2005 Geneva Motor Show, Part VI

March 1, 2005

2005 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (2/28/2005)


Audi RS4

Last week Audi celebrated the 25th anniversary of the quattro with the unveiling of the new RS4 at their headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. During quattro night, Audi showed its famous rally cars; many of the drivers that brought the quattro to the podium places were there, such as the world rally champion Walter Röhrl and the first female world rally champion. The new RS4 has the latest generation of quattro all-wheel drive, combined with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), which prevents body roll and dive and squat. Under the hood is the high-revving FSI direct-fuel-injected V-8 with 420 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, of which 90 percent is available between 2250 and 7600 rpm. Acceleration from 0-60 mph takes 4.6 seconds, and the RS4 reaches a top speed of 155 mph.

Also in Geneva, Audi had the TT quattro sport with more output and less weight than the regular TT. This special version is only built for Europe and especially for Britain, the largest market for the TT. In the TT quattro sport Audi uses the 1.8-liter turbo engine that has been souped up to 240 hp and 236 lb-ft. The weight has been reduced by some 165 pounds and the result is that the quattro sport version accelerates from 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. The weight reduction has been achieved by eliminating the rear bench and using special Recaro bucket seats. Also the air conditioning has been left out, but customers who want that can order it at no extra cost.

The third Audi in Geneva is the single-frame grille for the A8. It is the same grille that until now has only been used on the V-12 version. The nose lift of the A8 can be combined with dynamic cornering lights, adaptive lights and daytime driving lights as an option. All Audi A8s worldwide will from now on have the single-frame grille.


Ferrari F430 Spider

2005 Ferrari F430 Spider

2005 Ferrari F430 Spider

Luca de Montezemolo, the charismatic leader of Ferrari, unveiled the latest addition to the Ferrari model range, the new F430 Spider. In just over a year, Ferrari has launched the 612 Scaglietti, the F430 and the Superamerica, and now there is the new F430 Spider. With them the make wants to continue its success from 2004, when over 4900 Ferraris were sold. Combined with the Maseratis sold last year (prior to the deal that sent Maserati to Fiat), a consolidated turnover has been reported of 1.5 billion euros.

Ferrari came to Geneva with the drop-top version of the F430. The Pininfarina-designed Spider is powered by the new 4.3-liter V-8 with 490 hp; it is exceptionally light and has a specific power output of 114 hp per liter. The performance is stunning: the Spider sprints from 0-60 mph in four seconds and has a maximum speed of 193 mph. The Ferrari Superamerica that was unveiled in Detroit joined the F430 Spider, for its European debut.


Pininfarina Maserati Birdcage

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2005 Pininfarina Maserati Birdcage

2005 Pininfarina Maserati Birdcage

Maserati is also celebrating its success in Geneva with the Quattroporte that has been sold out in 2004. But there was also a concept car on the Maserati stage: the Birdcage, a concept designed by Pininfarina and equipped with new Motorola technologies that transform the car to an intelligent moving network that interacts with the passengers and that keeps them in touch with aspects of their lives outside the car. The Birdcage 75 is a design study based on the Maserati MC12 and shows the design direction that Maserati might take.

Fans of historic cars will know the name Birdcage, which goes back to the Fifties and Sixties, when Maserati took the Birdcage Tipo 63 to the racetrack. The car was nicknamed the birdcage because of the radically triangulated tube construction of the chassis, which could be seen through the large transparent front windshield. The original Birdcages are still participating in historical events such as Laguna Seca during the Pebble Beach weekend in August.
The original Birdcage was equipped with a 260-hp engine, later replaced by a V-12 with 320 hp. With the new Birdcage 75 Sergio Pininfarina celebrates the 75th anniversary of his company, hence the addition 75. The concept is based on the street version of the Maserati MC12 with a carbon-fiber chassis and drop-shaped body, which consists of two parts. The new Birdcage’s upper part is transparent. You can see the suspension, the interior, and the beautiful carbon-fiber trumpets of the V-12. The 6.0-liter engine is identical to that of the MC12 with 700 hp. The Birdcage has 20-inch wheels with 275/30 rubber up front and 295/35 22-inch rubber in the rear. The cockpit is fitted with Alcantara seats, while the mirror is replaced by a camera. Through a central mounted navigation device the passenger can experience driving by means of images from numerous infrared cameras positioned on the car. The suspended head-up display doubles as an IP and there’s the latest Motorola technology, by means of digital cell phones with Internet access, text pager, and two-way radio communication.

