The 2008 Paris Auto Show is upon us--or, rather, TheCarConnection.com is upon it, since we're just a few Metro stops away and we already have cameras, laptops, and phones charging up for tomorrow's full-on press day.
The Paris Auto Show has a unique place in our hearts; it's where we got the background on the Ford-Firestone debacle and lost approximately 40 pounds in water weight, since the Mondiale de l'Expo hall has no air conditioning. It's also been the platform on which some very important cars have been launched to the media and the world, cars like the Audi R8, the Ford Mondeo, the current MINI Cooper, and, er, the Dodge Avenger.
This year's show promises to be one of the most chock-full product assaults in Paris in, oh, let's say, 64 years. Here's the first batch of cars we're expecting to see in some form or another on the outskirts of town, down at the Porte de Versailles. Tomorrow morning starts at 7 a.m. with Volkswagen and ends sometime well after midnight, when we bring you the latest details on the BMW X1, the Chevrolet Cruze, the Audi S4, the Honda Insight, Lamborghini's new concept, the Lexus IS Convertible, and the new VW Golf lineup.
Until then, soak up a little joie de vivre with these debutantes:
2011 Chevrolet Volt
2011 Chevrolet Volt
The Volt made a splashy debut a few weeks back in Detroit (and here on TheCarConnection.com a little earlier than that). The $40,000-plus Volt is expected to enter production at the end of 2009, so it could wear a 2011 model-year tag. It'll be shown in Paris, possibly alongside a rebadged version for Opel.
2008 Honda Insight Concept
At the last Paris auto show in 2006, Honda showed a hybrid coupe concept called the CR-Z. This year in Paris, the automaker will reclaim its Insight name with a new five-door vehicle that bears the hallmarks of its larger, fuel-cell-powered FCX Clarity--not to mention some echoes of the Toyota Prius in its greenhouse. The new Insight seats five, Honda says, and the rear seats fold for improved cargo access. The important innovation in the new Insight is a much less complex, much more affordable hybrid drivetrain, the company says.
2010 BMW X1
Months ago, BMW confirmed that it was working on a small, new crossover vehicle. There's talk that a concept for the coming 2011 BMW X1 will show up at the Paris Auto Show and that the production version will bow at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show. An eight-speed automatic transmission may be teamed to a new range of direct-injection turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines. The new X1 will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
The new Cruze compact, GM says, "was developed by a global design and engineering team and will be built in multiple locations around the world." At 4.6 meters long--or 181.1 inches--it's a fraction of an inch longer than today's Cobalt. GM also says it will offer "ample interior space and cargo capacity for five passengers, giving it an advantage over competition in the compact segment." It will also sport the new global themes for Chevrolet design, from the bow tie on back. It arrives in American showrooms in 2010.
2008 Lamborghini Estoque Concept (2008 Paris Auto Show)
The details are trickling out -- a set of four pictures that hint at a new supercar from Lamborghini--and the official reveal comes the night before the show opens. But what, pray tell, is the new Lamborghini, really? There's every reason to believe it's a four-door sports car along the lines of the Aston Rapide, but Lamborghini is saying nothing more. Stay tuned 9 p.m. Paris time for more on the new concept.
2010 Audi S4
Audi's new S4 range will ditch its V-8 engine in favor of a new 3.0-liter V-6 with twin turbochargers. Coupled to quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic transmission, the new S4 and S4 Avant should pose a more serious threat to the BMW M3 range.
2008 Saab 9-X Air BioHybrid Concept
Saab 9-X Air Concept
This new concept's Speedster-like "Canopy Top" gives a different spin on the notion of a Saab convertible, while the rear deck maintains a certain height to provide better crash protection than ordinary convertibles, Saab says in a release. The BioHybrid concept shares the powertrain of the 9-X concept shown last year--a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that's ethanol-capable.
2010 Lexus IS Convertible
A new hardtop convertible for Toyota's upscale brand, the Lexus IS convertible is based on the four-door sedan that emerged in 2006. No hardtop coupe version is planned in this generation, but the convertible is expected to be offered in Is 250 and IS 350 versions.
2008 Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion Concept
Volkswagen Golf VI
A new Golf range is coming to Paris, though we've heard conflicting reports about when it will show up as a Rabbit in the U.S. The big news in this generation is the concept BlueMotion, which at 62 mpg matches the fuel economy and CO2 emissions (99 g/km) bar set in '06 by the smaller, lighter VW Polo BlueMotion.
2008 Chevrolet Orlando Concept
A concept pegged as a new global crossover, seven-seat Orlando concept will be in Paris, and is based on the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, a global compact that's coming in a little more than a year to the U.S., but will go on sale next year in other global markets.
Volvo DRIVe Concept
Volvo's new concept small cars use an existing 1.6-liter turbodiesel four and pair it with aero tricks, special Michelin tires with low rolling resistance, taller gearing and other drivetrain enhancements to help the cars eke out lower emissions and greater mileage.
2008 Mazda Kiyora Concept
Mazda Kiyora Concept
The Kiyora is a city car with a mission: lightweight construction and environmental purity, Mazda says. The name means "clean and pure" in Japanese, in fact, highlighting the Kiyora's use of a direct-injection four-cylinder engine.
Audi A6 and RS6
The 2009 Audi A6 already has been shown at the Moscow auto show, but it's also coming to Paris. Audi released photos and details of the updated A6 earlier this month, describing its more efficient engines, improved suspension tuning, and upgraded Multi-Media Interface (MMI) controller. The RS6, meanwhile, ditches the V-8s of lesser A6 derivatives for a 5.0-liter V-10 with twin turbocharged and quattro all-wheel drive. Audi says it draws 580 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque from the engine, which it teams with a six-speed automatic transmission with quicker shift reflexes. Quattro, in this setting, gets its power biased toward the rear for more agile handling. Audi promises acceleration to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph.
BMW 7 Series
BMW has de-Bangled the big 7 Series somewhat for 2009, and refined its iDrive controller and its interior. It sports a new tail, a markedly cleaner interior, and a more refined silhouette. The new 7er will bow in Paris along with an ActiveHybrid version that could significantly boost fuel economy in the big sedan.
2009 Ferrari California
Ferrari's first folding-hardtop car will get a splashy, no doubt overattended press conference in Paris's steamy Expo. A new 4.3-liter V-8 powers the California, and Ferrari promises it'll develop 460 horsepower and have "a torque curve that enhances vehicle dynamics and provides maximum driving pleasure which is typical for Ferrari." Teamed to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the engine will push the California to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds.
2009 Kia Soul
After a long trip around the auto show circuit as a "concept," the 2009 Kia Soul gets its worldwide coming-out bash in Paris. Few details have been confirmed on the production version of the Soul, but Kia promises that owners will be able to customize their Soul "through a variety of options, accessories and colors." There's also a Soul Hybrid for those who mix their Al Green with unapproved hints of jazz.