2003 Frankfurt Show, Part V

September 9, 2003

by Jens Meiners

2003 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/8/2003)

2004 BMW 6-Series

2004 BMW 6-Series

2004 BMW 6-Series

After the shock of the 7-Series and the similarly unconventional 5-Series, BMW has introduced the two-door 6-Series coupe. Perhaps it should have been the first car to display Chris Bangle’s still-controversial styling language in order to let it sink in before trying it out on the larger public. Arguably, the six has the prettiest face of the new BMWs, and its low stance works well in conjunction with its muscular fenders and bulges. Like its predecessor of the 1970s and 1980s, the new coupe is based on the 5-Series, but priced closer to the 7-Series. During the press introduction, BMW CEO Helmut Panke announced a 2+2 convertible version that will first be shown at the upcoming 2004 Detroit Auto Show. There are three six-speed transmissions available: a manual gearbox, an automatic (Steptronic), and an automated sequential manual gearbox (SMG). The first engine is the 4.4-liter V-8 with 333 hp. Other six- and eight-cylinder engine options will follow. A heads-up display and a glass panorama roof are available, while iDrive is standard.

2004 BMW X3

2004 BMW X3

2004 BMW X3

Priced just a few thousand euros below the X5, the all-new BMW X3 is a carbon copy of the xActivity concept shown at the Detroit Auto show earlier this year. Europe is getting a powerful 3.0 diesel engine turning out 204 hp, while the X3 3.0i with the famous in-line six producing 231 hp will go to all markets. The engines are coupled to a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, and all X3s feature the new xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The X3 is produced by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Magna Steyr has contributed significantly to the design of this “sports activity vehicle”.

2004 BMW X5

2004 BMW X5

2004 BMW X5

While the attention is focused mainly on the X3, BMW has upgraded the X5 with xDrive, the company’s new, “intelligent” all-wheel-drive system. It features an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch connected to the DSC stability system. xDrive can react more quickly to road conditions and driver input than the previously used AWD system. The X5 receives a mild facelift and three improved engines: The 3.0 diesel’s output rises to 218 hp, the 4.4i V-8 now produces 320 hp, and the top-of-the line 4.6 is has been replaced with the 4.8is, driven by a 360-hp engine to speeds up to 153 mph.

Nissan Dunehawk

2003 Nissan Dunehawk concept

2003 Nissan Dunehawk concept

SUV meets MPV: The Dunehawk concept is based on a ladder-frame, rear wheel drive platform, featuring Nissan’s second-generation "all mode 4x4" system and including a low ratio for towing and serious off-roading. Like an MPV, it also has seating for seven and a versatile cargo department, all in a light-flooded, stylish environment. All seven seats can be lowered electrically. The Dunehawk incorporates LED exterior lighting and doors automatically opened by brushing a pad on the exterior surface. Nissan is investing 400 million euros in the Barcelona, Spain production facility. Two years down the road, a pickup and and SUV will be produced there - and the Dunehawk is a strong indication of Nissan’s upcoming developments.

Lexus LS 430

2004 Lexus LS430

2004 Lexus LS430

Refinement and little styling touches are making the Lexus LS 430 an even better car. The front hood and headlights now look tidier, the front bumper with its integrated fog lights is a tad more aggressive, and the taillights are slightly altered. But the LS 430 remains a very conservative car. Even less obtrusive than the bodystyle is the driving experience. The famous 4.3-liter V-8 is now coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Adaptive front lighting and a video-based parking aid, as well as a smart key system similar add to the luxurious experience. And the car has become even quieter, Lexus says.

2004 Citroen C2

2004 Citroen C2

2004 Citroen C2

Based on a shortened C3 platform, the Citroen C2 is just right for Europe’s tight cities. It is available only in four-seat configuration and will be initially sold with three gasoline engines ranging from 61 to 109 hp and a common-rail turbodiesel turning out 68 hp. The diesel will be available with 16-valve technology and 90 hp in the near future. The mid-range 73-hp engine is available with Sensotronic, an automated clutch system. And this is the only available transmission for the top-of-the line C2 VTR, which is capable of 122 mph. The exterior of the C2 introduces a new design language for Citroen – away from the soft, friendly curves associated with the carmaker. It has been hinted at in recent show cars, but as far as production cars go, the C2 marks a rapid departure from the Xsara Picasso’s or the C3 Pluriel’s friendly appearance. The C2 may well be the most aggressive-looking city car on the market. Its interior doesn’t match the exterior: The dashboard is largely carried over from the C3, displaying the slightly bigger car’s curvy style, and some rather basic materials. To rub in the point that the C2 is not even trying to be nice and cuddly, young professional drivers will be able to race the Super 1600 version in next year’s national championships. The figures: 225 hp at 8500 rpm.

