The Top 10 Debuts of the 2014 Paris Motor Show
The famous song lyric may be “I love Paris in the springtime,” but many car fans prefer the City of Light in the fall, or at least the fall of an even-numbered year. It is on those occasions that the Paris Motor Show is held, and the 2014 renewal of this biennial shindig has plenty of sweet production and concept rides on display. The following 10 vehicles are the ones that really got our attention, not unlike a stale baguette to the noggin.
Ferrari 458 Speciale A
The Ferrari 458 Speciale is a serious track toy that also happens to be street legal. But what if you want that dual purpose nature, plus the ability to get the most out of a great-weather day? Then you find a way to get your hands on a new Ferrari 458 Speciale A, which is pretty much identical to the regular Speciale except for the presence of a retractable hardtop. It’s not as light or as stiff as its fixed-roof sister, but when that 597 horsepower 4.5L V8 is screaming away just over your right shoulder, we’re betting you’ll decide that neither of those things matter.
Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 Concept
Lamborghini has built lots of different production and concept models over the years, but never a hybrid. That changes with the Asterion LPI 910-4 Concept, a two-seat super coupe that combines the Huracan’s 5.2L V10 with a threesome of electric motors to net a combined 897 horsepower (910 metric horsepower, hence the name) and a battery-power-only range of 31 miles. The softer styling strikes us as Miura-like, and is a nice respite from the angularity that has been a hallmark of every productionLamborghini since the Countach. Hopefully we’ll see the Asterion (which is named after the Minotaur, the bull/man hybrid – Get it? – of Greek mythology) or something like it in showrooms sometime during the second half of the decade.
Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L Concept
The legend of Citroen is built upon the backs of voitures that are equal doses of wacky and brilliant: The 2CV. The DS. The SM. You get the idea. Now there’s the Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L Concept, which is based on the already-zany (Dig that acne on the doors!) C4 Cactus crypto-crossover. It’s a hybrid, but instead of teaming the three-cylinder gas engine with one or more electric motors, there’s a pump that crams air into a storage tank; that compressed air is then discharged from the tank to propel the car either in addition to or in place of the gas engine. The result is a claimed 2 liters of petrol consumed for every 100 kilometers (62 miles) traveled, hence the “2L” in the name. That figure works out to 118 miles per U.S. gallon. Sacrebleu, son…
Audi TT Sportback Concept
While history has multiple instances of manufacturers expanding traditionally-two-door-only model lines to include four-doors (e.g. Ford Thunderbird, Pontiac Grand Prix and, more recently, BMW 6 Series), the Audi TT is one of the last vehicles you would expect to get this treatment. This is not to say that the Audi TT Sportback Concept isn’t a looker; quite the opposite, in fact. And a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four making 394 horsepower, quattro AWD and a claimed 0-62 mph time of 3.9 seconds are certainly praiseworthy. We guess we’re just bummed that there’s now one less sacred thing in the auto industry, even if it is – for the moment – officially just a concept.
Honda Civic Type R Concept
Over the years, there has been plenty of forbidden hot hatch fruit that’s never made it to America. One of the most glaring examples of this phenomenon is the Honda Civic Type R, the car that makes every generation of Civic Si seem like something your Gram-Gram would drive to bingo night and Rite Aid by comparison. And the newest Civic Type R – revealed in “concept” *vigorous wink*vigorous wink* form in Paris – is set to be the most rabid one yet. No, its engine is no longer a yowling naturally-aspirated mill, but the new turbocharged 2.0L inline-four is set to produce at least 276 horsepower. Alas, word is this hot Honda will continue the line’s proud tradition of saying, “Screw you, Johnny America!” But hey, that’s more Yankee butts for Focus ST, WRX and Golf R seats…
Peugeot Quartz Concept
Like any mainstream automaker that wants to succeed in this day and age, Peugeot offers a crossover, the 4008. However, it’s built by Mitsubishi and based on that company’s ASX (known as the Outlander Sport over here); not exactly the sort of vehicle that gets the pulse racing. The Peugeot Quartz Concept, on the other hand, does quicken the pulse, and not just because of the adventurous styling. The Quartz is powered by a turbocharged 1.6L inline-four making a ridiculous 270 horsepower, plus a pair of electric motors (one in front, one in back) to boost total output to 500 horsepower. That kind of pep will make your face flatter than a crepe.
You say you love the new Mercedes-AMG GT but wish it had room for more than two people? Good news! The new Mercedes-AMG C63 utilizes the same brand-new 4.0L twin-turbo V8 as the GT, but wraps it in a useful sedan (and, if you live in Europe, station wagon) package. The standard car is rated at 469 horsepower, while the top gun C63 S makes 503 horsepower. If cars could assume the fetal position, we’re pretty sure the 425 horsepower BMW M3 would be doing that right now.
Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept
Although Infiniti now sells a long-wheelbase version of the Q70 (formerly M) sedan, it’s not really a flagship in the way the three generations of Q45 were. However, Infiniti might have a big sedan back in its lineup sooner rather than later, if this Q80 Inspiration Concept is any indication. The wild, flowing styling helps conceal the car’s large size, but it does an even better job of concealing the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 hybrid powertrain that’s supposedly good for 550 horsepower and will be landing in some Infiniti production model in about two years’ time.
The last time Jaguar dipped its toe into the small sedan waters, it used what was, effectively, a gussied up Ford Contour. The Leaping Kitty’s new 3 Series challenger, the XE, is most definitely not a mainstream family sedan in a tux; it’s based on Jaguar’s new scalable aluminum vehicle architecture, and will be offered in most markets with a gaggle of turbocharged gas and diesel inline-fours, while the top-level (for now) XE S will use Jaguar Land Rover’s supercharged 3.0L V6. Sadly, we’re 99.9999% sure we’ll only get the peppiest gas four-banger and the V6 in America, and we’ll have to wait at least another year before it comes here. Why you gotta blueball us like that, Jag?
Volkswagen XL Sport Concept
For those of you who wondered if there would be any cross-pollination between Ducati and the VW Group resulting from the latter’s purchase of the former, wonder no more. The Volkswagen XL Sport Concept (a sportier, wider-rumped version of the brand’s limited production, Europe-only XL1 hyper-economy car) is propelled by the Ducati 1199 Superleggera’s 1,199cc V-twin. Its 197 horsepower is enough to fling the 1,962 lb. coupe to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds and onward to a 168 mph top speed. No word on its prospects for production, but we’re betting it’s an absolute scream to drive.