From new models to crazy concepts: 2018 Paris motor show wrap-up
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
The 2018 Paris motor show is underway in Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. It's one of the largest events of its kind in Europe, offering car manufacturers the chance to showcase their latest wares in the world's capital of style.
Obviously Paris is home turf for the French brands, and traditionally the event is favoured over Geneva by certain manufacturers from farther afield, but there are a few surprises dotted around from places you might not expect.
Tuesday October 2 was the 'press day', a preview event for the world's automotive media. It's during this preview that most significant model launches and brand announcements take place, and we were reporting live. Here's what we learned.
One of the show’s most hotly anticipated models was the E-Tron all-electric SUV. This is Audi’s first proper EV, and with a range of around 250 miles in WLTP testing, it comes close to the standard set by the Jaguar I-Pace and Hyundai Kona.
Whether it will enter the UK market at the right time and price point remains to be seen, as these first few truly practical electric cars are filling a fast-growing segment.
Audi also brought its new A1 supermini, as well as the updated Q3 SUV, which we've already driven and which we rather like. The German brand still operates very much at the premium end of the market, and its cars are markedly more expensive than their more mainstream equivalents – it will be interesting to see how Audi’s latest price points are received.
Then of course there are the concepts, such as the PB18 pictured above.
The Bavarians have brought a generous spread of new metal to Paris, the most eye-catching being the new Z4. Developed alongside Toyota’s new Supra, the Z4 is a two-door roadster with some quite serious hardware beneath the bonnet.
Then there's the new 8-Series grand tourer, designed to sit at the top of BMW’s non-SUV range. It’s a replacement for the 6-Series, a well-regarded but largely outdated coupé available in two- or four-door format, and like the 6 will one day be available with an ‘M’ badge and the power to match. Expect the next-generation iDrive infotainment system, and the xDrive all-wheel drive transmission.
At the far end of the BMW stand sits an unassuming, dignified saloon. This car has traditionally been a driver of pretty much everything that happens at the Munich engine maker; it makes most profit and gets most engineering attention. In a world of SUV’s, city cars, sports cars and anything but old fashioned saloons, does 3-series hold its importance at BMW?
“Yes and no,” says Klaus Frohlich, BMW board member, “but you need to remember that the process of engineering a car has completely changed.”
He explains that while the new 3-series is completely new, he’ll also be pushing more new stuff at it within a few years of the launch. “Every two to three years I have to put new engines, transmissions, infotainment, connectivity, it’s like an infusion of tech systems.”
Nevertheless he is claiming he has made good on a promise with the new car: it will be significantly better to drive than the outgoing model, which received some criticism particularly in the UK.
Every new car now gets a nickname, he explains; X5, ‘the boss, X6, ‘the beast’, X7, ‘the president’, M2, ‘the drift machine’. He says that while 3-series hasn’t been formally given a name, he’d say it was ‘the core’, but that this will be a return to the sporting handling, the precision and steering feel for which this range of cars has been renowned.
You’d think that Citroen, playing on home turf, would have several new models on display at their Paris stand. But instead they’ve brought a concept, some art cars, some old hat and the new C5 Aircross model, which is far from their most radical work. We expect it to be comfy, keenly priced and practical, albeit less distinctive than Citroen models of recent years.
The Monza SP1 and SP2 are a brace of limited-edition single- and two-seaters that loosely allude to the 750 and 860 Monza sports racers of the 1950s.
Both models come with a tuned version of the V12 used in the 812 Superfast, and are expected to reach 60mph in under 3 seconds. Ferrari plans to sell 500 of these cars to “eligible customers”.
We rather like the Hyundai i30 N hot hatch, and the 130 N Fastback is even better. It’s a four-door liftback, similar in scope to the Vauxhall Insignia GSi, with a choice of two power outputs combines (in theory) with the same energetic dynamics of the hatchback.
In 271bhp form, this will be quite a serious car, challenging premium and performance brands in a way that Hyundai hasn’t quite managed before. But sadly, it's not slated to be launched in New Zealand.
Having dropped its apostrophe, the Ceed regains the letters 'GT'. With around 200bhp it’s nowhere near as powerful as the hot hatch big boys, but this nimble little warm hatch strengthens the Koreans’ case against the European B-segment mainstream – as well as the Ford Focus.
