2004 Paris Auto Show, Part II

September 23, 2004

 

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2004 Paris Auto Show by TCC Team (9/20/2004)
The well-loved lights of the City of Light take the stage.

 

BMW H2R

2004 BMW H2R

2004 BMW H2R

HUMMER may have the H2 initials locked up, but BMW’s favorite H(2) these days is hydrogen — and that’s the fuel it used to propel a new experimental race car to a new record. The H2R, shown off after its record-breaking run of 185 mph at a French test track, is thought to be the fastest hydrogen-powered car ever built, giving BMW’s efforts to develop cars based around the alternative fuel a sporting shot in the arm. The H2R is powered by a 6.0-liter V-12, not the fuel-cell powertrain that other automakers have pursued as the industry tries to engineer a course away from fossil fuels. The H2R, BMW says, accelerates to 60 mph in about 6.0 seconds, weighs 3440 pounds and develops 285 hp from its future-think powertrain.

 

BMW 1-Series

2005 BMW 1-Series

2005 BMW 1-Series

The entry-level BMW 1-Series emerged in five-door form at the Paris show, with gas and diesel engines powering the compact rear-driver that BMW hopes will make the planet forget about the truly forgettable 318ti hatchbacks of the 1990s. The 1-Series shares components with the 3-Series and starts with the base 116i model with a 115-hp engine. The rear-drive chassis has 50-50 weight distribution for good handling from the strut front/multi-link rear suspension. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all but the 116i model. Run-flat tires are standard, while a version of iDrive, keyless entry, and a Bluetooth interface for mobile phones are optional.

The 1-Series won’t be coming to the U.S. in this form, but as BMW officials outlined during their press conference, future derivatives will be headed across the Atlantic (a two-door coupe is thought to be the likely candidate for a 2006 model-year intro in America). But why do a car smaller than the 3-Series anyway when BMW controls the sassy, successfully reincarnated MINI? Because of estimates that the compact market sells 12 million vehicles a year, and will account for 20 percent of worldwide car sales by the end of the decade.

 

Volkswagen GTI

2006 Volkswagen GTI

2006 Volkswagen GTI

Though it’s here at the Paris show this week and available right away for European customers, Volkswagen’s GTI takes a looooong time to get to U.S.enthusiasts — the 2006 model doesn’t arrive until October of 2005, and in the U.S. we'll only get the two-door model. The new GTI, the fifth generation of the go-fast econobox that practically invented its own market niche, shows up with the new 2.0-liter FSI turbo engine with 200 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque that’s also found in the new Audi A3, here teamed to a six-speed gearbox. So shod, the new GTI hits a top speed of 146 mph and should be able to sprint from 0-60 mph in 7 seconds; a DSG version should cut that figure to 6.7 seconds. The new GTI gets way more aggressive that previous editions: big bumpers front and aft, a black radiator grille with red rim, and black trim at the lower part of the body outline its intentions as do the rear wing, double exhaust tips, and 17-inch wheels. Inside there are logoed sport seats, a three-spoke steering wheel, and aluminum pedals and shift knob.

 

Audi A4

2005 Audi A4

2005 Audi A4

The facelifted Audi A4 range gains the beyond-large grille already in place on the twelve-cylinder A8 and the new A6 — but that’s not the only improvement for the no-longer entry-level four-ringer. Four new engines are on tap for Europe for a grand total of nine; most important to Stateside Audiheads are the new 3.2-liter V-6 FSI with 255 hp and the 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged FSI. Audi has updated the suspension with parts from the A6 and S4.

Also at the Paris show, Audi chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn announced that the production version of the Pikes Peak concept would be known as the Q7, a naming decision that probably has hackles raised at Infiniti. "The letter Q denotes a new type family within our company, alongside A, S and RS. The 7 indicates that it is positioned between the A6 and A8," explained Prof. Winterkorn in a release, perhaps as an early defense in the seemingly inevitable exchange of legal letters. The five-door, seven-seater Q7 will be Audi’s first SUV.

 

Aston Martin Vanquish S

2005 Aston Martin Vanquish S

2005 Aston Martin Vanquish S

Fastest Aston — say that five times fast and the new Vanquish S will be gone before you get tongue-tied. Ford’s uppermost brand said on Thursday at the Parisshow that a boost in power to its V-12 supercar pushes it to more than 200 mph. The 6.0-liter V-12 in the Vanquish S now develops 520 horsepower, and gets small revisions to its suspension and steering to handle the newfound capabilities. Aston will still build the “slower” 460-hp version, but the S will assume the topmost spot in the lineup — and will wear some cosmetics befitting its new station in life, including a more rounded grille and a new trunklid revamped for better high-speed air flow. Larger six-piston calipers for the brakes are included. And as always, the price is “if you have to ask…”

 

Volvo XC90 V-8

2005 Volvo XC90 V-8

2005 Volvo XC90 V-8

In the U.S., some 30 percent of the entries in the premium SUV market have V-8 power. And that made Volvo upset enough to go out and commission a V-8 of its own for the strong-selling XC90. Starting next January, U.S.buyers will be able to pony up to the Yamaha-made 4.4-liter V-8, which has 315 hp and will be teamed to a six-speed automatic transmission. The XC90 V-8 will be able to sprint from 0-60 in less than 7 seconds. Volvo says the new eight will be the cleanest engine of its type — it meets U.S. ULEV-II requirements — and will also be the most compact, as its 60-degree cylinder banks are also staggered for more compact packaging. Volvo hopes to sell 15,000 XC90 V-8s worldwide, with the States getting 75 percent of those models.
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