2002 Maserati Spyder
2001 Frankfurt Auto Show Index
Official Web site for IAA Frankfurt
September’s around the corner — and in the hinterlands of Germany, that can only mean one thing. Yep, it’s another Frankfurt auto show, and the world’s automotive makes are busy putting the final touches on concepts and production cars due to make their debuts.
It’s not often that the Frankfurt auto show reveals so much before its official public opening — September 13-23, for those of you trying to hook into a free ride to Oktoberfest. But this year, we’ve got a handful of pics and illustrations of the vehicles you’ll be seeing here in more depth during the middle of September.
TCC’s Dutch correspondent Henny Hemmes brings us word on Frankfurt’s debs, including yet another Audi, a hi-po Benz convertible and a trio of Nissan concepts. Consider yourself officially tided over until next month when we're live from the halles of Frankfurt.
Audi A4 Convertible
Though it’s officially going to be called a show car, Audi’s already confirmed that the A4 Convertible is headed to market next spring. The show model of the Convertible has a flatter front and a more pronounced tail than the sedan, but its silhouette is undoubtedly A4. And the rest is characteristically Audi, right down to its aluminum suspenders — er, suspension — and choice of engines, a 3.0-liter V-6 with 220 bhp and a 170-hp 2.4-liter four. The new Multitronic continuously variable transmission will also be found on the options list. The Cabriolet’s passengers have more space than in the previous Convertible and luggage space is larger, too, Audi promises. The A4 Cabriolet’s standard features include a fully automatic top with heated rear glass, automatic air conditioning, an active rollover protection system, power windows, central locking with radio remote control, 16-inch alloy wheels and Isofix child seat mountings on three seats. In addition to dual front and side airbags, an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with hydraulic brake assist provides maximum active safety.
Ford/Pininfarina Focus Coupe
Styling studio and coachbuilder Pininfarina’s Focus Coupe might be an indication that Ford’s studying a two-door variant pretty seriously. Rumor has it the car is awaiting the second-generation Focus platform, and is being planned around it and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 150 hp. Two supercharged performance versions (210 and 300 hp) may be expected as well. The next Focus, for those of you waiting now with bated breath, will come around sometime in 2003, and its platform will be shared by Mazda and Volvo.
Mercedes SL 55 AMG
It’s never too early to overdose on horsepower, it seems. Mercedes-Benz is blasting the just-announced SL roadster with an additional 500cc of displacement, boosting its V-8 to 5.5 liters and its output to a staggering 476 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, for a claimed 0-60 mph run in just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. For style, the SL 55 AMG has wider fenders, thicker bumpers, dark taillights and four pronounced exhaust pipes; the interior is trimmed with plenty of aluminum.
Ferrari is the parent, and Italdesign-Giugiaro is the clothier to the new Maserati Spyder, a roadster built on the 8.6-inch-shorter version of the chassis belonging to the new Maserati 3200GT. The car will get a complete new 4.2-liter 32 valve V-8 engine with dry sump and an oil pump outside the crankcase. The engine, developed together with Ferrari and also meant for the 360 Modena, has a maximum output of 390 hp at 7000 rpm and a maximum torque of 333 lb-ft at 4500 rpm, which should be enough for a top of 175 mph. For better weight distribution (53-47 percent) the gearbox and differential are placed in the rear. An innovation is the Cambiocorsa six-speed gearbox with electronic speed selection, with four modes (Normal, Sport, Auto and Low Grip) that can be selected with knobs on the center console.