2003 Frankfurt Show Preview

August 4, 2003

Frankfurt’s auto show is nearly a month away — media days are scheduled for Sept. 9-10, with the public opening set for Sept. 11 — but as is usual, German automakers are leading the way with advance pictures and information on their newest vehicles.

This year’s Frankfurt show promises to be a banner year for the German Big Three, with new mainstream vehicles coming from BMW in the form of the 5-Series and X3, and from VW in the shape of the new fifth-generation Golf. And supercars won’t be forgotten: Benz’ SLR will be shown in its entirety (as opposed to nose-only in pre-released pictures) and the new Maserati four-door will be displayed as well.

TCC’s coverage of Frankfurt begins here; we’ll update this preview as new information rolls in. Stay tuned Sept. 8 for the start of our coverage from the show floor, and get more information from the show’s official site at www.iaa.de.

2004 Mercedes-Benz SLR

2004 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

2004 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

The new SLR McLaren supercar revives the existence of the glorious SLR 300 that was so successful in 1955, when it achieved one-two victories in the Mille Miglia, Eiffelrennen, Targa Florio, Swedish Grand Prix, and Tourist Trophy with Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, and Karl Kling. The ‘Silver Arrow’ SLR 300, with its 3.0-liter, eight-cylinder engine developing up to 310 horsepower, had a maximum speed of 190 mph. With the new SLR McLaren, Mercedes-Benz wants to underline the history of the SLR and the revival of the company’s passion for super sportscars. Some styling elements were taken from the original SLR and from the 2003 Formula 1 Silver Arrows. The carbon-fiber composite body has rigidity and strength never before achieved in road-going cars. The brakes made of a new composite material: fiber-reinforced ceramics. And the SLR will be equipped with a new supercharged V-8 developed by Mercedes-AMG. —Henny Hemmes

2004 Cadillac XLR by TCC Team (5/26/2003)
A new lease on sportscar life for GM’s rapid social climber.

2004 Mercedes-Benz CLS

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLE

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLE

Mercedes’ sixth coupe, codenamed C219, is gearing up for production in the 2005 model year. And these are believed to be the very first pictures of the upcoming four-door coupe. The new CLS — based on the E-Class sedan — will have four doors, but with sleek coupe styling. Frameless and tinted side windows, a large rear window and coupe-like proportions, as well as many cues up front borrowed from the SL models including the three-point star mounted in the center of the grille round out the elegant styling. Standard features will include a six-speed automatic transmission, with choices between active body control or Airmatic air suspension. Options and other gizmos will include power armrests, night-vision and a tint-adjustable electrochromatic glass roof. Additional features offered will be an advanced telematics system including a traffic data monitor that provides information including road conditions and traffic congestion. The new CLS — as it has been commonly referred to — will have a complete engine lineup, including a 3.0-liter V-6 with 231-horsepower for the CLS300, the CLS360 with a 3.6-liter supercharged V-6 with nearly 300 horsepower, and a CLS450 with a supercharged V-8 pushing nearly 400 horsepower. In addition, CLS320 and CLS400 versions will be available with either six-cylinder and turbo-diesel V-8 engines.—Brenda Priddy

2004 BMW 6-Series

2004 BMW 6-Series

2004 BMW 6-Series

BMW’s new sport coupe will first be introduced on the German market as the 645i with a 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 333 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. The top speed of the 645i is electronically limited to 156 mph. Acceleration from 0-60 mph should be possible in 5.4 seconds. For the 645i, BMW offers three six-speed transmissions: a hand-shifted gearbox, an automatic transmission, and the SMG transmission with a gear lever and paddles on the steering wheel. The 6-Series is equipped with dynamic driving control, stability control and traction control. Its suspension can be combined with the intelligent Dynamic Drive system (option) that compensates for body roll during cornering. Also available is active steering, which is dependent on the vehicle speed: The input of the driver is less at lower speed and higher at high speed. The body of the new coupe is composed of a mix of steel, aluminum, and composite materials. The front end, hood, and doors are made of aluminum, while the bonnet and the fenders are made of thermoplastic. The use of these lightweight materials resulted in a vehicle weight of 3527 pounds and in the ideal weight distribution of 50/50 front/rear. Other versions, such as the top version M6, and a convertible will be announced in Frankfurt. The M6 is expected to be equipped with a new V-10 with 500 hp, and the convertible is expected to go into production in the spring of 2004. —Henny Hemmes

Preview: 2004 BMW 5-Series by Ian Norris (4/7/2003)
Borrowing the best from the 7-Series.

