2005 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/12/2005)
It was hard to tell whether the car was the star, or the new head of the Volkswagen brand, when the automaker rolled out its new Eos coupe/cabriolet. At the wheel was Wolfgang Bernhard, the new head of the flagship VW division, marking his first real public appearance since taking over the brand last year. The Eos is the latest in a growing list of hardtop convertibles, though it seems positioned to be the first to make it into the mass market due to delays with General Motors’ Pontiac G6 version. Bernhard noted that the Eos can go from hardtop to open-air in just 25 seconds. The five-part roof can also be partially retracted, serving as a more conventional sunroof. “A cabriolet is not just purchased on rational reasoning, so a car like this has to be truly thrilling,” suggested Bernhard, the former number two executive at Chrysler. Sales of the four-seater will launch in Europe
next spring, starting at 25,950 Euros, a price tag including such features as electronic stability control and rollover protection. No details of the U.S.
introduction were released.
Volkswagen used its half-hour in the spotlight to also unveil a new turbo- and supercharged diesel version of the Golf. The 1.4-liter powertrain will launch the popular VW model from 0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph) in 7.9 seconds, and push it to a top speed of 220 km/h (137.5 mph). Look for the powertrain to appear in other models, Bernhard noted. And with increasing interest in the high-efficiency diesel, it may be just a matter of time before the engine to make its way across the Atlantic
. The various powertrains and products debuting in Frankfurt
are part of a big push by Volkswagen, which is struggling to reverse recent share and profit declines around the world. “By 2010,” noted Bernhard, “we’ll be launching another five to 10 new models that don’t have a true predecessor” in existing products.
While its product range has grown almost exponentially over the last decade, no model better defines Mercedes-Benz than its S-Class. And the German automaker pulled the covers off an all-new version of the flagship sedan on Monday, during the opening press day at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The roll-out also marked the return of Dieter Zetsche, who until recently headed the Chrysler Group, and took over as Mercedes chief just 12 days ago.
The new S-Class is decidedly more distinctive than the soft-styled model it replaces, though the edgier look, with such features as bulging rear wheel arches, could prove controversial. Perhaps Mercedes is hoping so, going up against a range of new high-line entries, such as the frequently-debated BMW 7-Series to the higher-priced Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The 2007 S-Class will debut with four different engine options, including a 388-horsepower V-8 version of the S500. That’s a sizable 82 hp more than the current S500. Early next year, a 570-hp, twin-turbo V-12 model will be added under the S600 nameplate.
Though Mercedes insists it has overcome some of the quality problems with its advanced technology – and made more intuitive its often vexing COMAND system – the new S-Class has more digital technology than ever. The new S-Class utilizes two overlapping onboard radar systems, for example. Its Pre-Safe system can see potential accidents coming, and take measures to avoid them, such as applying the brakes automatically. Mercedes also will offer an infrared night vision system, similar to that which failed to generate much interest at Cadillac a few years back. Mercedes officials insist their Night View Assist is easier to use than the old Caddy system and much sharper onscreen.
While Mercedes wants the S-Class to be seen as the world’s safest car, Zetsche also told TheCarConnection it is critical for the automaker to restore its reputation for building the highest-quality vehicles. That image was tarnished by a variety of problems in recent years.
Preview: 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class by Marty Padgett (8/29/2005)
Reinventing an icon, the more is more way.
Benz Puts Power Down with ML63
What fuel crisis? Mercedes put an emphasis on high-performance during its Frankfurt
preview. Along with the big S-Class, the automaker rolled out the most powerful version ever of its M-Class sport-utility vehicle. The ML63 AMG features a new, 510-horsepower, 6.3-liter V-8 that can launch from 0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph) in just 5.0 seconds. The new AMG engine will appear in other Mercedes models, starting next year, announced Mercedes’ new boss, Dieter Zetsche, including the R-Class crossover.
The automaker didn’t entirely ignore the global spike in petroleum prices. It also came to Frankfurt with the European version of its new R-Class. The R320 CDi is a European-specific, short wheelbase version of the R-Class, which will be assembled at DaimlerChrysler’s special, low-volume assembly plant in Graz, Austria. The 224-hp blown V-6 diesel won’t be a slug, however, boasting 0-100 km/h times of under 9.0 seconds, even while consuming just 9.3 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers, or the equivalent of 25.3 miles per gallon.
Jeep Compass and Patriot
In a bow to the fragmentation of the automotive market, Chrysler planners decided to bring two new takes on sport-utility vehicle to the Frankfurt show’s Camp Jeep
display. The Patriot is a fairly traditional take on the “trail-rated” Jeep concept, while the Compass Rallye concept is what has come to be called a soft-roader. It boasts only moderate off-road capabilities, with more of an emphasis on on-highway manners, and it’s meant to broaden the brand’s appeal to those who normally wouldn’t consider a Jeep. Smaller than existing Jeep product, both have significant features in common under the skin, including their range of powertrains, including 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter packages. Were the two models to be sold in Europe
, said a source, they’d likely also get diesel power.