Paris Motor Show opens with new SUVs,Porsches and scooter hybrids

24th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 24 (AFP) - Car makers at the Paris Motor Show have unveiled their latest models, ranging from super sporty Porsches and new BMWs, through beefy SUVs and restyled sedans to a couple of ultra-tiny vehicles that are essentially scooters on four wheels.

PARIS, Sept 24 (AFP) - Car makers at the Paris Motor Show have unveiled their latest models, ranging from super sporty Porsches and new BMWs, through beefy SUVs and restyled sedans to a couple of ultra-tiny vehicles that are essentially scooters on four wheels.  

The new offerings will be on display for two weeks at the show, when it opens its doors to the public on Saturday.  

Around 1.5 million visitors are expected to file through the vast halls during the event, among the top four trade shows in the world along with Geneva, Frankfurt and Detroit.  

SUVs are especially prominent this year, though in a concession to pollution concerns and moves by some city authorities to get them off urban streets, manufacturers have started also offering shrunken versions that are easier to park and less fuel-hungry.  

While the glamour of top-flight sportscars is also in the spotlight, and luxury car makers Rolls-Royce and Maybach made clear their intention to move further into booming Asian markets, much of the sprawling Motor Show is given over to more prosaic vehicles and all the sideline businesses that rely on the multi-billion auto industry.  

That industry has hit some soft spots worldwide, notably in Europe, however.  

"The European market is depressed, customers aren't confident and they are saving instead of spending," said the head of Ford Europe, Lewis Booth, as he explained his division's billion-dollar loss in 2003.  

Nevertheless, Ford and other companies have invested heavily in rolling out new models they hope will seduce reluctant buyers, setting the scene for ever more ferocious competition on the old continent.  

Concept cars bearing the dreams of designers also play to the public's imagination during the Motor Show, including many fanciful people-movers that look like sci-fi props but stand little chance of going into mass production.  

Among the new models being presented:     

PORSCHE   The German sportscar maker presented its new generation of Boxsters and flagship 911 Carrera.  

The second-generation Boxster has kept the same overall look, but changed the headlight design and added larger wheels. Horsepower has been boosted in the standard model and a significant one in the Sports version, pushing the latter from 0-100 kilometres per hour (kph) in 5.5 seconds and promising a top speed of 268 kph.  

The pricier 911 Carrera tops even that blistering pace, with the S-version's 3.8-litre engine making 0-100 kph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 293 kph.     

BMW   If Porsche's two seats aren't enough, BMW offers a fourth-generation M5, a five-litre, V-10 engine delivering 500 horsepower through a seven-speed gearbox that is said to give a power-to-weight ratio and handling that is normally reserved for race tracks.  

More sedately, the German company also showed off its new four-seater, rear-wheel-drive hatchback, the 1 Series, with a performance more suited to urban streets and motorways than airport tarmacs.     

FERRARI   The Italian stable, as could be expected, offers a new F430 (V8, aluminium chassis and frame) that hits 0-100 kph in four seconds and tops out at 315 kph without limiter.     

DAIMLER-CHRYSLER   The new baby from Daimler-Chrysler's Mercedes-Benz division is its Sports Tourer, a mish-mash of station wagon, minivan and SUV designed for large families. The group's Jeep SUVs were also presented for the European market, displaying the chunky, rugged looks that have seduced soccer moms living in suburbs across the United States.     

CITROEN   The French car maker's C3 Stop and Start vehicle aims to cut down on C02 emissions and stop the engine every time speed drops to zero as an anti-noise-pollution measure.     

KIA   The sister company to South Korea's Daihatsu has also jumped on the SUV bandwagon with its Sportage SUV range.     

MAZDA   Mazda led the minivan premieres with a compact people-mover able to switch from five to seven seats.     

PIAGGIO   The Italian brand known for its scooters parked a few of its tiny cars with tiny engines at the show. The vehicles - more or less passenger boxes fixed to lawnmower-sized motors - require no driving licence and are a breeze to park in crowded cities, which are their only habitat given the top speed of around 50 kph.     

ETUD INTEGRAL   In the same vein as Piaggio's toy cars, but adding a futuristic form that resembles a transparent skull of a creature from one of the "Alien" films, this company showed off a concept car also based on a scooter engine.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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