Paris Motor Show 2018: All the key cars you should know about
The Paris Motor Show is just around the corner and it’s one of our favourites for many reasons. For starters, it’s on a much more manageable scale than the Frankfurt show that it alternates with.
Another convincing motive for hopping over to the City of Lights is the Mondial de L’Auto always comes with plenty of exciting and unusual new launches. 2018 promises to be a cracker.
How so? Well, for one thing, it’s not going to be the SUV and crossover-fest that motor shows of recent times have tended to be. Even car makers and their obsession with filling every conceivable niche have finally realised we’re getting to saturation point.
As a result, some of the most exciting new cars are from much more mainstream sectors. Enter the new BMW 3 Series. This couldn’t be a more important car for BMW and UK lease drivers if came with this week’s winning lottery numbers. The Munich firm needs to regain ground on arch rival Mercedes that has been leading the sales charts in the compact executive sector and this is the car that has to do it.
While we’ll undoubtedly be promised Motorsport versions, the core 3 Series offer needs to be right. That means more rear seat and boot space, improved connectivity and, arguably, an upgrade to cabin quality that has been a little disappointing in the outgoing car. Another key will be the engines, which will include new small capacity turbo petrols to offer an alternative to the 320d that has been the model’s best-seller for so long.
Audi isn’t to be outshone in this class and has a refreshed A4 to show off. Let’s face it, though, a tweaked A4 doesn’t stand a chance of any limelight in the glare of an all-new BMW. So, Audi will be drawing more attention with its brand new A1.
Looks-wise, it’s not a radical departure from the first generation model, but inside we’re promised more space and a ‘digital cockpit’. Think what we’ve seen in the TT, A6 et al and you’ll be on the right track here. There’s also a new pre-sense safety system that Audi tells us will make the A1 the safest car in its class.
Also on the Audi stand is the new Q3, which is all very predictable in being a bit bigger, safer and more frugal. More interesting is the e-tron making its debut as Audi’s first ever all-electric car. No word on prices for this car as yet, but you can bet it will be drawing the crowds as a step from the big German makers towards electrification.
Also grabbing the camera flashlights will be the Mercedes EQC, which is part of Merc’s EQ sub-brand to sell electric cars. Like the E-tron, it’s an SUV, which helps with the packaging of battery packs and gives customers what they want at the moment in the shape of an off-roader style vehicle. With 402bhp and 563lb ft of shove, it should also tempt keen drivers and a driving range of 249 miles under the new WLTP cycle is pretty decent.
Another new SUV from Mercedes is the GLE, but more pertinent is the next B-Class that will feature large on the German company’s stand. Following the trend set by the latest A-Class, it has an interior that majors on connectivity and digital instrumentation, as well as coming with the Mercedes Me infotainment interaction. As a more practical car than the A-Class, it’s possible this B-Class will finally find a more popular place in the range.
Speaking of the A-Class, there’s the new saloon model to ogle and the AMG A35 that represents a less extreme hot hatch model compared to the full-blown A45.
Other affordable performance offerings come from Hyundai and Skoda. The Hyundai I30 Fastback N is a marriage of the brilliant hatch N’s powertrain with the sleeker body of the Fastback. If this car doesn’t prove to be a success, we’ll eat our motorshow programme.
As for Skoda, the Kodiaq vRS is part of a three-pronged attack on the Czech firm’s popular crossover. So, we’ll be looking at around 220bhp for this model, but if you don’t fancy that much power there’s also the Sportline that uses a 187bhp version of the VW Group 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor. Rounding off the Kadioq line-up is the Scout that comes with raised suspension and all-wheel drive to move it further along the spectrum towards off-roader.
Now, we know we said it wasn’t going to be an SUV free for all at Paris, but there will also be the new BMW X5, brought to marker earlier than anticipated to allow for the new X7 that shares the same platform. We’ll also witness the launch of the Seat Tarraco, essentially a Skoda Kodiaq with SEAT badges, while Citroen offers the C5 Aircross Hybrid in concept form but close to production reality.
Also from France is the DS 7 Crossback E-tense that’s the production version of the DS 7 hybrid prototype we tried a year ago. Hopefully, some of that development car’s rough edges will have been smoothed out in the drivetrain delivery. DS also has a new 3 Crossback to show the world and uphold French honour.
Mind you, the French glamour is likely to be supplied more by the Peugeot E-Legend. Styled as a homage to the glorious 504 Coupe, the E-Legend is aiming to splice retro appeal with cutting edge autonomous technology and, from early images, it looks like it’s achieved this magnificently.
Peugeot will also have its 508 SW to expand the offer its revived mid-sized model. Also in this sector is the new Toyota Camry that promises a much more engaging drive and style than we’ve seen before from this line. Toyota will also display the new Corolla in Touring Sports estate shape to widen the brief of its Focus rival, though Kia will have something to say about this in the form of its new Proceed wagon.
If that’s not quite motorshow sexy enough for you, take a wander past the Ferrari stand where you can ogle the Monza SP1 and SP2. As the names suggest, the SP1 is a single-seater and the SP2 comes with two chairs. Based on the sensational 812, only 500 of each will be made.
At a more affordable level, BMW has its new Z4 on show, which shares much of its components with the next Toyota Supra. A 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engine promises much for keen drivers.
And that brings us back from a full circle tour of the Paris show. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a highlight of 2018 and paves the way for some brilliant new cars to drive in 2019.