Page 1: Intro
We're not in Paris, as lovely as it would be to stroll the Champs d'Elysses with a hint of autumn in the air. No, we're glued to our cubicles in Southern California instead, but that doesn't keep us from letting you know what's happening 5,500 miles away. For two days at the end of September, the world's automakers showed off their latest models to reporters. We've got a summary of what's new from the 2004 Paris Auto Show.2005 Aston Martin Vanquish S: Like this car needed more power and performance. With a 520-horsepower, 6.0-liter V12 motor under the hood, the Vanquish S generates 60 more ponies than a "regular" Vanquish, running to 60 mph in about 4.8 seconds and topping out at more than 200 mph. Steering, suspension, and brakes are tightened up to keep this most powerful Aston Martin ever crafted under control.
2006 Audi A3: A new premium hatchback designed to appeal to younger buyers, the 2006 Audi A3 includes a 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, an available Direct Shift Gearbox transmission, standard stability control, and plenty of optional goodies such as an "Open Sky" sunroof. Sales start in May of 2005.
2006 Audi A4: Audi's entry-level luxury sedan gets a makeover that showcases the company's new corporate styling theme. Audi confirms the addition of a 3.2-liter direct-injection V6 making 255 horsepower to the 2006 Audi A4, but we suspect the A3's 2.0-liter turbocharged engine will be standard on the base A4, making the V6 a step-up model. Expect traditional Audi interior design, with quality materials and an elegant, upscale appearance. The 2006 A4 arrives in North America shortly after the first of the year.
2007 Audi Q7: Audi confirmed that the Pikes Peak Quattro concept vehicle will be produced starting during the first quarter of 2006, and that its name will be Q7 rather than the long-rumored A7 moniker that seemed more logical. The Audi Q7 will be based on the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, but with seven-passenger capacity. That means it will excel both on and off the road.
Page 2: Ferrari
2005 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner: Take one kick-ass ultra-luxury sport coupe, and add: 20-inch two-piece wheels; Advan Sport 275/35 tires; drilled alloy foot pedals; special interior trim like diamond-quilted leather, two-tone leather and veneer combinations, and embroidered Bentley emblems on the seat; and what do you have? A limited-production Mulliner edition of the Continental GT. Music industry stars, get out the checkbook.
2005 BMW M5: With more than 500 horsepower from a V10 engine that redlines at 8,250 rpm, the 2005 BMW M5 is a force to contend with. With power flowing to the massive rear wheels through a seven-speed, driver-programmable Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG), the new M5 rockets to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds on its way to a governed 155-mph top speed. Other goodies include a variable differential lock, dual-mode stability control, and electronic damper control with three settings. Need we say more?2005 Chrysler 300 Touring: Dream on, American reader, because you're not getting the 2005 Chrysler 300 Touring. Reserved for Europe, this is essentially a Dodge Magnum with the Chrysler 300's nose grafted on. Looks great, eh? Would be a big hit in the States.
2005 Ferrari F430: Replacing the popular 360 Modena in Ferrari's lineup for 2005 is the F430, equipped with a 4.3-liter V8 engine good for 490 horsepower and 343 lb.-ft. of torque. Redline is a lofty 8,500 rpm and acceleration to 60 mph takes less than four seconds on the way to a top speed of 196 mph. Styling and construction is derivative of the aluminum-intensive 360, not surprising since the F430 is a thoroughly massaged version of that model. New technology includes an electronic differential and a switch on the steering wheel that manages vehicle dynamics systems, just like on the company's Formula 1 racecars. Carbon-ceramic disc brakes are optional. Expect prices to land just north of the quarter-million mark when it arrives in the U.S.
2006 Hyundai Sonata: South Korea is definitely getting the hang of this whole car-making business. Proof positive is displayed here, in the form of the 2006 Hyundai Sonata. With the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry located squarely in its sights, the new Sonata will come equipped with a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine jointly developed with DaimlerChrysler, or an in-house 3.3-liter V6 good for about 230 horsepower. With stylish sheetmetal, a roomier interior, competitive engines, and one of the best warranties in the business, the 2006 Hyundai Sonata is poised for success when it arrives in March of 2005.
