2014 Paris Auto Show Highlights

October 4, 2014

Audi TT Sportback

The Audi TT has been a style icon since it was new—so, how would it look as a sedan? The Audi TT Sportback concept puts a four-seat, five-door spin on the TT coupe—and it just might give Audi something to pitch against the Mercedes CLA or even the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe.

Like the TT, the Sportback concept is a member of the new VW MQB family of cars. It's just about a foot longer than the TT coupe, but more than an inch lower, giving it a sleek profile. Audi claims it still offers enough room for four adults, thanks to deeply sculpted rear seats.

Just like the TT, the Sportback has the same digital gauge panel that takes the place of its instruments—the 12.3-inch screen also wraps in the multimedia and infotainment displays for a dazzling, and maybe distracting, interface.

The TT Sportback isn’t purely a design and packaging concept. The powertrain sounds real enough: it’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four rated at 400 horsepower. Power routes through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to standard all-wheel drive. Audi pegs zero to 60 times at 3.9 seconds--if it were a production car, that is. As of now, there's no word on if or when it will hit the streets.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept - 2014 Paris Auto Show

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept - 2014 Paris Auto Show

Infiniti Q80 Concept

Infiniti is searching for a flagship to steer it into the top tier of luxury. It may have the foundation for one in the form of the Q80 concept shown at Paris.

The Q80 is a four-door fastback, one that Infiniti says will lend its cues to future luxury cars. It could easily fit in among cars like the Porsche Panamera, Aston Martin Rapide, and Audi A7.

Infiniti calls the Q80 Inspiration a disruptor in the segment, and based on its layout, roofline, and extremely long, low, swoopy design, it sure looks like one from the outside. Big 22-inch wheels help give the low-set body an even more hunkered-down, exaggerated stance. Inside, the Q80 wears milled aluminum trim, Alcantara and leather, and horse-hair carpet.

The Q80’s rear-hinged rear doors allow a wide opening to the cabin; and while the configuration has been quite common in concept cars for years, it’s made it into very few production models (Rolls-Royce is one of the few exceptions). The seats are arranged front to back, something you’d never see on a real car. Each passenger gets a color touch screen, and here’s a touch we can go along with: a rear seat-mounted, silver-plated beverage flask.

The Q80’s putative powertrain is a 550-horsepower, all-wheel-drive hybrid unit estimated at 40 miles per gallon. Its core is a twin-turbo V-6 with a nine-speed automatic. The twin-turbo V-6 alone makes 450 hp, while the lithium-ion battery pack and motor system bring an additional 100 hp of total output. Infiniti estimates 0-60 mph acceleration at under four seconds, with a 155-mph top speed.

The Q80 Inspiration is loaded with active-safety and autonomous-driving technology, and with its full set of camera, laser, and sensor hardware it can allow the driver to press a button on the left side of the steering wheel to engage the equivalent of an auto-pilot mode.

It’s a concept, but some of the Q80’s bits and pieces are sure to make it into production.

2017 Jaguar XE

2017 Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE

Jaguar has tried to build a 3-Series fighter in the past. Now in 2017, they’re aiming at BMW again—only this time they’re bringing what looks to be a legitimate Bimmer basher, the new XE sedan.

The XE doesn’t even land in the U.S. for two more years, but there’s plenty to get excited about, from its aluminum-intensive construction, its supercharged V-6 engine, and a stunning shape that is sure to take its place next to the 3-Series, the C-Class, and the Cadillac ATS among our favorites.

When it arrives, the XE will come with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, and a choice between a new turbo four with about 240 horsepower, or Jaguar’s 340-horsepower supercharged V-6, essentially the same engine as that found in the F-Type. Teamed to ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission, the XE will run to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and will reach a top speed of 155 mph. Performance numbers for the turbo four haven’t been issued.

At launch, Jaguar will also offer a diesel for the XE, but not the one that’s going into the first XEs bound for Europe. A manual transmission is also set for the XE, but not for some time.

The XE will ride on a double-wishbone front suspension and an integral-link rear, and the body is made up mostly of aluminum—keeping curb weight down to as little as 3,250 pounds.

Jaguar promises good interior space, and the XE’s cabin will be trimmed out with its latest infotainment system, called Jaguar InControl. It's based around an 8-inch touchscreen, and offers Bluetooth audio streaming, USB connectivity, and an optional SD card-based navigation system. Voice control, Wi-Fi hotspot, and app functionality are also included with InControl.

