Showing off with power play
Geraldine Herbert reports from the Frankfurt Motor Show, where both the atmosphere and the cars were electric
THE doors opened last week in Frankfurt to one of the biggest motor shows in the world. This feast of polished new metal, spread across 13 massive halls, included 159 world premieres and showcased some of the most exciting new cars from the mid-engined Ferrari 458 Speciale to Porsche's 918 Hybrid Supercar.
Compact SUVs, hybrids and concept cars dominated, but of the 159 world premieres actual production cars were in short supply.
Manufacturers continue to embrace the electric vehicle revolution and both Ford and Volkswagen debuted electric versions of their most popular models, the Focus and Golf.
Hybrid supercars included the Audi Sports Concept, BMW's i8 and the Porsche 918 Spyder, each more powerful and more frugal than the next.
Land Rover was also keen to display its low-emission technologies with a hybrid version of the Range Rover that combines a 3-litre SDV6 diesel engine and a 35kW electric motor to return 340bhp of power and 700 Nm of torque – which results in acceleration to 100kmh in less than seven seconds. A hybrid version of the new Sport model was also on display.
Over at the Mercedes Benz hall the new S Class Coupe took centre stage. It may have been labelled a concept, but all that was missing from this car was the tax disc. Set to replace the CL Coupe as a range-topping luxury two-door, it is due to be launched early next year.
Korean manufacturer Hyundai was quietly making its own headlines with the promising replacement for the i10. The current i10 has been a huge success for Hyundai and more than 450,000 of them have found a home since being introduced in 2007. When it arrives in Ireland next January, it is expected to push the brand to capture a 10 per cent market share in 2014 and is one of 22 new products expected from Hyundai over the next four years. Longer, lower and wider than the previous model, it boasts best in class for legroom and has a boot-space of 252 litres.
There were also some striking design concepts on show, particularly from Jaguar and Lexus. The CX-17 concept is Jaguar's first foray into the red-hot luxury compact crossover market. Lexus set its sights on the same market with the uber-angular LF-NX concept. Kia's Niro concept hinted at what a Kia crossover might look like.
Hot on the heels of BMW's i3 city car of the future, Smart offered its ForJoy concept, a four-seater electric car, while Citroen presented the Cactus. Citroen has always been known for quirky designs, and Cactus is no different.
Designed to compete with the Nissan Qashqai soft-roader, this concept is a thinly veiled preview of the production model, which goes on sale in early 2014. The Cactus also provides the first glimpse of its new C-line value-for-money product range.
Suzuki offered a peek of what its smaller 4x4s might look like with the iV-4 concept, while Peugeot showed the Golf GTi rival a 270bhp 308 R Concept.
Other stars of the show were the Audi Nanuk, a 550bhp diesel concept, a 296 bhp Volkswagen Golf R, Kia's new Soul, the Nissan X-Trail, Rapid Sportback from Skoda and, from Mercedes Benz, a compact SUV, the GLA.
But the biggest star of the 65th Frankfurt Motor Show was Opel's Monza Concept, a sleek coupe with wide winged doors that promises to be even more frugal than Opel's own Ampera.