Showtime in Paris
Every two years the automotive world turns its attention to the City of Light for one of the most important international auto events in the world — the Paris Motor Show. Admittedly this year’s show was a bit lighter in the news department than previous shows, but nonetheless there were plenty of new and exciting production and concept cars worth seeing, ranging from autonomous electric transports to extremely beautiful high-performance sports cars. Here’s a look at highlights from the 2018 Mondial de l’Auto in Paris.
The Audi e-tron, the first all-electric series production vehicle from Audi, was on display at the Paris Motor Show following its world debut on September 17 in San Francisco. A premium 5-seat midsize SUV, the design is both stylish and aerodynamic with a uniquely enclosed grille in platinum gray to identify e-tron as a fully electric vehicle, and a light strip connecting the taillights to identify with A7, A8 and Q8. Audi e-tron is propelled by two power powerful electric motors — one powering each axle — and a new generation of quattro electric all-wheel drive that varies the amount of torque delivered to each axle for ideal balance according to driving conditions. Audi says e-tron will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph. Final horsepower and torque figures for the U.S. market will be released later.
The battery system of the Audi e-tron is positioned low and central for sporty driving dynamics, and the 95 kWh of storage capacity will provide a long driving range. The e-tron recovers energy through its electric motors in combination with an electrohydraulic brake control system. Audi is the first manufacturer to use this type of system in an electric series production vehicle. The e-tron is scheduled to go on sale in the European market in late 2018; U.S. customers can configure their e-tron and place a reservation now with a refundable $1,000 fee. The first U.S. sales deliveries are expected in mid-2019.
BMW 3 Series
In Paris BMW unveiled the seventh generation of its best-selling 3 Series at the 2018 Mondial de l’Auto. For decades this iconic sport sedan has been the benchmark against which all other sport sedans are measured, and the next generation builds on that success with a striking new design and larger dimensions. At the front, the 2019 3 Series is low and wide with large BMW kidney-shaped grilles surrounded by a single frame that connects to the headlights.
BMW 3 Series
The 2019 BMW 330i and 330i xDrive all-wheel drive are scheduled to go on sale in March 2019, powered by an upgraded TwinPower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. For the U.S. market, the 2019 BMW 330i will start at $40,250 plus a $995 destination charge with the 330i xDrive at $42,250 plus destination. The BMW 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid will arrive in early 2020. The BMW M430i and M430i xDrive will be added in spring 2019, powered by a new inline 6-cylinder engine with M Performance chassis tuning, xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive and a standard M Sport rear differential. The new M Performance variant will be powered by a new turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine producing 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, with acceleration from zero to 60 mph estimated at 4.2 seconds.
BMW 8 Series Coupe
BMW’s all-new 8 Series Coupe was developed in parallel with the BMW M8 GTE race car that competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The 8 Series makes its return to the U.S. market after 20 years and will initially be available as the BMW M850i xDrive, powered by a new TwinPower Turbo V8 engine combined with an 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive with electronic differential lock. The new 4.4-liter TwinPower V8 engine produces 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.
BMW 8 Series Coupe
The BMW M850i xDrive will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds with a limited top speed of 155 mph. The 8 Series features a low profile, long silhouette, slim window pillars, double-bubble roof, optional carbon fiber roof and a long, flat rear window. The sculpted design features new signature headlights and the details optimize aerodynamics and weight. The interior is driver focused with a wide center console rising up to the instrument panel. Merino Individual leather and folding rear seats are standard. Other standard equipment includes multifunction seats, an M leather steering wheel, M pedals, an M driver’s footrest and special floor mats.
BMW’s new Z4 roadster was on display in Paris following the debut of the Z4 M40i First Edition Roadster at Pebble Beach in August. The 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Roadster is scheduled to go on sale in March 2019, followed by the 2020 BMW Z4 40i Roadster. From the classic kidney-shaped grille to the long clamshell hood stretched over bold wheel arches and the short trunk lid, this new Z4 has all the lines of a classic BMW roadster. The sculpted hood, air vents behind the wheels and dual exhaust add to the sporting look of the new Z4. Inside the new Z4, the high-resolution center display and controls are slightly angled toward the driver providing information for navigation, climate, entertainment and other features. The display in front of the driver incorporates a tachometer and speedometer surrounding a programmable section.