2004 BMW X3

2005 BMW X3

2005 BMW X3


The second of what BMW calls its “Sports Activity Vehicles” will go into production later this year after being shown to the world at the Frankfurt show in September.

The X3 moves down a size from the successful X5, putting it in the same range as vehicles like the Ford Escape. Justifying the “premium” tag it has attached to the X3, BMW is using it to launch a new four-wheel-drive system patented under the name of xDrive.

According to the manufacturer, xDrive sets new standards in agility for 4x4 traction systems. It works by instantly changing torque distribution from front to rear axles and is claimed to offer “substantial improvements” in stability, driving pleasure and safety.

2005 BMW X3

2005 BMW X3

The system is both fully adjustable and infinitely variable. It feeds optimum torque to the required axle at any time, countering understeer and oversteer during cornering in road use. Off-road, it is designed to improve traction by distributing drive forces to the axle with the most grip. As soon as wheel spin threatens, the electro-hydraulic center coupling transfers power to the axle with the greater traction.

The xDrive system is combined with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to give the X3 optimum road handling characteristics using the inbuilt safety measures DSC offers in extreme situations. Off-road, the X3 uses one of the best souvenirs BMC kept as a reminder of the time it owned Land Rover, Hill Descent Control. HDC uses the brakes to control the vehicle on extreme downhill sections and was first used on Land Rover’s Freelander. When BMW sold Land Rover to Ford, it kept hold of HDC for its own 4x4s.

Styling of the vehicle is much more influenced by BMW’s cars than off-road vehicles, and the look is much more crossover than 4x4. One of the styling points BMW stresses is the kick up in the waistline at the rear side window, which makes the window almost triangular. At the rear, there is a tailgate that underlines the X3’s crossover status — it appears to be not much bigger than that of a 5-Series wagon, and is unlikely to swallow the bulky objects more traditional off-roaders accept with ease.

The first engine available in the X3 is likely to be the 230-hp 3.0-liter six, which should give a maximum speed of around 130 mph, extended to 139 in sports trim. The engines for the X3 will not be direct transplants from BMW’s road-car range because in the search for a lower center of gravity, the front drive shaft passes through the engine’s oil pan.

2005 BMW X3

2005 BMW X3

The interior of the X3 is also influenced by BMW’s road-car styling, with twin instruments in a binnacle ahead of the driver and luxurious, rather than practical, furnishings. Equipment is top-notch too, with a retractable sat-nav screen, wheel-mounted radio controls and all the usual car-style air-conditioning and comfort items. One thing missing is the company’s controversial iDrive system.

Unlike the X5, which is built in the USA, the X3 will be built at the Steyr plant in Austria. Prices have not yet been released, but a figure of around $40,000 for the base model would not seem to be unrealistic. —Ian Norris

2004 BMW X5

2004 BMW X5

2004 BMW X5

In yet another preview of its plans for the Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW has released pictures of an improved version of its X5 SUV that will go on sale in the fall. The major change is the introduction of three new engines. There will be a new 4.4i version, using the 4.4-liter V-8 currently available in the 7-Series, and this will be joined in the spring of 2004 by a more powerful version using the same powerplant expanded to 4.8 liters, the 4.8iS. There will also be a new 3.0-liter straight-six diesel engine, but this is unlikely to be available in the U.S. It is vital for success in Europe however, where the fuel economy of the diesel makes normally gas-guzzling SUVs a practical proposition in a continent of high fuel prices. In Britain, for instance, the diesel-powered version is the biggest seller in the X5 range.

The new 4.4i engine features BMW’s efficient variable valve timing and inlet control systems and develops 320 hp, 34 more than the outgoing V-8. It will be mated with the new six-speed automatic box introduced on the 7-Series, and BMW claim the combination will knock half a second off the zero-to-100 kph (62 mph) time, dropping it from 7.5 to 7 seconds exactly. Top speed is up to 130 mph from 124.

Off-road performance will be improved by the introduction of xDrive, BMW’s new ‘intelligent’ four-wheel drive system, which will also feature on the new, smaller, X3 SUV. XDrive takes information from the stability control system, analyzes it, and uses the results to direct drive power to the wheel or wheels with the best traction. The system is a major step forward over that of the current X5, which works on the basis of a fixed front-to-rear drive ratio and stability control that only intervenes in critical situations.

