They call it the "Messe" for a good reason.The show halls that enclose the sprawling Frankfurt Auto Show now number eleven. If you want to make it from the pantheon-style dome that houses Mercedes-Benz to the brand-new Halle 11 that's home to BMW's huge display, you'll need running shoes. Or one of those mythological shuttles that is said to cart journalists around the show grounds. In our dreams.
It wasn't like the glory days of the early 2000s, but this year's Frankfurt gathering showed some strong signs of life. The auto industry's starting to get back on its feet after an annus horribilis that nearly claimed some of the world's biggest automakers. It's still sickly, particularly in the U.S., but it's no longer in triage.
The 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show was the first big show since sales in the American market began to murmur off their flatline. And still, it proved to be all about the home-team advantage. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen ruled the roost with new production vehicles and concept cars, while GM, Ford and Chrysler--and Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Infiniti and everyone else--play a supporting role.
Lucky you--you don't have to fight for press kits, photos or shuttle rides. TheCarConnection waded through all eleven Frankfurt halls to cover the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show live, right here inside your browser, like magic. With our High Gear Media team--TheCarConnection, Motor Authority and GreenCarReports--we've brought you different angles on the stories from Frankfurt, from luxury sedans and exotic coupes to the brace of new electric vehicles introduced by the likeliest, and least likely, of carmakers.
Need an insider tip sheet? Here's the vast collection of new cars, crossovers and electric vehicles that took a bow at the Frankfurt Messe:
2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: New Production Vehicles
Aston Martin Rapide
: It's the lissome four-door you've been waiting for. If you are James Bond, and not Bernie Madoff. It's the Aston Martin Rapide, and it's set for a world show-off in Frankfurt. Crowds may get stuck on its stunning shape; we're keen to hear more about its 470-hp V-12 engine and those "swan-wing" doors Aston's been promising. The child-sized rear seats? We don't have that much attention span, now.
2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
: The Crayola-chic Porsche 911 GT3 RS is heading a few hundred kilometers north from its birthplace to Frankfurt. It'll bring with it a bored-out 3.8-liter flat six making 450 horsepower. The redline's soared to 8500 rpm, and the more powerful engine's paired with a six-speed manual shifter with shorter ratios than those in the GT3. That probably shaves miles per hour off its top end, Porsche admits, but it's in the interests of making the GT3 RS an even sharper tool on the track.
Ferrari 458 Italia
: Heroes welcome--come to Frankfurt, where a Ferrari press-kit giveaway brings with it a danger that even Dave Salmone wouldn't approach without a big knife. (He's the new Paul Hogan, right?) The core of the new Ferrari supercar is a 4.5-liter engine (hence the name, plus an "8" for its cylinder count) that puts out 570 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Ferrari promises the new engine, coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, will shuttle the 458 Italia to 60 mph in less than 3.4 seconds--comparable to an, um, Nissan GT-R. Top speed should reach 202 mph.
Lamborghini Reventon Roadster
The 2009 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster at the 2009 Frankfurt show: fashion show included gratis.Enlarge Photo
: Lamborghini unveiled a Reventon Roadster at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and as usual, paired it with a selection of high-fashion models of a human nature. Only a handful of the supercars will be built, each featuring a snazzy 670-hp V-12 and a pricetag of $1.65 million. (Before taxes, naturally.)
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
: A new gullwing sounds lovely--and sounds nothing like those Aston swan wings, correct? Correct. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a successor to the current Benz SLR roadster and former coupe. Inside a lightweight body, the SLS AMG will offer up a single powertrain, an evolution of today's big AMG V-8.That 6.2-liter V-8 is expected to produce about 565 horsepower in U.S. specification, along with 479 pound-feet of torque. Through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and rear-wheel drive, the SLS AMG is predicted to hit 60 mph from a standstill in about 3.8 seconds. Follow the link for our preview--and come back in November for our first drive.
BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo
: Its sloping tail has drawn comments on either side of the approval fence, and the 5-Series GT is not quite even in print yet. BMW promises lots of room and a flexible rear seating area in the GT, which comes to the U.S. with BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, with 400 horsepower and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW promises 0-60 mph times of 5.4 seconds and a limited top speed of 130 mph, with a 150-mph top end on vehicles outfitted with a Sport package. There's Active Steering, Dynamic Damping Control, adaptive roll control and Driving Dynamics Control, to tailor the driving experience for different tastes. In back, the seats are raised, and move fore and aft on a track up to 4 inches, as passenger and cargo needs change. The tailgate opens as a conventional trunklid or as a large hatch, making cargo loading easier.