The new BMW Z4 has a sporty and athletic look but is slightly larger in every dimension than the previous model at 3.3 inches longer, 2.9 inches wider and 0.5 inches taller. The wheelbase is 1.0 inch shorter, but the tracks are considerably wider with an increase of 3.86 inches in the front and 2.45 inches in the rear. The Z4 sDrive30i is powered by a new TwinPower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, with the Z4 40i powered by a new inline 6-cylinder engine producing 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The M40i also gets an M-tuned sports suspension with electronically-controlled dampers, as well as an M Sport brake system and electronically-controlled M Sport rear differential.
Ferrari Icona Series
At this year’s Paris Motor Show, Ferrari announced a new series of special models called Icona. Unlike previous special editions, the Icona series will feature models inspired by the most exciting Ferraris of the 1950s, but they will be decked out with the most advanced sports car technology — a fitting blend of old and new. The first models in this new Icona series will be the Monza SP1 and Monza SP2 — both of which were unveiled in Paris. The Monza SP1 and SP2 are intended to honor iconic Ferrari racing barchettas such as the 1948 166 MM, which originally inspired the name barchetta — which means “little boat” in Italian — as well as the 750 Monza and 860 Monza.
Ferrari Icona Series
Designed as a single-seat road car, the Monza SP1 offers a truly unique Ferrari experience for the street. The tonneau cover over the passenger area is reminiscent of similarly-equipped Ferrari race cars from the 50s, which used the cover to improve aerodynamics when the passenger seat was not occupied. The Monza SP2 has the same basic styling as the SP1. However, thanks to the elimination of the tonneau cover and the addition of a second protective screen, this car is a two-seater. Both are motivated by the most powerful V12 engine to ever come from Ferrari: a 6.5-liter V12 monster that produces almost 800 horsepower. Pricing for these limited-edition Ferraris was not announced, but a tag well over $1 million should not be considered hyperbole — and it’s likely that they’re already sold out.
Ferrari 488 Pista Spider
After introducing the high-performance 488 Pista at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, Ferrari chose Paris to take the wraps off the open-top version — the 488 Pista Spider. The Pista Spider joins a long line of Ferraris that puts the wind through a driver’s hair at a high rate of speed; in fact, this is the 50th drop-top model from the legendary Italian car company. This new spider features several enhancements to help it excel on the racing circuit. The Pista gets aero improvements that include an S-Duct at the front, new diffusers and a new rear spoiler, resulting in a 25 percent increase in downforce compared to the standard 488 Spider.
Ferrari 488 Pista Spider
The Pista receives further enhancement via the most powerful V8 engine ever from Ferrari. The standard 660 horsepower in the 488 GTB gets pumped to almost 710 horses thanks to the Pista’s 3.9-liter turbocharged V8. With this much power, Ferrari says this is most powerful series production spider in the brand’s storied history. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an F1 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. As expected, performance figures are impressive: 62 mph arrives in 2.85 seconds and 124 mph is eclipsed in eight seconds, with a top speed of more than 210 mph.
Infiniti Project Black S
Over the last few years, Infiniti has been showing a number of electrified concept vehicles as key components of its commitment to having its entire model lineup fully electrified by 2021, and the latest in this line of concepts debuted here at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The Infiniti Project Black S prototype is based on the Q60 Red Sport 400 and employs a Formula One-inspired dual-hybrid powertrain to showcase how a high-performance hybrid system might work in a road car. The powertrain of the Infiniti Project Black S prototype uses three motor-generator units. One of these reclaims energy from braking, while the other two are connected with the engine’s twin electric turbochargers to harvest heat energy from exhaust gasses. In this way electrical power is generated under braking as well as acceleration.
Infiniti Project Black S
The unique dual-hybrid system in the Black S prototype recovers enough additional energy to bring the overall output of the powertrain to 563 horsepower — a significant jump compared to the 400-horsepower produced by the standard twin-turbo V6. Based on the power-to-weight ratio, Infiniti expects this sporty coupe to reach 62 mph in less than 4 seconds. The amount of complexity in this Project Black S prototype makes it unfeasible to be mass produced as is; however, the unique hybrid system is extremely intriguing. For now, this dual-hybrid Infiniti remains a prototypical step in Infiniti’s quest to achieve electrification for its entire model lineup.
The all-new Kia e-Niro debuted in Paris with a 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack offering a range of 485 kilometers (301 miles) based on a new European test to measure fuel consumption. The estimated range may be less based on U.S. test procedures, but it’s still one of the best electric range estimates available today. The fully electric e-Niro joins the Niro Hybrid and the Niro Plug-In Hybrid in the Kia lineup and is scheduled to go on sale in Europe late in 2018.
