The Paris Motor Show 2012 Roundup

For those of you who missed out on the Paris Motor Show, here is a roundup of all the news For full picture gallery visit www.facebook.com/vehiclefinance.

Is Paris 2012 the new face of motor shows, you wonder? So many stands seem to be focusing on just one model. While this is not a new phenomenon – Volkswagen had nothing but Polos on its Geneva floor space a couple of years ago – never have so many manufacturers employed the same tactic at the same time.

Starting at General Motors, there were Adams everywhere. With a claimed one million possible colour, trim and engine combinations for the new Vauxhall/Opel alternative to the Mini, Fiat 500 and Citroen DS3, GM seemed to be trying to show the lot. Not all the the colour schemes were things you would recommend to your friends, it has to be said.

Downstairs, Jaguar had nothing but F-TYPES, and Land Rover focused exclusively on the new Range Rover. VW’s vast acreage was devoted to the new Golf, including GTI and Bluemotion concepts that are as near as the finished articles. Renault seemed to have nothing but new Clios, though you did eventually stumble across a few electric Zoes.

Given the state of the French auto industry, which recently saw PSA announce that it will close the Aulnay plant north of Paris, you might have expected lots of long faces and maybe even a protest or two. The French trade minister hardly got proceedings off to a cordial start by saying that his countrymen should boycott Korean cars because their long warranties are tantamount to dumping. Surely the remedy is in the French auto industry’s own hands?

The new Renault Clio looks like a promising attempt to redress past failings, though its more blokey styling might put off the traditionally loyal female following.

If the Peugeot 208 GTI drives as well as it looks, buyers are in for a treat. There will be an initial limited-edition run of just 54, of which 29 will come to the UK. Why 29? Because it’s 29 years since the launch of the iconic 205 GTI, which the hot 208 hopes to emulate.

Citroen’s DS3 Cabrio is a bit of a damp squib, though – not really a cabrio at all; just a supermini with a full-length peel-back sunroof. Still, it’s a major improvement on the Meccano set that was the Pluriel.

Small cars and crossovers are in plentiful supply, which is hardly surprising as they are about the only things doing well in Europe at the moment. With that in mind, the refreshed Ford Fiesta is more significant than the all-new Mondeo. Both are here. In an ‘up yours’ gesture to the aforementioned trade minister, Kia introduced a stylish new three-door pro_cee’d (and a smart replacement for the compact Carens MPV, too).

The car of the show has to be the new Golf, purely on the grounds of the impact it will have. The might of Germany was probably best revealed in a couple of concepts, though. Unstoppable Audi had the Crosslane Coupe, a sort of roofless two-door crossover significant because it is built around an aluminium-and-carbonfibre space-frame in which even the grille surround is a structural element. Don’t bet on this being the last you’ll see of it. BMW’s Concept Active Tourer could well become the third model in the company’s i electrified range, and even uses the i8’s hybrid powertrain. There are none-to-subtle hints that it has been confirmed for production.

It was the sort of show where even a reputedly £1 million McLaren supercar, the P1, did not get headline attention, and the company was relegated to the graveyard slot in the press conference schedule. Reality has got a firm grip on the European auto industry, nowhere more so than in France.

Andrew Kirkley
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  • 2nd October 2012

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