may be a preview of a small SUV to be called the Q2. If built, the Q2 would be the smallest member of Audi's Q family of SUV/crossovers and a potential rival to the Mini Countryman. Audi also will introduce the A3 Sportback and a convertible version of the RS 5 Coupe. The A3 is the first Volkswagen Group car underpinned by the new MQB architecture, which VW says will be used on 40 different models and 6 million vehicles by the Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat brands by 2018.
BMW's Concept Active Tourer is a preview of a car likely to go on sale as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz B class. BMW said the concept suggests a vehicle that will be attractive to families who want a versatile, roomy vehicle with a high seating position. The concept is a plug-in hybrid powered by a 195-hp 1.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor. The fwd platform, known internally as UKD, will underpin up to nine models for BMW and Mini. It is a key part of BMW's goal of boosting annual sales to 2 million by 2020 from 1.67 million last year.
The Trax will be Chevrolet's first entry in the growing subcompact SUV/crossover segment. It is a sibling of the Opel Mokka and Buick Encore. The five-seat Trax will be offered in Europe with a choice of 1.4- or 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engines or a 1.7-liter turbocharged diesel. All-wheel drive is an option. The Trax arrives in Europe early next year. It will be sold in 140 countries but not the United States.
Ford says the redesigned Mondeo, its European flagship, is the most premium version of the mid-sized car that it has built. It will also be more economical to drive than the outgoing model. Powertrain choices include a new 1.0-liter gasoline engine and a hybrid variant. The Mondeo is a sibling to the Fusion now on sale in the United States. In Europe, the Mondeo will have five-door hatchback, wagon and sedan versions and a gasoline-hybrid sedan variant. The Mondeo will go on sale next year.
The F-Type will be one of the hottest debuts in Paris. The rear-wheel-drive two-seater heralds the brand's return to its sporting tradition after decades spent focusing on luxury sedans. The F-Type will arrive as a convertible next spring, and a hardtop version is expected a year later. Three gasoline engines will be offered: two versions of Jaguar's new 3.0-liter V-6 supercharged engine, making 340 hp and 380 hp, and a version of the current 5.0-liter supercharged gasoline V-8. Jaguar said the F-Type's all-aluminum construction will cut weight, leading to better performance and lower emissions. The car will have an eight-speed automatic transmission and stop-start technology.
Land Rover has reduced the weight of the Range Rover by up to 926 pounds through heavy use of aluminum in the SUV's body shell. The fourth-generation Range Rover has an all-aluminum monocoque body shell making it 39 percent lighter than its predecessor. The Range Rover arrives in 140 global markets, including the United States, in late 2013.
Mercedes-Benz will show a sculpture called Aesthetics S that hints at the new generation of the brand's flagship S-class sedan. The sculpture shows a coupelike roofline and proportions similar to those of the current S class. There are also similarities to Mercedes' Concept Style Coupe that was unveiled at the Beijing auto show in April. The new-generation S class likely will offer more luxury fittings and technology to fill the gap left by the axing of the Maybach ultraluxury marque. The production S class may be unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January or the Shanghai show in April.
The CLS Shooting Brake gets its auto show debut. The wagon variant of the brand's coupe-styled, four-door CLS will be positioned well above the E-class wagon. Mercedes will also show its SLS GT supercar with an electric drivetrain and possibly a diesel engine.
BMW continues to expand the lineup of its Mini brand with the Paceman. The two-door is a sportier version of the Countryman crossover introduced last year. The Paceman has a lower stance and more dynamic driving characteristics than the Countryman. It will go on sale early next year as Mini's seventh model. The Paceman has almost identical front styling to the Countryman but overturns a Mini tradition by using horizontal rear lights instead of vertical lights.
Opel/Vauxhall counts on new products such as the Adam minicar to boost sagging sales. With the Adam, Opel plans a rival to cars such as the Fiat 500 and Mini. The Adam will have connectivity features and personalization options aimed at attracting young Web-savvy buyers. The Adam will be the first Opel to use new gasoline engines with displacements of 1.0 to 1.4 liters developed by parent General Motors with Chinese partner SAIC. It will arrive in showrooms in early 2013.
A station wagon variant of the Panamera sedan will be on display as a concept. A production decision is expected to be made after gauging reaction to the concept car. The wagon was conceived after customers indicated interest in a more versatile version of the Panamera, one with more luggage space than today's liftback model. Porsche also will unveil the fifth generation of the all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4. The sports car, available in coupe and convertible versions, is due in North American showrooms in February.
Toyota says the redesigned Auris compact hatchback that debuts in Paris will be key to the company's European growth ambitions. The current Auris was criticized for bland styling, and the company says it has given the new version sharper, more distinctive styling. The Auris will compete with cars such as the Volkswagen Golf. Like the current Auris, the redesigned car will be offered with gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid and diesel powertrains. Toyota said it expects a third of Auris sales in Europe to be hybrids.
Volkswagen has given the Golf an extensive upgrade in an effort to help the nameplate remain Europe's top-selling car. The redesigned Golf has a sleeker design and is more fuel efficient, roomier and better equipped than the current version. New safety and assistance systems include a multicollision braking system that automatically brings the car to a stop when it is involved in a crash to help avoid a second impact with oncoming traffic. The redesigned Golf will go on sale in Europe in November and will arrive in showrooms in the United States in 2014.
You can reach Paul McVeigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.