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Geneva Motor Show: fleet’s future revealed

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    > Audi

    AUDI’S sleek A5 coupe range made its world debut at Geneva and will be on sale in the UK within four months.

    The four-seat model, priced from £30,175 for the 2.7 TDI model, is a direct rival to BMW’s 3 Series coupe and represents the first time Audi has been in this sector since the early 1990s.

    Other engines available at launch include 3.2-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrols and a 3.0 TDI. The range-topping S5 quattro (left) with a 354bhp V8 engine will cost £40,025.

    > BMW

    BMW’S 3 Series range continues to grow and two new variants were added at Geneva.

    Although not officially a production car, the M3 Concept is pretty much how the range-topping M3 will look when it arrives in the UK later this year.

    It follows the understated theme of its M5 big brother with just some flared wheelarches and larger alloy wheels to hint at the performance potential.

    Few technical details are available, although expect the production M3 to run a V8 engine of around 4.0 litres and with power in excess of 400bhp.

    The other new addition to the family is the 3 Series Convertible, available for the first time with a folding metal roof. This version is now on sale in the UK with a range of petrol engines and a 3.0-litre diesel, with prices ranging from £30,630 to £40,250.

    > Citroen

    CITROËN gave its new C-Crosser SUV its debut in Geneva, but the weird and wacky six-wheeled Cruise Crosser was the centrepiece of the stand.

    The concept is an all-terrain vehicle inspired by the efforts of company founder Andre Citroën who, in the early 1900s, set off on a series of adventurous automotive expeditions. With six-wheels, the Cruise Crosser is designed to make short work of the harshest off-road conditions.

    The C-Crosser, powered by a 2.2-litre diesel offering 156bhp, goes on sale in the UK this summer, priced from around £19,000.

    > Dodge

    DODGE has unveiled plans to build a Mazda MX-5 rival. The firm took the wraps off its Demon concept and executives hinted that it may make production in the next few years.

    The two-seat Demon is described by Dodge as ‘a roadster with attitude’ – attitude being a key selling point of its Caliber, Nitro and Avenger models. Power comes from a 2.4-litre engine producing 172bhp.

    Chrysler Group UK managing director Peter Lambert said: ‘The Demon gives a taste for a potential production roadster.’

    > Fiat

    FIAT chose Geneva to resurrect its legendary Abarth name on a sporty new Grande Punto.

    Hot Fiats in the past have carried the Abarth name and the new model certainly looks the part with its body stripes and red door mirrors.

    Under the bonnet is a 150bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, meaning this model will be challenging the warm hatch market which contains cars such as the Ford Fiesta ST and SEAT Ibiza FR.

    However, an aftermarket kit with a revised turbo can pump power up to 180bhp.

    > Ford

    GENEVA gave the industry the first chance to see production versions of the new Mondeo range in the metal – and the manufacturer also announced a green fuel option.

    Saloon, hatchback and estate versions of the Mondeo took centre stage ahead of their UK launch in June. Ford is promising a new focus on quality with the car and is aiming to knock the Volkswagen Passat from its position as a favourite with user-choosers.

    The manufacturer also announced that an FFV (FlexiFuel Vehicle) version of the Mondeo will go on sale early next year. This model will be able to run on E85 bioethanol like its Focus and C-MAX stablemates.

    The technology will also be adopted by the Galaxy and S-MAX people carriers.

    > Honda

    HONDA is aiming to get across the message that green doesn’t have to mean boring with its latest hybrid concept.

    The Small Hybrid Sports Concept (SHSC) is a sleek two-seat coupe which has hints of the firm’s CRX model from the early 1990s.

    The concept, which will make it into production within the next two years, is powered by a 1.4-litre VTEC petrol engine allied to the IMA electric hybrid system. Honda says the car will return up to 80mpg on the urban cycle, with CO2 emissions of 120g/km.

    Before it arrives though, Honda will launch a hybrid version of the Civic hatchback, using technology seen in the Civic IMA saloon.

    Honda also released details of its next generation diesel engine, due to arrive within three years. It uses a new catalytic converter to reduce NOx levels to those of a petrol engine.

