2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI (MkVII) Concept, 2012 Paris Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
It's not due on American roads for another 16 months or so, but the next Volkswagen Golf has already had its world premiere in Paris. The good news? The new Golf is longer, lower, and wider than today's car, while weighing in some 200 pounds lighter. The design is more crisp and more detailed than today's three- and five-door hatchbacks (and performance GTI model), with thinner headlights and pillars and more lift in its roofline. Still, it doesn't stray too far from VW's successful formula--in styling, or in powertrains. The base engine for U.S. Golfs is expected to be a 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder with about 158 horsepower and a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. A 2.0-liter turbodiesel is sure to return, and the hot hatchback GTI is expected to bring with it VW's new 2.0-liter turbo four, making about 217 hp. More interior room and better fuel economy are promised, as is more safety gear, including blind-spot monitors and lane-departure warning systems; the Golf will also get a standard touchscreen audio system and dual USB ports for full music-player connectivity.
McLaren P1Enlarge Photo
No concept car was more fervently awaited at the Paris auto show than the new McLaren supercar--and waiting was required, since the P1 debut was scheduled almost at the end of the press day. In the end, more was left to mystery than was revealed. The new P1 is being shown in advance of production next year, with the intent to make it the best driver's car in the world--which could mean the fastest 0-60 mph times yet recorded in a series-production car. The problem? McLaren had no details on a drivetrain for the car, though the speculation is that a version of its current twin-turbo, 3.8-liter engine from its MP4-12C will be pressed into service, for a net of more than 800 horsepower.
Lexus LF-CC coupe concept, 2012 Paris Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
A thinly disguised look at the next Lexus IS, the LF-CC concept brought with it to the Paris show a new hybrid system with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a water-cooled electric motor. The cockpit's dedicated to big digital displays, while still wearing the latest horizontal styling themes that have warmed up the interiors of all the newest Lexus vehicles--from the LS to the GS and ES sedans. This concept coupe is expected to be approved for production, though it's unknown if Lexus will return with another hardtop coupe/convertible to replace today's disapponting IS 250C and IS 350C.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo conceptEnlarge Photo
It's flouted its sportscar roots, first with a sport-utility vehicle, and then with a sedan. So why not a Porsche wagon? The Panamera Sport Turismo Concept is just that, at least for now, but the German luxury carmaker's keen on competing with other high-performance five-doors in its price and performance class, including the new Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake and the Jaguar XF wagon. Neither of those will be sold in the U.S.--but since the U.S. is the Panamera's biggest market, a five-door Porsche hatchback seems more likely now than ever.
BMW Concept Active Tourer, 2012 Paris Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
BMW has confirmed it will build a small front-wheel-drive car, and on its stand at the Paris show was a first glimpse at that upcoming car--the Concept Active Tourer. In concept form, the styling exercise fits the size and power requirements for a compact car with more interior room than today's 1-Series BMW. It's 171 inches long, with better space for five passengers than the 1-Series, and it's powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine with direct injection, with power going to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The rear wheels are driven by an electric motor, making it a hybrid--a touch that's not likely to make it into production, but one that makes it a rear-drive car when run off its batteries for all of its 18 miles of pure EV range.