The Frankfurt Motor Show continues the segment-busting so evident at recent auto shows.
At Frankfurt, new models and concepts will take minivans to a new level. For example:
Renault offers two interesting models, a combination luxury coupe/minivan and a sport-utility/minivan.
Audi unveils an aluminum-intensive supermini/minivan.
Toyota turns its Yaris small car into a supermini multipurpose vehicle, called the Yaris Verso.
And more than any other show of recent years, Frankfurt 1999 will be all about new packaging ideas. While the supermini-based Yaris Verso offers more interior space than a Renault Megane Scenic, the Opel Zafira offers more seats - seven - in a Scenic-sized package. However, Renault's large, production-ready Avantime travels a different route: It offers seating for only four people.
Of course, the sedan and performance segments haven't been ignored. Opel will display its new executive car; Lancia will have the new upper-range Lybra; and Mercedes will exhibit the newest Vision SLR concept, a convertible.
Here are highlights of what the automakers are displaying in Frankfurt this week, compiled by the Automotive News Europe reporting team.
The luxury British sports car maker will display its new V-12 engine.
The important newcomer for Audi is the A2. It will launch Audi into uncharted territory, where it will compete with the Mercedes-Benz A class.
Billed as the first mainstream aluminum car, the A2 uses spaceframe technology and a sandwich-layer floor concept similar to the A class.
Audi also will introduce an A8 powered by a W12 engine and the Audi S6 quattro with a modified 4.2-liter, five-valve, V-8.
The star of BMW's stand will be the Z8 roadster, powered by the 5.0-liter V-8 from the BMW M5. The Z8 will go on sale in Europe next spring.
BMW will display the new 3 series Touring model, plus the new M3, which differs more than its predecessor from the 3-series coupe. Flared wheel arches, a power dome on the hood, four tailpipes and wide tires on unique M-alloy wheels give the car a more dynamic and distinctive appearance.
ItalDesign has styled and built a two-seat coupe for the Volkswagen group. The running concept is powered by a mid-engined, 6.2-liter W18 engine.
Chrysler's redesigned Neon sedan was unveiled at Detroit in January, but Frankfurt will be its first public showing in Europe. The car has subtle changes - the suspension has been retuned and its gear ratios have been altered.
Citroen will unveil its new Saxo supermini, which has its first facelift since its introduction three years ago. Also on the stand will be the Xsara Picasso, a compact minivan. The vehicle will be assembled in Vigo, Spain; production also is planned in Brazil, beginning in 2001.
The financially troubled Korean automaker is pushing ahead with its new-model plans. Daewoo will unveil the Tacuma minivan, its answer to the Renault Scenic.
Although it has no new products to show, the Japanese small-car specialist promises two concepts illustrating the future direction of its micro cars.
Ford's restyled, revamped Fiesta will debut. The new Fiesta has much tidier front styling, with trapezoid headlamps and redesigned front wings, hood and fenders.
Ford also will show the Cougar ST200, a high-performance version of the coupe, and probably the Focus cabriolet.
Hyundai will display the redesigned Accent, which went on sale in Korea recently. Also on the stand will be the facelifted Tiburon coupe and the new Equus luxury sedan.
Lancia hopes to woo BMW buyers with the new Lybra sedan and wagon. They will compete against the BMW 3 series in the premium upper-medium segment. The wagon is expected to account for about 60 percent of Lybra sales in Italy and 50 percent elsewhere in Europe.
Mazda's stand will highlight two concepts: the Neospace, which Mazda describes as a functional compact, and the Nextourer, a touring car.
Mercedes' Vision SLR coupe concept was the talk of the town following its unveiling at the Detroit auto show in January. At the Frankfurt show, Mercedes will display a convertible version. It has a 557-hp engine and a top speed of nearly 200 mph.
In addition, Mercedes will unveil facelifts for the SLK and CLK.
Mercedes' stand will have a technology accent, showing off variable valve control, an accident-detection system and alternative-drive systems with advances in fuel-cell technology.
Mitsubishi will unveil the production version of the Pajero Pinin, which is built in Italy with partner Pininfarina.
Also at the show will be the facelifted Carisma, which is built with Volvo at NedCar in the Netherlands.
Nissan's big unveiling is the redesigned Almera, which is aimed at the lower-medium segment.
The new Almera is the first model to be based on Nissan's new global MS platform. It is the product of a multimillion-dollar investment in Nissan's European design, development and manufacturing facilities.
The car will be powered by a new range of multivalve engines ranging from 1.5 to 2.2 liters. It goes on sale next spring.
Also on the Nissan stand will be the Tino, a minivan derivative of the new Almera, and the latest version of the Terrano off-roader.
The most important launch for Opel will be the new Omega executive car, which faces intense competition. The new Omega offers new styling, refined technology, added safety features and a new 2.2-liter engine.
Opel's Astra coupe concept, styled by Italian designer Bertone, will be on the stand, along with a production-ready version of the Speedster sports car developed with Lotus.
Opel may display its new Agila minicar, based on Suzuki's Wagon R+, and the Astra cabriolet.
Peugeot will use the show to unveil its new flagship: the 607 sedan. New technology includes a filter that destroys microscopic exhaust particles on diesel models; hazard lights that come on automatically under heavy braking; and a suspension system with nine different settings.
New on Porsche's stand will be the Boxster S, a much-awaited addition to the family, with more power, a new transmission and redesigned suspension. It is powered by Porsche's 3.2-liter, 252-hp engine.
There will also be a new 2.7-liter, 220-hp engine for the Boxster, replacing the original 2.5-liter. A new 911 Turbo will be shown, too.
Renault's new Avantime gets its first showing in production form. The cross-over vehicle was been developed from the Vel Satis concept first shown at Paris last year.
The vehicle is the first in a line of ground-breaking, top-of-the-range models expected from Renault over the next two years. It goes on sale next summer.
Renault will reveal the latest version of the Scenic, the RX4, which is aimed at the Land Rover Freelander and Toyota RAV4.
Bentley is showing its Arnage sedan, equipped with a new version of an old engine. The new Arnage will be offered with a 6.7-liter, 380-hp, V-8 derived from a V-8 that has powered Rolls-Royces and Bentleys for 40 years.
Frankfurt will be the first showing of the Aero version of the 9-5 wagon, a high-performance model powered by Saab's 2.3-liter turbocharged engine.
Seat's spotlight will be on the Le£n, a four-wheel-drive hatchback based on the Toledo sedan. This top-of-the-range sedan has a 20-valve, 180-hp, engine, and is part of VW group's plans to turn the Spanish marque into a serious rival to Alfa Romeo.
Also on display will be the Arosa TDI, Seat's version of the VW group's three-liter car.
Skoda says its new Fabia is a supermini that will be placed between the Felicia and the Octavia in its line. In fact, it is almost a lower-medium sized car that will sell at supermini prices.
Toyota will reveal more versions of the Yaris supermini, including the Verso, described as the first supermini multi-purpose vehicle.
Toyota also will introduce 1.3-liter versions of its three- and five-door Yaris. The same 1.3-liter engine will power the Verso.
VW is expected to unveil a revamped Polo line. Also expected is the stretched Passat, and possibly the future luxury DI VW sedan.