    > Hyundai

    HYUNDAI will more than double its sales in the lower-medium sector next year with its new i30 model, according to the firm’s UK managing director.

    Speaking as the car made its world debut at the Geneva show, Tony Whitehorn said: ‘Our current Accent is not a volume contender and does 3,000-4,000 units a year.

    ‘The i30 is the start of a new era and is a proper European vehicle.’

    The car goes on sale as a five-door hatchback in September with prices starting from around £11,000, and Mr Whitehorn expects to sell 3,500 during the tail end of 2007.

    In its first full year, he expects this figure to reach 10,000 units, of which fleets will account for 30%. He also expects this share to rise to 50% by 2009.

    He added: ‘The i30 is really important to us as we’ve never had a true volume fleet car before.’

    The i30 debuts a new naming strategy which aims to make the manufacturer’s range more understandable. Next year the Amica will be replaced by the i10 and the Getz replacement due next year will be called i20. Finally, in 2009 the i40 will replace the Sonata.

    > Jaguar

    JAGUAR unveiled its 2008 XJ range at Geneva. The XJ’s nose has a new look, with a revised front bumper and grilles and the all-new ‘Growler’ badge. Vents have been added to the side to match those found on the XK, and a spoiler has been added to the boot lid. New 19-inch alloy wheels complete the revised look.

    Inside, heated front seats are now standard across the range while rear seats have been altered to give passengers more leg room in the back. There’s also an improved Bluetooth phone system.

    > Jeep

    Patriot priced to sell

    JEEP’S new Patriot model made its European debut at Geneva and it will be the cheapest model in the manufacturer’s line-up when sales begin in the summer.

    The Patriot offers classic Jeep styling and four-wheel drive but will be priced below the £18,000 Compass model when it arrives in the UK in July. Expect the Patriot to cost from around £15-16,000.

    Two versions will be available – the Sport and Limited, and both will be offered with either a Volkswagen-sourced 140bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine or a 168bhp 2.4-litre petrol unit.

    Peter Lambert, managing director of Chrysler Group UK, said: ‘The market is changing and we are leading that change as the compact SUV market grows.

    ‘Our research shows that the Patriot will appeal to younger customers who want more from their traditional family car. Young families want a vehicle which looks different but still offers plenty of room and practicality, together with great performance and fuel economy.’

    Jeep says the diesel Patriot will return up to 43.5mpg.

    > Kia

    KIA unveiled a trio of new machines at Geneva. First up was a hybrid version of the Rio saloon, part of the Korean firm’s target of volume eco-friendly car production by 2010. The car features a 1.4 petrol engine mated to a 12kW electric motor and promises economy of 53.4mpg.

    Also on display was the estate version of Kia’s five-door hatch – the cee’d SW. The long-wheelbase car features a tailgate that promises unprecedented accessibility to the luggage space, even in tight parking spaces.

    Powered by a choice of 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines, there will be a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox, and it comes with a seven-year warranty.

    Taking the cee’d as its base was the ex_cee’d cabrio concept. Although strictly speaking a concept, expect to see something very similar in production soon as Kia tries to compete with established brands.

    > Lexus

    Lexus launches M3 rival

    BMW’S forthcoming M3 performance model won’t have things all its own way when it arrives later this year, thanks to Lexus.

    Lexus is aiming to steal sales from BMW with its new IS-F – an IS saloon powered by a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine producing in excess of 400bhp.

    With 0-62mph acceleration under five seconds and a top speed limited to 168mph the sports Lexus certainly has the muscle to challenge the new BMW M3. Its power will be channelled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts – a world-first application.

    The Lexus also looks the part thanks to deep front and rear airdams and huge alloy wheels.

    Also on show at Geneva was the LF-A supercar concept and the LS600h – the world’s first hybrid luxury saloon.

    > Lotus

    THINK of Lotus and lithe two-seat sports cars usually spring to mind.

    But the firm’s engineering division revealed another string to its bow with its EVE hybrid – a petrol-electric hybrid system which can be retro-fitted to cars.

    EVE (efficient, viable, environmental) was fitted to a Proton Gen2 saloon and featured a stop-start system, a full hybrid power unit and a continuously variable automatic gearbox.

