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Paris Auto Show
By Colum Wood, Dec. 16, 2008
Not normally a big deal on the international auto show circuit, the Paris Auto Show couldn’t have been bigger news this year with exciting new models from the likes of BMW, Audi, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Audi A1 Sportback Concept

With the unveiling of yet another A1 concept car, it looks as though Audi is serious about developing a true entry-level platform. Displayed at the Paris Auto Show the A1 Sportback features a hybrid powertrain with a turbocharged 1.4L engine mated to an electric motor. Output is rated at 148 hp and 110 ft-lbs of torque and Audi claims a fuel efficiency rating as high as 60 mpg.

2009 Audi S4

For the next generation S4, Audi has made the switch away from the V8-powerplant to a more environmentally friendly forced induction motor. At first look the supercharged 3.0L V6 seems like a step in the wrong direction with 11hp less than the outgoing model for a total of 333hp. Torque does, however, get a boost of 24 ft-lbs for a total of 325.

Incredibly, Audi claims the new S4 is significantly faster than the outgoing model with a 0-62 mph time of 5.2 seconds (versus 5.9 seconds in the previous generation S4). As though that wasn’t impressive enough, Audi also claims an improvement in fuel economy of roughly 7 mpg for a total of 24 mpg.

Handling has also been significantly improved,
as it has been on the standard A4.

One important item to note is that the new S4 will come with a feature called Audi Drive Select, which will have several modes for the driver to select. Each setting will change the throttle response, the tightness of the steering and the S-tronic shift points (for models equipped with the 7-speed DSG transmission).


2009 Audi A6

For 2009 the A6 remains mostly unchanged outside, but under the hood Audi’s new supercharged V6 engine will replace the V8 powerplant. Power won’t be quite so significant as on the S4, however, with 285hp and 310 ft-lbs of torque.

Aston Martin One-77

Aston Martin had its One-77 supercar on display at the Paris Auto Show… sort of. The British luxury automaker actually kept all but just a small corner of the vehicle under wraps. Since the show, however, more photos have been revealed.

As the name suggests, just 77 models will be built at an asking price of $2.1 million. All that is currently known is that the vehicle will feature an all aluminum body, a carbon fiber chassis and an outrageously powerful 7.3-liter V12 engine.

As though that wasn’t enough, judging by the well-covered
vehicle in Paris it will also be significantly lower and
wider than even the DBS!


Bentley Arnage Final Series

After 10 years Bentley has decided to cease production of the regal Arnage. Choosing to go out with a bang rather than a whimper, the British automaker will build 150 “Final Series” models that will make use of the powerful 6.75L twin-turbo V8 engine that will produce 500 hp and 738 ft-lbs of torque. This is enough, says Bentley, to move the 5,700-lb land yacht to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 179 mph.

Inside and out the Arnage Final Series will receive several unique trim options including an 1,100 watt sound system, body colored headlamp bezels, black grilles and 20-inch wheels.

2009 BMW 7 Series

The all-new 2009 BMW 7 Series might not look all that different from the outgoing model but the aesthetic changes are an improvement. As for the rest of the vehicle, every aspect has been updated and improved in keeping with a less-is-more philosophy. The new 750i now gets a forced induction powerplant, the same twin-turbo 4.4L V8 found in the X6. In the 750 it lays down 400hp and 442 ft-lbs of torque for a 0-62 mph sprint of 5.2 seconds. The vehicle is slightly larger than the outgoing model, however, it is also 82 lbs lighter.

For those who abhorred the iDrive system, BMW has completely redesigned the interface for 2009. We’ll have to test it out ourselves before we pass judgment.

One interesting new feature of note is rear-wheel steering, which allows the rear tires to turn up to three degrees and, claims BMW, vastly improves the driving dynamics of the flagship sedan.


BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid

Next to the new 750, BMW also unveiled the Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid, which we expect to see production in the near future. Aimed at competing with the new Mercedes S400 Hybrid, the two German manufacturers actually developed the electric aspect of their individual hybrid powerplants together.

The 7 Series ActiveHybrid uses the 750’s 4.4-liter V8 engine (good for 407hp and 442 ft-lbs of torque) and is combined with an electric motor that makes 20 hp and 155 ft-lbs of torque.

BMW claims the Hybrid 7 Series will get 15 percent better fuel economy than the standard 750.

BMW X1 Concept

If the X1 Concept becomes reality, we could see BMW’s SUV lineup increased to four offerings. The smaller-than-the-X3 vehicle is apparently slated for production and will get both six-and four-cylinder engines as well as a Diesel that can get up to 45 mpg. Currently there is no word on if the X1 will make it to the US market.