Toyota CS&S concept

2003 Toyota CS&S concept

2003 Toyota CS&S concept

Positioned between the Celica and the MR2, the CS&S (Compact Sports & Specialty) concept car showcases a very space-efficient package, new IT solutions, and the company’s hybrid technology. The daring shape of the CS&S does not take up and develop any styling cues found on current Toyota offerings. Its hybrid technology is lifted from the second-generation Prius, freshly introduced in Frankfurt. It should be stressed that hybrid technology is an approach to saving fuel that has been met with no more than polite interest in Europe, where the market share of the diesel is approaching 40 per cent. The CS&S is equipped with Toyota Space touch, a technology that uses holographic projections as a man-machine interface. Other Toyota introductions include a restyling of the RAV4 and the Avensis Verso, the minivan version of the European-designed and manufactured Avensis, a mid-size car that is smaller but more sophisticated than the Camry and will be exported to Japan next year.

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

The Quattroporte is back – and it is as imposing as the original Quattroporte, or the wedge-shaped Quattroporte III of the late 1970s and 1980s. The aggressive Quattroporte IV, discontinued two years ago, was basically a stretched and re-skinned Biturbo. With the Quattroporte V, Pininfarina has returned as a stylist for Maserati – although the glass house is vintage Giugiaro, as seen on the 3200 GT and the current Coupé GT, undoubtedly in the interest of family resemblance. Three openings on each front fender, similar to but more tastefully executed than those on the Park Avenue Ultra, hint at the power and glory of 400 hp produced by the Ferrari-based V-8 engine. The only transmission is an automated manual named “Cambiocorsa”, a configuration that is not loved by all customers. In previous iterations of the Quattroporte, an automatic transmission was available. Since political correctness is not among Maserati’s top considerations, the maximum speed is ungoverned at 172 mph. The imposing length and width of the Quattroporte, combined with its low roofline, add up to one of the most striking shaped at this year’s show. The interior is brimming with expensive materials and features. For the existing Coupé GT and Spyder models, a Vintage package is available, including chromed air vents and door handles, a chrome front grille, polished wheels, red detailing on the trident, and other references to models of the 1950s.

2004 Porsche 911 40th Anniversary

Celebrating the 911’s 40th anniversary, Porsche is producing 1963 units of a special edition to be sold in the U.S. for $89,800. Porsche has dug into the parts bin and come up with the front bumper module of the 911 Turbo, 18-inch wheels, polished exhaust pipes, bi-xenon headlights, and GT-silver metallic, originally intended to be an exclusive Carrera GT color. Horsepower has increased to 345 hp, 25 more than standard. 

2004 Porsche 911 GT3

2004 Porsche 911 GT3

As a basis for motorsports activities, Porsche has also added the 911 GT3 RS to its vast portfolio of 911 derivatives. The car is always painted white, with blue or red striping, equipped with a roll bar, significant chassis enhancements and the normally aspirated flat six tuned to 381 hp. The price: 104,000 euros without taxes. Bad news for die-hards: The Carrera GT3 RS will not be sold in North America.

2004 Porsche Cayenne V-6

2004 Porsche Cayenne V-6

2004 Porsche Cayenne V-6

The unthinkable became true when Porsche introduced its first SUV ten months ago: The Cayenne, developed together with Volkswagen. But its sheer power and competence won over many critics. Now is the time to sneak an entry-level version into the portfolio, the Cayenne (no “S”, no “turbo”). It is powered by a version of Volkswagen’s V-6 engine, tuned to produce 250 hp. That’s merely okay in this segment: 0-100 kph (62 mph) takes 9.1 seconds, top speed is 134 mph. Less expensive SUVs can do better than the Porsche, but they don’t have the badge. Its price in Europe will be 40,900 euros plus taxes, usually a hefty percentage. North America will get the “little” Cayenne in the first half of 2004.

2004 Lancia Ypsilon

2004 Lancia Ypsilon

2004 Lancia Ypsilon

For the past five years or so, the Lancia Y has been carrying the elegant Italian carmaker along – even though its heritage traces back to another company, Autobianchi. Based on the original Fiat Punto, it was getting a little dated among the technologically more advanced, though less stylish competition in its segment. Now Lancia has revealed the Ypsilon, pronounced exactly like its predecessor in many languages. Evoking the style of the 1950s, it is a fashion statement, but the Ypsilon does not fall short on technology. Available high-end features like dual-zone air conditioning, two-tone leather upholstery, a Bose sound system, and further bells and whistles unheard of in compact American cars enhance the little Lancia’s appeal. It’s powered by a selection of four different gasoline and diesel engines with 60 to 95 horsepower.