Styling changes to the new X5 are subtle, with larger ‘nostrils’ for the traditional BMW grill and a new hood. New headlamp units incorporate the ‘halo’ lamps that have become a distinguishing feature of recent BMW’s. —Ian Norris

2004 Volkswagen Golf

2005 Volkswagen Golf

2005 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen AG released the first images of the 2005 Golf V Wednesday, and it appears VW is looking for a bit more muscle in the little hatchback that started the hatch trend thirty years ago.

The stance of the new Golf is distinctive among Golfs, but certain lines look similar to others in the segment like the Protégé5 and Suzuki Aerio. The front end and shoulders of the Golf V are slightly more muscled than the outgoing car, but the design is very much evolutionary and not meant to shake up the segment.

The Golf is VW’s best selling model globally, though not in the U.S. where the Jetta has always outsold it since its introduction. The platform has been the platform of numerous VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat models, including the Audi A4 and New Beetle.

Nearly an inch wider than the outgoing Golf, 1.5 inches taller, 2.2 inches longer, with 2.6 more inches of rear seat leg room, Golf V will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, with European launch early next year. The North American debut won’t happen until the Detroit auto show in 2005, though the car will go on sale in North America in late December next year.

The Golf V has a revised MacPherson front suspension and a fully independent rear suspension. It will be offered with a six-speed manual transmission, six-speed Tiptronic, and six-speed DSG unit. Engine choices for U.S. cars should include an in-line five-cylinder as a base engine with 150 hp and a 16-valve, 200-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo as the uprated engine. The 2.0T will also be the base engine in the next U.S. GTI.

The GTI model and the 3.2 VR6 setup will not be available at introduction, but will be shown at a later date. The all-new Jetta, built on the same Mark V platform will be introduced about a year from now and will share the same front end as the Golf V. Introduction of a Jetta Coupe hardtop/convertible is also expected in the next two years. —Jim Burt

Spy Shots: '05 VW Phaeton R60 by Brenda Priddy (6/30/2003)
A 600-hp sedan to assert VW’s uppermost intentions.

Jaguar X-Type Estate

2004 Jaguar X-Type Estate

2004 Jaguar X-Type Estate

Jaguar has released pictures of the X-Type wagon that it will show in Frankfurt next month, ahead of production next spring. The new ‘X-Type Estate’ will fill another glaring gap in the small Jaguar range, following on the diesel version that goes on sale this fall. Wagons currently account for more than 25% of sales in the X-Type’s market segment, and Jaguar has been feeling the lack of a more capacious version of its entry-level car.

The company has not confirmed the detailed specification of the car yet, but has announced that the body style will be available across the range. This starts with the front-drive four-cylinder diesel and gasoline engined versions, which are not sold in the US but are important in Europe, and goes on to the more powerful all-wheel drive models sent across the Atlantic. Among the features disclosed is a rear window that opens independently of the tailgate, in a similar manner to those of some SUV’s. This means smaller items such as shopping bags can be loaded without lifting the complete tailgate.

Jaguar cites the fact that a third of wagon buyers quote style as a deciding factor in their purchase and the company is looking to capture sales on the basis of the car’s looks. On first viewing, it looks as though the X-Type could face strong competition on this front from MG Rover’s estate cars based on the BMW-planned Rover 75. They combine individual styling with the advantage of coming to market over a year ahead of the Jaguar.

Mazda Kusabi concept

2003 Mazda Kusabi concept

2003 Mazda Kusabi concept

Mazda’s Kusabi concept due at the Frankfurt show in September is a compact sports car concept built around diesel engine technology. To be shown alongside the new Mazda3 compact, the Kusabi (it means “wedge” in Japanese) will sport a 1.6-liter common-rail diesel engine. Mazda promises “driving characteristics that can make everyday city commuting and driving fun and exciting.” Also on the concept: a unique tailgate that allows easy access to luggage.

2003 Frankfurt Show Preview by TCC Team (8/11/2003)
Mercedes and BMW assert their territorial rights.

2004 Subaru Legacy/Outback

2004 Subaru Legacy 3.0R

2004 Subaru Legacy 3.0R

Subaru will take the Frankfurt show stage with two new models: the Legacy 3.0R and Outback. In addition to heavily revised styling, both new vehicles will feature a 3.0-liter flat six engine with 240 hp coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission with a semi-manual mode. The Outback retains its higher off-road ground clearance, and carries over a version of the current 2.5-liter flat-four engine with 165 hp; the Outback 3.0R also offers the new flat-six engine.

