The Paris auto show is a big, sprawling affair, and while auto shows in New York, Detroit and Los Angeles are also elaborate events, we really don’t see anything like Paris in North America. And certainly not in Canada.
Some 100 new models were set to be unveiled in Paris over the two press days, the second ending today. One hundred new models! And many of them are significant. Hugely significant.
Here’s a look at five which caught my eye during the two press days:
Land Rover Range Rover: The Range Rover has a new, trimmed down look. Yes, Land Rover’s flagship model has gone on a major diet, cutting some 400 kg. Land Rover’s chief designer, Jerry McGovern, says the fourth generation Range Rover is an expression of the times. Lean is in, excess out. Yet the 2014 Range Rover has a roomier interior and gets fuel economy expected to be rated at 7.5 litres/100 km. An all-aluminum body shell is key to the weight loss and fuel economy gains. Look for the new Range Rover early next year.
Volkswagen Golf: Europe’s biggest auto maker is giving its Golf compact a major makeover. The new Golf is sleeker, roomier and thriftier – fuel economy has been improved. The cabin, meanwhile, has been upgraded and new safety systems are on tap, too – including one that automatically brakes the car when a collision is imminent. In keeping with usual practice, VW will roll out the new Golf in Europe this year, but don’t expect to see it in Canada for at least a year.
BMW’s Concept Active Tourer: BMW has an answer to the Mercedes B-Class and it’s the Concept Active Tourer. Yes, BMW is calling this one a concept, but you can expect to see a production version of this car at some point. Perhaps not in Canada, though. A for-sale Active Tourer would be aimed at young families who need a versatile vehicle with a roomy cabin and good fuel economy. Here in Paris, the concept car is powered by a plug-in hybrid system rated at 195 horsepower: 1.5-litre gasoline engine and an electric motor. What’s important here is that the concept car rides on BMW’s new front-drive platform. BMW plans to use this platform for nine different models.
Ford Mondeo: We know the Mondeo as the Ford Fusion. What matters here is that the Mondeo/Fusion signal the next step in the One Ford plan instituted by CEO Alan Mulally as part of the turnaround started in 2006. Ford’s European flagship won’t go on sale in Europe until next year, though the Fusion is about to hit Canadian showrooms as a 2013 model. In Europe, Ford will sell a five-door hatchback Mondeo, along with a wagon and a sedan. We in North America get only the sedan. The key point here is that the basic engineering is the same for the Fusion and the Mondeo. One Ford, in other words.
Mini Paceman: BMW’s Mini brand is on track to sell nearly 300,000 vehicles around the world this year. The Paceman illustrates why. Mini carefully but steadily continues to expand its lineup, with the two-door Pacemen the latest model. This one is a sportier version of the Countryman crossover. Mini’s seventh model has horizontal rear lights instead of verticals. Mini brand chief Kay Sigler says Mini will continue to grow its lineup, but carefully and with an eye to preserving the integrity of the brand. What is undeniable is this: Mini is a massive success.