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A Ford A Roadster is pictured during a parade on the Place de la Concorde, organized as part of the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, on Sept. 30, 2018.BENOIT TESSIER/Reuters

This week, Paris will host the largest European auto show of the year. Major auto makers – with several notable exceptions – will use this stage to unveil many of the new SUVs, electrics and sports cars that we’ll see in showrooms next year.

The first Paris Motor Show took place in 1898, on the terrace of the Jardin des Tuileries, at a time when the automobile was a younger technology than the smartphone is today. This year, the show, and the industry it represents, are facing greater change than ever before.

Several major brands are skipping the Paris show on this, its 120th anniversary. Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep are among those not in attendance. Automakers are shifting their major announcements away from big international shows, increasingly favouring nonautomotive events and putting on their own Apple-style presentations.

For all the talk of sweeping changes and industry disruption, for the average driver shopping for a new car, the next model year will feel mostly like business as usual. 2019 will bring a few new electric vehicles, but the vast majority of new models will be familiar gas-powered SUVs and sedans.

The Paris Motor Show runs October 4-14; here are the major debuts we expect to see next week.

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In this Sept. 4, 2018, file photo, Mercedes-Benz's new electric SUV, the Mercedes EQC, is presented at the Artipelag art gallery in Gustavsberg, Stockholm, Sweden.Soren Andersson/TT via AP, file


All of the German luxury brands are unveiling new SUVs.

The X5 was BMW’s first SUV, launched in 1999; now it’s just one of six, with a seventh (X7) on the way. The all-new X5, now in its 4th generation, is facing an ever-larger group of competitors. As is becoming the norm for the brand’s SUVs, the new model looks very similar to the old one, although it’s bigger in every dimension. Air-suspension, a rear differential lock, and underbody protection should improve the X5’s off-road ability while a range of partially-automated, Level 2 driver-assistance tech should make your commute easier.

Paris will mark the auto show debut for Audi’s all-new, second-generation Q3. Coming into the hot subcompact luxury SUV niche, Audi knows it’s going to sell boatloads of these things. The design is a big improvement, looking less egg-shaped and more like a downsized version of the crisp Q8. The minimal interior, with nicely-integrated touchscreens, looks like it could set a new standard for the class.

The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE will have optional third-row seats and clever active hydro-pneumatic suspension powered by a 48-volt circuit. That system is meant to keep the car from rolling and pitching through corners and over rough roads. A straight-six engine will be available at launch with a long-range plug-in hybrid version joining the lineup later. The GLE is the latest evolution of the ML SUV, which dates back to 1997.

Although Volkswagen itself won’t be at the show, some Volkswagen Group brands will be. Porsche will introduce a mild refresh of its compact Macan SUV. The new models gets a revised front end, an updated infotainment system and new driver-assistance tech among other things.

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In this March 15, 2018, file photo, Rupert Stadler, CEO of German car producer Audi, poses beside an Audi e-tron prototype car prior to a news conference in Ingolstadt, Germany.Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press

Electrics and hybrids

Toyota will only have hybrid vehicles on display in Paris this year. They’ll came in all sizes, from the compact Yaris, to the RAV4 SUV, to the new Corolla hatchback.

Paris will also be the first chance to compare all-electric SUVs from Audi and Mercedes up close. Both companies launched similar machines within days of each other, and both have Tesla and the Jaguar I-Pace in their sights. The big question though is, still, range.

Arriving after the Tesla, we expected Mercedes and Audi to be able to offer more range but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Mercedes gave differing estimates for its EQC SUV, listing ranges of 322 kilometres and 450 kilometres in different press releases. Audi estimated over 400 km of range for its E-tron SUV on the new WLTP test-cycle. For reference, the Tesla Model 3 long-range is rated at 499 km on the tougher U.S. EPA test. But, estimates and test figures never tell the whole story, so we’ll reserve judgment until we drive these new EVs for ourselves.

Kia will put its Niro EV on display. Arriving in Canada in the first half of 2019, the all-electric compact hatchback has an impressive WLTP-rated range of 485 kilometres. Even on the tougher EPA test, that should translate to around 400 km.


There will be many who fondly remember the rugged, reliable Toyota Corolla wagon, but it’s been a long time since Toyota sold a wagon in this country. In Paris, the company will introduce the awkwardly-named Corolla Touring Sports (read: wagon) for the European market. It looks good and should be extremely frugal with its 180 hp hybrid engine. Canada will get the similar new Corolla hatchback, and while we’ve got our fingers crossed that the wagon will be available here, we’re not holding our breath.

Despite the growing popularity of SUVs, the compact 3 Series sedan is arguably still BMW’s most important model. It’s the core of the brand, and there’ll be an all-new one in 2019. Photos of camouflaged prototypes show a mild, evolutionary design. BMW will need to make a bigger step forward in terms of ride and handling if the 3 Series is to retake the sports sedan crown. Headline features will likely include advanced driver assistance tech, more luxurious materials for the cabin and – for the first time – a three-cylinder engine in the entry-level model.

We’ve already driven the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback but Paris will see the introduction of a warmed-up version from AMG. Dubbed A 35, the all-wheel drive hatch will have 306 hp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. It should be the most affordable entry point into AMG ownership.

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In this Sept. 12, 2017, file photo, visitors surround a BMW Z4 Concept during the first media day of the International Frankfurt Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany.Martin Meissner/The Associated Press

Sports & Exotic cars

Lexus is refreshing its RC coupe, taking cues from the larger LC flagship. In addition to the new front bumper treatment and interior luxuries, Lexus promises a retuned chassis will make for a sharper driving experience.

The BMW 8 Series coupe is making its auto show debut, looking nearly identical to the concept car unveiled in 2017. The brand’s flagship two-door features all-wheel drive and a 530 horsepower, turbocharged V-8 engine – and that’s just the beginning. In Paris, we may see a four-door version, or a cabriolet as well. An even more powerful M version is due next year.

Last but not least, Ferrari unveiled a pair of jaw-dropping limited editions that will surely draw big crowds in Paris. The Monza SP1 (single seat) and Monza SP2 (dual seat) are the company’s most spectacular work in recent memory. They draw inspiration from classic open-top racecars without being retro. The windowless Barchettas are based on the 812 Superfast, with the same 799 horsepower V-12 engine.

These are the big debuts we know about, but, as always, except some surprises when the show opens next week in Paris.

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