    Compared to a petrol-only Gen2, the EVE hybrid lowers CO2 emissions from 172g/km to 134 and improves fuel economy from 39.2mpg to 50.2.

    Group Lotus chief executive officer Mike Kimberley said: ‘Our technologies mean we are in a position to help manufacturers apply advanced hybrid technology to their products in order to reduce average CO2 emissions.’

    Lotus believes that the hybrid route is the best way for car firms to lower emissions levels, and the EVE system allows them to apply hybrid technology to existing models without the huge expense of developing a new system.

    > Mazda

    MAZDA is aiming to banish memories of its dull Mazda2 with an all-new, funkier version.

    The current model has never enjoyed the success that its stablemates have had, thanks to its oddball looks, but the new car’s design is far more in line with the current crop of stylish superminis.

    On sale in the UK from September, the 2 will be available with two petrol engines – a 1.2-litre with 75bhp and a 1.5 with 103bhp, and a 103bhp 1.4-litre diesel.

    A sportier three-door model will arrive approximately a year later.

    Mazda expects to sell around 12,000 Mazda2s in a full year – a massive increase on the 4,000 units it managed in 2006.

    Sharing stand space at Geneva was the Hakaze concept, a stylish crossover model which Mazda is saying is pretty much a production cert.

    It is based on the CX-7 chassis and is powered by the same 260bhp 2.3-litre turbocharged engine.

    > Mercedes-Benz

    THE new C-Class is aiming to steal sales away from the dominant BMW 3 Series when it goes on sale in June thanks to state-of-the-art technology such as adjustable suspension damping and the advanced Pre-Safe crash mitigation system.

    The technology, first seen on the larger E and S-Class models, allied to a larger body with more interior space, gives Mercedes-Benz’s compact executive saloon a fresh appeal in the corporate market.

    Other advances include the fitment of adaptive brake lights which flash repeatedly when hard braking pressure is applied, the COMAND multi-media system and Linguatronic voice control.

    There will be two subtly different body-styles – the Sport adopting a different front-end treatment to the Elegance and SE models, but all three will be available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines in four and six-cylinder guises.

    These range from a supercharged C180 Kompressor petrol with 156bhp to the 272bhp C320 V6. A range of more fuel-efficient diesels will also be offered.

    > MINI

    AFTER several motor show concept appearances around the world, MINI has finally confirmed that its stretched model will be called the Clubman – a name which harks back to the square-fronted Mini variant built between 1969 and 1982.

    Elsewhere on the stand, an aftermarket Works kit was announced for the Cooper S which boosts power from 175bhp to 192. A production Works kit offering more than 210bhp will follow later.

    Elsewhere, the firm confirmed that the entry-level MINI One will cost £11,595 and the Cooper diesel £14,190. Both models go on sale next month.

    > Mitsubishi

    MITSUBISHI’S stand featured two concept cars – although expect to see both in production soon.

    The Outlander V6 Concept is, as its name suggests, an Outlander SUV powered by a V6 petrol engine – a new 3.0-litre unit producing 220bhp.

    It will join the existing 2.0-litre Volkswagen turbodiesel engine and two other new units – a PSA Peugeot-Citroën-sourced 2.2-litre diesel with 156bhp and a 2.4-litre 170bhp petrol.

    Making another show appearance was the Prototype-X – in essence the new Lancer Evolution X. Due on sale early next year, this four-wheel drive rally replica uses a development of the familiar 2.0-litre turbo engine offering upwards of 280bhp.

    > Nissan

  • Same look but all-new X-trail

    NISSAN unveiled a familiar-looking but all-new X-trail.

    Changes to the new machine are hardly radical, but Nissan believes it has evolved its 4x4 by just the right amount.

    ‘Following a hugely successful car like the original X-trail is not an easy task, especially when customers tell us to leave things as they are,’ said Carlos Tavares, Nissan’s executive vice-president, corporate strategy and product planning.

    ‘But the all-new X-trail is the perfect example of evolutionary change: subtle improvements in key areas will appeal to existing owners and new buyers alike.’

