The A-Z of the Frankfurt Motor Show
It’s reckoned to be the world’s biggest and glitziest car show, and Frankfurt certainly didn’t disappoint this time round as the wraps were taken off a host of new and exciting cars, many of which are headed this way, reports Tony Bosworth.
One of the big features of this Frankfurt show – it’s held every two years – was the large number of electric and electric hybrid vehicles. There was much talk by industry leaders about the transition away from purely internal combustion engines to more environmentally sound machinery and star of the show was undoubtedly BMW’s futuristic-looking electric i3 which is on sale in Europe now. If I’m not much mistaken the i3 will make electric motoring acceptable, affordable, and environmentally friendly.
Okay, so here’s a round-up of the cars revealed at Frankfurt. Some are more practical than others… but they are all well worth a look.
The German company is keen to exploit the grippy four-wheel-drive quattro format that helped build the brand’s sporting image in the 1980s so they’re launching a new Audi Sport quattro.
The concept car made its debut at the show and while the eventual production version is likely to be out of the reach of most of us – the price tag is set to be around $250,000 in Australia – the Sport quattro coupe will be a formidable beast indeed with a tuned version of the company’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, coupled with an electric motor to further boost torque.
Audi also showed off the new Audi A3 Cabriolet and the Audi A3 sedan as well as a facelifted Audi A8. The Germans also had something a little different on the stand – the Audi Nanuk concept car – part supercar, part SUV crossover – which can, well, go pretty much anywhere, but no news just yet on when – or if – it might be a real world car.
BMW’s electric i3 which is on sale from November in Europe (mid-2014 here), was, as I’ve said, the clear star of the Frankfurt Motor Show thanks to its futuristic looks coupled with literally electric performance. Power comes from a rear-mounted electric motor producing 125kW and 250Nm and one overnight charge of electricity will allow the i3 to cover between 130 and 160km. If that’s not far enough for your daily drive you can choose an optional small petrol engine too which sits alongside the electric motor to keep you going longer. I really think this could be a game changer, though price is likely to keep it a bit exclusive.
Altogether BMW revealed seven new cars, including the BMW i8 hybrid sportscar, and the BMW 4-series which replaces coupe 3-series models. The 4-series is on sale here now –or at least you can order one. There was also a revamped BMW X5 and a concept X5 called e-Drive – a plug-in hybrid. The company says it will cover around 35km on electric before switching to a conventional engine.
The French car maker showed us the Cactus which is a down-to-earth concept car aimed at younger drivers and it will be launched as the C4 Cactus but no news yet on when it will come to Australia, if at all. The company also unveiled the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, a luxury version of the popular – at least in Europe – people carrier.
The Ford S-Max concept was unveiled at Frankfurt. Based on the same platform as the next generation Mondeo, it’s set to use a range of turbocharged EcoBoost petrol and TDCi diesel engines and a hybrid version will almost certainly come along too. Aside from the new engines you’re looking at a redesign of the front end compared to the current models. We’re likely to see these versions not too long after they are launched in the UK and Europe as Ford Australia seeks to bolster sales here ahead of the shutdown of its Australian manufacturing arm.
In early 2015, European buyers will also be able to buy the Frankfurt-previewed Ford Mondeo Vignale, a luxury version with well appointed interior and a smoother bodyline. I expect that version here sometime early 2016, though there’s no official news on the arrival date yet.
The big news for Honda was the launch of the new Honda Civic R which will get a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing a mighty 195kW of power. That’s slated for Australia too, early this coming year. The Honda Civic Tourer was centrepiece of the Frankfurt Honda stand and that is also expected to reach our shores in the next 12 months.
Hyundai’s most popular model – the i10 – was on show in its facelifted form which sees the cheapest Hyundai becoming bigger and offering more useable room than the current version. Interior trim quality has been given a polish too and it all looks more expensive, though pricing for the new model will be less than $100 more than the current version.
Nissan’s luxury line is not perhaps doing as well in Australia as it should (but then they do only have a single Sydney dealer…) but the company expects that to change as new models are added to the list, as well as more dealers. On show at Frankfurt was one of those future sales hopefuls, the Q30 concept, a compact rival to the BMW 1-series and Audi A3. Not slated for production until 2015 though, the Q30 will be built at Nissan’s assembly plant in Sunderland, UK. Expect to see the Q30 here in early 2016.
Yes, Jaguar is entering the SUV market with the completely aluminium-bodied C-X17. While that might not be the final name – Jaguar has also registered the name Q-Type – Frankfurt-goers got the chance to see what it will look like in the metal. The model on show is still a concept but there’s no doubt this is the car that will hit the streets – at least in the UK, Europe and US – from 2016. Hopefully it will arrive on our shores about the same time, though no firm news on that at the moment but we’ll keep you informed.
