The Paris Motor Show 2016 is all about the e-mobility revolution: Dozens of concept cars and series production electric cars await the visitors of this year’s Mondial de l’automobile. But with new technology there also seems to be a new era for the motor shows coming in general. Following the North American International Auto Show in January, the Paris Motor Show is the second major motor show this year with a strong decline in exhibitors.
No Bentley, no Lamborghini, no Rolls-Royce, no McLaren, no Ford, no Chevrolet, no Mazda, no tuners and last but not least no Volvo… and rumors have it that even the Volkswagen Group is considering to not return to Paris in two years time – which would certainly be a big blow to one of the oldest and most popular motor show in Europe measured by visitors. It is clear that the coming year we will witness a fundamental change to the ‘car’ as we know it but also motor shows have to reinvent themselves to adapt to new realities.
Having said that there were still plenty of interesting cars and concepts celebrating their World or European premiere at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center. The success of Tesla and the Volkswagen diesel scandal inspired nearly every manufacturer to bring at least one ‘large-range’ electric car to Paris. But where some preview visions and electric cars for the near to not-so-near future like the Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ (2019) and Volkswagen I.D. (2020) – some offer electric cars that are already available or will be available in the next few months like the Tesla Model S & Model X (500km+ range), Opel Ampera-e (500 km range) and Renault Zoe (400 km range).
But it is clear that the German manufacturers woke up and no longer seek to compromise with plug-in hybrids but chose to attack Tesla head-on with full electric vehicles that offer significant range and cutting edge assistance systems.
Favorite concept cars of the Paris Motor Show 2016
Renault surprised us with a stunning silver full-electric sportscar concept dubbed the Renault Trezor. The doors have been replaced by a lightweight body shell that opens completely to let driver and passenger get in and out of the car. The design by Laurens van den Acker sets a tone for future production vehicles. The chances that this car will ever make production are pretty much zero but it is a stunning highlight of this year’s Paris show nonetheless.
Mercedes-Benz goes full steam ahead with their electrification strategy and in Paris we could witness the unveiling of the first concept of the new EQ sub-brand. It is a sporty SUV similar in size to the GLC Coupe and should have at least 500 km of range when it hits the market in 2019. Until 2025 Mercedes-Benz wants to have at least 10 full electric models on the market that bring in 10-25% of the company’s total sales – an ambitious goal but the electric revolution could go faster than most of us expect. The design is quite futuristic but a few changes to details like the front grille, overall lines, bright and spacious interior could see production in just three years.
Following the Volkswagen diesel scandal and management shuffle the company from Wolfsburg is trying to get back on track. One of the ways Volkswagen hopes to regain it’s position is with a new range of full electric cars. The first of the range based on the new MEB architecture should be this Golf-sized car dubbed the Volkswagen I.D. It should hit the market in 2020 and come with a 400-600 kilometer range depending on configuration. In addition Volkswagen Group will add a new brand to the group focussed on mobility services including car sharing. Talking to various people of the Volkswagen Group in Paris we get the feeling they are still a bit lost and lack a clear vision and strategy to regain traction.
The most conventional concept car among our highlights comes from BMW. The BMW X2 concept is a sporty compact SUV that fills one of the last gaps in the BMW line-up and will be positioned somewhere between the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q2 and Land Rover Evoque. The X2 is 7cm lower, 2cm wider and 3cm shorter than the BMW X1 and should appeal to an urban crowd with a sporty exterior and we quite like it. It will come largely as displayed here on the market in 2018 minus some of its sharp edges.
Honda teases the next generation Civic Type R at the Paris Motor Show. The big news is not really that there will be a successor but that Honda plans to sell it in the USA. The concept for the Civic Type R remains largely the same: aggressive design, front-wheel drive and a 2 liter petrol engine. Performance details are still unknown but 300hp is likely and knowing Honda they are keen to retake the front-wheel drive car record on the Nurburgring Nordschleife when the next generation Civic Type R hits the market in a few years.
The second European premiere of the stunning Maybach 6 Concept didn’t go unnoticed. On the Mercedes-Benz stand which was largely dominated by white and silver cars the bright red Maybach 6 stood out. First shown at Pebble Beach and later at Chantilly Arts & Elegance, it is a one-off design concept that comes in a long line of concept cars that will never make production but previews the path of where the design language is heading.
World Premiere Highlights of the Paris Motor Show 2016
Finally the LaFerrari Aperta sees the limelight! After months of speculation we can confirm that the Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta will be limited to 200 customer cars plus 9 cars factory cars that might be auctioned at a later stage. The drivetrain is similar to the hardtop LaFerrari with a V12 petrol engine paired to a electric motor producing a peak of 967hp. Top speed lies in excess of 350 km/h and 0-100 km/h is reached in less than 3 seconds. All LaFerrari Apertas were already sold out long before its unveiling in Paris.
AMG CEO Tobias Moers unveiled the sexy new Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster at an exclusive preview event the night prior to the Paris Motor Show 2016. Along with the AMG GT Roadster the GT C Roadster is a topless version of the AMG GT sportscar. The AMG GT C Roadster combines elements from the AMG GT R with the looks and driving experience of a roadster. First customer deliveries are expected beginning of next year – just in time for the convertible season in Europe and the US.
Audi’s ultimate performance version of the A3 Sedan shines away in Paris along with the RS3 LMS racing version. The RS3 Sedan features the new five cylinder engine from the Audi TT-RS while the RS3 LMS gets the 2.0L four cylinder engine from the TT Cup challenger. The Audi RS3 Sedan looks like a true pocket rocket and will be available from the beginning of next year.
The second generation Q5 is 90 kilogram lighter than its predecessor and comes with a completely new interior including Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The exterior and dimensions are very similar to the old Q5 but in my opinion that is not necessarily a bad thing for the Q5. Stay tuned for a full review of the 2017 Audi Q5 soon!
The all new Discovery marks the 5th generation and means one of the biggest leaps for the iconic Land Rover. Not only is the design years ahead of the last generation but also a big step forward technologically. The new Discovery is 480 kilogram lighter thanks to a new aluminium architecture and the design brings the Discovery closer to the exclusive Range Rover line. What remains is the third seating row – which comes as standard – as well as an 8-speed gearbox with high and low gearing.
The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid celebrates its world premiere in Paris but our highlight is the new 911 GT3 Cup based on the facelifted 911. It comes with a new 4.0 liter flat-six that lifts the output to 485hp, weight is further reduced to 1,200 kg. The first customers can take delivery of their GT3 Cup cars ahead of the start of the 2017 season in March.
For more world premieres visit our Paris Motor Show 2016 channel!