    The current X-trail has been a success story for Nissan, selling 615,000 globally since it launched six years ago. However, last year’s UK fleet registrations of the current X-trail fell 19% to 3,699 from 4,579 in 2005.

    The new car features a brand-new chassis and body design and a choice of four engines. The existing 169bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine remains and is joined by a 140bhp 2.0-litre unit. The 2.0-litre Renault-developed diesel engines will be available in 150bhp and 175bhp guises – the former can be specified with an automatic gearbox.

    The new X-trail is slightly larger than the existing model and shares its underpinnings with the recently-launched Qashqai.

    The car features Nissan’s All-Mode four-wheel-drive system, which should ensure competence off-road, but the firm promises comfortable on-road handling too.

    Every version has air-conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Options include Xenon lights, roof rails with integrated driving lamps, and satellite navigation with a full colour screen and rear parking camera.

    Nissan also displayed a new, higher power 350Z which goes on sale in May offering 313bhp.

    > Peugeot

    PEUGEOT’S new SUV and two additions to the 207 family took centre stage at Geneva.

    The 207 range will grow this summer, firstly with the 175bhp GTi model, followed in June by the SW estate model.

    The GTi shares its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine with the MINI Cooper S and will account for around 10% of total 207 sales in the UK.

    The SW is a five-door estate version of the 207 hatchback and will come with a more versatile interior and a will feature a full-length glass roof. Towards the end of the year an SW Outdoor model will appear, featuring the body cladding and more rugged apearance of the concept car on show.

    The 4007, a joint venture between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mitsubishi, is a seven-seat SUV powered by a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine. Deliveries begin in August.

    > Porsche

    PORSCHE has tweaked the much-criticised looks of its Cayenne and also added new engines.

    The luxury SUV’s 3.2-litre V6 engine has been replaced with a 3.6-litre version that boosts horsepower by 40bhp to 290bhp. The Cayenne S’s V8 volume has been increased to 4.9 litres and now produces 385bhp, a 45bhp increase.

    The biggest power hike comes in the range-topping Cayenne Turbo. Its V8 now packs 500bhp, an increase of 50bhp.

    All three engines now come with direct petrol injection, aiding not just power but fuel consumption too – Porsche claims reductions of 15% in everyday conditions.

    Looks-wise, Porsche has made an attempt to beautify the hulking Cayenne, with revised headlights and grilles, while drivers have the option of setting the suspension to standard or sports set-up. In sports mode the engine response is also heightened.

    The Cayenne is now available with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), an advanced anti-roll system.

    > Renault

    RENAULT will expand its Clio range next year with an estate model previewed in the Grand Tour Concept.

    It will follow similar lines to the new 207 SW model from French rival Peugeot in offering more interior space and a larger boot area.

    Although shown as a three-door, the production version will be a five-door model when it goes on sale in the UK next spring.

    Expect the familiar line-up of petrol and diesel engines, with prices starting from around £10,000.

    Renault also used the Geneva show to reveal the production version of its Twingo city car.

    Due to be officially imported into the UK for the first time, the Twingo goes on sale in September with prices starting from around £8,000.

    Buyers will have a choice of two 1.2-litre petrol engines in either 75bhp or turbocharged 100bhp guises. No diesels will be offered as, Renault says, development costs would have been too high.

    The Twingo features a sliding rear seat bench which can either create more rear legroom or improve luggage space.

    > SEAT

    SEAT is aiming to cash in on the growing SUV bandwagon with its latest concept.

    The Freetrack is a jacked-up version of the stretched Altea XL model and uses a four-wheel drive system from its Volkswagen Group parent company.

    SEAT is keen to join the growing number of manufacturers – think Peugeot (4007), Citroën (C-Crosser), Renault (Koleos) and Vauxhall (Antara) – who are offering SUVs, and jacking up the Altea XL is a simple solution which could be in production sometime next year.

    The Freetrack is powered by a 240bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, although expect less powerful petrol and turbodiesel units when the model eventually arrives in the UK.

    > Skoda

    World debut for new Fabia

    SKODA’S new Fabia supermini made its debut at Geneva, bearing the new family face previewed on the Roomster.

