BMW fwd minivan lines up alongside key French debuts
Key mass market models from French automakers including the Citroen C4 Cactus and Renault Twingo will line up alongside BMW brand's first front-wheel-drive production vehicle in modern times and exotic supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren at the Geneva auto show.
Here are some of the main debuts.
Audi's new TT coupe will feature more angular styling that will give it a closer family resemblance to the mid-engine R8 supercar. The latest TT has a sharper and flatter front end while largely retaining the low, sleek appearance of the current and first-generation models. The TT will be offered with the brand's new Matrix LED technology, where controllable individual light-emitting diodes generate the main headlight beam. The TT coupe is set to go on sale toward the end of the year. A roadster version likely will be unveiled at the Paris auto show in October. Audi will also debut the S1, a higher-performance variant of the Europe-only A1 subcompact.
BMW's minivan-like 2-series Active Tourer, the first front-wheel-drive production vehicle of the automaker's modern era, will likely be greeted by protests from BMW buffs who believe fwd will dilute the brand's vaunted driving dynamics, which are based on rear-wheel drive. BMW says the 2-series Active Tourer is a response to market pressure from drivers with families for premium vehicles that are also functional. The 2-series Active Tourer is underpinned by BMW Group's new fwd architecture that debuted last year on the third-generation Mini hatchback.
BMW will also debut its 4-series Gran Coupe, a four-door car with coupe-like styling. The Gran Coupe is derived from the 4-series coupe but is longer and taller to give the vehicle more headroom and trunk space.
The C4 Cactus compact will be the first car in Citroen's new C-Line range, which positions the brand's mainstream cars as affordable vehicles emphasizing practicality, fuel efficiency and low ownership costs. The C4 Cactus has a higher ride position than the brand's C4 compact hatchback. It also has so-called Airbumps on the exterior body to protect the sides of the car and the bumpers from dents and other damage that can lead to costly repairs. It will go on sale in Europe in June and will be sold alongside the C4 hatchback.
Citroen will also debut its second-generation C1 minicar. Besides a fresh styling, the C1 will have a new variant called Airscape with a sliding fabric roof. The C1 will be built alongside its siblings, the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's joint plant with Toyota in the Czech Republic. All three cars debut in Geneva.
Citroen plans to be the first automaker in Europe to offer a "pay-per-use" leasing scheme with the launch of the new C4 Cactus. The scheme mirrors plans offered by mobile phone operators.
Ferrari has restyled the California coupe-convertible and added a turbocharged engine, which the company says increases the car's performance while cutting fuel consumption by 15 percent in typical daily use compared with the current model.
Ferrari added the letter "T" to the model's name to emphasize the turbocharged 552-hp, 3.9-liter V-8 engine that replaces the naturally aspirated 483-hp, 4.3-liter V-8 unit in the current car. The company also said it has achieved virtually zero turbo lag in the California T.
The Intrado fuel cell concept vehicle previews Hyundai's future styling direction that's being developed by Peter Schreyer, the former Kia design chief who was promoted to head of design for the Hyundai and Kia brands 13 months ago. The concept also showcases a new hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain that's smaller and lighter than the drivetrain powering the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell SUV.
Hyundai says the Intrado's advanced weight-saving features were inspired by the aircraft industry, so the concept was named after the underside of an aircraft's wing.
Ford gives its Focus compact hatchback a midlife face-lift, adding fresh styling, new technology and a more premium feel to the company's No. 2 seller in Europe. The Focus has been styled to include the same trapezoidal grille as other Ford models such as the Fiesta subcompact. It also has slimmer headlights and a restyled bumper. The Focus will offer the smartphone-connected Sync 2, Ford's latest in-car connectivity system with a new 8-inch touchscreen and improved voice control. In addition, the European Focus will be the first Ford globally to offer the company's new hands-free Perpendicular Parking technology, which helps drivers reverse into spaces side-to-side with other cars. New sensors can warn drivers of oncoming cars while reversing out of parking spots, and the current Active City Stop automatic braking function now works at speeds up to 50kph (31 mph) instead of 30kph.
Jeep's new subcompact model will be the brand's first vehicle built only outside of the United States. The "baby" Jeep will be produced at Fiat's plant in Melfi, Italy, alongside a sibling model, the Fiat 500X. The Jeep version will go on sale in Europe in the summer and in the United States late this year. Fiat and Jeep plan annual production of up to 280,000 units of the two models. Jeep's volume will be about 150,000, while Fiat's version will account for 130,000 units, supplier sources say.
Lamborghini has a lot riding on the Huracan, a faster, more nimble replacement for the Gallardo, the brand's $184,895 entry-level supercar and its top-selling model until it went out of production in November after a 10-year run. The Huracan's 601-hp, 5.2-liter, V-10 naturally aspirated engine has 49 hp more than the Gallardo.
It has an aluminum body but makes extensive use of carbon fiber within the bulkhead, floor and roof to shed weight. The Huracan borrows various design elements from the larger Aventador, including its distinctive LED-accented headlamp and taillamp graphics.
Mazda will preview the look of its next-generation Mazda2 subcompact with the Hazumi concept car. Mazda said the Hazumi, a Japanese word meaning "to bound or spring up," showcases "the ideal form of the company's next-generation subcompact car."
Mini will debut the Clubman station wagon concept. Mini is making the Clubman bigger and improving its practicality to boost its competitiveness against premium-brand rivals and its appeal to families. The concept is 260mm longer at 4223mm than the current Clubman -- almost exactly the same length as the Volkswagen Golf. The concept has four doors and loses the rear-hinged half-door of the current model that gave access to the rear seats.
