VAUXHALL added a further model to its increasingly attractive Astra range with the unveiling of the Astra Twin-Top.
The metal-roofed convertible rivalled the Volkswagen Eos and Volvo C70 as the slickest converter at the show, with its roof closing in less than 30 seconds. It will come with four petrol engines ranging from 105bhp to 200bhp as well as a 150bhp diesel.
Thanks to advances in the construction of convertible roof systems, Vauxhall claims that rear seat space in enhanced over competitors, while there is 440 litres of luggage space with the roof up and 200 litres with it down. Prices are likely to start at around £17,000 when it goes on sale in the UK in spring 2006.
Vauxhall will enter the SUV market late next year with a production version of the Antara GTC concept. Although the concept has three doors and a coupe-like roofline, the production model will look very similar, but with five doors.
The car is part of what General Motors executives like to call a new ‘emotionalism’ which is sweeping through the brand – which means attracting company car drivers not just financially but aesthetically as well.
NISSAN debuted its Almera Tino replacement, the Note (pictured), and the funky Micra C+C.
The five-seat Note features an adaptable interior and will be offered with four engines: two dCi diesels with 68bhp or 86bhp, and two petrols – a 1.4 with 88bhp or the 1.6-litre engine from the hot Micra 160SR with 110bhp.
The Micra C+C features a folding metal roof which retracts in 22 seconds. Both models will go on sale later this year.
RENAULT’S success in the hot hatch market has led it to bring the appearance of a new fast Clio III forward.
The Clio Renaultsport Concept (pictured) is a thinly-disguised version of the model which will go on sale in autumn next year. The firm is able to follow the launch of the mainstream Clio III with a hot version so soon because Renaultsport is a separate arm with its own development schedule and production line.
Also unveiled was the Egeus SUV concept, a precursor to the small SUV Renault will launch next year, which will be based on the floorplan it will share with the next Nissan X-trail. Renault claims its SUV will be more sporty than rugged.
PEUGEOT showed off its sleek 407 Coupe at Frankfurt, offering accommodation for four adults.
The Coupe will also debut Peugeot’s new 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine with particle emissions filter. It is also available in 3.0-litre V6 and 2.2-litre petrol guises. The strange, three-wheeled 20Cup also on display obviously won’t make it into production, but you can guarantee that the front-end treatment will be seen on Peugeot’s next supermini.
FUTURE thinking and modern day reality were on show at Toyota, with revised versions of the current range sharing space with a wild concept.
The Endo is Toyota’s vision of a future city car and has an interior which can be adapted to seat four people or as a two-seater with increased luggage space. It also features a display screen which takes over the whole of the dashboard and features a rear-view camera and internet and e-mail access.
Of more real-world interest are the new Yaris and RAV4. On sale at the end of 2005, the Yaris has a fresh look and a better packaged interior offering more room. The new RAV4 is also bigger, is claimed to be better to drive and goes on sale in February 2006.
FIAT’S recently-introduced Grande Punto already has a big brother in the shape of the muscular Grande Punto Abarth.
The Grande Punto is already planned to have petrol and diesel engines offering between 150bhp and 180bhp, so a 200bhp unit for the Abarth is a real possibility.
The model pictured above is a rally version and there are no confirmed details on engines, specification or prices, but expect the Abarth’s wide-bodied look to feature in some way in the new range-topping supermini.
Elsewhere on the stand, the slightly more tame Grande Punto range was unveiled, along with the Croma upper-medium model.
FORD gave fleets a glimpse of future production models with the unveiling of the striking Iosis concept.
The gull-winged four-door saloon hints at what the next-generation Mondeo model may look like and judging by the picture above this has to be good news for company car drivers.
According to Ford of Britain’s managing director, Paul Thomas, the firm is aiming to ‘push the envelope’.
He said: ‘We have got the rational aspect covered with our cars’ driving dynamics, reliability and residual values, but now we need to get the X-factor.’
Elsewhere on the stand, the revised Fiesta and Fusion ranges were launched. As well as fresh looks and revised interiors, they also receive features such as rain-sensing wipers, satellite navigation, voice-controlled hands-free phones and MP3 compatible stereos. The revised ranges go on sale in November.
Slightly more racy is the 222bhp Focus ST. Featuring a five-cylinder turbocharged Volvo engine, the ST is priced from £17,495 to undercut its chief rival, Vauxhall’s Astra VXR.
IT has a fresher face and an upgraded interior – but substantial changes under the skin will also give the latest C3 more driving appeal, claims Citroen. And the introduction of 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine should boost the model’s performance image when it goes on sale next month.
Also on display was the forthcoming C6 executive car and the SportLounge – a 21st Century Grand Tourer with reverse opening rear doors for easier access to the back seats.
THERE was a focus on superminis at Mazda, with a revised version of the Mazda2 being joined by the Sassou, a concept showing what a new small car from the firm may look like.
The 2 now features front and rear light clusters which are more similar to the larger cars in the range, while inside there are improvements to comfort and trim quality. It also now has a Euro IV compliant 1.4-litre diesel engine as well as ABS brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist as standard.