Anyone with even a trace of petrol in his or her blood loves Alfa Romeos. Prime example, this Brera TI. What a beaut. Given Alfas reputation for making zesty engines and thrilling suspensions, these elements make a killer combination. Europeans will enjoy a 185-hp, 2.2-liter four or the companys inspirational 3.2-liter V-6, good for 240 hp. The TI stands for Turismo Internazionale; please let it be so international that it comes over here.
The Paris Motor Show organizers probably have employed extra janitorial staff to stay at the Aston Martin stand to clean up the drool and dropped coffee cups when onlookers see the gorgeous new One-77. It has a handmade aluminum body over a lightweight carbon fiber chassis, with a 7.0-liter V-12 stashed in its handsome nose. Only 77 examples will be made and speculation puts the price at $2 million or thereabouts. Mop-up on aisle three, please.
The sporty version of the 2009 Audi A4 gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 in place of its predecessors V-8. Still, 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque is nothing to be sniffed at. The power plant is more efficient; an average of 24 mpg is Audis claim, which isnt bad for a performance sedan with a zero-to-60 mph time of about five seconds. It will get a dual-clutch transmission for seriously quick gear changes plus Audis trademark all-wheel drive system, where 60% of the power is directed to the rear wheels. With an engine and gearbox positioned farther back in the body than previous models, weight distribution is now more balanced between front and rear. The S4 should be at American dealerships by next fall, priced similar to the outgoing model, currently starting at $48,610.
This big luxury sedan has a last hurrah before following the British Empire into that eternal sunset. Known as the Final Series, it rounds off 10 years of Arnage production. There will be 150 made, each with the companys venerable 50-year-old 6.75-liter V-8. Using twin turbochargers, it produces 500 hp and a remarkable 738 lb-ft of torque. The car also will have special limited-edition touches like a cocktail cabinet with a Final Series stainless steel flask and four Bentley umbrellas stowed in the trunk -- or brollies in the boot, as they say in England -- plus the usual sumptuous leather-and-wood cabin. No doubt a few will be shipped to North America, though it seems a bit too old money to appeal to the Entourage producers.
This is an all-new BMW 7 Series for 2009, the fifth generation. Packed inside this luxury sedan are up-to-the-minute technologies, such as an eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel steering, Internet access and a night-vision system that alerts drivers to the presence of pedestrians. Versions bound for North America will be powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 -- making 400 hp -- and badged 750i or 750iL. As usual, the latter is the longer version with more rear legroom. It will also have air suspension at the back for greater comfort. Mild- and full-hybrid versions are said to be in the pipeline.
The Cruze goes on sale in Europe early next year. Its a compact sedan, one step down from the Malibu. But parent company General Motors claims that its the widest and longest in its class. At launch, it will have either a 1.6-liter or a 1.8-liter gasoline-powered engine, although a 2.0-liter turbo diesel is also available. Americans will have to wait until April 2010 for the U.S.-spec model, which will have a 1.4-liter turbocharged four and a sticker price of around $19,500.
No, it doesnt have two headlights on one side. Any time Citroën does something with a Picasso badge, it means the company pays a royalty to the famous artists estate and theres some kind of practical family vehicle involved. Whatever the thinking is behind that link is anyones guess. Nevertheless, the C3 is one of the more compact cars in the Citroën range, and this taller mini MPV version has room for five plus various seat-folding options to take cargo. Like a Honda Fit with character, diesel power and on sale in Europe only.
The first Ferrari with a retractable hard top. The California is meant to be a more accessible machine from both driving and financial points of view. With an estimated price of about $170,000, accessible is a relative term. Still, it has a glorious 460-hp, 4.3-liter V-8 set within its aluminum body, accompanied by a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. The sprint to 60 mph should happen in under four seconds. Plus the time it takes from now until next spring for one to become available.
The Fiat 500 is a popular small car in Europe -- a rival to the Mini. And Abarth versions of Fiats are aimed at the enthusiast, with slightly more powerful engines, upgraded brakes and a re-tuned suspension. In this instance, the Abarth Essesse (for Super Sport) could rival the Mini Cooper S and is probably a ton of fun to drive. If Fiat ever gets to sell the 500 in North America, this would be a welcome addition to the range.
Its time for American small-car fans to break out the chocolate ice cream and feel sorry for themselves. One of the best-ever pocket rockets, the crisp-handling Ford Ka -- which has entertained Europeans for many years -- never made it across the pond. Now theres a new generation of Ka for 2009, but with the U.S. dollar on the critical list, it looks like the Old World will have this one all to itself as well. Looking on the bright side, it does appear that the Fiesta is coming here.
Designed in Europe for European consumption, the Hyundai i20 subcompact will be built in India and hit European dealers in December. Showing at Paris is the i20 i-blue Concept, an ultra-low-emissions diesel version that manages to get all the current buzz terms (i and blue) into one name. Gasoline engines in the production cars will be 1.2- and 1.4-liter fours, along with a 1.4-liter turbo diesel. Hyundai is considering bringing the i20 to North America, but no decision has been made yet.
Infiniti opens its first European center in Paris this month (October). In that showroom will be the FX37, which Americans may know as the FX35 crossover vehicle. Except this one has the new 3.7-liter, 317-hp V-6, the newest iteration of Nissan/Infinitis well-loved 3.5-liter V-6 (as seen in the FX50). Like the FX35, the car has a seven-speed auto transmission with paddle-shift operation. And no, there are no plans yet for it to come here.
