Several major manufacturers were missing from the Paris Auto Salon last year. But as Paris is a much smaller and less important show than Frankfurt, we assumed these parties were prioritising in an age with too many motor shows spread across the globe.
With the US-China trade war, Brexit, and various other politically driven situations creating uncertainty across the globe it is no wonder that car manufacturers are practising extra fiscal care in the face of falling sales.
The politics of ‘climate change’ have certainly not helped, and the blind rush toward electrification has resulted in the spending of billions of euros on the development and production of cars that manufacturers are not even sure buyers want.
Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the inner cities where zero and low emissions vehicles are most needed are actually the places least able to provide a credible charging infrastructure. Then there is the inconvenient fact that as electric car production increases manufacturers will come up against the issue of a finite supply of some critical minerals and trace elements need to make Lithium Ion batteries.
The stark reality is that the advances in internal combustion engine technology, hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and all-electric will see a mix of power sources co-existing for many years to come.
Thus, our choice of the most interesting cars at the Show, which you will be able to buy soon is a mix of high performance combustion engine, hybrid and electric cars.
BMW pioneered the SUV Coupe genre with their first X6 back in 2008. 11 years down the line the third generation X6 has arrived.
While its flanks are cleaner and now bereft of the teardrop wheel arches the larger front grille and intakes give the new car a more aggressive air.
The larger grille syndrome that made its debut on the latest 7-Series has now trickled down to the next 4-Series, which was shown as a concept car with no visible interior. Looking a lot more muscular than the present model the car has a very purposeful stance, but we are sure that that big grille will really polarise opinions.
The new 1-Series has front-wheel-drive. Shock, horror! But it turns out BMW has sorted the chassis very well and the new M135i is a real driver’s car with more cabin room than the old rear-driven model.
Breathed on my Alpina’s engineers the twin-turbo 3.0 litre straight six makes 457hp and 700Nm of torque. That is plenty for a 3-Series so the 4WD system and electronic limited slip differential that underpin the cars handling and grip are most welcome.
The evergreen RS6 Avant made its appearance in the latest C8 platform. Looking more aggressive than ever with its huge air intakes in front and stylised alloy motifs at the rear it shares its hybrid assisted 600hp 4.0 litre bi-turbo motor with the RS7.
We were most intrigued by the presence of Chinese carmaker Byton at Frankfurt. Aimed at maximising comfort and refinement rather than high performance the M-Byte is a full-size electric SUV with a claimed range of around 460 km. Byton intend to sell it in the European market in 2020, and in the UK in RHD form in 2021.
LAMBORGHINI SIÁN FKP 37
The FKP 37 suffix was added just before the Show in honour of the late Ferdinand Piëch who brought Lamborghini into the VW fold in 1998, but passed away on August 25th, just two weeks before the Show. FKP stands for Ferdinand Karl Piëch, while 37 refers to his year of birth.
The iconic 6,498cc V12 has been tuned for 785hp and 720Nm of torque. This is then aided and abetted by a 48-volt electric motor attached to the gearbox to further boost acceleration. Super capacitors are used in place of a Lithium Ion battery and Lamborghini says this is a third the weight and three times more powerful. With power boosted to 808hp the first ever Lamborghini hybrid powertrain propels the car to 100km/h in 2.8 sec and on to over 350km/h.
With 63 cars to be made at over three million euros a pop the order books are already closed. Once again Lamborghini has judged its ultra high net worth customers perfectly.
One of the most eagerly anticipated cars at the Show was the all-new Land Rover Defender. Unlike the Mercedes G-Class, which is also all new but looks 99% like its predecessor, Land Rover has boldly re-imagined their 71-year-old classic design for the 21st Century.
When we discussed the Taycan recently he was very excited about its performance, and from that I knew that the Porsche’s first all-electric production car was going to be a winner.