The Kia e-Niro was designed at Kia’s design centers in California and Namyang, Korea, to combine the practicality of a crossover with aerodynamic updates to improve the efficiency of the all-electric version. The front-end design includes an aerodynamic tiger-shark grille with an integrated charging port, a redesigned front bumper, new air intakes, arrowhead-shaped LED daytime running lights and blue trim highlights. The 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels feature a diamond-cut two-tone finish and the redesigned rear bumper also includes blue accents. When equipped with the 64-kWh battery pack the e-Niro is powered by a 150-kW electric motor and will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 7.8 seconds. The standard 39.2 kWh battery pack is combined with a 100-kW electric motor and will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 9.8 seconds with a range of up to 193 miles.
The redesigned 2019 Lexus RC coupe made its world premiere at the Paris show. Updated styling includes a new grille, new headlights, a revised front fascia, as well as new taillights, rear fascia and Lexus badge on the trunk lid. The daytime running lights, exterior mirrors and wheel designs are also updated. Interior changes include the analog clock, the start/stop button, air vent design, knee padding and cupholders.
For improved ride and handling, the 2019 Lexus RC receives revised springs, upgraded shock absorbers and recalibrated electronic power steering. The electronic control unit for the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is updated for improved throttle response, turbocharger response and optimized transmission shift program. The Lexus RC is now Apple CarPlay compatible and features Amazon Alexa integration. The updated Premium Package includes the Lexus Memory System for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel; a tilt and telescopic steering wheel; rain sensing wipers; heated and ventilated front seats; and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
Two years ago at the Paris Motor Show Mercedes-Benz introduced an entirely new brand called EQ, which would be the home for a new line of electrified vehicles. This year the first of these new models made its debut — the all-new Mercedes-Benz EQC. As with other mainstream electric vehicles on their way to market from other European brands — the Jaguar i-PACE and Audi e-tron to be specific — the first electric Mercedes will be a crossover SUV. Exterior styling is similar in overall shape to the current GLC; however, the new EV has sleeker lines with a flush grille and headlights. Inside, the EQC introduces an all-new multimedia system referred to as the Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The MBUX system can be operated by voice control, touchscreen, touchpad and buttons on the steering wheel.
This fully-electric midsize crossover is powered by two electric motors — one at each axle. The unique electric all-wheel-drive system uses the two motors in different ways. The front motor is configured for efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor adds a level of sportiness. The two motors of the Mercedes-Benz EQC combine to produce a total 402 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque. Two hallmarks of an electric vehicle are immediate torque and strong acceleration. The EQC is no different and will sprint to 60 mph in an estimated 4.9 seconds. Mercedes-Benz lists a preliminary range of around 200 miles from the 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Charging time for a standard wall outlet has not been released; however, a DC fast-charging system will get the batteries back to 80 percent charge in as little as 40 minutes.
Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow
Perhaps not quite as ready for production as the EQC, this EQ Silver Arrow certainly drew attention as Mercedes-Benz launched this year’s Paris Motor Show press days. This single-seat Silver Arrow pays homage to the historic Mercedes Silver Arrows while utilizing a futuristic electric powertrain. Although the original Silver Arrows bore the silver sheen of bare metal to avoid the weight of a paint layer, the EQ Silver Arrow concept’s body is constructed from carbon fiber and then covered in multiple layers of Alubeam Silver paint. The result gives the appearance of liquid metal, which has a stunning effect in any light. The EQ Silver Arrow is conceived as a fully-electric vehicle producing 738 horsepower. The thin battery pack resides in the underbody and offers a range of 250 miles. Side air vents are designed to keep the batteries cool.
Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow
The EQ Silver Arrow sits low to the ground on massive 24-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels. Upon close inspection, the slick tires feature the Mercedes star embossed as the tread. Wheels feature non-rotating hubs with 168 spokes per wheel. The spokes are lightweight aluminum painted in rose gold. Inside is a gorgeous mix of traditional and advanced materials. The seat and steering wheel are covered in soft Saddle Brown leather, and the entire cabin gets swathed in soft gray suede that matches the exterior color. The floor is solid walnut, while trim pieces are of brushed aluminum. The EQ Silver Arrow is simply a design study with no plans for production; however, design elements and technologies featured in the EQ Silver Arrow will likely appear in production cars at some point in the future.
