2005 Frankfurt Auto Show, Part II

September 12, 2005

2005 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/5/2005)



Mitsubishi Concept-Sportback

Using the marketing slogan, “Drive Alive,” Mitsubishi unveiled a new but anticipated Concept-Sportback, which offers a glimpse of what the next-generation Lancer — or at least one of its bodystyles — will be like. The aggressively styled five-door sports hatchback — a body style said to comprise about 60 percent of the European market — was designed by Mitsubishi Design Europe but is, as a press release says, “adaptable for all world markers.” About 177 inches long and riding on a 103.5-inch wheelbase, the model would be made with variants in front or four-wheel drive, and a wide range of diesel and gasoline four-cylinder engines, though the primary powerplant will the global gasoline four developed jointly with DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai. The Concept-Sportback uses an all-new platform, to be used by the next-generation Lancer as well as the Outlander and others, the first of which will premiere in early 2007, according to the automaker.

Mitsubishi also said that its global recovery is well underway in the European market and in Germany. Overall in Europe, sales have increased 20 percent versus last year, with a 37-percent sales spike in Germany. Sales in that market especially suffered after DaimlerChrysler opted out of its long-term platform-development partnership with Mitsu. In Europe, the Colt model continues to outsell both the competing Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz models in the market. The automaker has seven new models for Europe to be introduced over three years, five more new models for North America for model years ’06 to ’08, and nine new models to be introduced in its home market Japan.






Smart Crosstown


2005 smart crosstown concept

2005 smart crosstown concept

DaimlerChrysler’s smart brand introduced an all-new concept that, based on what was hinted, shows promise for the U.S. market. The crosstown is claimed to be a “complete reinterpretation” of the smart’s basic structure; it builds on the fortwo’s underpinnings but with a completely new body design that’s considerably boxier and “rugged” styling cues—like exposed latches and rivets—that borrow from off-road vehicles.


With an overall length of about 105 inches, only slightly longer than the fortwo’s 98 inches, the crosstown still would be extremely diminutive for U.S. city streets—comparing more in size to a golf cart than a typical “small car.” The shape appears more upright and boxy than the fortwo, and 16-inch tri-spoke wheels that huge and Hot Wheels-like in proportion to the small body.


An especially standout feature of the crosstown is its movable windshield. In addition to the conventional folding convertible top, the windshield pivots forward and down and stows away completely under the hood for a completely open-air experience—but likely not one that would make it into a production car. The crosstown’s 16-inch tri-spoke wheels look huge in proportion to the small body.


2005 smart crosstown concept

2005 smart crosstown concept

Inside, the dash layout has been completely reworked as well to show how it might be made to meet U.S. regulations. The instrument panel design has more conventional (think Jeep meets Mattel) look, with a very large glovebox with switches mounted right on the lid. Ready interfaces are provided for USB devices and common PDAs. The interior leather is given an intentionally used look, and the pedals are styled with the tread pattern from mountain bike tires.


The crosstown is also the first smart model to be installed with hybrid drive, a development of the unit first announced in 2001. The hybrid system uses the same 61-hp gasoline engine from the fourtwo, combined with a 23-kW electric motor, to give an estimated 15-percent improvement in fuel economy in the EU cycle. Smart estimates that the crosstown will accelerate to 62 mph “ten percent better” than the fortwo’s 15.5-second time. Top speed is limited to 84 mph.



Škoda Yeti


2005 Skoda Yeti concept

2005 Skoda Yeti concept

Škoda presented a new open-pickup version of its design-study car of the same name, originally shown at the Genevashow earlier this year, and as the automaker says, it’s “ready to go on safari in the jungle of the city.” The trick feature of the Yeti is a variable roof system designed and manufactured in cooperation with Karmann. There’s also a canvas roof, so the Yeti can be configured for various combinations of hardtop and soft-top motoring as desired. Even better, the hardtop folds in half for easy stowage and stores on the luggage compartment floor in a special designated area, as helpers demonstrated on the stage, completely unattaching the hardtop and then reattaching it during the presentation. The rear seats can be folded completely flat to obtain a mini-pickup tailgate area with grippy lengthwise rubber ribs. Inside, the Yeti uses rugged, new-generation fabrics meant to echo those used in outdoor sportswear. Another design feature unique to the Yeti is its sound system, which has removable speakers and controls on top of its center stack.



Škoda Octavia RS


On the Frankfurt stand, Škoda marked its 100th anniversary of automaking and chose to make it the world premiere of its sporty Octavia RS model and Combi RS wagon version to its lineup, said to help bring back the company’s “sports car tradition” first started in the 1930s and also build on the Škoda RS’s rally successes in the 1970s and into the ’80s. The model’s new 2.0-liter FSI turbocharged in-line four — fresh from Volkswagen’s lineup — makes 200 hp and can run all the way up to 148 mph. The rich list of equipment upgrades includes a sport exhaust system, six-speed manual transmission, lowered sport suspension, “Cat’s Eye” reflectors, an integrated spoiler, green brake calipers, and available Zenith 18-inch alloys plus new yellow and “Race Blue” metallic colors. The interior is highlighted with aluminum-look trim, sport seats, and a fresh three-spoke steering wheel.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class


2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

To a packed house at the Frankfurt show’s DaimlerChrysler pavilion, CEO Dieter Zetsche unveiled the next generation of Mercedes-Benz’s flagship S-Class, seven years after the introduction of the highly successful current-generation car. Design-wise, the S-Class borrows styling cues from both the Maybach and Mercedes past while setting a fresh new look. Inside and out it’s completely new; the body shell is made of high-strength steel alloys, while the hood, fenders, and trunklid are made of aluminum.


Inside, there’s an improved COMAND controller, and new seats with massage and ventilation features. Offered for the first time is an infrared-based Night View Assist system.


No matter which powerplant customers choose, power is way up in the new S. The new S500 has a 5.5-liter V-8 offering 388 hp and capable of dashing to 62 mph in 5.4 seconds, while the S350 has a 272-hp V-6 that can reach 62 mph in a still respectable 7.3 seconds. Top of the range will be a S600, with output from the V-12 up to 517 hp. This version is capable of 0-62 mph in a very impressive 4.6 seconds. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard on all V-6 and V-8 models, and manual shift action is possible through the new steering shift control on the steering column stalk.


The AIRMATIC suspension system has been improved in several significant ways. The Active Damping System that the system works with is now recalibrated, and Active Body Control has been improved such that body motion under hard driving is now reduced by 60 percent


A new system called Brake Assist PLUS calculates the amount of brake assist needed to prevent an impending collision and provides it the moment the brake pedal is pressed, thus reducing the chance that the driver will overcompensate and other vehicles will rear-end the S-Class. Another feature offered on the new S is PRE-SAFE, which recognizes a potential accident and readies safety systems. Additionally, the radar-supported DISTRONIC PLUS cruise-control system now operates in radar-supported mode at all speeds between zero and 124 mph. Overall, the company claims in total a dozen new technologies are seen for the first time on a normal production car.

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