    On sale in the UK from May, the Fabia will be offered with a choice of seven engines – four petrol and three turbodiesels. The sporty vRS version will follow later.

    Available only as a five-door, the Fabia range will be priced from around £8,000 and with CO2 emissions as low as 120g/km it should find homes among fleets looking for economical cars to cope with urban work.

    Last year Skoda sold 3,500 Fabias in fleet and is expecting this number to increase thanks to the wider appeal of the larger new model. The Fabia will account for around half of Skoda’s UK sales this year.

    It will also be offered with white roofs and door mirrors, echoing the trend started by the MINI.

    > Subaru

    SUBARU’S stand featured two new power plants – an all-electric unit in its R1e city car and, more importantly for the UK fleet market, the firm’s first ever diesel.

    The R1e made its European debut and is currently being trialled by an electricity company in Tokyo, although there are no plans for UK sales.

    However, the new diesel will go on sale in the UK – initially in the Legacy and Outback from January next year, with the Forester and Impreza to follow later in 2008. The engine is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel in Subaru’s familiar boxer flat-six configuration producing 163bhp and 251lb-ft of torque.

    > Toyota

    GENEVA saw the debut of yet another Toyota hybrid – this time the Hybrid X Concept.

    According to executives, this concept points the way to the look of all future hybrid models. Using a development of the familiar petrol-electric Hybrid Synergy Drive system, the X Concept is a four-door, four-seater which was designed at Toyota’s European design centre.

    It features rear hinged doors to allow easier access to the rear seats.

    > Vauxhall

    WHEN Vauxhall gives a concept car the GTC moniker you pretty much know it’s a production certainty.

    But there won’t be a four-seat coupe coming from the manufacturer soon – instead the GTC Concept previews some of the design language which will be adopted by the new Vectra when it appears, possibly later this year.

    While some in the industry claim that this is the face of the new Vectra, in fact it is just a small teaser to get us used to the new family look. Another concept car due to appear at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show will give a more realistic view of how the car will appear. But for the time being we can see that the new look will be far more aggressive with a pronounced grille and rakish headlights.

    Alain Visser, executive director of European marketing for General Motors, said: ‘This car embodies the confident, emotional direction we’re taking. You’ve seen a number of our recent concepts become reality and the GTC Concept is a confident ambassador for the next generation of Vauxhalls.’

    Inside, the GTC previews the Flex4 seating concept – essentially the system fitted to the Zafira. This allows the rear seats to be folded flat at the touch of a button to create a flat load floor.

    Unlike Ford which has chosen to stick with the Mondeo name, Vauxhall is expected to call its new upper-medium challenger Insignia in a bid to boost residuals on one of its core offerings.

    > Volkswagen

    VOLKSWAGEN had a host of new launches on its stand, with most aimed squarely at the UK fleet market.

    The new Golf estate made its world debut and will go on sale in the UK in the summer.

    Also new are BlueMotion versions of the Polo and Passat –models which use tuned diesel engines and aerodynamic improvements to boost fuel efficiency. Only the Polo has been confirmed for the UK and will go on sale in the summer, offering up to 70mpg. A decision has yet to be made on the Passat.

    Finally, the Phaeton has been revised with a new 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and styling and technical tweaks.

    > Volvo

    VOLVO gave world premieres to two new production models and hinted at a third at the Geneva show.

    The V70 estate and its more rugged XC70 sister were unveiled and will go on sale in the UK in September.

    The all-new V70 takes styling cues from its S80 stablemate, and also borrows its dashboard layout. Larger than the car it replaces, the new V70 offers an extra 55 litres of luggage space over the cavernous boot of the previous version.

    The V70 will be offered with five engines – three petrol and two diesels.

    The XC70 differs from the V70 by having a raised ride height, four-wheel drive and body cladding to give it a more rugged look. It will be powered by either a 185bhp diesel or 240bhp petrol engine.

    Also due to arrive in the UK, but not until the spring of 2009, is the XC60 (below) – baby brother to the XC90.

    This model will be pitched against the forthcoming Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X3 and debuts Volvo’s new design language.

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