EVs And SUVs Set To Dominate In Paris

Paris auto show

Paul McVeigh

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September 28, 2016 06:01 CET

Automakers will focus on electric cars and the booming market for SUV/crossovers at the Paris auto show. Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors' Opel unit will be among companies showing battery-powered cars with long driving ranges. Peugeot, Skoda and Land Rover debut SUV and crossover cars.

Here are some of the key debuts. The show's press days are Thursday and Friday.

Audi

Audi unveils the new generations of its Q5 and A5 models. The cars don't change too much in appearance but they have new platforms so they are lighter and roomier than the current models. The second-generation Q5 grows a little in size to distance it from the Q3. The new A5 coupe and A5 Sportback five-door model keep the elegant design of the current models but add more advanced connectivity features and better safety equipment including Audi's "virtual cockpit" and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smart phone connectivity.

BMW

The BMW X2 will give the brand another front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive model. The small crossover, which will appear in Paris as a concept, is planned as a sporty alternative to the more practical X1. The X2 will sit on BMW'S UKL front-wheel-drive platform, also used by the X1 and the Europe-only 2-series Gran Tourer and Active Tourer minivanlike models, as well as by BMW's latest Mini models. BMW is also expected to debut a production i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid. It will have a longer-range battery and a more powerful electric motor that it will share with a revised i8 coupe that will also be unveiled.

Citroen

Citroen will highlight small and large cars with its show offerings. The new C3 subcompact hatchback will be a key debut for the brand. The latest version has design features that appear on the C4 Cactus, such as Airbumps, which help prevent damage to the exterior.

Citroen C3

The Cxperience plug-in hybrid concept showcases Citroen's styling ideas for its large sedans including a replacement for the C5 midsize model. The fastback-styled car has a futuristic, high-tech look with short overhangs and a smooth front end. It showcases Citroen's new "Advanced Comfort" technology that will replace its hydropneumatic suspension, a key feature of the original Citroen DS, which has been scrapped in what sources said was a cost-cutting move.

Dacia

Dacia will reveal facelifts for its Sandero hatchback and Logan sedan models that it says embody the brand's "more assertive and more modern lighting signature."

Ferrari

Ferrari's open-top version of the $1.1 million, limited-edition LaFerrari hybrid will attract lots of attention and is called Aperta (Italian for "open"). The convertible has the same performance figures as the LaFerrari coupe, unleashing 963 hp from its 800-hp V-12 engine and a 120 kW electric motor. Its chassis has been modified to maintain the coupe's torsional rigidity and beam stiffness.

LaFerrari Aperta

The company will disclose the convertible's price and production run in Paris, but it has already said that the entire production has been sold. Ferrari will also debut a GTC4 Lusso variant with a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that will be sold alongside the normally aspirated V-12 variant as the brand expands turbocharging through its range to meet regulatory pressure to improve fuel economy.

Honda

Honda, which begins sales of the latest-generation Civic hatchback in the U.S. this month, will unveil the European version of the five-door model. The U.S. and European hatchbacks have similar designs and are built at Honda's factory in England, where Honda is investing heavily to make the plant the hatchback's global production hub. The 10th-generation Civic hatchback is longer, wider and lower than the current car with more interior space.

Hyundai

Hyundai has taken a new design direction with the latest i30 compact car, one of the brand's key models in Europe. The latest-generation i30 has a front-end design with a more curved grille than the grille on Hyundai's current models. Hyundai says it has improved the i30's ride and handling characteristics through a newly developed chassis and more use of rigid high strength steel. The three-door version will be dropped in favor of a four-door fastback variant. A high-performance N model will also be added.

Infiniti

Infiniti will debut its new QX50. Its fresh redesign is based on the QX Sport Inspiration concept unveiled at the Beijing auto show in April. The concept signaled a more muscular look for the brand's future crossovers with flowing sculptural lines and short front and rear overhangs. Infiniti also will disclose technical details of its new turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder VC-T engine, which it says is the world's first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. The engine's technology enables it to choose an optimal compression ratio for combustion. This means the engine matches the fuel efficiency of diesels, Infiniti says.

