10 Cars That Should Make a Big Splash in Frankfurt
From MSN Cars UK
Our counterparts over at MSN Cars UK took a long, hard look at everything that will be on display at Germany's premier auto show, and then identified the machines sure to make the most headlines.
If you’ve been paying any attention at all to MSN Autos recently, you know the Frankfurt Motor Show starts this week -- it’s actually open to the public from Sept. 17-27, but the press days start tomorrow. Perhaps, for some reason, you haven’t quite grasped what all the fuss is about. Well, this is your wake-up call. Here are 10 cars -- just 10, after hours of whittling the list down -- that you really should be looking forward to. The contenders include everything from a mass-market hatchback to the most exotic of supercars, not to mention some slick concepts. But the best thing about this list is that it’s not complete, as not all of the manufacturers have shown all their cards just yet. --CJ Hubbard, MSN Cars UK
Ferrari 458 Italia
“Gadzooks!” we said, as the first images of this all new Ferrari made our inbox bing. The 458 Italia is the first truly, madly, deeply gorgeous-looking Ferrari in at least a generation, and we immediately started looking for a bank to knock over to get the money to buy one. But seriously. This prancing horse is no longer even remotely close to physiological -- it’s cybernetic. It’s so technologically advanced it makes the 430 Scuderia look like a slate tablet. Its 4.5-liter engine develops 570 horsepower and propels the machine from zero to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph. Simply put: It’s sublime.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Seen only in spy shots so far, the SLS is arguably Mercedes’ first true and proper supercar (SLR McLaren be damned). But above all, it represents the return of gull-wing doors. Woohooo! We haven’t seen them on a production car since, what, the Delorean? What’s more, rather than merely rolling out the 6.3-liter AMG V8 version everyone was expecting, Mercedes is also showing an all-electric concept version. Look out for a sneak preview of the roadster convertible, too.
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics
BMW is not -- no way, nohow -- about to let Mercedes secure all the adulation from the pairs’ German homeland fans. So how about this for a riposte? It’s the Vision EfficientDynamics concept, a wild-looking diesel-electric hybrid sports car, with performance to match the current generation BMW M3. Which means zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, and an electronically limited 155 mph top speed -- yet it emits just 99g/km CO2. That’s thanks to the trick Formula 1-derived aerodynamics, lightweight construction, Efficient Dynamics technology and a radical 3-cylinder turbodiesel, which together with twin electric motors produces 356 horsepower.
Mazda MX-5 Superlight
This is the MX-5 Superlight concept, and it’s back-to-basics, minimalist sports car magic. Featuring bespoke bodywork, with tiny aero screens and fared-in rollover hoops, it looks like a modern rival to the Jaguar D-Type. This is retro in a good way. The Mazda MX-5 is 20 years old this year, and it remains one of the purest, most exhilarating driving experiences available anywhere. The Superlight is a one-off, built to celebrate the anniversary. But Mazda really should sell a few.
Let’s get back to the real world for a moment, shall we? Welcome, the savior of Saab: the all-new 9-5 executive saloon. Who knew, when General Motors flogged off the Swedish brand to compatriot supercar maker Koenigsegg, that the Swedish carmaker had this beauty in the wings? Obviously, we have to reserve judgment until we’ve actually had the chance to drive it. But this new 9-5 really does look like a return to form. The design is decidedly modern yet distinctively Saab. The aircraft-inspired details include a head-up display and an altimeter speedo. Super cool.
Of course, there’s cool. And then there’s cool. This is the latter. It’s the Peugeot RCZ, the first Peugeot to ever abandon the company’s traditional zero-based number naming convention. But that’s just how cool this car is. The RCZ is all set to steal the Audi TT’s train set, so to speak. Then it will probably jump on it. The RCZ looks basically identical to the concept that spawned it -- right down to the double-bubble roof and crazily contoured rear window. The pricing remains a mystery, but sex sells. And this, for many, is sex on 19-inch alloy rims.
Back to reality, people. You can daydream all you want about the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Peugeot RCZ, but this is the car many Europeans will actually be buying. It’s the all-new Vauxhall Astra, and ... hold on a minute, this doesn’t look half bad. In fact, it’s a dream. The baby Insignia (or is it maximum Corsa?) styling is really working here. If the dynamics can compete with the (now quite elderly) Ford Focus, and the quality can soft-touch within spitting distance of the Volkswagen Golf, then Vauxhall is on to a winner. The new Astra looks great.
Quietly, among all the eco-babble and oh-gosh-look!-another-electric-car headline grabbing, there’s actually quite an undercurrent of old-school luxury taking up a chunk of stand space in Frankfurt. It’s luxo-barges ahoy, as it turns out, with new models from Bentley, Rolls-Royce -- and Jaguar. And possibly even Bugatti, if rumors about a Veyron saloon are to be believed. But it’s the all-new Jaguar XJ we’re choosing to highlight here. The crucial follow-up modern Jaguar model after the stunningly awesome XF, there’s a lot riding on this big cat; Frankfurt is its public debut.
Maserati has to be one of the most in-vogue labels in the industry right now, and even so this is by far the brand's must-have car. The brand new GranCabrio is a drop-top version of the GranTurismo coupe: four full-size seats and sultry styling. You can just imagine it, can’t you -- cruising the French Riviera, roof down, wind in the hair, 4.7-liter V8 roaring like a lion with a predilection for honey. The lack of photos showing the GranCabrio with the roof up is, however, a bit of a worry. Benefit of the doubt, anyone?
MINI Coupe Concept
Finally, what better way to end our top 10 Frankfurt flavors than with this cheeky chappie? A concept only at this stage, but if MINI made a coupe -- and we believe it will -- this gives you a pretty darn good idea what it would look like. Basically, very good indeed. Powered by the 211-horse John Cooper Works engine, the MINI Coupe Concept bins the rear seats and the regular roof for aluminum swoopiness and bigger cargo space. Destined to become the best-handling MINI hatchback ever, it’s (bizarrely) also the most practical. A welcome antidote to the MINI Clubman; we’re enthralled.
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