Paris Motor Show 2018: Highlights

November 11, 2018

As the face of the automotive landscape continues to change at a pace, the worlds major motor shows provide a high profile platform for manufacturers to showcase their latest machinery and this year’s Paris Motor Show was a hotbed for just that.

Taking place in the heart of Paris, the Paris Motor Show is the largest motor show in the world by visitor numbers. Seeing over a Million visitors over the course of the event it’s somewhat fitting that an event of this kind takes place in the centre of a sprawling city, after all, recent advances in technology, be that through hybrid or full electrification, look to improve air quality in exactly these environments.

Much publicised this year was the notable absentees from the show which included Mini, McLaren, Volvo, Ford and Nissan to name a few. Manufacturers such as Lamborghini and Aston Martin were also absent but were represented at local dealership level. Reasons for these manufacturers opting to skip Paris varied with some opting to just focus on one European show in 2018, whereas other manufacturers cited the recent introduction of the new WLTP test (Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Vehicles Test Procedure). The consequences of which mean that manufacturers are having to re-engineer and redesign their products to comply with new European wide legislation.

Whilst the absentees were notable, there was still much to see at this years show with a couple of machines in particular capturing visitors attention.

One of these highlights was Porsche’s Speedster concept. Designed in Porsche’s 70th anniversary year, the Speedster draws upon styling and heritage from Porsche’s illustrious career. The original Speedster was the car that got the Porsche story started and proved to be the design inspiration for arguably one of the best sports cars on sale today, the 911. The heritage inspiration on the 911 Speedster concept is clear to see. Featuring a prominently placed central fuel filler cap on the front hood, beautifully designed wing mirrors and a stripped back, but bespoke, interior, the Speedster concept is clearly a well thought-out machine. Built on the underpinnings of the acclaimed 991 generation 911, this concept looks set to be an accomplished drivers car and a fitting present to Porsche’s loyal customer base in its 70th year.

Whilst the latest from Porsche was stealing the headlines there were was another notable car making its debut and this was BMW’s latest 3 Series. One of the German manufacturers best selling models the 3 Series has established itself as one of the leading German executive saloons.

The 2019 3 Series unveiled at Paris is another glimpse into BMW’s latest design philosophy. Whilst previous models have been very much a case of evolution over revolution, this new ‘3’ is dramatically different. Immediately the differences are clear. Heavier lines and revised front and rear aprons give this car a much sharper and a more accomplished stance. It looks purposeful whilst holding real poise and this is enhanced further by all-new front and rear light clusters and a more angular take on the iconic, and constant, dual kidney BMW grille.

On the inside, the changes continue. All new is the dashboard and controls with every area of the interior receiving a refresh. The cabin on the new ‘3’ is a much more contemporary place to be and demonstrates that BMW is on an exciting path for future design. With the first deliveries expected to commence in March 2019, it will be interesting to see if it retains its place as one of BMW’s best sellers.

Another notable showpiece came from Ferrari. Announced in the run-up to the event, the Ferrari Monza SP1 was on display marking its public debut. The first product of the marques new Icona programme, the SP1 is part of a pair of supercars which also includes the SP2.

One and two-seat supercars, as identified by their titles, the Monza machines are built on the same platform as the 812 Superfast and also carries over its V12 powertrain. Whilst being technically similar, this is where the similarities end as the Monza features a fully bespoke and coachbuilt body. On top of this, there’s the aspect of these cars being completely open top. With no windscreen, these machines are a direct throwback to the Ferrari Barchetta, the 1947 166 MM, and the 750 and 860 Monza machines which saw success at the Millie Miglia and the World Sports Car Championship.

Elsewhere in the hypercar world you had Lamborghini displaying their, also recently launched, Aventador SV J. The ultimate specification of the highly acclaimed Aventador, the SV J employs the use of active aerodynamics, coming courtesy of Lambos’ ‘ALA’ programme. With power upped and revised bodywork to boot, the SV J has been setting headlines around the motoring world as it recently lapped the infamous Nurburgring in a mighty time of 6:44:970.

Also at the show was French manufacturer Bugatti who were displaying their outrageous looking Divo machine on European soil for the first time. Seeing the light of day at Septembers Pebble Beach Concours, the Divo builds on the legacy built by the Veyron and Chiron. With emphasis placed more firmly on lap time rather than out and out speed, the Divo is a completely overhauled machine and features numerous technical revisions alongside revised aesthetics.

Being witness to some of the cars on show in Paris, the world of the hypercar appears to be in rude health. Not so long ago in the face of growing climate and environmental concerns, coupled with tighter government legislation, the future of machines of this nature seemed bleak. However, thanks to the use of clever hybrid and electronic systems combined with the utilisation of advances in internal combustion engine technology, the potential of these cars have reached new heights. Whilst these cars steal the headlines there were a number of other machines that shone a light into the future and two of these headline machines came from German manufacturer Audi.

Taking centre stage were the marques eTron SUV and PB18 concept. Both of these machines utilise full battery technology and employ full electrification to put the power to the road. Whilst built to the same philosophy, both of these cars are completely different. The eTron is an all-electric SUV and represents Audi’s first foray into a mass-market electric vehicle. With the likes of Tesla stealing a march on the mainstream manufacturers, Audi is having to play catch up and it’s hoped within the Audi group that the eTron is the machine to take the fight to Elon Musk’s Tesla.

Scarred in the aftermath of Diesel gate, the VW Audi Group needs this car to succeed. Based on the marques successful Q models, the eTron brings all of the comforts of a premium SUV and packages them into a capable electric vehicle. Going on sale in 2019, the eTron boasts a range of over 248 miles and fast charging.

At the other end of the electric spectrum was Audi’s PB18 concept. Whilst only a concept, this car could give several notable design cues of how a future and fully electric Audi R8 could look. Boasting a central driving position, electric motors at each wheel and a heavily aerodynamic led cockpit and body shape, the emphasis on the PB18 has been set on performance. Whilst full details are sketchy and with no real plans to introduce this car into production any time soon, we must only take this concept at face value. However if only a few elements of this concept were carried over into production, the future of the electric car looks set to be an exciting one.

The Paris Motor Show is a tantalising insight into the year ahead in the automotive world. With automotive technology advancing at a pace and the way we consume and own our vehicles ever changing, the automotive landscape looks set to evolve further still over the course of the next 12 months.

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