Frankfurt: the star cars come out as motoring future takes shape before our eyes
Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham is joined in Frankfurt by John Galvin and Cathal Doyle as they bring you the most comprehensive and detailed coverage of this year's show
One of the biggest crowds of the day gathered at the Alfa stand to see the new Giulia, the marque's BMW 3-series rival. It's due here late next year. Seen as one of the most important developments in the famous marque's history, it is the car they are hoping will win over owners and drivers of the likes of the Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and Jaguar XE. There will be 4cyl and V6 petrols and diesels among a big spread of engines.
Big debuts for the new A4 saloon and Avant as well as the S4 - when you get through the Ice House entrance (to celebrate 35 years of quattro). Prices for the A4 will be revealed next week. There will be seven engines, for Ireland three petrols and four diesels.
Audi say power is significantly up overall (ranging from 150hp to 272hp with fuel consumption cut by up to 21pc. Headliner on that front is the 2.0 TDI Ultra (3.7l/100km, 95g/km). It helps that it's 120kg lighter too. The S4 and S4 Avant get the new V6 engine petrol with direct injection and turbocharging. Both S4 versions have the virtual cockpit and MMI navigation plus infotainment system. Expect them next year.
And Audi's e-tron quattro concept is attracting a lot of attention. It's the marque's first electric SUV and previews the upcoming Q6 - for 2018. No wing mirrors; it uses cameras instead. Capable of nearly 500km and 500bhp it will slot between Q5 and the Q7. Room for four.
Claiming their Bentayga will be the fastest of its kind and the most expensive, the supercar got a lot of attention. Top speed of 301kmh. You can't miss this. Huge presence. And a child seat in matching leather.
They gave us the strongest clues yet to what the next Veyron (currently dubbed Chiron) will look like in 2017 with the concept Vision Gran Turismo. Production of the regular Veyron recently came to an end with the La Finale special edition, unveiled at Geneva in March. Power is expected to come from a heavily revised version of the Veyron's 8-litre W16 engine - producing as much as 1479bhp.
They have quite a show. Their 7-series - a car to drive and be driven in - goes on sale from October 24 with a plug-in hybrid planned for next year. The second-generation X1 comes with front and 4WD for the first time. Same launch date. Also a big showing of plug-ins - the 225xe, 330e and 740e. No doubting the route they see as bringing sales. The 2 Series Active Tourer PHEV is a March arrival (from €51,400 which does not include SEAI grant and VRT relief).
Quiet enough show for them, with their Cactus M concept the highlight. The convertible version draws inspiration from the lightweight Mehari off-road vehicle sold from 1968 to 1988.
The new stand-alone brand showed its revised 5dr hatch and a new Crossback version which sits 30mm higher, has rugged styling, larger wheels, skid plates and roof bars.
Both models get new-look fronts, headlights with xenon and LED technology and a revised engine line-up. The revised DS 4 gets here in January.
Nearly all their vehicles on stand were crossovers or AWDs. Among them the European production model of the large Edge SUV, due in Ireland mid-2016 with 2.0 TDCi 180 or 210PS engine. They are claiming sub-150g/km emissions.
Also showing is the new Ranger pickup. We'll see that early next year. It will have a 2.2 litre TDCi (130PS, 160PS) as well as a 3.2-litre 5cyl TDCi 200PS.
As ever, people gravitate to their stand. And the 488 Spider is as good a reason as any to do so at Frankfurt. The open-top gets 660bhp from its twin-turbocharged V8 engine. On sale next spring for around €300,000-plus.
Updated 500 supermini on show. The 'comics edition' caught my eye.
Lots of relatively new models after setting a blistering pace in the past few months. Newest is the Civic Tourer Active Life Concept - the Civic given the 'lifestyle' treatment. Ideal for two bikes in the back. Weirdest is the '2&4' concept that combines the thrill of riding a motorbike and the fun of driving a car. Its 999cc V4 four-stroke develops 215PS and has a 6spd DCT gearbox.