Now 75 years old, Pininfarina is now much more than a design house. They also develop and build special editions for several car manufacturers: Pininfarina will build the coupe-convertible versions of the Volvo V40, as well as the Ford Vignale, to mention just a couple of future products. Another one that will go into production in the Torino, Italy, facility will be the coupe-convertible version of the small Mitsubishi Colt that is expected to hit the European markets in the summer of 2006. Pininfarina nowadays has a capacity for 100,000 cars a year in its three plants in Torino and the one in Uddavalla, Sweden, which is a joint venture with Volvo Car Corporation.

Another Pininfarina world debut is the AviChina Saibao. It is the concept car of a new model developed for the Chinese AviChina Corporation. With the Saibao, Pininfarina is sketching the future of the small five-door wagon in the Chinese market. It is the sister model of the Saiboa that was unveiled last year in Bejing, but more important, it is the first one to come to Europe. For Pininfarina it is the fifth contract where the Italians are responsible for styling, engineering, and for homologation to European standards. The car will be built in China and is expected to arrive in Europe late 2006.


Opel Zafira

2005 Opel Zafira OPC

2005 Opel Zafira OPC

GM’s European division Opel had no less than three world premieres in Geneva. First Opel unveiled its completely new Zafira. It replaces the first generation of the seven-seater that was introduced in 1999. The rear seats can be folded down so that a completely flat floor is created to store luggage. New for Opel is the optional panoramic roof with integrated storage, which makes its debut in the Zafira. The roof consists of four large, dark-tinted glass panels and can be operated by the push of a button. A central roof console runs all along the length of the ceiling and has five storage compartments.
The Zafira offers a broad engine range with power output between 100 and 200 hp and can be equipped with the IDS-plus chassis (Interactive Driving System) with continuous damping control (CDC) that is already used in the Astra. The wheelbase and the length (176 inches) of the new Zafira have both increased, but with people in all three rows the ones in the back do not really have much legroom.

Opel also introduced the Zafira OPC version that was developed by the Opel Performance Center. This sporty version has a 2.0-liter turbo engine with 240 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The OPCl has a six-speed gearbox and IDS-plus and standard CDC as well as larger brakes. During an earlier talk with Bob Lutz, he mentioned that GM expects the new Zafira to be a success in the highly competitive segment of family cars in Europe. Not only because of its new looks, which he called “spectacular,” but also because of the versatility of the roomy interior.


Opel Astra OPC

2005 Opel Astra OPC

2005 Opel Astra OPC

With the new Astra already doing well in its segment, Opel is now bringing out the Astra OPC. This model is equipped with the same engine as the Zafira OPC. The fast Astra should accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds. The car has standard IDS-plus and CDC, 18-inch wheels and a body kit with bumper spoiler, fog lamps and side skirts. When it hits the European markets by the end of the year it is going to compete with models such as the Golf GTI.


Chevrolet Matiz

2005 Chevrolet Matiz

2005 Chevrolet Matiz

General Motors got the honor of opening the Geneva show with the world premieres of Opel and Chevrolet models. Chevrolet is now the brand selling former Daewoo models in Europe. In Geneva, Chevy added a completely new model to its lineup for Europe, the Matiz.
The new version succeeds the current Daewoo Matiz, which was designed by Giugiaro. Originally, the Italian designer had Fiat in mind when drawing the lines of the Matiz, to be a successor of the small Seicento, but Fiat rejected it and subsequently lost a lot of sales in the small class to the smart cars. Daewoo picked up the design since then 630,000 copies of the Matiz have been sold in Europe. The new version has the same length (138 inches) as its predecessor and will be offered with two engines, a 0.8-liter three-cylinder with 52 hp and a 1.0-liter four with 66 hp. Fuel economy has been improved some 15 percent. The four-cylinder version gets an average of approximately 42 mpg. The Matiz will arrive in all European markets in April.


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