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2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part II


2004 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (2/22/2004)

 

Concept 100EX Is Ready to Rolls

2004 Rolls-Royce 100EX concept

2004 Rolls-Royce 100EX concept

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To mark the centennial of the company, Rolls-Royce lifted the covers off the 100EX, the latest in a long-running series of experimental automobiles that date back nearly to the day when Charles Rolls and Henry Royce decided to join forces. Though the EX bears a strong resemblance to the new Rolls-Royce Phantom – including its aluminum spaceframe construction – it adds a few notable touches, the most obvious being a convertible top. There’s also an unusual fold-out trunk. The 100EX is nearly seven inches shorter than Phantom, and about three inches lower. Is it a hint of what’s to come? The prototype certainly looks like it could be the anticipated replacement for the old Corniche convertible. But while “everyone will be expecting this to be a new series model, it is not,” insisted Tony Gott, the CEO for the British brand, which is now the flagship for BMW AG. At least not now, anyway, but another senior official tells TheCarConnection there are very definite design elements and technological features Rolls would like to incorporate into a future convertible. The challenge is to make a convincing business case, and for the moment, the high-line marque needs to focus on nudging up demand for its Phantom sedan. If and when that’s on track, the issue of a second model is likely to get a more eager reception from the BMW board of directors.

 

Benz Fields Slick New SLK

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55

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The first thing you notice is the family resemblance. The newly updated Mercedes-Benz SLK has taken on many of the same design cues originally seen on the automaker’s higher-priced SL roadster and SLR supercar models. The basic dimensions of the second-generation roadster resemble those of the outgoing model, which was first introduced in 1996. There are a number of interesting innovations debuting with the ’05 SLK, however. These include the unusual Airscarf system, which directs warm air through the driver and passenger headrests to make it easier to enjoy top-down driving all year. The SLK gets an optional, “light-bending” bi-xenon headlight system which follows curves in the road. And drivers can opt for a variety of powertrains, from a supercharged, 163-hp four-cylinder package to the 360-hp V-8 being offered in the SLK 55 AMG. The most powerful version of the roadster ever offered, it will launch from 0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph) in barely 4.9 seconds. Motorists can mate the big engine to Mercedes’ unique new seven-speed automatic transmission, or opt for a six-speed manual.

 

Will A Coupe-Like Sedan Blur the Benz Lines?

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

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Mercedes also took the wraps off the production version of its Vision CLS concept, a vehicle that could further blur the lines between traditional product boundaries. The 2005 CLS features a swept, sporty, coupe-like roof, but also boasts four doors. Though you may have to duck a bit to get in, that’s still a lot easier than with a conventional coupe, especially for the type of older buyers that can afford a Mercedes in this price range, suggested the automaker’s boss, Juergen Hubbert. The CLS will feature a range of six- and eight-cylinder engines and come with an array of safety features, such as head curtain airbags and the German maker’s unique Pre-Safe system, designed to anticipate and prepare for a likely crash. While Hubbert stressed that Mercedes won’t abandon the traditional two-door body style, he hinted other four-door coupes could follow in the coming years. There’s already “a big demand” for the CLS, he boasted, adding “We’re not sure we have enough capacity.” Eventually, annual sales could top 30,000, he forecast.

 

Smart Hooks Up with Brabus

2004 Smart Brabus

2004 Smart Brabus

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Barely a year after launching its new roadster, DaimlerChrysler’s Smart brand was back in Geneva with the performance-tuned Brabus roadster and Brabus roadster-coupe. With 101 horsepower – 20 percent more than the original models – the Brabus edition delivers a top speed of about 120 mph, no mean feat in cars so small. Both models get sports suspension packages, 17-inch alloy wheels, and heated black leather sports seats. Prices start at around 25,000 Euros, and we’ll leave it to the mathematicians to figure out what that works out to in the freefalling U.S. dollar.

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