2004 Opel/Vauxhall Astra

2004 Opel Astra

2004 Opel Astra

The fifth generation of GM’s Astra small sedan, which is sold under the Opel and Vauxhall nameplates, is due for a date with the Frankfurt show. Even the September showing will be an advance announcement, for the car will not go on sale until the spring of 2004 — unlike in the U.S., 2004 models do not go on sale in the fall of 2003.

The car’s shape reflects current GM Europe design thinking and offers more interior space in a package that is 5.5 inches longer and one inch wider than its predecessor. There is additional styling emphasis on the headlamps, which incorporate Adaptive Forward Lighting, a GM system that turns the lights with the front wheels. Power comes from a choice of five gasoline and three turbo-diesel engines ranging in size from 1.4 to 2.0 liters and producing from 80 to 200 horsepower.

Among the major changes is a new suspension package that incorporates electronic control of the dampers to enable them to react in real time to variations in the road surface or the driver’s style of driving. The system incorporates a driver-selectable ‘sport’ mode that in addition to invoking stiffer damper settings also modifies the response to the throttle pedal and the amount of power assistance given to the steering. —Ian Norris

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2005 Maserati Quattroporte

2005 Maserati Quattroporte

The new Maserati Quattroporte is aimed at a market segment that Maserati has ignored for some years, that of a full four-seat, high-speed luxury express. The car is appreciably more spacious than the traditional 2+2 coupes that Maserati and other performance-oriented makes have offered as “occasional” four-seaters, a policy underlined by the provision of four doors for full access to the rear seats.

It’s a format that has worked for Maserati in the past — its first Quattroporte was introduced in 1963 — but now that the more business-like Ferrari management controls the marque, the Quattroporte will be expected to achieve greater sales and make a bigger contribution to profitability. The hope is that the sedan will offer a combination of luxury, performance, and Italian brio that will enable it to sell against competition from Mercedes, BMW, and Jaguar. The aim is that the four-door will make up half of Maserati sales, which are predicted at 9000 cars a year by 2006.

The Quattroporte will be powered by Maserati’s 400 horsepower 4.2-liter V-8, which has been mildly modified to provide more power and to increase low and mid-range torque. It's likely to have a top speed limited to 155 mph, but the engine has the potential to take the car up to 170 mph. The body, styled by Pininfarina, is 20 inches longer than the Maserati coupe and is mounted on a wheelbase almost 16 inches longer than the 2+2 model. In terms of size and accommodation, these dimensions will make the Quattroporte a credible competitor for other luxury sedans. --Ian Norris

Citroen C-Airlounge concept

2003 Citroe C-Airlounge concept

2003 Citroe C-Airlounge concept

Citroën will show a concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September that will foreshadow the French company’s move upmarket. Called the C-Airlounge, it’s a 4/5-seater so smoothly streamlined that its drag coefficient is a mere 0.26. Production sedans usually run in the low 0.3’s, so the Citroën really is something special. It’s what the French call a ‘monospace’ design, with no visible trunk and a large passenger compartment. Like many European people-carriers, the C-Airlounge makes a big thing out of adaptable seating. But where others go for quantity of seats, with third rows that are either removable or that fold into the floor, the Citroën goes for quality, promising generous space for four or five occupants.

The car is a taster for a new top-of-the-line Citroën that will compete with Renault’s big Vel Satis sedan and more luxurious large cars from Peugeot. French manufacturers have not gone for luxury cars in the past, thanks to the French taxation system, which sees big cars as a sign of excessive wealth. Taxes on high-price cars were tougher, and owners of luxury cars could find themselves under closer scrutiny when it came to personal taxation. Now, however, French manufacturers are thinking in more European terms and are developing cars they hope will appeal to buyers outside France.

2003 Saab Sport-Hatch Concept

2003 Saab Sport-Hatch Concept

 

Saab Sport-Hatch concept

Saab will show a concept car of a new version of the 9-3 at the Frankfurt Auto Show — the Sport-Hatch Concept, a realistic evolution of the 9-3X crossover coupe that Saab unveiled last year in Detroit. The Sport-Hatch concept is a mix of a hatchback and a station wagon. Saab confirms that this concept car is not just a show car: “It demonstrates our intent to continue to evolve and expand the 9-3 line,” the company said in a release. In other words we may expect a sporty station wagon of the 9-3 soon. The Sport-Hatch concept car is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo engine with 250 hp. This crossover concept will be the latest development in the program, which is the most comprehensive in Saab’s history. After the unveiling of the 9X concept in Frankfurt and the 9-3X in Detroit, the new 9-3 Sedan went on sale last September. This year the 9-3 Convertible was introduced and next spring the all-wheel-drive 9-2 model will arrive in North American markets.