What we did not know until its unveiling at Frankfurt was just how powerful the production Taycan would be. Like the 800-volt electrical system, the two permanent magnet synchronous motors are designed for ultimate efficiency and produce a total of 617hp in the Turbo, with 671hp on overboost along with 850Nm of torque.
The 992 Carrera S and 4S arrived before last Christmas, and now that the Cabriolet model is also on sale it is time to sweep up entry level customers with the base Carrera models.
Despite a drop of 64hp this still means a healthy 380hp with 450Nm of torque, good enough for a 4.2 sec sprint to 100km/h and 293km/h Vmax. As with the Carrera S models only the PDK is on offer for now, the manual transmission not on the cards till spring next year.
One of the understated heroes of the high performance electric car world the five-door Volvo Polestar 2 looks comparatively ordinary for a machine packing 408hp and 660 Nm of torque.
However, the Polestar 2’s credentials are impeccable with chassis sophistication conferred by the adjustable Öhlins dampers while the brake system comes from Brembo. An electric motor on each axle means 4WD, which is a big help in the 4.9 sec sprint to 100km/h. The claimed maximum range is 500km on a full charge.
Thanks to a very strong family resemblance the ID.3 might well be mistaken for a next generation Golf by someone not acquainted with its electric cousin, but the lack of a front grille is the big giveaway.
While the Golf E is adapted from the Golf the ID.3, which goes on sale shortly is built on VW’s all-new MEB modular electric vehicle platform. The electric motor drives the rear wheels and the battery packs sit flat under the floor in the centre making for a low centre of gravity.
Thanks to a wheelbase 130mm longer than that of the current Golf the ID.3’s cabin room is almost at Passat levels while the large boot features a removable floor panel to further increase luggage capacity.
The pre-production models we examined on the VW stand were very well put together with high quality cabin trim and doors that closed with the traditional VW ‘thunk’.
Thanks to the short nose and steeply raked windscreen the view from the front seats is different from the Golf. While it helps aerodynamics (Cd 0.267) the steep windscreen was necessary to facilitate a long enough dashboard top to house the head-up display.
VW told us that the 150kW (200hp) electric motor will be accompanied by a choice of three battery (45, 58 and 77kWh) options the largest of which offers up to 550km range.
Every year the VDAT (German Tuners Association) choose a members car to be dressed in police livery and tour shows and events to deliver the ‘Tune It Safe’ message. This year it is the turn of the AC Schnitzer BMW i8.
Initiated over a decade ago the Tune It Safe campaign is aimed at raising awareness amongst car enthusiasts of just how dangerous copy parts, especially alloy wheels from dubious sources can be.
In the heady 1980s four names were famous for outlandish conversions in Germany - bb, Gemballa, Koenig Specials and Styling Garage. Chris Hahn revived Styling Garage last year, and now it is the turn of Rainer Buchmann to bring back the bb company that he closed in 1986.
This client’s 930 Turbo Targa was created as a new interpretation of a bb car from the 1980s, but carries a lot of 21st Century ideas inside. In contrast the 928 Convertible that bb made in the ‘80s is a simple restoration.
Startech is the Brabus sub-brand that looks after Bentley and Jaguar Land Rover products.
They brought just one car to Frankfurt but it was the best one possible – their take on the new Bentley GTC with their styling additions, alloy wheels and bespoke interior trim options.
The Motorworld exhibition in Hall 4 was quite breathtaking for fans of classic cars. Outside they pressed this beautifully restored Cal-look VW van into service as a media shuttle between halls.
The sight of this psychedelic van complete with surfboards doing the rounds brought a smile to many faces during the two press days.
Trasco is an old name in the vehicle armouring trade, and while they are arguably most famous for adding ballistic protection to Mercedes-Benz cars they also have a good reputation for protecting the occupants of Volvo cars against bullets.
Thanks to steel armouring and ultra thick glass the doors weight around 100kg each and require brute strength to open and close. The suspension and brakes are seriously uprated to handle the extra two tons plus imposed on top of the base vehicle weight. The tyres are heavy duty Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT Runflats.