An urban crossover for active people with busy lives is the marketing spiel for Kias Soul. Basically, its a tall, long-ish, front-wheel-drive compact, about the size of a Scion xB. It goes on sale in Europe next February and reaches American dealers soon after, sporting a 140-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with the choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. A 2009 Scion xB is priced at $15,750, so the Soul should be less.
This is going to be such a hit in SoCal -- a convertible Lexus IS 250. Presumably, the SC430 (previously the companys only convertible) will now be discontinued, having been on life support for so long. This one -- making its world premiere in Paris -- will compete with the BMW 3 Series. It gets a 2.5-liter V-6 and a folding aluminum roof. No word yet on availability, but next summer is an educated guess.
Mazda obviously has been putting a lot of energy into its new Mazda 6 sedan, if this midlife tweak of the MX-5 is anything to go by. Paris will see this cars official debut and then squint to find the differences. The grille looks larger, there will be more choices of exterior colors and thats about it. Nonetheless, its still a great little roadster.
The last car to come from the joint operation between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren (of Formula One fame). And it goes for all the high numbers: 641 hp and 605 lb-ft of torque, compared with the 617 hp and 575 lb-ft of the normal SLR Roadster (which, frankly, should be powerful enough for most people). The 722 S, of which only 150 will be produced, also gets stiffer springs, a lower ride height and, with a top speed in excess of 200 mph, becomes one of the worlds fastest convertibles. And expensive; whereas the normal SLR Roadster goes for a comparatively reasonable $495,000, the 722 S version is rumored to cost more than $1 million.
By adopting a hatchback body as well as a sedan, the Lancer can compete even more directly with its main rival, the Subaru Impreza. Sporting the same impressive underpinnings as the Lancer sedan, the Sportback should add more practicality to a fun car. If rumors of a Ralliart version prove correct, then add all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine to the mix. Its a question of when the Sportback will come to the states, not if.
Really small cars are big in Europe, so Nissan has made the Pixo. Its about 11.5 feet long and has a three-cylinder, 1.0-liter engine coupled to a four-speed auto transmission. The car will be made in Suzukis India plant (see the Suzuki Alto) and go on sale in Europe next spring. Chances of the Pixo making a dash for a transatlantic steamer are slimmer than the interest the average Texan would have in it.
General Motors European operation has produced its newest bread-and-butter car, the Opel Insignia, and Paris will witness the debut of this Sports Tourer wagon variant. Why should we care? Come 2010 or 2011, this could well be driving down Main Street as a Saturn. It happened with the Astra, remember.
Pronounced B Zero, this is an electric car from the legendary design house of Pininfarina (whose pen has created the lines of many Ferraris). Anyone thinking it was a concept car can be forgiven, but the company insists that this will go into production, with the first cars available at the end of next year. Range is a claimed 153 miles, and top speed is said to be 80 mph. It can be recharged from a normal household socket and will also feature solar panels on the hood and roof. Some production will take place in Canada, so it might perhaps migrate south.
No chance of this reaching America, but sometimes its good to see what European car makers are doing from a design point of view. This compact hatchback, in the VW Rabbit/Ford Focus bracket, is now in its third generation. Renault isnt afraid to bring unusual styling into the mainstream, but that hasnt always resulted in sales success.
Subaru is renowned for making horizontally opposed, four-cylinder gasoline engines. And very good they are too. The company has now taken the same format and given it diesel power. The result is a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four that develops a respectable 147 hp but a really muscular 258 lb-ft of torque (that push as a vehicle gathers speed). In a crossover SUV like the Forester, its particularly useful for towing. A gallon of diesel also has the added advantage of going further than a gallon of gas. This one could average around 37 mpg. And whos going to enjoy such thrust and thriftiness? Those lucky Euro types, for sure. What about the proud American? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
See also the Nissan Pixo. This is more or less the same (tiny) car, built at the same facility in India and with the same (tiny, but low-emission) 65-hp, 1.0-liter, three-potter. When it goes on sale in Europe, the number in the screen will read 8,000 Euros or thereabouts. At the current exchange rate, thats $11,744.01 -- not that it will ever go on sale over here.
Believe it or not, this is Toyotas flagship sedan in Europe. Now in its third generation, the Avensis is usually a tad smaller than the Camry (which isnt on sale in Europe). The first two iterations were rather dull affairs that never sold as well as the benchmark for its class, the Ford Mondeo. Toyota hasnt said much about the new Avensis apart from the fact that it will be British-built and will have cleaner, more powerful engines than its predecessor. Generations one and two never made it to American showrooms and theres no reason to believe that generation three will be any different.
Smart ... iQ... get it? This is Toyotas answer to that diminutive thing from Mercedes-Benz. But this one has four seats -- the smallest four-seater on the market, in fact, at just 9.8 feet long. Toyota claims 360-degree crash protection, including the worlds first curtain shield air bags installed behind the rear seats. Low, low emissions are also part of the brief. When Europeans start buying it in December, they will have to pay 13,000 Euros (about $19,000). Rumor also has it that Toyota is working on a plug-in hybrid version. Will American iQ rates go up? Right now, that answer would involve ESP, but as gas prices rise, the iQs case gets stronger.
A jacked up Scion xD. Thats more or less what Toyotas Urban Cruiser is. It has all-wheel drive and a 1.4-liter turbo diesel engine the company thinks is just the thing for tomorrows low-carbon society. Whether that includes American society has yet to be decided by the suits in Japan.
Get a nice little 1.6-liter diesel engine, address things like low-friction transmission oil, optimum gear ratios and aerodynamic improvements and, lo, fuel consumption in the low 50s with fewer emissions. Thats what Volvo has done here. Calling the program DRIVe, it applies to the C30, S40 and V50. But Volvo wont DRIVe to this side of the Atlantic.