Their new Tucson will be in showrooms from October 19. There will be a 1.7-litre diesel (2WD) and a 2-litre diesel 4WD. Price and spec in early October. Also on show is the minor-facelift Santa Fe; it will slip gradually into the range later next year. They are also showing the beefed up i20 Active; expect it here in July but nothing on spec/engine size yet. It's slightly shorter and wider than the 5dr hatch but is 20mm taller. A hybrid hatchback concept also on show.
Massive interest in the new F-PACE - the marque's first SUV. Due in Ireland in April/May it will have a 2-litre 180PS diesel in manual and automatic and a 3-litre 300PS automatic diesel. With a wonderful sense of history as I sat in to sample a classy cabin, even if it's a bit smaller than I expected.
It uses technology from the underpinnings of the F-TYPE sports car and that should mean excellent ride and handling ability. Also gets double wishbone front, and integral link rear, suspension.
What a weird/wonderful looking Jeep Wrangler they have on show.
Lots of new stuff on show. The new Optima will arrive in Ireland by December. The 1.7-diesel is upgraded. It will have a 7spd dual-clutch transmission; that will help cut road tax from €580 to €200. The Sportage is a likely early January arrival; same story, the 1.7-litre diesel is improved too. Won't see GT Line until later next year. The biggest change in Sportage looks is how the headlamps sit higher on the bonnet and stretch back quite a bit. Cee'd facelift also on show.
Their open-top version of the Huracán goes on sale soon after this debut.
Seeing the RX in the flesh for the first time, I think it is a huge improvement. It is due in Irish showrooms in December. Lovely interior.
Their first SUV model, the Levante, goes on sale at the end of the year. Right-hand-drive versions should arrive early 2016.
Their Koeru mid-size crossover concept is their highlight. Different than the CX-3 and CX-5 crossovers. Looks more like the (visually challenging) BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe but smaller. Expected to be sold with seven seats so it will be a challenger for the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Kia Sorento. Expect a 2.2-litre diesel too.
One of the true stars of the show is the four-seater S-Class Cabriolet. Stunning. Will cost €180,000-plus. We'll see it by the middle of 2016 as an S500 (450bhp twin-turbo 4.6-litre V8), S63 AMG (577bhp twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8) and S65 AMG. Look forward to experiencing the 'magic ride control system' which allows the car to 'lean' into corners (a bit like a motorcycle).
Also making its world debut is the 3dr C-Class Coupé due here by year's end with 180/200/250/300/450 petrols and 220/250 diesels as well as a 63 AMG petrol. The GLC is due next month but we won't see the GLEe until the end of 2016 or even early 2017. Also spotted the new-generation A-Class. It arrives late this/early next month with 160/180/200/220/250 petrols and 160/180/200/220 diesels as well as an A45 AMG 4MATIC petrol.
Mercedes' new concept, the IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) has a touch-sensitive interface and we'll see elements of that in the new E-Class saloon, due in Ireland early next year. The IAA is a large 4dr coupé with a drag coefficient of 0.25. But at speeds above 40kmh active aerodynamics come into play and the door mirrors retract, the wheels to move to a low-drag configuration and the back of the car extends. All of which brings the drag coefficient down to an unheard of 0.19.
The marque's biggest car to date, the Clubman is unveiled and goes on sale from October 31. It is noticeably bulkier and should come as a real alternative for second-car families.
PHEV version of the latest Outlander shown here. It is expected in Ireland by year's end. New exterior and lots of cabin additions.
Their next-generation Nissan Zed is being previewed with a baby SUV concept called the Gripz which is due on the market by 2017. Longer-range and revised Leaf too. And the new Navara is due in Ireland next week.
The big news story here, of course, is the new Astra (in Ireland by late October) which competes in the small-family car segment - 30pc of the total market. And the new smart-looking Sports Tourer is due by March.
The hatchback is shorter, lower and lighter. And prices will start from €19,995. It is a sharp looking motor. There is a large touchscreen infotainment system, multi-function steering wheel and instrument cluster display. The new-gen IntelliLink infotainment system is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This lets you use your smartphone as part of the system. It is the first new Opel with its OnStar system which includes alerts if something goes wrong and advisers who contact the car/driver to see if help is required.