One of the most important introductions at the Mercedes-Benz stand was the all-new GLE midsize SUV. Completely new for the 2019 model year, the GLE boasts advancements in safety, entertainment, connectivity and drivability. Styling is all new with a grille that is more in line with the recently-updated GLC, but enhanced by a dual power-dome hood and large air intakes. The LED Intelligent Light System features an ultra-wide beam; they are the brightest allowed on a motor vehicle. Large wheels with prominent wheel arches emphasize the new SUV’s power and capability.
Although most GLE buyers will be more interested in the added seating comfort and advanced safety features, Mercedes has given the GLE impressive capabilities on and off the road. On pavement the E-Active Body Control works with the active suspension to control spring and damping forces at each wheel, making it possible to counter body roll as well as pitch and squat. The GLE is also designed to excel in off-road situations, smoothing the ride as well as delivering up to 100 percent of the torque to either axle as needed.
Peugeot e-LEGEND CONCEPT
One of our favorite vehicles on display at this year’s Paris Motor Show was this unique e-LEGEND CONCEPT from French automaker Peugeot. This thoroughly futuristic vehicle features a design inspired by the 1970s Peugeot 504 Coupe. Like that original 504, the e-LEGEND CONCEPT has a cabin that seems to stretch to the back — the rear window is much more raked than the front windshield. The sloping hood and wide stance also echo that of the original model.
Peugeot e-LEGEND CONCEPT
Unlike the original 504 Coupe, the e-LEGEND CONCEPT is completely electric, connected and can be run autonomously if the driver chooses. There are four driving modes, two of which are autonomous. Doors open automatically to reveal a simple but high-tech interior trimmed in velvet and wood. While the instrument panel is very basic, the entire area in front of the passengers makes up a 49-inch digital screen that curves toward the cabin for better viewing. The screen can be used for watching movies, navigation or even a view of the road depending on the driving mode selected.
With all the discussion worldwide about autonomous vehicles that will pick folks up and take them where they want to go, Renault recently created its vision of a vehicle designed to do that. “As consumer trends change and people are enjoying ride-hailing services more and more, a new paradigm for mobility will emerge. Embodying this revolution, Renault EZ-ULTIMO offers a unique luxurious experience aboard a robo-vehicle that can be adapted depending on the service provider,” said Laurens van den Acker, senior vice president of Renault Corporate Design.
Inside the EZ-ULTIMO is living room-like styling with elegant lighting, attractive wood floors and large comfortable seating. The large sliding door makes access very easy, and passengers enjoy full connectivity and entertainment. Clearly still a concept vehicle, the EZ-ULTIMO does provide a glimpse of what ride-share services might offer in the future.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the smart brand decided to have some fun with a new concept for the Paris Motor Show. Called the forease, the tiny open-top concept is all electric — as are all models in the smart lineup. “The smart forease is proof that smart thinks unconventionally. Its design is reduced and pure,” says Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Daimler AG. “The smart forease is a statement of urbanity and individual style. It has the coolness of the metropolis and demonstrates a truly free spirit.”
Based on the smart EQ fortwo cabriolet, the forease has no top to close and is painted in a metallic-white that seems to glow. Green accents inside and out add a nice contrast. “Even after two decades of growing up, it still pays to stick to some crazyness [sic] and unconventional ways of thinking,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz cars.
The first volume automobile manufacturer from Vietnam, VinFast debuted as a manufacturer at the 2018 Paris Auto Show with the world premiere of two new vehicles: the LUX A2.0 sedan and the LUX SA2.0 SUV. According to VinFast, the company aims to become southeast Asia’s leading vehicle producer, developing and manufacturing vehicles in Vietnam with the goal of selling cars throughout the world. A state-of-the-art production facility has been completed at Hai Phong in northern Vietnam following an investment of US$1.5 billion, and sales are scheduled to begin in Vietnam in summer 2019 — a mere two years after the company was formed.
For the design of the first two models, VinFast commissioned sketches for a sedan and an SUV from four of the world’s premier design studios: Italdesign Giugiaro, Pininfarina, Torino Design and Zagato. In October 2017 it put all 20 designs on its website and asked Vietnamese consumers to vote on which models they liked the most. More than 60,000 people voted, and the two designs chosen were both from Italdesign Giugiaro. Since then, VinFast has worked with Pininfarina to further develop designs that are Vietnamese in character with an Italian flare. The resulting vehicles were on display in Paris — the LUX A2.0 sedan and LUX SA2.0 SUV.