Europe today... and with luck (and a ton of cash), your driveway tomorrow!
This year the Frankfurt Auto Show features an impressive 82 world premieres, including more supercars than a Dubai grocery store parking lot, lots of forward-looking electric vehicles, and concept cars that capture the imagination like a rocket ship toy in the hands of a 3-year old. Rather than tantalize you with vehicles destined only for European customers (this is the Frankfurt Auto Show after all), we've concentrated the gallery on debuts of vehicles that will actually make their way to America (except for the concepts, those are shipped back to Mars on Tuesday). Enjoy these 21 Must See Debuts from the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show.
2011 Aston-Martin Rapide
Aston-Martin showed what it calls “the world’s most elegant four-door sports car,” the new Rapide. Built on an extended version of the aluminum architecture underpinning other Astons, the Rapide offers seating for four and a useful rear hatch. The four “swan wing” doors open at a slight upward angle, permitting access to individual sport seats. Motivation comes from Aston’s hand-assembled 470-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. Aston quotes a top speed of 188 mph. The Rapide goes on sale in early 2010 with pricing over $200,000.
2010 Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro
While certainly admired in the U.S., some have found the Audi R8’s unique aluminum “side blades” a bit awkward. At Frankfurt, Audi showed what the R8 looks like without them, and without a top, too. Due for European production in the first quarter of 2010, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro features a power soft top, a vented cowl extending behind each seat, and carbon fiber bodywork for select parts. Powered by Audi’s 525-horsepower 5.2-liter V10, the R8 Spyder can rocket to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds and top out at 192 mph. No U.S. on sale date has been announced, but it’s coming and probably with the “base” 425-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 as well.
Audi unveiled a second R8 at Frankfurt, this one a flight-of-fancy concept vehicle. The e-tron is an all-electric vehicle with four motors, two on each axle to deliver quattro all-wheel-drive performance and a 154 mile range. Audi says the e-tron can hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds thanks to 313 horsepower and 3319.03 lb-ft of torque (electric motors have their max torque at 0 rpm). Car fans will most likely focus on the styling, which looks like it was done by Norelco. The e-tron is purely a testbed for electric vehicle technology, which Audi says is a long way away.
2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo
Is it a car or a crossover? We call it a crossover with some SUV traits. BMW introduced the production version of the 2010 Series Gran Turismo, a unique sedan/hatchback. The 5 GT features a “bi-modal” trunk that can open like a trunk or a hatchback, a seating position raised two inches, and a bulkhead behind the rear seats to seal off the trunk. The GT is longer than a regular 5 Series, riding on the 7 Series’ 120-inch wheelbase. It will initially come to the States this November as a 550i model with a 400-horsepower 4.4-liter V8. All-wheel drive and six-cylinder models are planned later.
2010 BMW X6 and 7 Series ActiveHybrids
BMW took the wraps off two hybrid vehicles, the X6 and 7 Series ActiveHybrids. Both use BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, but the X6 is a full hybrid with two electric motors and the 7 is a mild hybrid with one. The 2011 X6 ActiveHybrid uses the two-mode hybrid system already in use by GM. Total output is 485 horsepower, the vehicle can run on electric power alone up to 37 mph, and fuel economy is improved by 20 percent. The 2011 ActiveHybrid 7, which is offered with the standard or long wheelbase, puts out 465 horsepower, its electric motor only aids acceleration, and fuel economy is up 15 percent. The X6 will be available this December and the 7 is due by April.
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept
BMW revealed a possible greener future for the supercar, the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept. A 2+2 coupe that uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the Vision has gullwing-style doors and flowing, aerodynamic bodywork. The Vision’s three-cylinder turbodiesel engine is aided by two electric motors, one on each axle to balance weight and provide all-wheel drive. Total output is 356 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, and the range is 431 miles with 31 miles of electric-only operation. Zero to 62 mph arrives in 4.8 seconds and the top speed is 155 mph. A production version is unlikely, but the powertrain and lightweight principles could show up in a high-performance sports car.