Based on new architecture, the 4.37m Astra's wheelbase is 2cm shorter (the car itself is 50mm shorter 5mm narrower) but there is 35mm more rear legroom and 22mm more front headroom. The seats were tested and certified by AGR (Campaign for Healthy Backs). Along with the 5dr and Tourer, there will be a 3dr coupe.
Among a big range of engines is the new 1-litre, 3cyl turbo petrol (105bhp, 96g/km, road tax €180).
And there is a new 1.4-litre turbo petrol (4cyl, 150hp, 114g/km, €200 road tax). There will also be two versions of the sub-100g/km 1.6 CDTI diesel (110hp, 136hp). The 110hp version can manage 100km on 3.4 litres (90gkm, €180 road tax). There are 5spd, 6spd manuals as well as the automated manual Easytronic and a 6spd auto. The Tourer is the same size as the old one (4,702mm long, 1,871mm wide and 1,499mm tall) but there is more space out front and behind (28mm more legroom). There are 40/20/40 foldable rear seats.
The current saloon and the GTC will carry on for the foreseeable future.
Opel are also close to making their off-beat, but as I found, practical, Surf Concept Vivaro. It can carry six people in its crew cab as well as large loads and equipment. GM chief Mary Barra says they will have rolled out 29 new models by 2020, including an electric one and an SUV flagship alongside the Insignia.
Their Fractal electric urban coupé concept is a big attraction. It gives, among other things, a clue about future interiors. As does the extraordinary looking Quartz. The 308GTi will be special order early in the new year. They say it's the youngest car lineup they've had - 2.6 years. The 308 R Hybrid (493bhp) is edging closer to production we hear.
They are adding turbocharged engines to their 911 range to meet tougher fuel consumption and emission rules. Also gets a minor facelift, styling changes and cabin upgrades. No word on when it gets to Ireland. Also looking to hybrid power for its next-generation 911. The "Mission E" concept is a sports car with an electric drive. Rivals the Tesla S; 600bhp AWD; 480km range, 80pc charge in 15 mins.
Their new Mégane goes on sale here next June. It is 25mm lower, has wider front (47mm) and rear (39mm) track while the wheelbase goes up by 28mm. Big step upmarket with better quality materials used all round.
There will be a range-topping GT version from the start. And for contrast they have the Alaskan concept on show here too. It will be Renault's planned global production pickup by 2017.
A new Dawn for one of the greats. They expects the convertible to attract younger buyers and women.
Their Leon Cross Sport Show 3dr is getting attention. A blend of hot hatch and moderately rugged looks as well as a high-riding position, it promises much. The Leon Cupra 290 gets more power (290PS) and goes on sale soon. The 290PS comes from the 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
They claim their Greenline Superb 1.6-litre TDI (120bhp) can cover 1,780 km on one tank of diesel. It's capable of 3.7 litres/100km (76.34mpg) they say and road tax is just €180. Also a sporty SportLine version of the Superb.
They are showcasing new editions of the Tivoli as well as two concept models based on its platform - the XLV-AIR and XAV-ADVENTURE.
Their big debut is the new Baleno, due in Ireland next spring. There's a 1-litre direct-injection turbo BOOSTERJET engine as well as a SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle: the engine is boosted by an integrated starter generator).
The fourth-generation Prius takes a big spotlight here. The first based on the company's new modular architecture, it will be in Irish dealerships in January. It is marginally longer, wider and lower which means more passenger and boot space. And its looks echo those of the hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai.
The Prius has lighter hybrid components and batteries that pack more energy. The lower centre of gravity should improve handling, in conjunction with a new rear double suspension and stiffer body. And the latest RAV4, which now has a hybrid version, goes on sale from December. The exotic C-HR concept is widely regarded as the next rival for Nissan's Qashqai.
What a smart looking mid-size Tiguan SUV. Looks great. There will be a GTE plug-in version. And there is a GTE 400bhp plug-in Golf-based concept. They celebrate the 40th anniversary (early next year) of the Golf GTi and are showing the GTi Clubsport to mark the occasion. Also showing a 'trained' parking system based on the e-Golf.