InControl Remote allows both iOS and Android smartphone users to control their cars remotely in a variety of ways, including locking or unlocking the doors; starting the engine; and even timed seven-day pre-determined settings for the climate control system.

In Europe the XE is coming soon, but U.S. sales won’t start until the fall of 2016, and prices won’t be released until then.

Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 concept, 2014 Paris Auto Show

Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 concept, 2014 Paris Auto Show

Lamborghini Asterion

The supercar world continued to warm up to the idea of hybrids at the 2014 Paris auto show. This may be the most unlikely gas-electric car yet, the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4.

First, we’ll break down that name for you. It’s an Italian acronym for Longitudinale Posteriore Ibrido, meaning longitudinal rear-mid-engine hybrid. The 910 is for its horsepower, and the 4, four-wheel drive.

That total of 910 horsepower comes from a combination of a 610-horsepower V-10 engine three electric motors with a combined 300 horsepower. The Asterion can drive up to 31 miles on electric power alone, Lamborghini claims.

Performance of the Asterion is suitably super for a Lamborghini: 60 mph takes about 3 seconds, and the top speed is 198 mph. Speeds of up to 77 mph in pure electric mode are possible.

The Asterion’s exterior design is intended to set the car apart from the other current models, but also fit with the overall Lamborghini brand theme. Inside the cabin, the seating is higher and more comfortable, reflecting a more everyday in tent for the Asterion.

The Asterion is just a concept, but given the VW Group’s strong hybrid game, it could easily be heading for production soon. Porsche built the 918 Spyder, after all.


2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover has spent a lot of time on its Range Rover vehicles—and now it’s the namesake brand’s turn. The Paris auto show brought the first look at the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport.

What is it? Well, the Discovery Sport doesn’t directly replace the LR2, but they’ll be passing each other as the Sport makes its way into the lineup, while the LR2 goes away after 2015. Like the LR2, the Discovery Sport shares some of its hardware, about 50 percent, with the Range Rover Evoque, but the styling is a cleaner, modern take on classic rugged Rover cues.

Under the hood, U.S. drivers will get a 2.0-liter, 240-horsepower turbo four, the same one powers the Evoque. All-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission are standard for now, but eventually, the Sport will get a front-wheel-drive model, and possibly a diesel as well.

Sticking the Sport to the road is a combination of electronic controls including Terrain Response, which offers traction settings tailored for General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. Add to that 8.3 inches of ground clearance; 13.4 inches of wheel articulation; approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31, and 21 degrees, respectively; and the ability to scale slopes of up to 45 degrees, and you have a seriously impressive off-road machine—with seating for five + two passengers.

Unlike the Range Rovers, the Disco Sport isn’t made entirely from aluminum, but some of it is, and that helps keep curb weight down to about 4000 pounds.

The Sport can seat up to seven passengers — it’s the first compact Land Rover to offer third-row seating, although the seats are just kid-sized, sitting right on the floor. They fold away for a flat cargo area, and the second-row seats fold down as well.

New safety features include blind-spot monitors and automatic braking, and the Sport is one of the first Land Rovers to get InControl, the brand’s pretty new touchscreen interface and smartphone connectivity kit. It’s compatible with both Apple and Android operating systems.

The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport goes on sale in the U.S. in March 2015, priced from about $38,000. Stay tuned in January for our first drive.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda unveiled the next-generation Miata a few weeks ago, but here at the Paris auto show, it’s finally ready to talk about some numbers.

The new Miata has a striking design, and a lightweight one. It’s about 220 pounds lighter than the current car (which weighs in around 2,400-2,600 pounds in its various trims). It's a soft-top roadster, at least in debut form. So far, Mazda isn’t talking about any hardtop versions—power retractable or coupe or otherwise.

There will be two powerplants offered at launch. Outside the U.S. drivers will get a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but American Miatas will come only with a 2.0-liter four. Power output still hasn’t been released, though a similar engine in the Mazda 3 makes 155 horsepower. A manual transmission will be standard, of course.

The new roadster bears the hallmarks of the KODO design language. Key design elements include the low, sharply sloped hood, muscular rear haunches, and a tapered rear end. The overall proportions are still classic Miata, though we’re not the first to pick up on a passing resemblance to the Honda S2000.

Miata details will continue dribbling out until early next year, when we get our first chance to drive the new roadster.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (Euro-spec) - 2014 Paris Auto Show

2016 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (Euro-spec) - 2014 Paris Auto Show

Mercedes-AMG C63

Nothing says “welcome to Paris” like a new AMG edition of the C-Class--the Mercedes-AMG C63.