Kia’s Niro concept car was launched at Frankfurt and while there are no definite plans to put it into production, the Koreans are willing to be persuaded to go ahead if reaction is positive. Kia also unveiled their revised Soul model which gets black bumpers, roof and wheelarches, plus updates to the interior centred around the driver. There was also a facelifted Kia Optima on show.
New versions of the Land Rover Discovery took pride of place on the company’s Frankfurt stand. This new Discovery is about to launch here in Australia with smoother lines, LED headlamps and (as an option) an entirely new concept – wade sensors which use sonar so really keen drivers can know the depth of water in front of them before they drive in – clever stuff.
Some say it’s one of the ugliest cars ever shown, but, well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there’s no doubt the compact Lexus LF-NX SUV will turn heads. It’s aimed at territory occupied by the likes of the Audi Q3, but no news at the moment on likely landing time in Australia.
The latest Mazda 3, long a best-seller here and elsewhere in the world too, was unveiled officially at Frankfurt. Despite trim improvements, better performing engines and a great look, the new Mazda 3 is set to be barely any more expensive than the model it replaces.
Another busy German company, M-B revealed no less than four new models at Frankfurt, and the biggest new car is not only a hybrid, it’s also one of the most fuel frugal you will see, perhaps supporting the claim that you really can have it all. Yes according to the company, the mighty Mercedes-Benz S500 Hybrid has a fuel consumption of 2.5litres every 100km. No, it’s not a misprint. If they can achieve that (or in real world conditions, something even close) it will be truly remarkable.
Also launched was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe and the CLA Racing Series, basically track versions of the CLA (don’t expect quite so impressive fuel consumption from these Mercs…) and the S63 AMG model, which will be one of the world’s fastest sedans.
Perhaps not quite so heart-pulsating as the new Mercedes-Benz models, the new Nissan X-Trail nevertheless received plenty of attention, not least because it has always been a popular and steady seller, and especially so in Australia where it has a loyal following. The new model has a smooth new look which is likely to attract plenty of buyers, plus the option of an extra row of seats making it a true seven-seater. The new X-Trail goes on sale globally from July 2014 and Australia is likely to see models around that same time.
In France, and indeed right across the UK and Europe, the Renault Espace has been a regular sight for years. It has always carried a certain cachet. Renault’s big news out of Frankfurt was the unveiling of the Renault Initiale Paris, which is a concept car but points firmly in the direction of the next Espace. Shame we probably won’t see it here – I think it would sell.
VW-owned Skoda showed off the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, which is basically a hatchback version of the company’s Rapid model. It goes on sale in Europe next month (October) and will be here in Australia from early next year where it will compete head-on with the likes of its parent company’s VW Golf (the Skoda’s price point and equipment level will be key in the battle to differentiate the models), the Toyota Corolla and Mazda’s 3.
Yes, the new Subaru WRX STI was launched in Frankfurt though it’s a revamp rather than totally new and it’s likely to use the 2-0-litre four cylinder Boxer engine also found in the current Subaru Forster, though gearing is set to change to give more useable power more quickly. Expect around 230kW going through all four wheels and expect it to be here early in the new year.
A relatively low volume seller in Australia, Suzuki nevertheless has a loyal band of followers who will no doubt be keen to see the Frankfurt-launched Suzuki iV-4 crossover here. The smooth-looking SUV will be available in both two and four-wheel-drive versions and combines bits and pieces from both the Vitara and smaller SX4 (which is due in Australia soon). The iV-4 will slot between them in the range and it’s best guess that the three-door Vitara will probably go to make room for it. Global sales of the Suzuki iV-4 begin in 2015. No firm news yet on when we’ll see ithere, but given healthy Australian SUV sales I’d imagine Suzuki Australia will be pleading for it to arrive ASAP.
Toyota went out of their way to prove that really they do make exciting cars, with the Frankfurt launch of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R. It’s much more than just another Yaris hatchback thanks to a 1.6-litre GRE engine (Global Race Engine) which has been worked on by Toyota Motorsport. Besides the petrol engine itself driving normally to the front wheels, two electric motors drive the rear wheels, giving the Yaris Hybrid-R terrific performance and four-wheel-drive grip. No news on when or even if it comes to our shores, but I know I’ll be forming a queue.
Another German manufacturer making the most of its country’s limelight, Volkswagen launched no less than five new cars at Frankfurt. As with most other car makers, there were two electric-powered models – the VW e-Golf, and an electric VW up! There was also a four-wheel-drive VW Golf R which is both practical and very quick too.
Volkswagen also revealed their revised VW Caddy Golf-based commercial vehicle which benefits from efficient VW Bluemotion tweaks to make it more fuel efficient. VW are quoting 3.73litres per 100km, which is pretty impressive. Even in real world situations it should be possible to get 4.5L/100km or so, even if you avoid the stop/start system, which any sensible person does.
Volvo are getting edgier, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. Frankfurt saw their very smooth Concept Coupe under the spotlights. It apparently heralds the way Volvos are going to look and if that’s the case, well, they will be much in demand.