Kia

Kia says the design of its new Rio gives the car a "more mature character" than the current model. The fourth-generation car's ride and handling has been improved. It is slightly longer than the current model and it gets a new cabin with a more ergonomic layout and more passenger room and more cargo space.

Land Rover

Land Rover will unveil the next-generation Discovery ahead of its market launch next spring. The seven-seat SUV gets a softer, more fluid look than the current boxy model, along with a more upscale cabin with more space.

Land Rover Discovery

Photo credit: Land Rover

It is expected to use the same aluminum platform as the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which will help to reduce weight. The SUV will adopt the Discovery name in the U.S. where it is currently sold as the LR4.

Lexus

The UX concept previews a potential small crossover aimed at young urban buyers, although its striking muscular looks likely would be toned down for a production version. The coupe-styled, four-door concept takes Lexus' bold design language "to the next level," the brand said in a new release ahead of the show. The UX's design is meant to appeal to a "progressive, urban audience living in a connected environment," Lexus said.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz will show a concept that "embodies its vision for a new range of purpose-built electric cars." The brand didn't reveal any more details ahead of the concept's debut but it's expected to be an all-electric SUV based on the GLC with a range of 320 miles on one charge. Mercedes will also debut a third variant for its E-class family, the E-class All Terrain that will go up against the Audi A6 allroad quattro, Subaru Outback and Volvo's new V90 Cross Country. Based on the E-class wagon, it has a taller ride height and robust, off-road-based design features. Mercedes-AMG will also unveil two soft-top versions of its GT supercar.

Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi Ground-Tourer PHEV Concept showcases the automaker's latest hybrid powertrain and connectivity technologies. The concept has a plug-in powertrain with a gasoline engine and three electric motors, one unit at the front and two at the rear, helping to give it an impressive 75-mile driving range under electric power.

Nissan

The latest-generation Micra will be bigger than the current model and gets a higher quality interior to make it a better competitor to models such as the Ford Fiesta. It will look sportier with a fresh design influenced by the Sway concept unveiled at the 2015 Geneva auto show. Nissan will build European versions of the Micra at Renault's plant in Flins, northwest France, moving current output from Chennai, India. Renault has said it plans annual production capacity for the Micra of 82,000 units.

Opel

General Motors' European brand showcases the Ampera-e, a Europeanized version of the battery powered Chevrolet Bolt. The difference between the two cars is mostly cosmetic with the Ampera-e adding an Opel grille and slightly different bumpers for EU crash regulations.

Opel Ampera-e

Opel is touting the EV's long range which it says will eliminate range anxiety for customers. Under the New European Driving Cycle, the Ampera-e can travel for 400 km (250 miles) on a single charge without recharging, Opel said. Chevrolet says the Bolt's range is 383 km (238 miles) as certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The range difference between the Opel and Chevrolet versions is due to different testing standards as the cars have identical propulsion systems.

Peugeot

Peugeot has made the new 3008 more SUV-like with high ground clearance and body cladding compared with the minivan looks of the current model. The new 3008 is about 100kg lighter than the current model, helping to improve fuel economy. It's 80mm longer, boosting cabin room. Luggage capacity increases by 90 liters to 520 liters, rising to 1,580 liters with the rear seats folded down. The car gets Peugeot's latest i-Cockpit generation, which includes a small steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen and a piano-inspired "toggle switch."

Peugeot 5008

Peugeot has given its new 5008 an SUV design, moving away from the minivan styling of the current model to meet rising demand for high-riding vehicles. The compact model will offer up to seven seats. The two seats in the third row can be removed or folded flat to boost cargo space. The 5008 is underpinned by PSA Group's EMP2 platform like the new 3008. The 5008 will offer what Peugeot says are premium-segment extras including "body hugging" front seats with an optional massage system and a large panoramic opening glass roof.

