2005 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/5/2005)
MINI Traveller Concept
2000 Mercedes CL Coupe
Despite some time confusion on the floor of the MINI stand – could it really be 4 p.m. in Buenos Aires
and 8 p.m. in New York
, as the logo beneath would have it? — there’s no confusing the future of the MINI Traveler concept shown at Frankfurt
on Monday. MINI says it’s going to broaden its future lineup, and while the Traveler may be a bit much to contemplate now, it’s certainly being considered as an addition to the next generation car coming in a year or so.
Pitching it as a latter-day successor to the Mini Traveller that bowed exactly 45 years ago in September 1960, the new concept has a long side view made more expansive by the lack of a B-pillar. Big doors make for easier access to the back seats. And the back of the vehicle is bespoke with all sorts of utility solutions: the doors are symmetrically split, the roof opens for loading taller objects and the cargo box at the rear has a clear sliding shelf that moves out of the way for your stuff – or flips toward the headliner and latches into place to provide a see-through separator between humans and their things.
While its press conference was hipster pitch-perfect (do you recall all the words to the 1980s novelty hit Double Dutch Bus?) the Traveller proved a bit of a paradox. Does the world want a bigger MINI? The concept of jumbo shrimp seems to work okay, but then they’re not fueled by $3 a gallon gas, nor are they particularly difficult to park.
BMW Z4 Coupe Concept
2000 Mercedes C-class Sport
Is the Z4 Coupe a logical candidate for production? Is the Pope German? BMW executives were fairly open about the prospects for the Z4 Coupe Concept, which looks much like the new Viper coupe or Porsche Cayman and improves markedly on the base roadster’s shape.
Like the Cayman, the Z4 Concept shares its fundamentals with a roadster, and while it has its own roof and luggage area, the Z4 Concept shares the Z4’s 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine with 265 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque. BMW says it will take only 5.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph and will hit a top speed of 155 mph. Electric power steering and more powerful brakes are expected to make it into the production version of the Z4 Coupe when it arrives in the 2007 model year.
BMW EfficientDynamics Concept
2005 BMW 3-Series Touring
BMW packed more than any other manufacturer into its 30-minute presentation on Monday, namechecking the ten new models it’s introduced since the last Frankfurt show and rolling off the laundry list of new models gracing the stand this year, including a new 3-Series with xDrive; an uprated 650i Convertible, which replaces the former 645Ci; new four-cylinder gas and six-cylinder diesel models in the 3-Series lineup; a long-wheelbase 730Ld diesel; and a new 265-hp version of the 1-Series compact, the 130i.
But the most intriguing vehicle, given recent developments on the hybrid front, was the X3-based EfficientDynamics concept. BMW’s take on hybrids offers a system that uses supercapacitors to store energy and deliver it in bursts under heavy acceleration. Combined with “high-precision” direct fuel injection and a transmission outfitted with an electric-motor system, the system could have some bearing on what BMW will bring to the hybrid party now that it has signed an agreement to cooperate with GM and DaimlerChrysler on hybrid development. BMW says its system can boost fuel economy in the European city cycle by up to 20 percent.
Audi Q7 and Hybrid
2008 Audi Q7 Hybrid
Audi, in a press conference that spent more time on music and celebrity than on product details, unveiled the new Q7 sport-ute at what might seem to be an unfortunate moment in history—particularly since the new SUV has been developed specifically with the U.S.
market in mind. The three-row, seven-seater SUV sports either a 350-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 with direct injection (the only unit coming to the U.S.), or a 233-hp V-6 diesel with common-rail injection. A six-speed Tiptronic automatic is fitted across the board. The quattro all-wheel-drive system in the Q7 splits the engine's torque 40/60 to the rear; 18-inch tires are standard, while 19-inchers and even 20-inchers can be ordered, as can an air suspension. Audi's MMI interface and stability control are standard. Priced north of $50,000, the Q7 arrives at dealers in the first quarter of 2006.
The surprise of the Audi presentation emerged in the form of a Hybrid version of the big SUV. Audi says its hybrid technology will be the first to combine direct injection with electric motors in a system that is capable of operating in battery-only mode—and it promises the combination of V-8 power plus battery power will push the Q7 to 60 mph in less than 6.8 seconds, while delivering 15 percent better fuel economy. The Q7 Hybrid will be built and will arrive in 2008—one decade after the premiere of the first hybrid, the Toyota Prius.
SEAT Leon and Altea FR
2005 SEAT Leon
Spanish carmaker SEAT relied on a slinky pre-game show featuring race-suited stiltwalkers waving huge checkered flags, gymnasts of both conventional and intermingling orientations, and lots and lots of loud music to celebrate the inauguration of a new León five-door compact. Developed from VW roots, the SEAT hatchback derives its styling cues from a Salsa concept shown in 2000 and borrows its powertrains from the massive Volkswagen parts bin. Chief among these is a 185-hp version of the direct-injection turbo four also found in the Golf and Audi A3; the Leon
also gets an independent rear suspension and electric power steering. Other gas engines range from 102 hp to 150 hp; a pair of diesels offers up either 105 or 140 hp. The fantastic DSG gearbox is offered as are six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
2005 SEAT Altea FR
The Altea FR is the sporting version of the hatch shown at the Geneva
motor show. FR are the initials to be applied to future sporty SEATs, and in this instance the Altea FR wears new bumpers, new wheels and mirrors with bright metal housings. A 170-hp turbodiesel with a six-speed manual gearbox provides the power, while adaptive xenon headlamps light the way, presumably to one of Barcelona
’s insanely great restaurants.