2002 Ford C-Max concept
Ford launched a concept version of the successful Focus at past European auto shows; in fact, Ford had a production prototype of a tall Focus wagon ready in 1999, but had to cancel the project as the car did not seat seven passengers, like its main competitor the Opel Zafira. Now at Paris, Ford decided to start again with the platform of the new Focus that will hit the market in 2004. The Focus MAV (Multi Activity Vehicle) will be the first version of that platform. It’s expected to be introduced in 2003 on the European market. We think the C-MAX concept car shows very much what we may expect of the Focus MAV. Although the car does not seat seven, it is clear that not many choose the Zafira because of this possibility and we may well expect the MAV to seat five persons. One key feature of the C-MAX concept car is its long glass roof that consists of two lengthwise panels.
Peugeot 307cc concept
Peugeot introduced a new hardtop convertible concept car called the 3(heartsign)7. The convertible is a strong candidate for production. The folding roof encloses a practical four-seat interior, and a 180-hp engine powers the 3(heartsign)7.
2002 Citroen C3 Pluriel concept
Citroen showed an extremely innovative new production car, the C3 Pluriel, and a stylish concept coupe. The Pluriel starts out looking like an attractive two-door hatchback. A folding canvas roof quickly transforms it into an open-topped car not unlike the old “windowshade” 2CV. However, the car has no B-pillars; the shape is what Citroen calls a panoramic sedan. From there, it is possible to remove the folding roof, rear window and side rails, turning the Pluriel into a full convertible. A further transformation opens the tailgate and allows the Pluriel to function as a stylish micro-pickup.
2002 Citroen C3 Pluriel concept
2002 Citroen C-Airdream concept
2003 Maserati Trofeo
“Our new Maserati is a race car,” explained Luca de Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari-Maserati. He was referring to the 425-horsepower Trofeo, a special version of the recently introduced Maserati Coupe. The Italian automaker intends to build just 30 of them for use in a new series of seven European races it will sponsor. The Trofeo will be the perfect car for the true weekend warrior, since Maserati intends to manage the vehicles, moving them from track to track and handling maintenance. “This is the first step,” Montezemolo added, “to a comeback on the race track.” Once a dominant force in Formula One and other programs, Maserati may next participate in the GT Cars professional series, though the automaker’s top executive declined to reveal how soon that would likely happen. —TCC Team
2003 Maserati Trofeo
Since 1998 modern diesel engines have used common-rail injection. This technology was invented by engineers of Fiat Auto and taken into production by Bosch. The first direct-injected common-rail diesel, the 1.9 TJD, debuted in the Alfa Romeo 156. Nowadays many manufacturers of diesel engines worldwide use this technology. In Paris Fiat Auto introduced Multijet, a further development of the Unijet system. With Multijet the common-rail injection works at higher pressure (1400 bar). The amount of fuel, depending on the demand for power, is sprayed in four phases into the combustion chamber. Until now that happened in two phases. The advantage is a higher combustion rate, less noise production and better efficiency. Thanks to a turbocharger with variable geometry, the new 1.9 JTD 16V DOHC engine that debuts in the Alfa 147 reacts quicker, whereas the availability of torque has been improved. A smaller 1.3 version will follow in 2003. It will probably debut in the Opel Meriva, a European model of Fiat partner General Motors.
HOT ACTIVITY AT AMG
In Paris, Mercedes-Benz introduced AMG-versions of the E-, S- and CL-Class cars. Most impressive is the 5.5-liter AMG V-8 Kompressor engine, which is teamed to a Formula One gearbox than can be operated by a button. In the CL-Class and the S-Class the V-8 has 500 hp, while maximum torque is 516 lb-ft —about 35 percent more than in the present AMG versions without supercharging. As a result, the new S55 AMG and CL55 AMG have sports car performance: acceleration from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. The E55 AMG V-8 Kompressor delivers less hp (476 at 6100 rpm), but the maximum torque is the same. The lighter E-Class sprints to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and is also limited at 155 mph. In all versions the new V-8 engine is teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission with AMG Speedshift, which allows drivers to change gears through buttons on the steering wheel. The AMG versions have body enhancements and will be available on 18-inch alloy wheels with 245/40-ZR tires up front and 265/35-ZR 18 in the rear.
2003 Mazda 6 MPS
Mazda put its MPS (Mazda Performance Series) version of the Mazda6 on its Paris stage. The concept was developed at Mazda’s European Research & Development Center in Germany and uses a new direct injected 2.3-liter engine that has 280 hp at 6500 rpm and 265 lb-ft at 3500 rpm. The concept also has a six-speed gearbox, electronic AWD, a limited-slip differential, DCS Dynamic Stability Control and ABS. Expect something like this to go into production in the near future.
MICHELIN DEBUTS PAX “RUN-FLAT” AT PARIS
Michelin has once again become the world’s top tiremaker and is celebrating its triumph over Bridgestone with the debut at the Paris Auto Show of the PAX “run-flat” tire. Unlike early run-flats, says the French tiremaker, the PAX can go 125 miles after it has been punctured. Michelin, whose $15.5 billion in annual sales reclaimed the global lead in the tire industry from Bridgestone, expects to rack up a record operating profit of about $1.06 billion this year, up seven percent from 2001 despite the soft worldwide economy.
Based in Clermont-Ferrand in southern France, the 113-year-old tiremaker became more profitable than Japan’s Bridgestone or the American Goodyear after the Ford tire recall wounded Bridgestone’s Firestone division in 2000.
Michelin’s premium PAX tire will be standard equipment on two high-performance roadsters in the 2003-model year – the Audi A8 and Cadillac XLR, giving Michelin extra talking points. According to Michelin, the PAX has an innovative gel-filled interior ring that runs so smoothly even when punctured drivers are unaware they have a flat. A pressure sensor alerts drivers and warns them to reduce speed to 50 mph. Michelin will recommend a retail price of $140 for replacement PAX tires.
This year, Michelin CEO Edouard Michelin, 39, led the 113-year-old company his family founded into a premium-tire strategy that opts for pricier vehicle brands. The $398 Diamaris tires Michelin offers were exclusively chosen by BMW for its X5 SUV, and Michelin dropped Fiat and GM Europe as customers, says Business Week Magazine. Michelin, whose brands include B.F. Goodrich and Uniroyal, now has 25 percent of the U.S. market. —Mac Gordon