Porsche

Porsche's second-generation Panamera uses parent Volkswagen Group's lighter-weight, more fuel-efficient MSB platform. The brand's only four-door sedan gets sleeker, coupelike styling elements to link the model with Porsche's iconic 911 sports car, along with new twin-turbocharged engines that are up to 16 percent more fuel-efficient than the engines in the current model. Porsche plans a "shooting brake" wagon derivative that is expected to be sold in the U.S. along with a long-wheelbase version for China. The car's second-generation plug-in hybrid version will also debut. It is more powerful than the current Panamera plug-in and has a longer electric-only driving range.

Renault

Renault will debut the Trezor EV concept. The concept marks the beginning of a new design cycle for the brand, Renault said. The company did not disclose any further details of the Trezor in advance of the car's unveiling Thursday, saying only its design "explores the essence and technologies inspiring upcoming models that embody both a vision of how mobility might be in the future."

Renault's design chief, Laurens van den Acker, launched a fresh design direction for the brand with the DeZir sports car in 2010. The DeZir was the first in a series of six concept cars that previewed van den Acker's proposals to change the appearance of Renault's lineup. Earlier this year, van den Acker said he was planning a new series of brand-defining concepts.

Renault also will show its new Koleos SUV with its Initiale Paris upscale trim line. The midsize SUV gets a new grille design with a large Renault badge at the center similar to the grille on the Talisman sedan. It's styling is conservative compared with the smaller Kadjar compact SUV. The Koleos was first shown at the Beijing auto show in April. It will launch in Europe next spring. Renault's stand will also highlight the latest versions of the Grand Scenic minivan and Megane sedan.

Renault is also expected to show its Zoe electric car with a more powerful battery and a longer range.

Skoda

The Kodiaq is Skoda's first large SUV and its first model to offer a seven-seat option.

Skoda Kodiaq

Named after the Alaskan Kodiak bear, the SUV will go on sale in Europe early next year as a rival to models such as the Nissan X-Trail. The Kodiaq is built on Volkswagen Group's MQB architecture that underpins other models such as the VW Tiguan SUV. The Kodiaq also will be Skoda's first model to offer a safety system that uses cameras to display views of the area immediately around the car on the infotainment screen.

Smart

Smart will show the latest EV version of its ForTwo two-seat microcar. The brand's four-seat ForFour model also gets a battery powered version.

Suzuki

Suzuki continues its product offensive in Europe by launching the Ignis small crossover. The 3,700mm Ignis will not replace the similarly sized, offroad-focused Jimny but it still promises good offroad credentials in a small package thanks to a minimum ground clearance of 180mm and the option of a four-wheel-drive system with hill descent control and grip control. This function helps to smooth starts on slippery roads by controlling engine torque and the brakes. The Fiat Panda 4x4 is the only direct rival with similar technology. Suzuki is expanding its product lineup in Europe after adding the Baleno hatchback earlier this year.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen will debut its first purpose-built EV. The near-production concept will preview an EV similar in size to its Golf compact hatchback. It will have a range on a single charge of 400km (250 miles) to 480km (300 miles). The concept's interior space rivals that of the Passat midsize model thanks to its new MEB (modular electrification kit) platform which has been developed specifically for electric cars and packages the battery pack beneath the car's floor. The EV will have a distinctive design to differentiate it from VW's non-electric cars. VW brand is expected to launch the car in early 2018 or 2019 and it will be followed by other EVs including a minivan based on the BUDD-e concept unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and a successor to the Phaeton sedan.

Nick Gibbs, Luca Ciferri, David Jolley, Bruce Gain, Andrea Fiorello and Diana Kurylko contributed to this report

You can reach

Paul McVeigh at pmcveigh@crain.com

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