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2003 Geneva Show, Part II


 

 

TCC's Auto Show Index by TCC Team (2/23/2003)
Our coverage of the world's major auto shows, year to year.

2003 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (3/3/2003)
All the best from the Swiss car event of the year
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Bentley Conti GT Is $149,900

2004 Bentley Continental GT

2004 Bentley Continental GT

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Wait no longer for the way to spend your casino winnings — Bentley says its new Continental GT coupe will come at a relative ultra-luxury bargain price of $149,900. The Continental GT, being shown around the Geneva Motor Show ongoing today, sports a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 good for 0-to-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of more than 190 mph. The GT gets a standard six-speed automatic, custom leather interior, and your choice of walnut or oak veneers. The Conti GT is the first Bentley developed wholly in conjuction with its new parents at Volkswagen.

 

Hyundai On The Hunt

Remember all the jokes about Hyundai? Nobody’s taking those seriously anymore — at least not with the Korean carmaker rolling up record sales of 1.85 million vehicles last year, an increase of 15 percent. “Our goal is clear,” asserted Chairman and CEO Dong Jim Kim. “We will belong to the top five global carmakers in this decade.” This year, he revealed, Hyundai is aiming for worldwide sales of 3.3 million vehicles. And Europe, Kim said, is a critical piece in the growth plans. That’s why Hyundai is looking at the possibility of a Korean assembly plant, though he cautioned, “We are still some time away from that decision.”  One of the big challenges, added the automaker’s continental chief, Werner Frey, is that “We know we still have to work on our brand image in Europe.” The automaker has been trying to build a following through its aggressive support of European football — soccer to Americans. And Hyundai and soccer officials jointly pulled the wraps off an updated version of the XG sedan.

 

Going Topless At Mercedes

2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK 500

2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK 500

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The CLK Cabrio is as close as Mercedes-Benz comes to an “affordable” convertible. Dubbing it “one of the classic cars of tomorrow,” the brand’s boss, Juergen Hubbert, pulled the covers off the newest version of the CLK Cabrio, which will be offered with a range of five engines worldwide, including the high-performance CLK55 AMG. While Mercedes has been moving to retractable hardtops on many of its cabrios, the CLK keeps a cloth top. Improved aerodynamics should translate into both better mileage and reduced wind noise. The Cabrio boasts a range of high-tech safety hardware, including a rollover protection system.

 

Airflite May Take Wing

2003 Chrysler Airflite concept

2003 Chrysler Airflite concept

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The new Chrysler Airlfite provides a strong hint of the new styling direction under development at the U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG, who dubs it “functional art.” Think of the five-door hatchback as a four-seat Chrysler Crossfire, suggested design director Trevor Creed. The comparison is obvious, thanks to the sloping roof line carrying the Crossfire’s trademark center crease. Each leather seat appears to float individually off the unusual wood floor with aluminum accent strips. The look recalls the “classic era of wooden boats,” added Creed. The Airflite received a strong reception during its Tuesday preview, a good sign as far as Chrysler President and COO Wolfgang Bernhard is concerned. The executive said the reaction at the show will strongly influence his decision on where to go with the Airflite concept. Noting “it has the seed of feasibility,” Bernhard admitted serious interest in putting the show car into production, “if we get the right feedback.” He conceded that key design and engineering issues already “have been figured out,” though he cautioned that even with a go-ahead, it would take “nothing short of three years” to bring Airflite to market.

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