Paris Motor Show 2012 Preview

Widely regarded as the world's very first auto show, the Paris Motor Show is also the largest, attracting over 1.2 million visitors last time round in 2010. As you might expect, the French makers will be out in force, with a special emphasis on the small car segments. We'll see at least one new Renault (excluding the electric Zoe), in form of the Clio 4, as well as a trio of Citroens and a smaller exhibition from Peugeot, who are already enjoying the 208's success. Along with Opel's Adam, the supermini segment will be more competitive than ever in 2013.

Alternative, greener drivetrains will feature in almost every arena, from Mitsubishi's Plug-In Hybrid Outlander 4x4, to the production debut of the Fisker's shooting brake, the Karma Surf, right up to Ferrari's eagerly awaited Enzo successor, which will feature a hybridized setup.

The environmental statement of intent made by manufacturers at the last Paris Motor Show has been made good on, too. In the interim we've seen cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Twizy go on sale, dazzling concept cars such as the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamic Concept make huge strides towards production (the i8), whilst not forgetting Audi's R8 e-tron and the Porsche 918 Spyder.

Manufacturers are also embracing one of the most effective green design trends of all - weight saving. Range Rover's new flagship is 420kg lighter than the outgoing model, due to an all-aluminium monocoque, and the latest VW MkVII Golf will save an equally impressive 100kg over the MkVI car. After ballooning in weight over the last three decades, cars are now getting smaller again, but without compromising space.

Below are some of the cars to watch out for.

McLaren P1 

The preview for one of the next contenders in a new generation of more environmentally aware hypercars with take a bow at Paris - the much-anticipated McLaren P1, successor to the F1. Most likely powered by a V8, the P1 will also use a regenerative KERS system that can deliver 160bhp is short bursts. Weight, or lack of it, will also play a significant part, as the P1 is likely to weigh in at under 1300kg - less than a typical family hatch. Frank Stephenson's dramatic styling is clearly an evolution of the MP4-12C, but not many would have predicted such a radical stance. The car has clearly spent much time in McLaren's wind-tunnel.

Toyota Auris Early 2013

The new Auris features much sharper styling than the car it replaces and clearly follows the lead of the latest Yaris. Longer but lower than the outgoing model, it will also feature ‘Skyview’ – one of the largest panoramic roofs in its class. The Auris will be available with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive and will use a similar drivetrain to the extremely economical Yaris Hybrid. Extensive use of high-tensile steel will also bring overall weight down considerably.

Whilst adopting Toyota’s new ‘face’ at the front, the wedge-shaped side profile and angular rear graphic give the Auris a contemporary aesthetic that, although a little fussy, marks a quantum leap over the old model.

Vauxhall Adam January 2013

What an important car for Opel/Vauxhall the Adam is. Starting at £11,000 (€14,000), the Adam will rival the likes of Citroens DS3, Fiat’s 500 and will aim to undercut premium rivals such as the Audi A1. Designer Mark Adams has introduced a new design language with the Adam and features like the two-tone colour scheme that creates a ‘floating roof’ illusion make it exciting car to look at. Vauxhall have aimed for a retro-based design with a fresh and bold look, and there over 1 million personalisation combinations (you can even specify an LED-lit starlight roof trim).

The Adam will be available with three ecoFLEX four-cylinder engines that include a 70bhp 1.2-litre and 100bhp 1.4-litre. All models can be specified with stop-start technology.

Smart forstars Concept

Taking it's name from the glass roof that gives its passengers a clear view of the sky, the smart forstars is an electric coupé powered by a 60kW electric motor from the new BRABUS electric smart. Painted in “alubeam rouge”, the forstars uses another example of smart's tridion safety cell and is described by its maker as “Europe's most inexpensive series-produced electric car.”

The forstars' silhouette gives us an idea 
of the design direction that smart will be taking in the future, and is characterised by extremely short overhangs and a rhombic design of the front and rear lights. The forstars shares the same body as the for-us – the pick-up concept that debuted at this year's Detroit Motor Show.

Renault Clio 4 Early 2013

Arguably the star of the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the latest Clio is the first Renault to be designed entirely by Laurens van den Acker and follows on from the facelifted Twingo released earlier this year. Wheel arches inspired by the DeZir concept and rear door handles hidden in the C-pillars make it easily the most svelte small car Renault have ever made and should stand it in good stead as it aims to take sales from Peugeot’s excellent 208.

