Smaller Paris Show Still Set to Deliver Big Product News

Audi, BMW, Mercedes among the headliners at Mondial de l’Automobile.

by on Oct.01, 2018

Audi is ready to take on the industry leader, Tesla, with the all-new e-tron, which will make its public debut at the Paris Motor Show.

It may be the City of Lights but things will be a little darker at the 2018 Mondial de l’Automobile. Otherwise known as the Paris Motor Show, it’s been hit by the same industry retrenchment that has hammered other major shows, including Detroit and Chicago during the last several years.

Among the manufacturers who’ll sit things out for 2018 are Ford, Infiniti, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as several Fiat Chrysler brands. And several other carmakers are expected to downsize their presence when the show begins with the annual two-day media preview on Tuesday.

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That said, it will just allow the spotlight to shine more brightly on those brands that have decided to stick with Paris this year. Among the most prominent previews on the docket will be debuts at the BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari stands. And while some of its Volkswagen Group siblings will be notably absent, Audi will retain a high-profile presence with three important public unveilings.

Audi

2019 Audi Q3

That includes the largest VW Group luxury brand’s first long-range, all-electric model that had a sneak preview for the media in San Francisco just a few weeks back. With the launch of the e-tron, capable of delivering around 200 miles per charge from a 95 kilowatt-hour battery, Audi becomes the latest in a growing list of automakers to introduce a long-range battery-electric vehicle aimed directly at industry pioneer Tesla.

The five-seater, at 193 inches in total length, measures in-between the conventionally powered Audi Q5 and Q7 SUVs, though it adopts a distinct design to let you know it’s green. It’s also reasonably quick, able to launch from 0 to 60 in an estimated 5.5 seconds, though slightly slower than the new Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV and Tesla’s own Model X. At a base price of $74,800, those are the two models the e-tron will most directly compete with.

Audi also will be showing off new versions of two smaller, gas (and diesel) models, On the passenger side, it will pull the wraps off an all-new version of the A1, a city car that clearly needs a makeover considering the weak market response to the current model. There’ll also be an all-new version of the compact Q3 crossover. The big news is, well, just that, the Q3 will grow in almost every dimension – the wheelbase alone stretched 3 inches over the current model. That will transform one of the smaller entries in its segment into one of the largest, in line with the newly launched Cadillac XT4.

(Click Here for a full report on the new Audi e-tron.)

BMW

2019 BMW Z4

The Bavarian automaker has had a busy year already, revealing the new 8 Series at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, as well the iNext concept that will join its all-electric line-up in 2021.

Paris will mark the first public showing of the automaker’s next-generation Z4 roadster, meanwhile, though its already been revealed to the automotive media. The two-seater had an unusual genesis, BMW partnering in its development with Toyota which will use the underlying platform for its own sports car, the reborn Supra. The good news is that the next-generation Z4 will be offering more power than the outgoing roadster. The bad news, at least for fans of rowing their own transmission is that there’ll be no manual offered on the new model.

(For more on the new 2019 BMW Z4, Click Here.)

The really important unveiling set for Paris will bring out the next-generation 3-Series. It may not be the biggest, nor the most expensive model in the automaker’s line-up, but it is certainly the most popular and the sedan that still tends to draw them in to BMW showrooms. With millions of motorists around the world migrating from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, the German maker will have to prove it can continue to generate enthusiasm for the 3-er.

2019 BMW X5

And, to round things off, Paris will also see the public debut of the next-generation X5, BMW’s original Sport Activity Vehicle. It offers even more luxury and technology than before yet still proved surprisingly nimble both on and off-road during a recent test drive by TheDetroitBureau.com.

(Click Here for our review of the 2019 BMW X5.)

DS

Sadly, there are no plans to bring this spinoff of France’s Citroen brand to the U.S. anytime soon. Too bad, as this luxury marque is delivering some intriguing design and engineering developments that just shouldn’t be restricted to European buyers.

The automaker has introduced several larger models in recent years. Now it is focusing on the new DS 3 Crossback. In European terms, it’s a compact model. To Americans it would fall into the supermini segment populated by the likes of the Audi Q2, Chevrolet Trax and Ford EcoSport.