Once again the C63 is based on the new C-Class, but this time around, it will come in a standard model and a more potent S-badged version. Both sport a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8: in the C63 it develops 469 horsepower, and in S trim, it pounds out 503 horsepower.

Compare that to the BMW M4’s 425 horsepower, or the Lexus RC F and its 467 horsepower, if you want. And then know that the new C63 should actually get reasonable gas mileage--up to 30 percent better, Mercedes says.

The rear-drive sport sedan puts the power to the wheels through a seven-speed, paddle-shifted automatic, now programmed with a Race mode. Zero to sixty times should check in well below 4 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155 miles per hour.

Other performance upgrades include a sport exhaust system, adaptive dampers, a limited-slip rear differential and 18-inch wheels and tires as standard. Nineteen-inchers are standard on the C63 S. Carbon-ceramic brakes will be available for the first time.

The new C63 will come as either a sedan or a wagon, but in the U.S., we’ll only get the four-door. It will arrive in showrooms next March as a 2015 model. And of course, a Black Series is expected down the road. Stay tuned for our first drive on Motor Authority soon.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S - 2014 Paris Auto Show

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S - 2014 Paris Auto Show

Mercedes-AMG GT

The SLS AMG gave Mercedes its first true supercar, especially in Black Series trim. Now its successor has arrived. The 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT has arrived, and it's the first car to wear the new sub-brand designation of Mercedes-AMG, and the second car to come entirely from Mercedes' performance unit in Affalterbach.

With the Porsche 911 in its ballpark but cars like the Maserati Gran Turismo and Jaguar F-Type in the same segment, the AMG GT has to excel on a few fronts. The first is performance: the GT gets a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with 456 horsepower for a 3.9-second trip to 60 mph. Top speed is electronically limited to 189 mph. But before that base car arrives, we'll get the AMG GT S, which makes 503 hp from the same engine, and hits 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, as well as a top speed of 193 mph. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard on the rear-driver, which is built around an aluminum space frame.

On the technology front, the AMG GT gets a dynamic driving selector with economy, sport, sport plus, and individual modes. GT S models also have a Race mode that extracts the maximum performance for the transmission. A limited-slip differential is standard; adaptive dampers are standard on the GT S, while a performance exhaust system is an option.

From outside the cockpit, the AMG GT is a stunner. It's a classic rear-drive sports car in silhouette, with a long nose and a bob tail that's smoothed out more sleekly than the former SLS. The dash is meant to evoke an airplane wing, the controls and the round vents, the cockpit of a fighter jet.

The 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S will arrive in the U.S. first, coming in the spring of 2015. A year later, the standard GT model will hit the streets. Stay tuned to Motor Authority for a first drive in November.

Volkswagen XL Sport concept, 2014 Paris Auto Show

Volkswagen XL Sport concept, 2014 Paris Auto Show

VW XL Sport

For a year now, rumors of a Ducati-powered version of the Volkswagen XL1 hyper-efficient, super-lightweight car made the rounds. Those rumors came true at the Paris Auto Show in the form of the XL Sport concept.

Powered by a Ducati V-twin engine out of the 1199 Superlegerra motorcycle rated at 197 horsepower, the XL Sport is capable of a 168 mph top speed and 5.7-second dashes to 60 mph.

With a curb weight of just 1,962 pounds and an 11,000-rpm redline, the Ducati-engined concept is sure to make the driving experience even more fun than the power-to-weight ratio suggests.

Beyond the power and lightness, the XL Sport is also very aerodynamic. With a coefficient of drag of just 0.258 and a frontal area of only 1.7 square meters, it’s one of the most aerodynamically efficient cars ever from Volkswagen.

The chassis is built from steel subframes around a carbon fiber reinforced polymer body. Carbon ceramic brakes help cut weight. Even the engine focuses on weight savings, with titanium connecting rods and valvetrain and magnesium-alloy components elsewhere in the engine.

Inside the XL Sport, the compact cockpit offers a digital instrument cluster with lap timer and other performance features. The steering wheel gets red accent stitching, and aluminum shift paddles for the DSG dual-clutch gearbox. The seat belts are also red, while the dash and vents get anodized aluminum accent trim.

See more videos on our YouTube sites: The Car Connection, Motor Authority, and Green Car Reports.

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