2009 Frankfurt Auto Show Coverage

September 15, 2009

They call it the "Messe" for a good reason.The show halls that enclose the sprawling Frankfurt Auto Show now number eleven. If you want to make it from the pantheon-style dome that houses Mercedes-Benz to the brand-new Halle 11 that's home to BMW's huge display, you'll need running shoes. Or one of those mythological shuttles that is said to cart journalists around the show grounds. In our dreams.

It wasn't like the glory days of the early 2000s, but this year's Frankfurt gathering showed some strong signs of life. The auto industry's starting to get back on its feet after an annus horribilis that nearly claimed some of the world's biggest automakers. It's still sickly, particularly in the U.S., but it's no longer in triage.

The 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show was the first big show since sales in the American market began to murmur off their flatline. And still, it proved to be all about the home-team advantage. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen ruled the roost with new production vehicles and concept cars, while GM, Ford and Chrysler--and Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Infiniti and everyone else--play a supporting role.

Lucky you--you don't have to fight for press kits, photos or shuttle rides. TheCarConnection waded through all eleven Frankfurt halls to cover the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show live, right here inside your browser, like magic. With our High Gear Media team--TheCarConnection, Motor Authority and GreenCarReports--we've brought you different angles on the stories from Frankfurt, from luxury sedans and exotic coupes to the brace of new electric vehicles introduced by the likeliest, and least likely, of carmakers.

Need an insider tip sheet? Here's the vast collection of new cars, crossovers and electric vehicles that took a bow at the Frankfurt Messe:

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: New Production Vehicles

Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide: It's the lissome four-door you've been waiting for. If you are James Bond, and not Bernie Madoff. It's the Aston Martin Rapide, and it's set for a world show-off in Frankfurt. Crowds may get stuck on its stunning shape; we're keen to hear more about its 470-hp V-12 engine and those "swan-wing" doors Aston's been promising. The child-sized rear seats? We don't have that much attention span, now.

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS: The Crayola-chic Porsche 911 GT3 RS is heading a few hundred kilometers north from its birthplace to Frankfurt. It'll bring with it a bored-out 3.8-liter flat six making 450 horsepower. The redline's soared to 8500 rpm, and the more powerful engine's paired with a six-speed manual shifter with shorter ratios than those in the GT3. That probably shaves miles per hour off its top end, Porsche admits, but it's in the interests of making the GT3 RS an even sharper tool on the track.

2010 Ferrari 458 Italia

2010 Ferrari 458 Italia

Ferrari 458 Italia: Heroes welcome--come to Frankfurt, where a Ferrari press-kit giveaway brings with it a danger that even Dave Salmone wouldn't approach without a big knife. (He's the new Paul Hogan, right?) The core of the new Ferrari supercar is a 4.5-liter engine (hence the name, plus an "8" for its cylinder count) that puts out 570 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Ferrari promises the new engine, coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, will shuttle the 458 Italia to 60 mph in less than 3.4 seconds--comparable to an, um, Nissan GT-R. Top speed should reach 202 mph.

The 2009 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster at the 2009 Frankfurt show: fashion show included gratis.

The 2009 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster at the 2009 Frankfurt show: fashion show included gratis.

Lamborghini Reventon Roadster: Lamborghini unveiled a Reventon Roadster at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and as usual, paired it with a selection of high-fashion models of a human nature. Only a handful of the supercars will be built, each featuring a snazzy 670-hp V-12 and a pricetag of $1.65 million. (Before taxes, naturally.)

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: A new gullwing sounds lovely--and sounds nothing like those Aston swan wings, correct? Correct. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a successor to the current Benz SLR roadster and former coupe. Inside a lightweight body, the SLS AMG will offer up a single powertrain, an evolution of today's big AMG V-8.That 6.2-liter V-8 is expected to produce about 565 horsepower in U.S. specification, along with 479 pound-feet of torque. Through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and rear-wheel drive, the SLS AMG is predicted to hit 60 mph from a standstill in about 3.8 seconds. Follow the link for our preview--and come back in November for our first drive.

2010 BMW 5-series Gran Turismo

2010 BMW 5-series Gran Turismo

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo: Its sloping tail has drawn comments on either side of the approval fence, and the 5-Series GT is not quite even in print yet. BMW promises lots of room and a flexible rear seating area in the GT, which comes to the U.S. with BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, with 400 horsepower and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW promises 0-60 mph times of 5.4 seconds and a limited top speed of 130 mph, with a 150-mph top end on vehicles outfitted with a Sport package. There's Active Steering, Dynamic Damping Control, adaptive roll control  and Driving Dynamics Control, to tailor the driving experience for different tastes. In back, the seats are raised, and move fore and aft on a track up to 4 inches, as passenger and cargo needs change. The tailgate opens as a conventional trunklid or as a large hatch, making cargo loading easier.

