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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 27, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

    Paris motor show: New model highlights

    Michael McAleer

    As we come to the end of the first day of the Paris motor show, time to reflect on some of the new cars heading our way in the next few months.


    The Jaguar F-Type was one of the surprises of the show, much better looking in the metal than the press shots let on. It’s a really tidy stylish little package with a design that offers a mix of artistic lines to the rear and real menace at the front. Some suggest it has Maserati looks in its DNA, but Scottish designer Ian Callum was clearly playing on the heritage of the E-Type when he was sketching this car. And he needed to keep it modern and sleek for the F-Type has its sights firmly set on taking sales from the likes of the Porsche Cayman.
    On offer with three powertain options – 3-litre V6 in 340bhp or 380bhp format, or 5-litre supercharged 495bhp – it will hit Irish showrooms in March. Prices are likely to start at €80,000 for the 340bhp version. Launched in a soft-top, we can already start to imagine how good a coupe version would look. Jaguar might be a niche brand, but it’s really on the rise.
    Sister firm Land Rover is also bucking the industry trend with phenomenal demand for its Range Rover Evoque. Sales are up 40% year-to-date and while European sales might not be challenging the big volume players, the Asian markets can’t seem to get enough of the British brand. With that in mind the arrival of new Range Rover – the fourth since the model was launched in 1974 – should spell sales success for the firm, particularly in China. It’s got a noticeably smaller front grille that takes a little away from the usual Range Rover stance, but the car is as plush inside as any luxury car. Using aluminium the firm has also drastically reduced its weight, down a whopping 420kgs on the outgoing model. It’s still going to be silly money to tax one, but at least the emissions are going in the right direction, with promises it will come in below 200g/km. Good, but still several hundred euros a year more than most Irish motorists could afford.

    Sticking on the theme of weight loss and the new VW Golf has dropped an impressive 15 per cent on average compared to the previous version. The new car comes with a host of engine options, including a BlueMotion version that will deliver 85g/km. It’s still clearly a Golf, but has been updated and tweaked enough to please the millions of customers who keep coming back for more.


    The flagship GTi is the hot news from the VW stand. When it arrives next year the 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine will be available with an optional power boost package that will bring it from the standard 218bhp to 227bhp. New to the GTi range will be VW’s progressive steering system, which reduces the number of degrees of turn the driver needs to apply to the steering wheel. That means lighter parking and tighter handling on twisty roads.


    Over at Toyota, the big news is the arrival of the new Auris, even if it’s not quite that big news since details and images of the car have been on the go since mid-August. New to the range is the Auris Tourer, an estate version that was sadly missing from the range since the end of the Corolla estate in the early 2000s. Toyota has also confirmed new versions of the people carrier Auris variants.
    The Auris estate will arrive in Ireland in November with an engine range that includes a 1.4-litre diesel, 1.3- and 1.6-litre petrol and a hybrid variant running on the same powertrain as the current Prius. While the estate is unlikely to exceed 10 per cent of Auris sales in Ireland, on the Continent it makes up over a quarter of sales.


    At the premium end of the market BMW and Audi both revealed concepts that showcase future production models. First up was Audi with its Crossland Coupe concept car, a sneak peek at what the upcoming Q2 will look like.


    Meanwhile arch-rivals BMW showed off its upcoming rival to the Mercedes B-Class. The Concept Active Tourer is not only a high-roofed family hatch, but will also breaks with the BMW rear-wheel-drive tradition.
    The firm is also boasting another first in Paris in that it has opened one of the first BMW boutique shops in the city, on the famous Avenue George V. Sitting alongside the highest of high fashion brands in the plushest shopping street in Paris, the store will be a front for selling the brand not only in terms of merchandise but, BMW executives hope, selling some cars as well through association with the other names it sits alongside on Paris most prestigious avenue.

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