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Paris Auto Show: The Highlights


Paris Auto Show: The Highlights

Get all our Paris coverage here:

2004 Paris Auto Show, Part I (9/23/2004)
Chevy goes global, S3X slips under Freudian radar, Opel Astra GTC clears the air, and Ford's new Focus takesaim.

2004 Paris Auto Show, Part II (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 (9/23/2004)
Citroen's trio of Frenchness, Peugeot's sexy 907 concept, and Honda's utterly practicalMPV.

2004 Paris Auto Show, Part IV (9/24/2004)
Bugatti hopes for deliveries, Nissan head says motorsports mustpay.

2004 Paris Auto Show, Part V (9/24/2004)
Alfa 147 resculpted, the return of Venturi, and Stilo gets Schumacher.

2004 Paris Auto Show, Part VI (9/25/2004)
Confused in Paris, cheesecake rules, and workers say yes to PAG.

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.

Peugeot 907

2004 Peugeot 907 concept

2004 Peugeot 907 concept

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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 interior, including Alcantara trim and a wooden steering wheel.

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 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

2005 Aston Martin Vanquish S

2005 Aston Martin Vanquish S

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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…"

Venturi Fetish

Venturi Fetish

Venturi Fetish

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The small French car manufacturer Venturi presented its first sports car 20 years ago. It was a 161-inch-long coupe that was produced until 1996 and was offered with a 2.5- or a 2.8-liter engine. At the same time Venturi also built a convertible variant. In 1992 Venturi unveiled its more spectacular 400 GT, followed in 1995 by the Atlantique 300. Now, Venturi has shown a completely different car, the Fétish. The new model is powered by an electric engine with 245 hp and a maximum torque of 162 lb-ft. With a weight of only 1773 lb, of which 772 lb are taken by the batteries, the Fétish can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds, while it reaches a top speed of 106 mph. The range is 217 miles. Venturi used mainly carbon fiber and aluminum for the 153-inch-long Fétish, which will be built to order beginning in November and which will be shown in the U.S. at the L.A. Auto Show that opens to the public on January 8, 2005. Buyers will have to pay $480,000 or the equivalent in Europe; a U.S. price hasn't been set.

 
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