2011 BMW X1
BMW showed the production version of its third SUV (or fourth, depending on what you call the X6). The compact 2011 X1 will accommodate five passengers and fit below the X3 in size and price. When it goes on sale in early 2011 in the States, it will come as one model called xDrive28i. All-wheel drive will be standard and the lone engine will be a 3.0-liter straight six making 258 horsepower. Zero to 60 will take 6.8 seconds. More engines may follow, including a diesel option, and BMW may make a rear-drive model available as well.
2010 Ferrari 458 Italia
Ferrari unveiled the successor to the F430, the 458 Italia. The mid-engine 458 features an aluminum chassis and an all-new body by Pininfarina. The heart of the 458, and the origin of the name, is the 4.5-liter V8 that puts out 570-horsepower. It is bolted to a new dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual transmission with steering wheel shift paddles. The steering wheel also houses many of the controls, which Ferrari says allows the driver to fully concentrate on driving and have maximum control. Performance is heart-stopping: 0-60 mph in just 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph. The 458 Italia goes on sale next year as a late 2010 model.
2012 Ford Grand C-Max
Ford has been out of the minivan game since letting the Freestar die on the vine after the 2007 model year. At Frankfurt, the company confirmed that it will return to the minivan market with the Grand C-Max in late 2011. The Grand C-Max and its European sibling the C-Max will be the first vehicles on a new global compact architecture shared with the Ford Focus. With a lengthened wheelbase, though, the Grand C-Max will have seating for seven with a second-row center seat that can slide under either outside seat. A pair of sliding side doors will be standard but they will look like regular rear doors. Engine choices have yet to be announced, but a turbocharged four-cylinder is likely.
2010 Hyundai Tucson ix
Hyundai unveiled a new direction for its compact Tucson SUV. Instead of upright, truck-like styling, the 2010 Tucson, which may be called the Tucson ix in the U.S., looks more like a crossover. The “fluidic” styling is sleeker and Hyundai says the nose represents a new corporate face. Slightly longer and wider than the outgoing model, the 2010 Tucson will sit lower without sacrificing headroom. Two four-cylinder engines will be offered, as will front- and all-wheel drive. The 2010 Tucson ix will arrive late this year.
Lamborghini Reventon Roadster
Got an extra $1.6 million to spend? Get yourself one of the 20 or fewer Lamborghini Reventon Roadsters due to go on sale this October. Lambo introduced the Reventon Roadster at Frankfurt, complete with stealth fighter-inspired styling, 661 horses and all the subtlety of a round-house kick to the face. The Reventon’s 6.5-liter V12 can propel the car from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and keep it going all the way up to 205 mph. Available only in matte gray, the body is made mostly of carbon fiber. Lamborghini says the roadster body needed little extra reinforcement, so it weighs only 55 pounds more than the coupe.
Lexus LX-Ch Concept
Lexus wants to gain younger buyers in Europe and possibly here, too. The LX-Ch Hybrid Concept shown at Frankfurt represents the company’s latest effort to do just that. A compact four-door hatchback combining Lexus hybrid Drive with a sporty stance, the LX-Ch would most likely use a V6 engine to provide the acceleration befitting the sporty character. The concept also features a Sport mode to amplify throttle response. A version of the LF-Ch has been confirmed for Europe, and Lexus will evaluate U.S. interest at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
2011 Maserati GranCabrio
Maserati’s reveal was the company’s first-ever four-seat convertible, the 2011 GranCabrio. With the longest convertible wheelbase on the market, the GranCabrio has plenty of rear seat room. The body by Pininfarina is derived from the Quattroporte architecture and features a canvas top. The GranCabrio uses a 4.7-liter V8 that produces 433 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque. Maserati says the GranCabrio can reach 175 mph with the top closed and sprint to 62 mph in 5.4 seconds. The GranCabrio will go on sale next spring.
2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon
Sick of your gas-hogging seven-passenger SUV? How about a seven-seat station wagon? At Frankfurt, Mercedes revealed the 2011 E350 5MATIC wagon, which is the third of at least four body styles in the new E-Class lineup. The first wagons, due at U.S. dealers in June 2010, will be powered by a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, but other engines are sure to follow. A Sport model will be offered for the first time, and the class-exclusive third-row seat will fold into the floor to optimize cargo space or seating capacity.