Lancia Fulvia Concept

2003 Lancia Fulvia concept

2003 Lancia Fulvia concept

Retro is the running theme at Lancia. The company is clearly trying to evoke a more glorious past – when it was on the edge of technological progress. After the large sedan Thesis – as well as the Ypsilon – copied the grille of early post-war models, the styling department has made rapid progress. The original Fulvia Coupe, the inspiration of today’s concept, was styled by Castagnero and revealed in 1965. Back then, it quickly earned a reputation as a somewhat aristocrat, but agile and fun-to-drive coupe. The nostalgic concept is based on the front-wheel-drive Fiat Barchetta platform and powered by a normally aspirated 1.8-four turning out 140 hp. That’s good enough for a top speed of 133 mph. Even better: Its weight is just 990 kilograms, far lighter than most of today’s cars, even in the subcompact category. We think that’s retro at its best…

2004 Bugatti Veyron 16/4

2004 Bugatti Veyron 16.4

2004 Bugatti Veyron 16.4

In harsh words, Karl-Heinz Neumann, Bugatti president, criticized press coverage of the 1001-hp, 406-km/h ultra-sports car. He bitterly complained about negative rumours surrounding the thermal system of the engine, the status of the tire development conducted with Michelin, and time to market of the car. “If all you have written were true, I would have to present you a pile of junk today”, he said during the Frankfurt press conference. Neumann emphasized that there would be just one version of the car and that it would always be capable of reaching the top speed: “The tires have been successfully tested at velocities up to 440 km/h.” He added: “The first vehicles will be delivered in April of 2004.” Neumann is retiring in January 2004, and his successor will be named this October, said Bernd Pischetsrieder, Volkswagen’s CEO, at the same news conference.

Siemens, Suppliers Forecasting the Future

If you want to look ahead and see what the OEMs will display at the 2005 or 2007 IAA, look to the suppliers. One of the key players, Siemens VDO, is showing technology that can change today’s and tomorrow’s cars. One of the more visible features is the HUD (Head-Up-Display) now offered in the BMW 5- and 6-Series. HUD systems have been peddled for over a decade, but they needed to move beyond monochromatic speed readouts to capture the industry’s interest again. The Siemens VDO system integrates navigation features, speed readings and warnings. It operates with four unnatural colors that never appear washed out against any background. Further innovations include sensor technologies for pedestrian impact detection. The Siemens VDO sensor strip uses optical fibers and can detect the resistance of the object. Thus, protective measures are taken only when the object hit is a human being, as opposed to a tree or a road sign. The company is also working on piezoelectronic injection systems, allowing OEMs to take full advantage of gasoline direct injection systems which have so far performed less than satisfactorily. A reduction of up to 20 percent in gas consumption is a realistic target, Siemens CEO Wolfgang Dehen said in Frankfurt.

Plastic Omnium Taking the Weight Off

How can weight be taken out of today’s increasingly heavy cars? Besides aluminum, an often costly and complicated solution, composite materials are on the rise. But cars fully made of plastic – like the Pontiac Fiero or the Renault Avantime – are not a realistic scenario, says Plastic Omnium CEO and president, Laurent Burelle: “Car companies are built around a stamping plant and not a blow-molding machine.” He adds: “We see more opportunities with parts like fenders, front and rear end modules, and tailgates.” The French company is a leading supplier for plastic exterior parts and a 50 per cent partner in Inergy, the number one supplier of plastic tanks and fuel systems. Burelle says: “Integration is the key. Front ends will be pre-assembled and can incorporate sensors, crash boxes, light and radar sources, as well as pedestrian protection technology.”

Fiat Panda and Idea

2004 Fiat Panda

2004 Fiat Panda

2004 Fiat Panda

2004 Fiat Panda

Fiat’s little MPVs have already been displayed in Geneva this March, but now they have entered the stage of series models. Both cars are crucial to Fiat’s survival as an independent company. It is obvious that the Italians are still searching for a styling identity. The Panda - originally announced as the Fiat Gingo and re-named Panda when Renault threatened to sue because it could be confused with its own Twingo - was penned by Fiat’s own Centro Stile.

2004 Fiat Idea

2004 Fiat Idea

2004 Fiat Idea

2004 Fiat Idea

The slightly larger idea was not styled by the stylists at I.D.E.A., as its name might suggest, but by Giugiaro’s Ital Design. These little vans are space-efficient and inexpensive to operate. Fiat is proud of the Multijet diesel engines, and that seems to be the technology that GM is most interested in using.
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