by Jens Meiners
2003 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/8/2003)
2003 Los Angeles Auto Show Ford banner with type
2004 BMW 6-Series
After the shock of the 7-Series and the similarly unconventional 5-Series, BMW has introduced the two-door 6-Series coupe. Perhaps it should have been the first car to display Chris Bangle’s still-controversial styling language in order to let it sink in before trying it out on the larger public. Arguably, the six has the prettiest face of the new BMWs, and its low stance works well in conjunction with its muscular fenders and bulges. Like its predecessor of the 1970s and 1980s, the new coupe is based on the 5-Series, but priced closer to the 7-Series. During the press introduction, BMW CEO Helmut Panke announced a 2+2 convertible version that will first be shown at the upcoming 2004 Detroit Auto Show. There are three six-speed transmissions available: a manual gearbox, an automatic (Steptronic), and an automated sequential manual gearbox (SMG). The first engine is the 4.4-liter V-8 with 333 hp. Other six- and eight-cylinder engine options will follow. A heads-up display and a glass panorama roof are available, while iDrive is standard.
new Siemens banner
2004 BMW X3
Priced just a few thousand euros below the X5, the all-new BMW X3 is a carbon copy of the xActivity concept shown at the Detroit Auto show earlier this year. Europe is getting a powerful 3.0 diesel engine turning out 204 hp, while the X3 3.0i with the famous in-line six producing 231 hp will go to all markets. The engines are coupled to a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, and all X3s feature the new xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The X3 is produced by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Magna Steyr has contributed significantly to the design of this “sports activity vehicle”.
2004 BMW X5
While the attention is focused mainly on the X3, BMW has upgraded the X5 with xDrive, the company’s new, “intelligent” all-wheel-drive system. It features an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch connected to the DSC stability system. xDrive can react more quickly to road conditions and driver input than the previously used AWD system. The X5 receives a mild facelift and three improved engines: The 3.0 diesel’s output rises to 218 hp, the 4.4i V-8 now produces 320 hp, and the top-of-the line 4.6 is has been replaced with the 4.8is, driven by a 360-hp engine to speeds up to 153 mph.
SUV meets MPV: The Dunehawk concept is based on a ladder-frame, rear wheel drive platform, featuring Nissan’s second-generation "all mode 4x4" system and including a low ratio for towing and serious off-roading. Like an MPV, it also has seating for seven and a versatile cargo department, all in a light-flooded, stylish environment. All seven seats can be lowered electrically. The Dunehawk incorporates LED exterior lighting and doors automatically opened by brushing a pad on the exterior surface. Nissan is investing 400 million euros in the Barcelona, Spain production facility. Two years down the road, a pickup and and SUV will be produced there - and the Dunehawk is a strong indication of Nissan’s upcoming developments.
2003 Nissan Dunehawk concept
Lexus LS 430
Refinement and little styling touches are making the Lexus LS 430 an even better car. The front hood and headlights now look tidier, the front bumper with its integrated fog lights is a tad more aggressive, and the taillights are slightly altered. But the LS 430 remains a very conservative car. Even less obtrusive than the bodystyle is the driving experience. The famous 4.3-liter V-8 is now coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Adaptive front lighting and a video-based parking aid, as well as a smart key system similar add to the luxurious experience. And the car has become even quieter, Lexus says.
2004 Citroen C2
Based on a shortened C3 platform, the Citroen C2 is just right for Europe’s tight cities. It is available only in four-seat configuration and will be initially sold with three gasoline engines ranging from 61 to 109 hp and a common-rail turbodiesel turning out 68 hp. The diesel will be available with 16-valve technology and 90 hp in the near future. The mid-range 73-hp engine is available with Sensotronic, an automated clutch system. And this is the only available transmission for the top-of-the line C2 VTR, which is capable of 122 mph. The exterior of the C2 introduces a new design language for Citroen – away from the soft, friendly curves associated with the carmaker. It has been hinted at in recent show cars, but as far as production cars go, the C2 marks a rapid departure from the Xsara Picasso’s or the C3 Pluriel’s friendly appearance. The C2 may well be the most aggressive-looking city car on the market. Its interior doesn’t match the exterior: The dashboard is largely carried over from the C3, displaying the slightly bigger car’s curvy style, and some rather basic materials. To rub in the point that the C2 is not even trying to be nice and cuddly, young professional drivers will be able to race the Super 1600 version in next year’s national championships. The figures: 225 hp at 8500 rpm.