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

Maserati has issued a picture of the dash of the new Quattroporte sedan, ahead of unveiling it at the show. The new four-door is designed to put the Italian specialist manufacturer up against competitors such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Jaguar in the luxury sedan market, and the exterior pictures and dimensions so far issued make it look like a realistic shot at the top end of a profitable segment. The interior continues the impression that this is a car that could cut the mustard among such quality competition. The driver’s office is a handsome environment, designed for a luxury car rather than a would-be sports car. There’s wood and leather for the traditionalists, and a full complement of controls on the steering-wheel for drivers used to such luxury car touches. It seems from the pictures that Maserati is another manufacturer that has set aside the macho concept of a hefty gearshift lever that dominates the center console. The big Maser will have a sophisticated five-speed electro-hydraulic gearbox combined with the differential in a transaxle at the rear. Normally, shifting is fully automatic, but the driver can take over manual control using paddle shifters mounted on the wheel. The result is that the console-mounted selector is very small. Another result of the transaxle set-up is that in combination with an engine mounted behind the front axle line, it gives the Quattroporte ideal 50/50 weight distribution.

2004 Land Rover Freelander

2004 Land Rover Freelander

2004 Land Rover Freelander

Land Rover is updating its smallest 4x4, the Freelander, for 2004 with new-look front and rear ends and an interior upgrade. The front-end look has been influenced by the Range Rover, with restyled bumpers and black inserts that join the new-style headlamps with the under-bumper ‘chin’ to give a tough ‘over-rider’ look. New rear bumpers and lights give the back end a makeover, but most of the changes are in the interior, with a new facia, new instruments, new switchgear, and new trim materials. Europe will also get a new ‘Sport’ model with larger wheels and lowered suspension with firmer settings. The purpose is to satisfy the needs of customers who use their vehicles purely on the road and want more sedan-like handling.

Chrysler Wagons Out 300C

2003 Chrysler 300C Touring concept

2003 Chrysler 300C Touring concept

Chrysler’s wagon-izing the 300C concept shown last year at New York. In Frankfurt next week, the company will show a 300C Touring Concept alongside its 300C sedan concept at the massive German auto show. The Touring, Chrysler says, shares much of its mechanicals with the sedan concept, adding all-wheel drive to the mix. Chrysler has European intentions for the wagon version: a release says that a production version of the Touring concept will be sold in markets outside North America. Like the Dodge Magnum concept shown at the 2003 Los Angeles show, the Touring sports a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8.

Hyundai Coupe to Lose its Top?

One of the sleepers to come out of Korea is Hyundai’s Coupe. Stylish, well put together and in V-6 form with a healthy dose of power, it has built up a reputation and a following as a good value sports car with qualities that might not be expected from its nameplate. If the CCS concept that Hyundai is unveiling in Frankfurt is anything to go by, the Coupe will soon be joined by a convertible. The CCS (Coupe Cabriolet Study) is billed as a concept car, and its top, which changes from a glass roof to an open roof to a full convertible at the touch of a button, is concept car material. But the rest of the car is a very clear hint at the next sports car on the Korean firm’s agenda. This premise is supported by the fact that the CCS uses the same 2.7-liter, 165-hp V-6 and six-speed gearbox as the production Coupe. The three-position top may not make it into series production, but Hyundai dealers are unlikely to be turning away people wanting to put down a deposit on what’s likely to be a very affordable convertible.

Boxster Performance – VW Prices?

2003 Volkswagen Concept R

2003 Volkswagen Concept R

Volkswagen’s most-important introduction from a commercial point of view at Frankfurt will be the new Golf; but show-business is all about sizzle, and the Concept R promises to provide plenty of that. Powered by the 3.2-liter V-6 that is creating exciting new cars throughout the VW and Audi ranges, the Concept R is something that has not previously been a VW specialty – a true sports car. The mid-mounted engine drives the rear wheels through a six-speed DSG double-clutch gearbox that allows lightning-fast manual changes as well as giving the option of automatic operation. With 256 horsepower on tap, the car is a real performer – VW claims zero to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds and a possible top speed of 167 mph without the electronic speed-limiter that all German manufacturers except Porsche use. It is interesting that VW quote a restriction-free top speed in the launch material for the car. Maybe it’s because the Concept R could foreshadow a compact sports car that would compete with the Boxster on everything but price – which would be appreciably lower. In a motor industry that is increasingly concerned with filling niches, VW could produce the Concept R without too much trouble – the smart money in Germany is saying that it will, around 2005 or the next Frankfurt Show.

