Paris Motor Show 2012 – Review
Paris Motor Show 2012
Europe’s annual motor show rolled into Paris for its biennial event in the French capital with mixed outlooks depending on which side of the Channel you call home.
by Duncan Thorne
While last year’s event in Frankfurt featured some serious muscle flexing from the industry’s big boys, times have clearly hit the middle marques and a far more sombre atmosphere ensued. The French motor industry in particular is in turmoil with PSA Peugeot Citroen struggling so badly to sell anywhere near the volume of cars it needs that it’s had to go cap in hand to the government for a state guarantee to the tune of £5.7 billion.
It’s a stark contrast to the UK automotive scene. Jaguar Land Rover has recently opened its Merseyside plant 24 hours a day to meet demand for its one-year-old Range Rover Evoque and £6 billion of investment has been pledged to the UK market by main manufacturers since the start of the decade. Japanese giants Nissan, Toyota and Honda have all turned British with manufacturing of the respective Leaf, Auris and CR-V taking place in Blighty. Add Jaguar unveiling its long-awaited F-Type and Land Rover the fourth generation 2013 version of the iconic Range Rover and the bragging rights were firmly ours; all very un-British. And this is before we’ve even mentioned McLaren attending a motor show for the first time to reveal its successor to the F1 – arguably the greatest supercar of all time with the P1. And it was this trio that really stole the show.
If ever a sports car had a lot to live up to, it’s the F-Type, Jaguar’s long-awaited replacement for the E-type, the company’s era-defining roadster of the 1960s. It’s set to be the most important new Jaguar for years as it attempts to wrest control of the mid-range sports car market from the likes of Porsche, BMW and Mercedes.
It will also help burnish Jaguar’s sporting heritage, which had faded after a succession of dull and sombre saloons. The new two-seat “baby Jag” shares many design traits with the C-X16 concept car shown at the Frankfurt show a year ago — notably the bonnet and front grille with aggressive air intakes. Because the car is based on a shortened version of the all-aluminium XK platform, the rear overhang is short, giving the car a muscular stance.
The rear-wheel-drive F-type will be powered by a supercharged 3-litre V6 engine with 335bhp or 374bhp. A supercharged 5-litre V8 will also be available. All engines will be combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with a manual version to follow. Prices have yet to be announced, but expect the range to start from £55,000 when the convertible goes on sale in the spring. A coupé will follow later but the first impression having seen it in the metal, is that it looks a lot of car for the money.
Then there’s the new Range Rover and when we say new, we mean it; word is the only parts being carried over from the existing model are the wheel nuts. The cheapest variant of the new model will cost close to £70,000 and the long-wheelbase executive-style range-topper, crammed with leather, wood and electronic gadgets, could command up to £120,000. A new cabin features a much-improved touchscreen dashboard display similar to that of the Evoque.
The new car retains the slanted overhangs at either end, as well as the famous high driving position, though the shape is slightly more aerodynamic and less boxy than its predecessor’s. It’s also in the region of 400kg lighter, as it’s made mainly from aluminium, a first for the Range Rover. A hybrid version is planned for next year, which could cut carbon dioxide emissions to 150g/km, which is a huge step on from today’s model. How popular it will be is not in question.
Prestige car finance broker Bridford, which has its national headquarters in Ilkley, says one Land Rover dealer it works closely with has already sold its quota for 2013. But without doubt, the star of the show (and perhaps star of the next generation of supercars) was the McLaren P1. The unveiling ceremony attracted the world’s automotive journalists en masse at press day, with crowds approaching 20 deep and various vantage points being utilised, including the F-Type stand as everyone desperately tried to catch a climpse.
Estimated to go on sale with a price tag in the region of £800,000, Ron Dennis, McLaren’s chairman, claims it will raise the supercar performance bar. The company says the P1 takes its ‘technological and spiritual inspiration’ from the company’s racing division and has “one simple goal: to be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track.”
The concept P1 shown at Paris had no interior, but the exterior is described as “more than 95 percent” of the final production car and quite simply, it looks stunning. Once again have stiff competition from the likes of Ferrari.
Paris was earmarked as the show when the covers would finally come off the Enzo successor, but, disappointingly, Maranello’s finest deferred it until next year, probably at a Concours D’elegance in the States meaning Ferrari’s presence was somewhat muted. Maybe it’s a quiet confidence, after all, last time round, Ferrari’s 458 Italia crushed McLaren’s MP4-12C, but the judges are out on round two.
Bridford owner, Tim Marlow, said: “The new McLaren supercar, the P1, is arguably the most eagerly anticipated car of the last 10 years since the Ferrari Enzo launched in 2002 and already we have received finance enquiries from some of our customers whose names are always among the first to grace the log books of such iconic vehicles.
The luxury car market continues to defy the recession and the interest generated from the Paris show in the new Range Rover in particular is testimony to this. Indeed, we already have proof this is going to be very popular.
One franchised Land Rover dealer we work very closely with received 65 initial enquiries immediately after it was officially revealed and has subsequently taken 50 deposits, which takes up its full 2013 allocation. Similarly, some major launches such as Aston Martin’s Vanquish have already taken place this year and we have received a lot of on-going interest with one client thought to be the first to have ordered the Aston.”
Once again, it’s talk of British cars that dominates and a fitting time to say au revoir.