2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost

Rolls-Royce Ghost: The new sedan--a Bentley Continental challenger, perhaps, but a pricey one--was unveiled at Frankfurt in a dashing shade of sable. There's a preview at the link, and elsewhere you can follow Rolls' Ghost configurator Web site through the process of customizing your Ghost. You can plan your colors and trims on your new British sedan before accessing all your home equity to actually pay for the thing. Big V-8 and V-12 engines are in the offing, along with an eight-speed automatic, coupe and convertible body styles, and a certain sense of privilege.

2011 Bentley Mulsanne

2011 Bentley Mulsanne

2011 Bentley Mulsanne: Catfight Part II pits the 2011 Mulsanne right up against the dowager Rolls-Royce Phantom. Oh, yes--it's on. The Mulsanne gets a new architecture, a new V-8 engine, and probably a $300,000 base price. That's before you order the in-door drink carts, knurled aluminum dash, quilted seats, and before you order people around in that tone.

2010 Saab 9-5

2010 Saab 9-5

2010 Saab 9-5: GM's set to sell the brand to Koenigsegg, which makes the future of Saab uncertain in our eyes. However, they're insisting the 2010 9-5 four-door and wagon are coming.

2010 Volvo C70 Convertible

2010 Volvo C70 Convertible

Volvo C70: Volvo’s ultra-stylish C70 Convertible has a received a facelift for the 2010 model year and has been revealed in Frankfurt, and it's a worthwhile update to the somewhat stodgy four-seat fold-top. Equipped with the same three-piece steel roof, practical seating for four adults and Volvo’s renowned reputation for safety, the facelifted C70 features an updated front and rear design, along with an updated interior.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate (non-U.S. model)

2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate (non-U.S. model)

2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon: It's returning to America in E350 4Matic form, to pair with the recently driven E-Class sedan and wagon. Alas, the AMG edition shown here won't make the trip to America.

BMW X1: The new crossover is smaller than an X3, pricier than a Honda CR-V, and more adept at social media than lots of auto Web sites we know. We'll take a closer look and maybe drive one around the Frankfurt halls, if we can grab the keys from unsuspecting PR folks.

Audi R8 Spyder: The convertible version of Audi's sportscar shows up, with V-10 power "inspired" by Lamborghini. Possibly with a crowd of followers, too. Audi promises a 195-mph hairstyle for those with $150,000 or so in their coffers (coiffeurs?). There's also the electric version, the wildly named e-tron concept. No light cycles, though, drat.

Hyundai Tucson: The new compact crossover is known as the ix35 in Europe. In Frankfurt, the Tucson shows up with a much more muscular style. Front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions will be offered in the U.S. Tucson; a four-cylinder engine and a six-cylinder option are expected to power the new crossover.MINI Cooper Camden and Mayfair: It's MINI's 50th anniversary, and these two models will show up, just waiting for someone to take their picture. We'll volunteer.

Superlight Mazda MX-5 Miata: A race-minded version of the "Miata" (get over it) shows up in Frankfurt; is your track license up to date?

VW Polo: The new world subcompact takes a bow. Come 2011, it's coming to the U.S. to take on the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta and Chevy Spark.

2012 Ford C-MAX: A new compact minivan based on the next Focus, the C-Max arrives in the U.S. late in 2011 with the global name and all.

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Concept Cars

2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept

2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept

BMW Concept EfficientDynamics:  It's a diesel, a hybrid, a plug-in, a three-cylinder--and a tour de force, perhaps? BMW's Vision EfficientDynamics concept car grafts fashionable green technology on the body of a 2+2 sports car. The promise: BMW M-car performance from a vehicle with a three-cylinder diesel plug-in hybrid powertrain.

2009 MINI Coupe and Roadster Concepts

2009 MINI Coupe and Roadster Concepts

MINI Coupe and MINI Roadster Concepts: Dubbed the 2009 MINI Coupe or MINI Roadster Concept, the latest concept cars preview what will show up in the brand's showrooms in a couple of years. MINI is calling it a prototype for now but its engine and chassis, in this case a 211 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque (206 pound-feet with overboost) 1.6-liter gasoline unit and stiffened suspension lifted from the high-performance John Cooper Works model, are entirely plausible for a production spec model. Strictly a two-seater, the low roof line, compact dimensions, perfect axle load distribution and lightweight construction are all trademarks of a genuine sports car.