Aimed a bit more up-market, the Crossback features distinctive design features like power-retracting door handles. And a combination of LED running lights and Matrix LED headlamps.

Look for an all-electric version of the DS3 Crossback to follow, though it will be rebadged the E-Tense.

Ferrari

Ferrari Monza SP2 and SP1

The prancing pony is stepping forward into the past at this year’s Paris Motor Show. It will reveal two special edition models on its stands, the Monza SP1 and SP2 harkening back to the open-top racers that established the brands reputation in its early, post-War years. The SP1, as the same suggests, will be a single-seater, with the SP2 squeezing two side-by-side.

They may look old, but don’t let appearances fool you. Under the skin, the Monza SP1 and SP2 will feature Ferrari’s latest driveline, a 799-horsepower 6.5-liter liter V-12. It will deliver the sort of performance that racers in the 1950s and ’60s could have only dreamed of, hitting 60 in a mere 2.9 seconds, and 125 in 7.9.

Infiniti

Infiniti Project Black S

The luxury arm of Nissan Motor Co. has frequently tied with the idea of launching a true competitor to BMW’s M and Mercedes’ AMG. Could the Project Black S making its debut in Paris this week be the sign of what’s coming? Black S is a joint effort of Infiniti and the Formula 1 team run by Nissan’s French alliance partner Renault and, as that would suggest, it draws heavily from F1 technology.

That starts with a twin-hybrid version of Infiniti’s Red Sport 400 engine used in the Q60 sports coupe. Like a conventional hybrid, it recaptures energy normally wasted during braking. But the system also can turn waste heat from acceleration into current stored in the driveline’s battery pack, much like an F1 KERS system. It’s enough to boost horsepower from 400 to 563 hp and completely eliminate turbo lag. Look for 0 to 60 launches in under 4 seconds. The modified Q60 also undergoes extensive aero updates to reduce drag and boost downforce. And it gets massive carbon-fiber brakes.

Infiniti is a bit vague about what happens next, though a news release describes the Black S concept as a forerunner of a “potential new model grade from Infiniti, offering higher performance, uprated chassis and unique design features.”

(Click Here for the full story of the Infiniti Project Black S.)

Lexus

2018 Lexus RC Coupe

The Japanese luxury brand has a solid following in many parts of Europe, in part due to its early emphasis on hybrid technology. But as it’s doing in the U.S. and other markets, Lexus is putting more of an emphasis on sporty design and performance these days.

There will be debuts in Paris, starting with the global debut of the RC Coupe’s mid-cycle refresh. It will get a bit more of an exterior update than what might normally expect, mid-life, including an updated version of the now-familiar Lexus spindle grille.

Also on tap: the LC Limited Edition. When he pulled the wraps off the LC several years ago, Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda declared, “I never want to hear the words, ‘boring’ and ‘Lexus,’ in the same sentence ever again. The Limited Edition might make that even less likely to happen. It’s based on the LC sport- edition and will get unique exterior and interior design enhancements.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-AMG One

As we reported just last week, Mercedes will keep both auto scribes and the motoring public busy as it rolls out an assortment of new products at the convention center at Port d’Versailles. That starts with a nearly production-ready version of its eagerly awaited hypercar. Newly renamed the Mercedes-AMG One, it will borrow heavily from Formula One technology with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that spins up to 11,000 RPM to make 1,020 horsepower. And it will also get up to 20 miles in pure electric mode. To save a bit of gas expect to pay $2.5 million.

(For more on the Mercedes-AMG One, Click Here.)

Following the recent relaunch of the A-Class, the smallest Mercedes, the B-Class will debut in new skin at Paris. The redesign, the Schwabian maker promises, will be sportier, more spacious and higher-tech. Among other things, it will be the second Mercedes – after the A-Class – to get the new MBUX voice assistant-powered infotainment system. Mercedes briefly sold an electric B-Class in California. Essentially a minivan, the new B-Class is likely the only one of the new models debuting in Paris that won’t make it over to the U.S., but it’s a significant piece of the brand’s global line-up.