Aston Martin’s Accelerated Delivery

2004 Aston Martin DB9

2004 Aston Martin DB9

It has been common knowledge for some time now that Aston Martin is getting ready to replace the DB7, the car that turned around the fortunes of the British company that is Ford’s technology flagship. We knew the car would be called the DB9, and we expected it would break cover next January in Detroit. But the boys from Newport Pagnell have pulled a surprise – the DB9 will be the star of the Aston stand at Frankfurt.

The car will use a radical new aluminum bonded frame, and Aston claim it is one of the most sophisticated and technically advanced sports cars in the world, balancing sports car attributes with features normally found on luxury cars. It is the first production model to use VH Platform strategy (Vertical/Horizontal), which is unique to Aston Martin and will form the basis for all future Aston Martin models. Its advantages are that it is very light, provides better performance, handling and durability and yet it is extremely rigid. “The DB9 will without doubt be the most important Aston Martin model ever,” says Dr Ulrich Bez, the company’s CEO.

The DB9 will be built at Aston’s new Gaydon facility, one of the most advanced of its kind in the world. The very latest in automotive technology and materials will be used to create the DB9, but Aston Martin will still spend more than 200 hours hand-building each car.

Power comes from a 450-bhp V-12 engine that has been developed specifically for the car with input from racing specialists Cosworth. Drive is to the rear wheels, with six-speed automatic or manual transaxles. Suspension is by aluminum wishbones front and rear and 19-inch alloy wheels are standard.

The DB9 will be introduced into markets around the world in the spring of 2004. Final pricing and specification will be announced then.

2003 Toyota CS&C concept

2003 Toyota CS&C concept

Toyota will show a new hybrid concept car at Frankfurt that will take the company’s hybrid technology into a new market segment. It already has a hybrid family sedan, the Prius, in production, but the new car is an out-and-out sports car. The CS&S (Compact Sports & Speciality) concept is a 2+2 mid-engined car midway in size between Toyota’s MR2 and Celica conventional sports models. Like the MR2, the main engine of the CS&S is mounted in the center of the car, driving the rear wheels. The front wheels are also driven by a powerful electric motor, which contributes to the car’s sporting characteristics by providing strong acceleration. The system is similar to that used in the Prius sedan in that the electric motor is more powerful than those used in other hybrid designs. The CS&S was designed by Toyota’s styling studio in the south of France and is unusual in that although it appears to be a two-seater, it actually has two additional rear seats that are concealed by removable rear canopies. The car introduces a new control technology that uses holographic technology to enable the driver to operate certain systems by ‘touching’ virtual switches that appear as spheres floating in space.

2004 Lexus LS430

2004 Lexus LS430

Frankfurt will see the introduction of the third generation of the Lexus flagship, the LS430. The changes are mainly under the skin, but there are new headlamps and a lower and wider front end, with minor modifications to the body sides and tail. Mechanical improvements include a new six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift lock mode that is claimed to improve performance and improve fuel economy. Improved lighting includes a system that directs the headlamps to follow the movement of the front wheels and LED rear lamps.

2003 Peugeot 307 Elixir concept

2003 Peugeot 307 Elixir concept

Peugeot’s stand in Frankfurt will highlight a new sedan concept and the company’s 2004 entry in the World Rally Championship. The 407 Elixir points the way to the French company’s next family sedan, with fluid lines that sweep back to rear end that has no visible trunk but features an opening rear window and tailgate that put the car mid-way between a station wagon and a hatchback. The Elixir is evidence of an increased interest in wagons in Europe, but it is far from any conventional ideas of the wagon as a load-carrier — the concept has only two doors and just four seats.

2004 Peugeot 307 WRC

2004 Peugeot 307 WRC

Peugeot is currently enjoying a good run in the World Rally Championship with its 206 WRC car, but it is already looking to the 2004 season, in which it will rely on a completely new car, the 307 WRC. Unusually, the rally car is not based on the compact sedan version of the 307, but on the new 307CC, a convertible with a retractable hardtop similar to that of the Mercedes SLK. The top of the rally Peugeot will not retract, but the body style offers real advantages to the engineers in terms of packaging. The new car is longer than this year’s entry and rides on a longer wheelbase, but weight is the same. Power comes from an all-aluminum 2.0-liter unit that develops around 300 hp.
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