Buyers will be able to choose between a manual and an automatic (the old cars were all stick shift) and will enjoy an “enhanced” aural note from the various acoustic trickery that Kia has installed around the exhaust system.
The Proceed might have a similarly silly name, but this estate version is another compelling contender. It’ll come to Britain with the full range of engines, including the same 201bhp 1.6 from the Ceed GT. It’s great-looking, it’s practical, it’s reliable and it’s keenly priced, but will it sell? British buyers are easily beguiled by premium badges, the technical superiority of which is dwindling as the budget brands improve.
It's a world premiere for the Lexus RC Coupe - the smaller, more bland sister of the LC. Exterior sculpting and a raft of interior improvements could help this Japanese Mercedes compete against its actual Mercedes rivals, which currently outsell it by several orders of magnitude – data suggests there are around 1,600 RCs on British roads in total, compared with literally billions of C-classes.
Still, the RC is positively common compared to the new LC Limited Edition. The promo blurb says sporty yet elegant, but compared with the LC it’s pretty forgettable. An opportunity missed, we’d say. Also new at Lexus are the ES saloon and UX SUV; both based on the company’s new global Luxury platform.
With models still to be introduced in the Mercedes A-Class range (GLA, GLA shooting break and a mysterious vehicle know as "GLB"), you’d have thought that would be enough compact cars from the three-pointed star, but no. New B-class is on the Paris stand looking rather swanky with punched leather trim and lots of space.
You'd need a feeler gauge to measure the difference between this and other compact Mercedes models, but that takes nothing away from the rather grown up desirability of the B-class with it’s spacious interior and clean almost shooting break like lines.
In fact Ola Kallenius, Mercedes R&D director admitted that while “there'll be no radical trimming of the tree, if we see a profitable model niche then we might have to make way for it by dropping a model.”
Shame if the B fell to that new discipline, though. Its appeal to older folk is in stark contrast to that of the younger, bouncier and noisier constituency of A-class buyers.
The new B arrives this December. It’s lower than the outgoing car and the passengers sit deeper in the body shell. There’ll be five engines including a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol and Mercedes’s excellent two-litre diesel and a new eight speed automatic gearbox, which will become the standard for all Mercedes transverse applications. Expect hybrids to follow.
And then of course there’s the GLE, which is your archetypal premium SUV. Mercedes wants you to know that it’s “as comfortable on the road as a luxury saloon”, yet comes with “better off-road credentials than ever before”, which is a photocopy of pretty much every other SUV press release we’ve ever had from a premium brand.
Peugeot has announced hybrid versions of almost all its cars. The 508 saloon, 508 SW estate, and 3008 SUV (which we had on long-term test for a while) will all get plug-in capabilities, a significant step towards electrification for Peugeot, having some implications for Vauxhall models, which use some of the same underlying technology.
Oh yeah, about the 508 SW. This is the wagon version of the 508, which we rather like but which probably won’t sell in huge numbers over here. Peugeot’s estate is arguably the most attractive in the segment and we’re always excited to see a new car that isn’t an SUV.
There’s some kind of Guns And Roses revival thing going on, as it happens, with Metro fliers show the band line up with front man Slash looking slightly to young and weirdly not like your loveable, lock-up-your-daughters axe man.
We feel rather the same about the e-LEGEND concept on the Peugeot stand, which despite a track-stopping initial appearance, somehow fails to hark back to the elegant Pininfarina designed 1969 504 coupe and looked more like a hepped-up Mustang saloon.
Even so there’s a lot to like about the battery electric e-Legend even if much of it is in the audacious rear room and glass line and ultra low boot. It’s apparently fully connected and capable of autonomous driving with various modes for manual and autonomous driving.
“It’s not just a technological manifesto,” says Jean-Philippe Imparato, Peugeot chief executive, “[it’s] a vision of a brand actively focussed on an optimistic and ultra-desirable future.”
Specifications and performance figures are largely meaningless for such a concept of course, but for the record, the 100kWh lithium-ion battery gives a claimed 600km range on WLTP test cycles and 0-62mph acceleration in less than four seconds. Go on, get Sweet Child Of Mine on the stereo and quit Dodge...
