2004 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC
Switzerland Shows It Off
Switzerland — you can set your watch by the trains, and
you can count the number of major car companies native to the nation on no
fingers. And that’s what makes the Swiss show a major hit with automakers, who
throng to the show each year to make their press play on neutral ground. Yes,
General Motors and Volkswagen and Toyota and Ford are here — but so are
Lorinser, Rinspeed and a whole host of brands Americans may never have heard of.
Today TCC is bringing you the highlights from the Geneva motor show from far and
wide as well as big and small. You can get all of our Geneva stories through the
index below; also make sure to see the show’s official site atwww.salon-auto.ch
Mitsubishi Preens Two New
Mitsubishi’s new subcompact for Europe has some familiar
underpinnings — the Smart formore shares the Colt’s architecture but not its
rather conservative look. Sized for European roads, the tall five-door hatchback
is due to go on sale in Europe this May for a price of about $13,000. For that
price, buyers will get a roomy vehicle, Mitsu promises: the Colt’s said to be
the widest vehicle in its class, with the longest interior space as well. The
interior is more flexible that most subcompacts, with split-fold rear seats that
can slide, flip, fold or be completely removed; the front passenger seat also
folds flat down for loading of long objects. The engines range from a 1.1-liter,
75-hp gas four-cylinder to a 95-hp, 1.5-liter diesel three; a five-speed manual
gearbox and a six-speed automatic are available with either engine. Standard
anti-lock control for the brakes and optional stability control and side airbags
round out the safety features.
The second Colt is a concept that Mitsu is already
plotting for production. The Colt CZ3 reconfigures the new Colt/Smart
architecture into a three-door hatchback, with coupe styling and a lower, more
dramatic roofline. The concept shares the same wheelbase as the production
five-door, but is somewhat shorter in overall length. Blackout privacy glass and
17” Okazaki alloy wheels gave the shape more drama. Mitsu promises a production
version of this concept for the 2004 Paris Motor Show in September.
MINI Exposes Convertible
Though MINI continues to exceed BMW’s expectations for
sales in the States, that doesn’t mean the revived British brand will rest on
its laurels. Later this year, the MINI Convertible will come to the States, and
audiences in Geneva got the first look at the coming droptop. The fabric-roofed
MINI Convertible is, in fact, two convertibles in one: the fabric roof slides
back nearly 16 inches for a targa effect, and opens the rest of the way,
stacking onto itself behind the rear seats, in 15 seconds for a completely
open-air experience. Structural reinforcements to the chassis and a pair of roll
hoops provide for better safety in the Convertible, while a slightly revamped
front end distinguishes it from the roofed MINI from the beltline down. In
Europe, the MINI Convertible will be offered as the 90-hp MINI One. The U.S.
will get the Cooper Convertible with the 115-hp four-cylinder and later the
Cooper S Convertible with 163 hp. Two new colors—Hot Orange and Cool Blue—can be
ordered with the ragtop edition, while three top colors will be offered.
Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake distribution are standard, while stability
control and traction control will be made available as options.