Like the Auris and the new VW Golf, the Clio 4 is lower and wider that the outgoing Clio, which makes for a sportier stance without compromising interior space. The interior itself is a vast improvement, with all models sharing the same dashboard. Renault will offer a 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol engine that should offer excellent economy and low emissions as well as producing 90bhp.

Peugeot Onyx Concept

Peugeot like supercars, and with an illustrious history in building them
it’s no surprise that this, the Onyx Concept, is arguably the best yet. Powered by a 3.7-litre diesel-hybrid V8, the Onyx’s central structure consists of only 12 parts and uses a carbon fibre shell. Total output is 600bhp in a car that weighs just 1100kg – the same as a Fiat Panda. Peugeot have also endeavored to use a few processed materials as possible.

Pure copper panels adorn the exterior, and Peugeot intend these to age over time and form a patina – suggesting that the car is alive. The Onyx also pays tribute to the RCZ, a facelifted version of which is at the show, with a double-bubble roof. Interior stylist, Julien Cueff, has admitted that he took inspiration from an egg box for the interior.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid 2013 

The plug-in hybrid Outlander will be the world’s first production electric car with permanent four-wheel drive, and although it’s not the prettiest car at the show it’s significance shouldn’t be underestimated. 

The Outlander will have three drive modes: Pure – where it is powered only by its electric motor, Series – where the electric motor is supported by a petrol engine generator, and Parallel – where the combustion engine is supplemented by Twin Motor 4WD. Overall range is just shy of 500 miles (800km) and average CO2 emissions will be less than 50g/km, which on the face of it is fairly incredible, but the Outlander certainly won’t achieve that when driving off-road – or the 151mpg figure Mitsubishi quoting. Even so, the Outlander is a first-of-its-kind car and deserves some recognition.


Nissan believe that this concept combines two of their strengths – electric vehicles and SUVs. Unlike their current electric vehicles, however, the TeRRA is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell with three electric motors. It also has 4-wheel drive – with in-wheel motors at the rear. Head of design Shiro Nakamura has taken inspiration from the lifestyles of young customers in Northern Europe, particularly in regard to their desire for sustainable mobility that can also go anywhere. The striking exterior features a high beltline and slim waist, and Nissan 
have incorporated short overhangs to give
 the TeRRA a confident stance. Nissan don’t have any plans for production, but believe this concept demonstrates that they are ready for hydrogen.

Jaguar F-Type Mid-2013

Spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type, Jaguar’s latest sports coupé will sit just beneath the flagship XK in the company’s lineup and three engines, two 3.0-litre V6s and a 5.0-litre V8, will be available. Unfortunately the hybrid powertrain evidenced in the C-X16 concept is unlikely to make it to production. The finished car will, however, make use of stop-start technology.

So far all we’ve seen is a heavily camouflaged development car that has featured in several photos, videos and at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but it’s clear that the F-Type will evidence Jaguar’s feline genetics with high rear haunches and a swooping bonnet line that tapers into an aggressive nose. The F-Type’s body will also be constructed entirely from lightweight aluminium.

Exagon Motor Furtive-eGT 2013

French company Exagon Motors’ Furtive- eGT surfaced at the last Paris Motor Show as a concept. Now it’s back – as a production version. The pure-electric eGT has been designed to combine the “behaviour and performance of a leading sports car with the comfort of an executive car”, hence the 2+2 layout. It has also been developed with the help of Siemens.

Corporate Technology have supplied twin-electric motors that generate 148kW (403bhp). Exagon tout these motors as the lightest and most compact engine on the market, and they should be, as the Furtive-eGT will cost around 350,000 euros. Range from the lithium-ion batteries is around 310km, with an optional range-extender that sees autonomy increase to over 800km.

Traditionally a racing brand, Exagon Motors’ first venture into road-going electric cars is an extremely striking product that indulges in the “French spirit” of shunning casual trends and fashion. Graceful but hard lines give the eGT a unique character and it’s interesting to look at but, most of all, it’s fast.

Infiniti LE Concept 2014

Paris marks the European debut for Infiniti’s first all-electric concept saloon. Encouragingly, Infiniti has also revealed that the LE is a ‘production intent’ concept, meaning that what you see here will be closely reflected in the production model. Infiniti have set to set a date for sale, but are encouraged by the French government’s decision to raise the electric car grant from €5000 to €7000 and a development period of around two years is anticipated.