The updated Macan has been revealed at Paris. Or rather, revealed to Europe at Paris. It’s already been revealed in Shanghai to the Chinese market, which consumes around one in three of all Macans made.
It’s all about electricity at Renault’s home show, with a stand dominated by the EZ-GO and new EZ Ultimo. Of the eve of the show Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn announced eight new electric vehicles, five new and three revisions of current models, including the Zoe.
The most significant of the new ones include an almost production-ready electric SUV called the K-ZE that will be initially launched in China then gradually rolled out in other markets. It will probably be made in China, too. And, for some bizarre reason, it’s not at the Paris show.
The concept EZ-GO ride-hailing 7-seater that we’ve already seen is a level 4 autonomy machine posited for use in easily mapped locations such as a university campus or an Olympic village. The new EZ Ultimo is a sleeker, luxury version of the same concept. Renault envisages a future where it might wear airline liveries as it chauffeurs passengers from home to terminal, for instance.
Back in the real world there’s the facelifted Kadjar SUV, with a bolder grille and slight titivation to the rear. Probably also some improvements to the interior and equipment, too. Clio fans (such a thing must exist) will be disappointed by the no-show of the next model.
It had been strongly rumoured that the supermini would be revealed here. All those Clio fans can look forward to the Geneva show in early March, when we’re as sure as we can be that the new model will be debuted.
The Seat Tarraco and Seat Arona TGI have been revealed at Paris, with punters able to get up close and personal with the Cupra Ateca for the first time.
Frankly all these cars look pretty much the same, and none of them are likely to excite anyone outside the industry, but they underline Seat’s ongoing determination to absolutely nail this SUV thing.
But oh wait. There’s more. The Karoq is another pretty decent, if dull, example of the SUV breed, and next year it’ll be available with four-wheel drive. The Skoda Karoq Scout isn’t exactly an off-roader but the modicum of stability provided by the 4x4 system almost justifies those exaggerated plastic wheel arch trims. Skoda has brought a mildly sporty version of the Karoq, called the Karoq Sportline, to Paris too.
Marginally more exciting is the unveiling of the Kodiaq RS. We rather like the Octavia VRS, for example, and we hope that the application of that same energy to Skoda’s SUV range will have similarly pleasing effects. A 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 237bhp sounds pretty punchy, anyway.
One of the most drooled-over cars of 2018 is the Suzuki Jimny, which has beguiled motoring journalists with its chunky charm since spy shots began leaking over a year ago.
It’s cramped, dynamically compromised and only scored three stars in Euro NCAP testing, but that doesn’t stop “car people” from admiring its utilitarian aesthetics and old-school off-road agility.
There’s a new Vitara, too, which is obviously a better car in every measurable way but which doesn’t have quite the same cult following.
The Rav4 was one of the original SUVs that helped to define this segment during the 1990s, yet today it’s a bit of an outsider, outperformed technically and commercially by more popular European rivals. That could be about to change, however, with the new, better-looking Rav4.
The Camry is back, too. It's Camry is still one of the best selling saloons in America, and there are good reasons for that. Families buy a new model and hand the old one down through relatives, friends and so on; you never ditch a Camry.
I love this car. I once met the engineer responsible for ensuring mating surfaces wore into each other equally and uniformly so components like gearboxes had a long trouble-free life. He worked on Camry... As one American private eye once told me; “for surveillance work we use a Camry; quick, reliable, comfortable and absolutely invisible.”
There’s a feeling that Toyota is reclaiming some of its best selling names such as Camry and Corolla, which was also relaunched to Europe at the show. Toyota's best-known car is back with a hybrid powertrain.
It's far from our favourite car in Paris, but it'll probably sell pretty well.
David Beckham and Miss Vietnam were on the Vinfast stand to unveil a brand new SUV and a saloon, developed in conjunction with Pininfarina.
Both will go on sale in Vietnam in September 2019, with sales in Europe to follow. Bucking the industry trend, the Vietnamese public voted on their favourite design from a range of sketches presented last October 2017.
The company, Vietnam's first proper passenger vehicle brand, says it is rapidly developing other vehicles “that meet international standards and customer expectations in terms of design, quality, dynamics, premium in-car features and the ownership experience”.
- Telegraph UK