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

Lexus LF-Ch: The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is barely out and about, and already Lexus is preparing for an even more compact hybrid. The concept for the new concept, called the LF-Ch, has been revealed in Frankfurt. The rear three-quarters view of the car shows off some pleasant lines, but the heavily-styled rear fascia and stealthed door handles are not likely to make it to a production version.

Trabant electric car concept for 2009 Frankfurt auto show

Trabant electric car concept for 2009 Frankfurt auto show

Trabant: It's the brand no one wanted revived. Now, a German company with the rather itchy name of Herpa says it will reconstitute the Trabant brand at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show. They'll show a "New Trabi" prototype to lure investors in their scheme to restart the brand in its hometown of Zwickau. The concept will "sport" an electric drivetrain, a solar panel for battery recharges (perfect for powering up during those long, sunny winter days in Rostock), and a driving range of--well, they're claiming 156 miles.

Bugatti Galabier: The concept that wasthe talk of Frankfurt wasn't even there. Bugatti is hosting sneak previews of the new Galabier concept sedan for clients and dealers, but the concept itself won't come to the show at all. It could in fact be a trio of concepts tested over the next few months, prior to a world debut. Or a very quiet shelving, if economics don't justify new Bugattis just yet.

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Green Cars

BMW X6 ActiveHybrid and 7 Series ActiveHybrid: BMW's first hybrids ever greened up its stand in Frankfurt. They're slightly different in technology, if not mission: the X6 is based on the two-mode technology developed with GM, Chrysler and Daimler, while the 7-Series is a homegrown design with lithium-ion batteries.

Volkswagen E-up! and Volkswagen L1: The German car world is putting a toe in the electric-car pond again. If they're not electrocuted in the process, Volkswagen could turn its Frankfurt E-up! electric-car concept into reality as a new Beetle for the coming electric age. If that happens. For entertainment value, the single-seater L1 shows what could happen if certain Congressional leaders keep writing legislation for industries they know nothing about.

Renault EVs: The vehicle coming from Renault and Project Better Place saw a worldwide launch in Frankfurt as the Fluence EV concept, joined by three other less real show vehicles, including the Twizy. They'll be followed by lots of tests and first drives and pilot studies and possibly, one day...a better place. You have to earn a name like that, somehow.

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Headlines

 

Preview: 157 MPG Volkswagen L1 Concept

Ford C-MAX Headed To U.S. By Late 2011

Preview: 2010 Aston Martin Rapide

Frankfurt: Audi e-Tron Electric Car Has Awesome Torque, All-Wheel-Drive

Preview: 2011 Bentley Mulsanne

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: MINI Roadster Concept

Zero-Emissions Volkswagen E-Up! Concept Rolls Out At Frankfurt

Preview: Lamborghini Reventon Roadster

Bugatti Galibier 16C Concept Previews New Super Sedan

2009 Audi R8 E-Tron Concept Revealed

Citroen Revolte/2CV Concept To Show At Frankfurt

Mercedes-Benz S500 Concept for Frankfurt: Plug-In Hybrid S-Class

Hyundai Unveils 2009 ix-Metro Hybrid Crossover Concept

Ford’s New 2011 C-Max Destined For U.S. Sale?

MINI Coupe Becomes Reality--Before It's a Concept

BMW News: MINI Crossover Delayed, Isetta Based On Toyota iQ?

Frankfurt Auto Show: BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept

Spy Shots: 2010 Hyundai Tucson

Rumor: Lamborghini Reventon Roadster Cruising To Frankfurt

Preview: 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Lexus Teases New Compact

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: BMW's Green Four-Door Coupe

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Superlight Mazda MX-5 Miata

Preview: 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon

2010 Saab 9-5 Preview [2009 Frankfurt Auto Show]

Teaser Image Hints At New Bugatti Model

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: First Photo, Going Electric Too?

Renault To Preview Production EV at 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show

Audi R8 Spyder: Now With Rip-Roaring V10

2011 BMW X1: Best Shots Yet

2011 Volkswagen Polo: Wagon, Coupe, and a New GTI?

VW To Challenge Chevy Volt At Frankfurt

Audi A3 Going Hybrid

 

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Stay Updated

Bookmarks: Follow our Frankfurt Auto Show tag and this 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show page for updates

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