The LE Concept flowing lines bear the hallmarks of Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura’s ‘brush stroke’ design philosophy that has applied to the company’s recent production cars and concepts alike, and performance should be respectable too. Powered by a 100kW electric motor, the range is expected to be 160km, which puts it on par with most pure-EVs on sale today.

Peugeot 2008 Concept

Designed for young-minded people who value practicality, the 2008 Concept will go into production in 2013 and is based on 
the successful 208. Reflecting the concepts global appeal, the 2008 has been created by Peugeot’s design teams in Paris, Shanghai and Sao Paulo and will go into production in China, France and Brazil. The 2008 will be powered by a new, 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and combines 110bhp with low CO2 emissions and comparable economy to the 208.

Volkswagen Golf MkVII Early 2013

A new VW Golf is always big news, and nothing's changed this time around. VW also know that the expectation placed on a Golf is higher than any of its rivals, and as such the depth of engineering found in their flagship vehicle is hard to match.

The headline figures are that the car is 100kg lighter than the MkVI, which will make it 23% more efficient that before. At the same time, the Golf is also longer and wider, but lower, too. The result is a sportier stance but improved interior space. Inside, a 5.8-inch touchscreen system will be standard in all Golfs, and the centre console is now angled more towards the driver.

Outside, the Golf has changed relatively little, but what did you expect? A strong crease now characterizes the flanks and the agressive front graphic is clearly an evolution of the Golf's immediate predecessor. Active Cyclinder Technology will also deactivate two of the car's four cylinders when they are not required.

Porsche Carrera 4/4S December 2012

We tested the latest iteration of Porsche's iconic 911 earlier this year, albiet in standard Carrera guise, and were blown away by the car's frugality, even during spirited driving. Over 35mpg at motorway speeds is easily achieveable, too.

Head of Design Michael Mauer's effcient design will now receive four-wheel drive treatment, which will see widened rear arches and the signature reflective strip between the rear lightsis now markedly thinner than on previous versions. 

Renault Zoe Spring 2012

We've known what the Zoe will look like for a while, but Paris will see the car exhibited in its final production guise. Renault are aiming to bring pure-electric motoring to the masses with the Zoe and this is reflected in its relatively low price of £13,650 - nearly half that of a Nissan Leaf.

The Zoe also promises bettter performance than current rivals, too, with a range of around 130 miles that can be charged at any level of power. The Zoe, like the Twingo and Twizy, features chief designer Laurens van den Acker's new design indentity for Renault - notably evidenced in the headlights and 'light up' recesses above the front air intake.

Fisker Karma Surf 2013

You would be forgiven for letting Fisker Automotive's existence slip your mind recently. Fierce rivals Tesla have dominated the headlines this year with the success of the Model S and cars like the Twizy have also taken a share of the limelight. 

Fisker have, however, sold over 1000 Karmas worldwide and are opening showrooms across Europe., including two in the UK (London and Manchester). Paris sees a further installment of the Fisker story, where a production version of the Karma-based surf will be revealed. The Surf is aimed at increasing the brand's practical appeal and stays true to the design language of the Karma. It is, however, another example of the resurgence of the fabled 'shooting brake'. The Surf should start at over $100,000 in the USA.

Fiat Panda 4x4 2012

Small, fun, spacious and frugal, Fiat's Panda is already an incredibly accomplished little car even without four-wheel drive, and the addition of a the firm's torque-rich TwinAir engine only serves to strengthen the appeal of a 4x4 Panda. Say hello to your sub 100g/gm CO2 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Mazda6 Estate Late 2012

With the new 6 saloon unveiled at last month's Moscow Auto Salon, Mazda certainly aren't hanging around as Paris sees the estate version revealed.

The 6 is the second vehicle to feature Mazda's impressive SkyActiv technology (which debuted in the CX-5) as well as the new 'KODO - Soul of Motion' design language. The 6, however, is the first car to use i-ELOOP, whereby wasted braking energy is harvested and then used to power the car's electrical components. This is another example of Mazda's ethos of developing established automotive technologies rather than investing heavily in alternative drivetrains.

Chief Designer Akira Tamatani has believes the car's low, wide stance expresses strength and stability. He has also tried to realise a 'powerful presence'.

Ssangyong e-XIV Concept 

e-XIV, standing for 'electric - eXciting user Interface Vehicle, is an EV concept designed to sit within the company's XIV design series. Using a range-extender drivetrain, the e-XIV is self-charged by a small petrol engine; Ssangyong haven't released any technical details, although the roof is constructed from solar panels.


The Paris Motor Show starts at the end of September. More information can be found here.


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