2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the successor to the SLR McLaren supercar, the SLS AMG. The low-slung two-seat coupe marks the return of “gullwing”-style doors that open in an upward arc. To reduce weight and achieve a nearly optimal 48/52 front/rear weight ratio, the SLS uses an aluminum spaceframe, aluminum body panels and a rear transaxle. Lurking under the hood is a 6.2-liter V8 that pumps 571 horses through the seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. Mercedes is quoting a top speed of 195 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds. The SLS AMG will launch in spring 2010. Mercedes also said an all-electric version will hit the market in 2013.
Mini Coupe and Roadster Concepts
Mini delighted onlookers with two new sporty concepts that will make it to production, the Coupe and Roadster Concepts. Both cars have recognizable front end styling, forego rear seats and share most of their sheetmetal from the beltline down. The coupe features a sharply raked aluminum roof that seems to float above the vehicle like a backwards baseball cap. The Roadster has a soft top that isn’t as long as the coupe’s roof, creating a notchback look. Mini says both cars will boast handling never before seen in a Mini. Timing for production models wasn’t announced, but we estimate 2011 or 2012.
2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
Too much performance is never enough at Porsche, especially when it comes to the iconic 911 Turbo. Porsche introduced the latest version of its forced-induction 911 coupe and convertible at Frankfurt, with notable performance upgrades. A 3.8-liter flat six replaces the 3.6 liter, making 500 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, while getting 16 percent better fuel economy. Porsche has also cut 55 pounds out of the car and made the seven-speed PDK automated manual transmission available. These changes allow the Turbo to blast to 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 193 mph. Look for the new Turbo this January.
2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost
The “baby Rolls” made its debut at Frankfurt. More than eight inches shorter than the Phantom, the Rolls-Royce Ghost still offers plenty of rear seat room, as well as the comfort and isolation Rolls owners have come to expect. It is powered by a new 6.6-liter turbocharged V12 that churns out 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 mph takes just 4.8 seconds but Rolls says passengers won’t feel the sensation of acceleration. The “little” Rolls will come to the U.S. starting in the second quarter of 2010 with a price of about $350,000.
2010 Saab 9-5
The Saab 9-5 hasn’t received a complete redesign since 1999, but it’s getting one soon. At Frankfurt, Saab showed the next 9-5 sedan, which the company says is aiming to take on the Audi A6. The 2010 9-5 uses GM’s Epsilon II architecture, and the body’s blacked out front and center pillars give the car the look of a jet fighter’s cockpit area. At launch, power will come from a turbocharged 300-horsepower 2.8-liter V6, but a 220-horse turbo 2.0-liter four will likely follow. Saab says the 9-5 will go on sale during model year 2010, but with the company’s impending sale, it may be pushed to a 2011 model.
2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
While Chevrolet prepares the plug-in Volt, Toyota has plans to test a plug-in Prius. Starting late this year, the company will place 150 plug-in Priuses with U.S. lease-fleet customers. The cars will use a lithium-ion battery, and when charged, they will be able to run up to 12 miles on electricity. Hard throttle, speeds over 60-65 mph and discharged batteries will cause the cars to revert to regular hybrid behavior, with the engine and electric motors driving the car. Over a three-year period, Toyota will gather market and engineering data, with the hopes of making a plug-in Prius available to the public soon thereafter.
2010 Volkswagen Golf R
The Volkswagen R32 has built a small but devoted following as a hot hatch with style and robust front-drive performance. At Frankfurt, VW unveiled the successor to the R32, the Golf R. With a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 270 horsepower, the R will have more power and get better fuel mileage than the R32. All-wheel drive will also aid performance, and VW says the R will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Transmissions will include a six-speed manual and VW’s six-speed direct shift gearbox automated manual. The Golf R goes on sale by the end of the year in Europe and should come to the U.S. some time next year.
Other Debuts of Interest...
Bentley officially debuted it's top-of-the-line Mulsanne with 126 different standard colors and 752 lb-ft of torque, Mercedes-Benz showed off an E63 AMG Wagon (you know you want it) and a plug-in hybrid concept based on its S-Class, Opel showed off a new Astra destined to end up in America as a Saturn, er, Buick, Volkswagen enhanced it's already slick CC with a CC R-line version, Volvo debuted updated versions of its C30 and C70, and Mazda showed off a jaw-dropper of a concept, the Mazda MX-5 Superlight (pictured).