McLaren Automotive will unveil the 650S, a model it says is its "fastest, most engaging, best-equipped and most beautiful series-production supercar yet." The 650S joins the UK supercar maker's lineup alongside the 12C and McLaren P1. It will be offered as a coupe or as a Spider with a retractable hardtop.
The S-class coupe appearing in Geneva replaces the current coupe version of the S class, which is called the CL. It has all of the new safety and convenience features of the S-class sedan that went on sale in October, along with an added feature that Mercedes calls active curve tilting.
"The vehicle leans into bends much like a motorcyclist, thereby reducing the lateral acceleration acting on the vehicle's occupants," said Thomas Weber, board member for r&d. The S-class coupe is lower than the outgoing CL and it has styling lines that are more sculpted and flowing.
Mini will debut the Clubman concept. The station wagon previews the BMW-owned marque's longest and widest model to date. Mini is making the Clubman bigger and improving its practicality to boost its competitiveness against premium-brand rivals and its appeal to families. At 4223mm, the concept is 260mm longer than the current Clubman -- almost exactly the same length as the Volkswagen Golf. The production version, due next year, is likely to look very similar to the concept.
Nissan is updating its Juke subcompact crossover, the company's No. 2 seller in Europe after the Qashqai compact crossover. Nissan said the Juke will get improved efficiency, advanced technology and greater practicality, along with design enhancements to make its styling even more distinctive.
Opel/Vauxhall will expand its Adam minicar range with the Adam Rocks, an off-road-inspired variant, and the Adam S high-performance version. Both models will debut in Geneva together with a frugal new three-cylinder, 1.0-liter gasoline engine that will be offered in the Adam and Corsa subcompact.
The Adam Rocks has off-road cues such as chunky plastic bumpers and a 15mm raised ride height to differentiate the model from the standard Adam hatchback. The Rocks also features a retractable canvas roof.
Peugeot will offer a range personalization options in its new 108 minicar, including six interior trims, and features such as a retractable fabric roof, in a move designed to align the 108 with near-premium rivals such as the segment-leading Fiat 500. Like its siblings, the Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo, the 108 will be offered in three- and five-door bodystyles.
Peugeot will also debut the 308 SW, a wagon version of the new 308 hatchback.
Chinese automaker Qoros has recruited a large number of Western automotive executives, including ex-Mini design boss Gert Hildebrand, in a bid to build cars that match the quality and safety of established brands in the United States and Europe. It appears to be succeeding. In September, the Qoros 3 compact sedan became the first China-built model to receive a five-star rating under the European New Car Assessment Program testing protocol. In Geneva, Qoros will debut a hatchback version of the car. Qoros has started sales in China and eastern Europe.
Renault is touting a sporty design, maneuverability and a roomy interior as features that will boost sales of its new rear-wheel-drive Twingo in Europe's highly competitive minicar segment. The Twingo's new rwd layout, which is highly unusual in the minicar segment, will give the car agile handling while the engine's location under the trunk creates more cabin space, Renault says.
The Twingo has been jointly developed with Daimler and it shares an all-new platform with the new-generation Smart ForTwo and upcoming Smart ForFour. The Twingo will switch to a five-door layout. The current car is offered only as a three-door model.
SsangYong signals its plans to join the fast-growing subcompact SUV/crossover segment with the XLV concept (eXciting smart Lifestyle Vehicle). The concept is powered by a 1.6-liter diesel engine and an electric motor powered. The XLV has room for seven passengers in an innovative 2+2+2+1 arrangement, where the seventh seat slides between the second and third rows.
The VisionC four-door coupe concept previews design elements of the next Superb and Fabia models planned to launch within the next two years, Skoda says. The concept is the same length as the Octavia compact. Skoda says it has no immediate plans to build a coupelike four-door sedan. The concept has a fresh front end styling to include narrower headlights and a sleeker grille shape.
Suzuki says its Celerio minicar will replace its Alto and Splash models in Europe, marking the end of the automaker's cooperation with Opel in small cars. The five-door Celerio will have a European debut in Geneva after its global unveiling last week at the New Delhi auto show in India. Suzuki says the Celerio will offer the space of the larger Splash with the price and economy of the smaller Alto. Suzuki said the Celerio is bigger than the Alto and has a larger trunk.
Volkswagen's T-ROC concept previews styling cues for its future SUVs. The three-door, four-seat T-ROC is based on VW's new MQB platform that underpins VW Group models such as the latest VW Golf and the Audi A3. Volkswagen will also show a new Golf plug-in hybrid with the GT label it uses for its sporty models in a bid to boost the car's appeal. The 201-hp Golf GTE plug-in hybrid will be the first Golf to carry the GTE badge. A refreshed lineup for the Polo subcompact range will also be shown.
Volvo will preview the sleek look of its future station wagons with the Concept Estate, which also reveals the automaker's intention to offer simpler interiors where a large touchscreen replaces most buttons and controls.
Volvo says the three-door Concept Estate shows how the automaker plans to capitalize on the success of current-generation wagons such as the V70 and XC70 while also taking cues from vintage models. Like Volvo's other prototypes -- the Concept Coupe and the Concept XC Coupe -- the face of the Concept Estate is characterized by a floating grille.
Luca Ciferri, Mark Rechtin, Diana T. Kurylko, Nick Gibbs, Douglas A. Bolduc, Bruce Gain, Claire Bal and Autoweek's Greg Kable contributed to this report.
You can reach Paul McVeigh at email@example.com.