2009 Ferrari California

Designed to appeal to a broader market, the California by Ferrari is certain to be a smashing success. This is due, mostly, to the fact that is has been designed to be better suited to regular use. It is still an exotic, however, and the proof is in the engine, a high-revving 4.3L V8 that makes 460hp at 7750 rpm and 358-ft-lbs of torque at 5000 rpm. It’s the same engine found in the F430 but with direct injection and tuned for slightly less hp and slightly more torque.

The California also has tons of creature comforts including a stunning interior and a 6.5-inch display screen. All the interior amenities, combined with the retractable hardtop (which takes just 14 seconds to open or close) make for a hefty curb weight of 3,825 lbs. Still, the California can hit 60 mph in four seconds and race on to a top speed of 196 mph. This is all achieved through a new (and more user-friendly) seven-speed double clutch gearbox.

Honda Insight Concept

As close to a production model as concepts come, the Insight Concept was unveiled in Paris with news that a full production model will be on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January. Slightly smaller in size than the Prius, the Insight will use a hybrid system comprised of a 1.3L gasoline engine and an electric motor. Honda expects to sell 200,000 units annually.


Lamborghini Estoque Concept

While a sedan from Lamborghini seems like a pipe dream, we should remind you that since Audi took over control of the Italian automaker, all its models are significantly more user-friendly than in the past. That said, the four-seater Estoque is a possibility… although a very slight one.

The immensely-proportioned Estoque dwarfs similar grand-touring sedans from the likes of Maserati and measures 203-inches in length by 78-inches in width. It is also just 53-inches tall. It even makes those 23-inch rear wheels look sportingly normal.

If Lamborghini does plan to put this evil sedan into production, they intend on keeping everyone guessing on the powerplant. Company officials say it is possible to equip the Estoque with one of several potential engine options, including a V10, a twin-turbo V8 or even a hybrid or diesel motor.

2010 Lexus IS 250 Convertible

Lexus has finally decided to take on BMW in the convertible market with the launch of its IS250C. Powered by the same 204hp 2.5L V6 as the sedan, Lexus also plans to unveil an IS350C in the near future.

Transmission choices will remain the same as in the sedans with a six-speed automatic for the IS350C and a choice of that tranny or a standard six-speed manual for the IS250C.

Changes have been made to the exterior of the car with a new front fascia, significantly larger doors and a longer rear overhand – so that trunk space isn’t too significantly compromised when the folding hardtop is down.


Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster 722 S

It seems as though Mercedes has come out with a new version of its SLR ever year since it was first launched… so why stop now? For 2008 Mercedes has the SLR McLaren Roadster 722 S… a 641hp and 605 ft-lb of torque supercar. Just 150 units of the vehicle will be built at a yet undisclosed asking price.

The Roadster 722 S lists a zero-60 time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 208 mph!

2010 Mercedes S400 BlueHybrid

Aiming to compete with Lexus and the hybrid LS, Mercedes took the wraps off its S400 Hybrid in Paris. Mercedes claims it will be the most fuel-efficient luxury car in the world and for good reason – the 3.5L V6 engine paired with an electric motor will make just 299 hp.


2009 Porsche 911 Carrera, Carrera 4 & Targa models

Rather than spread the launch of all the new 911 models across several auto shows, Porsche made a huge impact by unveiling them all in Paris. Included in the list are the Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S, Carrera 4S Cabriolet, Targa and a few others.

All new models have direct injection with 3.6L boxer engines in the standard models and 3.8L boxer engines in the S models. Standard horsepower is increased by 20 ponies for a total of 345 and torque goes up as well to 288 ft-lbs. The S models all get 3.8L boxer engines with an increase of 30 hp for a total of 385hp. All models also come available with Porsches new double-clutch transmission, called PDK. All models will hit 60 mph in less than five seconds with the PDK equipped Carrera S being the fastest at 4.3 seconds.

2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI Concept

Well ahead of its actual launch, VW decided to display the 2010 Golf GTI in Paris. While technically a concept, we expect the production model to be almost identical to this one. The sixth-generation GTI will get a familiar turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine that makes 210hp and 206 ft-lbs of torque.

The GTI will, of course, be front-wheel-drive and will be available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG gearbox. VW claims a 0-60 sprint of 7.2 second to 60 mph.

Interesting new features include an electronic LSD, adaptive damping shocks and Dynamic Chassis Control that will let drivers choose different settings to control the suspension, throttle response and steering.

Oh… and not to forget the most important aspect… it will come with those plaid seats.