Page 3: CLS55 AMG
2005 Kia Sportage: Kia's new small SUV is based on the Hyundai Tucson, so it comes as no surprise that under the sheetmetal the two models are basically identical. They share a choice between a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine or a 2.7-liter V6, driving the front or all four wheels. Notably, side-impact and side-curtain airbags come standard, and stability control is available on select models. Styling is funky, with gray bumpers, dual exhaust outlets, and roof rails with small rear quarter windows that mimic the appearance of a Land Rover Freelander SE3.2005 Mazda 5: Though Mazda hasn't decided if the new 2005 Mazda 5 is coming overseas, the company's U.S. executives and dealers want the Mazda 5 in the North American lineup, thinking it would make a compelling Toyota Matrix competitor. A six-seater with a jump seat for the middle of the second row that is similar to that of the redesigned Honda Odyssey, the Mazda 5 is called a space wagon in Europe. Here, it might be called plain smart.
2006 Mazdaspeed 6: You knew it was only a matter of time before the impressive Mazda 6 received the Mazdaspeed tuner treatment. The 2006 Mazdaspeed 6 is equipped with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder generating more than 250 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission puts the power to the ground through all four of the multi-spoke 18-inch wheels. Other changes include suspension modifications, sport seats, a bulging hood, and more aggressive fascias front and rear. Let's hope the hatch and wagon get the same treatment.
2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG: Those performance freaks at AMG just can't keep their mitts off of any new Mercedes-Benz. The sleek and sexy CLS-Class isn't even on sale yet, and already it's been transformed into a sophisticated hot-rod. Specific changes include the addition of a supercharged 5.5-liter V8 making 476 horsepower, an AMG Speedshift automatic transmission with F1-style gear selection from the steering wheel, special 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels, unique suspension tuning, and special sport seats with exclusive upholstery. Look for the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG to swamp swanky enclaves from Newport, RI, to Newport Beach, CA, sometime next year.
Mercedes-Benz Vision B Concept: Get used to this shape, because the Vision B foretells the new B-Class that Mercedes-Benz plans to launch in the U.S. to reach younger consumers. It will compete head-to-head against the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series when it arrives in America for 2006, but don't call it a hatchback, or even a mini-minivan - Mercedes prefers that you refer to the B-Class as a "sports tourer." The Vision B is powered by a 140-horse diesel four-cylinder engine, but North American production models are likely to slurp unleaded instead.
2005 MINI Cooper: Barely noticeable styling changes grace the 2005 Mini Coopers, and the Cooper S gets a slight horsepower boost to 170-bhp, providing acceleration to 60 mph in about seven seconds. The Cooper S also gets new chrome trim, unique upholstery, and two special exterior paint colors. Add the John Cooper Works package to the Cooper S, and you get 210 thrilling horsepower. Whoo-hoo!
Page 4: Boxster
2005 Mitsubishi Outlander Turbo: Ever since the homely but competent Outlander debuted for 2003, critics have complained about its lack of power. In Paris, the Japanese automaker showed off a turbocharged version of its small SUV, stuffed with a de-tuned Lancer Evolution engine that makes around 200 horsepower to get the Outlander to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. Combined with a killer warranty and free maintenance, the 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander Turbo could help bolster the company's sagging sales if it comes to the States.2005 Porsche Boxster: More power, a larger cabin, improved materials, and updated styling give the 2005 Porsche Boxster a new lease on life. New technology on the Boxster includes a standard side-curtain airbag system (the first on a roadster), available ceramic brakes, and an optional automatic damping suspension. Track time gets more fun with the Sport Chrono package, which monitors lap times, counts laps, and allows for more aggressive settings for all the on-board safety nannies.
2006 Volkswagen GTI: Under the skin, the redesigned 2006 Volkswagen GTI is identical to the Audi A3, so it comes as no surprise to learn that it's powered by a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, will offer a Direct Shift Gearbox as an option, includes stability control, and will be roomier inside. What is a surprise is how long it's taking for this car to reach American consumers. It's still a year away.
2005 Volvo XC90 V8: Yamaha engineered the new 315-hp V8 engine for the 2005 XC90, the first eight-cylinder motor ever installed in a Volvo. It's tough to tell the difference between a standard XC90 and the new V8 model from the outside, with only a small chrome badge on the tailgate defining it as the top-level model. Notably, Volvo says this is the first V8 engine to meet both ULEV II emissions standards in the U.S. and Euro 5 requirements across the Atlantic. Volvo hopes to find 15,000 buyers for the 2005 Volvo XC90 V8 when it goes on sale early next year.