Paris Auto Show: The Highlights
Get all our Paris coverage here:
2004 Paris Auto Show, Part I by TCC Team (9/23/2004)
Chevy goes global, S3X slips under Freudian radar, Opel Astra GTC clears the air, and Ford's new Focus takes aim.
2004 Paris Auto Show, Part II by Marty Padgett (9/23/2004)
BMW goes 185 mph on H2, the GTI makes a glorious return, and Aston hits 200 mph without our help.
2004 Paris Auto Show, Part III by Marty Padgett (9/23/2004)
Citroen's trio of Frenchness, Peugeot's sexy 907 concept, and Honda's utterly practical MPV.
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.
The stunning 907 concept has few antecedents, according to the loosely translated French dialogue we heard on the floor of the Paris Expo. In fact Peugeot says this concept is only the second vehicle to wear the number 9 - the racing 905 of the early 1990s being the other. The concept, according to execs, is the "concentrate of brand values," which apparently include a whomping 500-horsepower 6.0-liter V-12 coupled to a six-speed sequential gearbox. The big, handsome grand tourer is outfitted with a luxuriant interioer, including Alcantara trim and a wooden steering wheel.
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 too 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.
Aston Martin Vanquish S
Fastest Aston - say that five times fast and the new Vanquish S will be gone before you get tongue-tied. Ford's uppermost brand said on Thursday at the Paris
show that a boost in power to its V-12 supercar pushes it to more than 200 mph. The 6.0-liter V-12 in the Vanquish S now develops 520 horsepower, and gets small revisions to its suspension and steering to handle the newfound capabilities. Aston will still build the "slower" 460-hp version, but the S will assume the topmost spot in the lineup - and will wear some cosmetics befitting its new station in life, including a more rounded grille and a new trunklid revamped for better high-speed air flow. Larger six-piston calipers for the brakes are included. And as always, the price is "if you have to ask…"
Opel Astra GTC
While much of the attention is going to the launch of Chevrolet, GM isn't exactly ignoring its mainstay European brand, Opel. The troubled subsidiary has been clawing its way towards a turnaround with an aggressive product offensive that "is sacred" to its revival, asserted GM Europe Chairman Fritz Henderson. The Astra is a major link in the chain of new models rolling out of GM plants, and a more sporty, Astra GTC version makes its debut in Paris
this week. The hatchback will boast an array of five different gasoline and diesel engines, from 90 to 120 horsepower. Meanwhile, a high-performance concept version of the Astra was unveiled at the Thursday press preview, its 2.3-liter gasoline engine producing 240 horsepower.