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2004 Paris Auto Show, Part II

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2004 Paris Auto Show by TCC Team (9/20/2004)
The well-loved lights of the City of Light take the stage.

 

BMW H2R

2004 BMW H2R

2004 BMW H2R

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HUMMER may have the H2 initials locked up, but BMW’s favorite H(2) these days is hydrogen — and that’s the fuel it used to propel a new experimental race car to a new record. The H2R, shown off after its record-breaking run of 185 mph at a French test track, is thought to be the fastest hydrogen-powered car ever built, giving BMW’s efforts to develop cars based around the alternative fuel a sporting shot in the arm. The H2R is powered by a 6.0-liter V-12, not the fuel-cell powertrain that other automakers have pursued as the industry tries to engineer a course away from fossil fuels. The H2R, BMW says, accelerates to 60 mph in about 6.0 seconds, weighs 3440 pounds and develops 285 hp from its future-think powertrain.

 

BMW 1-Series

2005 BMW 1-Series

2005 BMW 1-Series

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The entry-level BMW 1-Series emerged in five-door form at the Paris show, with gas and diesel engines powering the compact rear-driver that BMW hopes will make the planet forget about the truly forgettable 318ti hatchbacks of the 1990s. The 1-Series shares components with the 3-Series and starts with the base 116i model with a 115-hp engine. The rear-drive chassis has 50-50 weight distribution for good handling from the strut front/multi-link rear suspension. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all but the 116i model. Run-flat tires are standard, while a version of iDrive, keyless entry, and a Bluetooth interface for mobile phones are optional.

The 1-Series won’t be coming to the U.S. in this form, but as BMW officials outlined during their press conference, future derivatives will be headed across the Atlantic (a two-door coupe is thought to be the likely candidate for a 2006 model-year intro in America). But why do a car smaller than the 3-Series anyway when BMW controls the sassy, successfully reincarnated MINI? Because of estimates that the compact market sells 12 million vehicles a year, and will account for 20 percent of worldwide car sales by the end of the decade.

 

Volkswagen GTI

2006 Volkswagen GTI

2006 Volkswagen GTI

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Though it’s here at the Paris show this week and available right away for European customers, Volkswagen’s GTI takes a looooong time to get to U.S.enthusiasts — the 2006 model doesn’t arrive until October of 2005, and in the U.S. we'll only get the two-door model. The new GTI, the fifth generation of the go-fast econobox that practically invented its own market niche, shows up with the new 2.0-liter FSI turbo engine with 200 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque that’s also found in the new Audi A3, here teamed to a six-speed gearbox. So shod, the new GTI hits a top speed of 146 mph and should be able to sprint from 0-60 mph in 7 seconds; a DSG version should cut that figure to 6.7 seconds. The new GTI gets way more aggressive that previous editions: big bumpers front and aft, a black radiator grille with red rim, and black trim at the lower part of the body outline its intentions as do the rear wing, double exhaust tips, and 17-inch wheels. Inside there are logoed sport seats, a three-spoke steering wheel, and aluminum pedals and shift knob.

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