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Nissan Townpod electric car (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)
Nissan Townpod electric car (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)

Driving It Home

Paris needs more sizzle Add to ...

This year's Paris Motor Show, the world's first auto salon, arrived with great promise - some 100 world premieres, said the pre-show hype - but was less than a sizzling success.

Yesterday, the first of two media days was peppered with a handful of exciting concept cars, the most noteworthy of which was Jaguar's C-X75 with its electric motors and turbines to charge the battery. Yes, an EV can be both sexy and hold the promise of going fast, fast, fast.

2010 Paris Auto Show

Kia Pop electric concept car
UPDATED: Click here for photos of the hottest sports cars, the strangest concepts and the greenest EVs from the world's oldest auto show.

But for every Jaguar concept there were two or three transportation appliances - hybrids, three- and four-cylinder cars with low emissions, great fuel economy and all the pizzazz of a refrigerator. Heck, both BMW's Mini brand and the Mercedes-Benz Smart brand showed off - can you believe it? - two-wheel EVs. How thrilling.

Sure, sure the number of product introductions at the Mondial de l'Automobile has been impressive. Land Rover's announcement that it will market both three- and five-door versions of the Evoque SUV was interesting enough. The Evoque is a sweet-looking ride and it will be the first Land Rover sold in both front- and all-wheel drive versions.

BMW also made news by announcing it would market a line of new front-wheel-drive family of cars in North America. Apparently, luxury buyers are ready to accept vehicles smaller than the 1-series coupe. The new class is being called UKL - an abbreviation for lower compact class cars sold in Germany.

"It will be a relatively big segment because we have several body styles," Ian Robertson, BMW board member for sales and marketing said.

Paris may have lacked a long roster of heart-stopping rides, but what it lacked in what you might call "impact" introductions was made up in the sheer number of product announcements. Paris is clearly growing in importance as an auto show even as shows in Detroit and Tokyo fade in importance.

Here's a look a few Paris introductions that caught my eye:

Audi A7: This large, four-door hatchback is elegant and well proportioned. We like the pleasing slope of the roof very much. Audi has something pretty sexy here.

BMW 6-Series: BMW is slowly and steadily unraveling the work of former design directory Chris Bangle. The 6-Series Coupe Concept indicates a significant shift in styling for BMW -- cleaner, sleeker and less in-your-face.

Ford Focus: The Focus compact car will arrive all-new early next year. By the 2012 model year, the Focus platform could account for more than two million in sales. Here in Paris, Ford showed why. The Focus is not one car, but a full range of body styles, from sedan, wagon, five-door hatchback and high-performance ST to, well, other non-Focus derivatives like the Ford Kuga, the coming replacement for the Escape SUV.

Mercedes-Benz CLS: The "four-door coupe" craze pretty much began in 2004 with the CLS's introduction. Mercedes wants to reclaim leadership with its new CLS, due for sale in May of next year.

Porsche 911 Speedster: Retro styling? Here it is. The special-edition Speedster is in honor of the famed 1950s cars by the same name. The Speedster, limited to a production run of 356, is slightly smaller than the standard 911.

More on Paris and its implications in a future Globe Drive.

2010 Paris Auto Show

Ferrari SA Aperta
Click here for photos of the hottest sports cars, the strangest concepts and the greenest EVs from the world's oldest auto show.

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