There are plenty of new production cars too, from the MINI Convertible to an updated version of the Mercedes C-Class and a new BMW 5-Series wagon. Subaru has a surprise addition to the Legacy range, the ‘Spec B’ version of the Legacy 3.0R. Subaru say the car to be shown in Geneva is a prototype, but it’s a good bet that it will go into production to take Subaru’s performance reputation, gained with the hot versions of the Impreza, up the range. Performance additions to the standard Legacy 3.0R specification include a torque-sensing limited-slip rear differential, bigger 18-inch wheels and tires, Bilstein rally suspension, and a six-speed manual box in place of the standard automatic. The 245 hp of the standard car’s flat-six engine is considered sufficient.
2004 Subaru Legacy 3.0REnlarge Photo
Spain’s Seat, a part of the VW group, showed the Altea concept for what it calls a “Multi-Sports Vehicle” at the Frankfurt show last September. In early March it will feature on the company’s Geneva stand as a production model that will go on sale later in the year. Seat points out that the Altea is the first vehicle to be completely developed within the Audi Brand Group since it was established in 2002. Power will come from 1.6- and 2.0-liter petrol engines and 1.9- and 2.0-liter diesels. Top-of-the-range models will have six-speed automatic or DSG gearboxes. Seat is tasked to bring some Mediterranean flair to VW’s Audi Group; the Altea is Design Director Walter de’Silva’s first step along the way.
2004 SEAT AlteaEnlarge Photo
The second generation of the Mercedes SLK will be eagerly inspected in Geneva, a town with more than its fair share of wealthy sports car enthusiasts. Shaped to reflect Formula 1 styling, the SLK has already been trailed in Europe by the release of photographs and specifications. According to Mercedes, this has brought in 7000 orders already, before the car has been seen in the metal. Technical improvements include improved suspension and six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes, and there are three engine options, from a supercharged four-cylinder to an AMG-tuned V-8 that produces 360 hp. The folding hard top that started a trend in Europe has been improved for the new version, but for those who like to drive with the top down, Mercedes has come up with the ultimate cold-weather friend. It’s called the Airscarf, and it takes the form of a ducting system that feeds warm air to the driver and passenger’s necks to keep them warm and cozy.
2005 Mercedes-Benz SLKEnlarge Photo