2002 Paris Show Preview II

September 15, 2002

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2002 Paris Auto Show (9/15/2002)

With the opening of the Paris Auto Show just over a week away, more manufacturers are issuing details of cars that will make their debut at the most important international show of the second half of the year.

2003 Renault Megane

2003 Renault Megane

Naturally, it’s a major platform for the French manufacturers, and Renault, Peugeot and Citroen all have new production cars and concepts to unveil. Renault has already issued details of the new version of its Mégane family car, but Paris will see the car’s first major show appearance.

 


2002 Renault Ellypse concept

2002 Renault Ellypse concept

Alongside the Mégane will be a new concept, the Ellypse, that combines advanced styling with technology that is not too far from production readiness. The styling isn’t radical for a Renault, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t radical when put against other manufacturers’ efforts. The Ellypse follows the Renault trend of ‘one-box’ design that has been a part of the company’s production car program for some years now. The main feature is the ‘bow-window’ at the rear, which is a major styling feature of the new Mégane. The concept car has obviously been designed to get the public used to the styling feature ahead of the Mégane’s entry into the market.  Technically, the Ellypse features a new low-emissions diesel engine and ‘by-wire’ technology that replaces hydraulic actuation of the brakes, steering and gearshift. A 42-volt electric system is used, which means that components such as power steering and air conditioning can be electrically driven. The 42-volt system will be commonplace on future mass-produced cars, but it is taking some time to reach production. The concept has been designed following principles that Renault is following in its current and upcoming models, with end-of-life recycling a major consideration. Inside, the Ellypse has all the usual electronic driver aids, but it is notable for two features: the rear doors have the rear-hinged ‘suicide’ format that is increasingly popular with designers today, while the slim-line seats retract into the floor then set into the ‘sleeper’ position.

2003 Peugeot 206 GTi

2003 Peugeot 206 GTi

Peugeot will be showing six concepts and forty-one production cars, including a new high-performance version of the little 206 sedan that is currently the car to beat in World Championship rallying. With 180 hp on tap, the 206 GTi has a top speed of 143 mph and will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in seven seconds.


2002 Peugeot 307CC concept

2002 Peugeot 307CC concept

The 307CC is a coupe/convertible version of the 307 sedan that won’t take long to enter production. Peugeot has had a major sales success with the coupe/convertible format – which features a retractable metal hardtop that operates on the same principle as does that of the Mercedes SLK – on its 206 model, and the move upwards in the range is a logical step.

The other concept that closely foreshadows a production car is the Sésame, a boxy little car that is a pointer to the replacement for the smallest Peugeot sedan, the 106. It features electrically operated sliding doors – although they may not be electric in a production version – and compact overall dimensions that would make it ideal for Paris traffic.

2003 Citroen Pluriel

2003 Citroen Pluriel

Citroen also has a new production model and a concept to unveil. The production car is a follow-up to a concept shown at the previous Paris show, two years ago. It’s the Pluriel, a car that could be the logical successor to the famous 2CV Citroen. Like the 2CV, it has a canvas roof that opens all the way from the top of the windshield to the top of the trunk lid, and like the 2CV it’s designed to carry a payload. In the case of the Pluriel, the loadspace takes the form of folding back seats and a drop-down trunk-lid that form a mini pickup space at the rear.

Like the 2CV, the Pluriel has a roofline that arcs back from the windshield, but unlike the old ‘Deux Chevaux’, the curved roof members can be removed, creating a pillarless four-seat convertible. Based on the smallest Citroen sedan, the C3, the Pluriel is unlikely to appeal to the same market as the 2CV, which was famously designed to enable a farmer to drive across a rough field carrying a basket of eggs. The Pluriel is more likely to appeal to trendy young clients eager to benefit from France’s sunshine.

2002 Citroen C-Airdream concept

2002 Citroen C-Airdream concept

Citroen’s concept is a smooth coupe that, like the Ellypse, uses ‘by-wire’ technology to replace the pedals and gear lever by controls mounted on the steering wheel. A 2+2 with a glazed panoramic roof, the car is a concept that carries on the line of dream cars of past years, particularly in its name, the C-Airdream.


2003 Ford Streetka

2003 Ford Streetka

Ford will use Paris to unveil two new variants on its Ka minicar. A convertible and a performance variant, they are called Streetka and Sportka. The little Streetka drop-top was first shown as a concept at the Turin auto show two and a half years ago. Then it was the last concept to come out of Ford’s Ghia styling studio; now, as a production version, it will be produced by another legendary styling name, Pininfarina, at its manufacturing plant in Italy. The Ka sedan has always sold heavily on its cuteness, and the Streetka will probably give rise to a large helping of desire in Europe’s young drivers. Smooth lines, a 1.6-liter engine and compact dimensions will put it right in the middle of what appears to be a growing niche in Europe, that of relatively inexpensive convertibles.

2003 Ford Sportka

2003 Ford Sportka

The Sportka uses the same 1.6-liter Duratec engine in the Ka sedan body, and it has received a chassis makeover that will give the kind of handling young enthusiasts will enjoy. Big alloy wheels and a deep front air-intake give the car the necessary street credibility for performance-minded buyers.

A new production sedan that will make its bow in Paris is Honda’s new Accord for Europe – which is unlike the locally built model that sells in the U.S. Powered by 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines in a four-door body that’s stiffer than its predecessor, the styling is of a blandness that won’t upset existing Accord customers. However, the designers have achieved something special by lowering the car’s drag co-efficient to 0.26, a very low figure for a family sedan. To put it in context, Honda’s Insight hybrid, which is very obviously shaped for low drag, with faired-in wheels and a teardrop body shape, has a Cd figure of 0.25, the lowest of any production car in the world.

Mazda will show its new Mazda2 supermini, which will be built in Spain, while Spain’s own manufacturer, the VW-owned Seat, will premiere its new Cordoba sedan, marking another step along the VW-mapped pathway that will make Seat into a competitor for Alfa Romeo.

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