Paris Motor Show: 5 Cars to Watch

By Jonathan Spira on 1 October 2012
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BMW’s Ian Robertson and the Concept Active Tourer

PARIS—This year’s Paris Motor Show saw the introduction of more than 100 new models in the first two days of press previews. At press conference after press conference, car executives extolled new features and highlighted fuel efficiency and performance figures as the wraps were quite literally pulled off the new cars.

Much of the news had already been leaked in the weeks prior to the show but the excitement was still there, from the debut of Jaguar’s F-Type in the middle of a torrential downpour (it was held on the grounds of the Musée Rodin but organizers had thought ahead and ordered a tent, just in case) to the introduction of Volkswagen’s market-leading (and very frugal) Golf.

Here are five cars that are worthy of your attention as they will in some manner, shape, or form, end up on sale at a dealership near you.

BMW Concept Active Tourer.  BMW concepts have a way of materializing within a year or two as production models and the BMW Concept Active Tourer will likely be no exception.  The plug-in hybrid powertrain is paired with a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline fueled engine and, if it makes it to market in this configuration, would be the Bavarian automaker’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle. Expect to see the Concept Active Tourer influence the look of other new models in the next few years as well.

Jaguar F-Type.  The Jaguar E-Type was first shown in 1961, a half century ago, and was considered one of the most beautiful cars ever conceived.  It was somewhat inexplicably discontinued in 1974 and its absence has left a hole in the Jaguar lineup ever since.  This means that its replacement, the F-Type, has some big shoes to fill in order not to disappoint.  During the launch event, perhaps in an attempt to dissuade direct comparison, Ian Callum, Jaguar’s chief designer, continuously emphasized how many of the F-Type’s design cues were inspired by the E-Type but “reinterpreted.”

Mini Paceman.  The sleek Mini Paceman and its superhot cousin, the John Cooper Works GP special edition, are unquestionably in the most fun to drive category of this year’s intros.  The GP special edition has a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine capable of producing 218 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, and comes with an overboost function that brings that number up to 207 pound-feet.

Land Rover Range Rover.  The Land Rover flagship model was placed on a diet and it worked.  The storied British automaker, now under Indian ownership, was able to shave off 700 pounds by using lighter-weight materials.  The new flagship SUV will command the road when it starts arriving in dealerships next year.

Volkswagen Golf.  Fresh from a visit to a Wolfsburg spa, the Volkswagen Golf, now in its seventh generation, lost 220 pounds but none of its trademark design cues.  Indeed, while it’s a completely new design (unlike the past generation, which was more of a makeover of its predecessor), it still has a look that is evolutionary, not revolutionary.  While the gasoline model has greatly improved fuel economy, it’s the Golf BlueMotion’s 65 mpg (3.6 l/100 km) that is truly worthy of note.

Honorable Mention: Ford Mondeo.  The European-only Ford Mondeo, revealed prior to the show at an event in Amsterdam, is a cousin of the Ford Fusion that is sold in the United States and was clearly a candidate for belle of the Paris ball.  The Mondeo comes with hybrid, gasoline, and diesel options and will get a 3-cylinder 1.0-liter Ecoboost gasoline-fueled powerplant that develops 120 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque but will hit 148 pound-feet with overboost.


(Photos: Jonathan Spira)

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