Mercedes-Benz EQC

The EQC is part of an 11 billion euro, or nearly $13 billion, project that will  see Mercedes launch an all-new sub-brand, EQ, while also switching to all-electric propulsion for Daimler’s urban brand Smart. The company is “going all in…on electric cars,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told an audience in Stockholm, where the EQC was unveiled. Twin motors – one on each axle — will make a combined 402 hp and 564 pound-feet of torque, propelling the EQC to 60 in about 4.9 seconds. But with 80 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries, Mercedes estimates 200 miles per charge.

Mercedes decided to realign its sports car and SUV line-up a few years ago, and if you somehow missed the news, the old ML is now the GLE. And it remains the brand’s best-selling SUV, delivering a mix of midsize roominess, performance and features and, from the initial images we’ve seen, a nicely updated design. Look for the wheelbase of the new version to gain about 3.1 inches, with the wheels moving further out to the corners to yet increase interior space. And that will allow Mercedes to offer a three-row version of the GLE for the first time.

Globally, the crossover will be offered with a range of powertrains, including gas, diesel and a new, mild-hybrid package. The 48-volt system also will be used to enhance the new GLE’s air suspension package. The alternative drivetrain for the U.S. will be a 255 hp inline-four.

Want more? Okay, how about an AMG version of the new A-Class The A35 will punch a hefty 302 horsepower out of its turbo-2.0-liter inline-four, power going through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox before heading out to all four wheels. It is expected to hit 60 in just over 4.5 seconds. And, as you’d expect of a Mercedes-AMG, it adds such niceties as a sport exhaust, adaptive dampers, oversized brakes and variable-ratio steering. Like the B-Class, however, it’s not earmarked for the U.S. – for now.

(Click Here for more on Mercedes’ Paris product launch plans.)

Peugeot

Peugeot e-Legend

The more mainstream brand of France’s PSA Group will formally debut a new model that is already winning kudos from the automotive media. For now, though the E-Legend, a sporty coupe reminiscent of the classic Peugeot 504, is just a concept. Considering the shift in global markets from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, we may never see a production version. But Peugeot just might surprise us.

The E-Legend is more than just a design exercise. It’s also meant to show that Peugeot is more than an also-ran in the emerging field of autonomous driving technology. In fact, it reportedly will feature two distinctly different autonomous modes. And to give passengers something to do, it can project videos onto the coupe’s sun visors – or a retractable, 49-inch screen that covers up the windshield.

Look for Peugeot to also charge into Paris with various electrified alternatives, including an array of new hybrid options for its various current models.

Toyota

Toyota Supra Racing Concept

Might we finally see the production, street-legal version of the Supra in Paris? That appears to be a matter of debate as the countdown to press days winds down. It would certainly seem the right time, if not necessarily the right place.

It has been six months since the Japanese giant revealed the track version of its reborn sports car at the Geneva Motor Show, and interest has only been building as BMW has now given us a good look at the next-generation Z4 that shares the same underlying platform, the result of an unusual alliance between the two manufacturers.

We’re expecting the street Supra will be offered with a turbocharged inline-six powertrain said to be making at least 350 hp. Could there be an alternative package, as well? Perhaps we’ll know by the end of this week.

(Click Here for more on the track-ready version of the new Toyota Supra.)

VinFast

VinFast is Vietnam's first automaker and it breaking plenty of rules to get its first vehicle on the road.

The new Vietnamese carmaker (really!) wants to put the emphasis on the last half of its name, bringing two new models to market barely two years after the company came together. To do that, it has pulled together a team of global automotive expats, as well as a who’s who of industry suppliers, designers and manufacturing experts including ABB, Bosch and Siemens. Oh, and add Pininfarina, which led the design effort, and BMW, which provided the design for its last-generation 5-Series and X5 models, as well as a 2.0-liter turbo engine.

There will be, as that suggests, two models: a midsize sedan and a midsize CUV. Don’t worry, though, preliminary teaser images suggest these won’t look like warmed-over BMWs. And VinFast has even made significant updates to the inline-four engine. The first two products are promised for early to mid-2019, with two more, a city car and a battery-electric vehicle to follow later next year.

VinFast intends to focus on the Vietnamese market but, considering the size of its new Haiphong plant, it almost certainly will expand into other parts of Southeast Asia. And the decision to debut in Paris could be seen as a hint of more ambitious targets to follow.

(Click Here for an exclusive report on VinFast.)

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