Even over a month later, a search through current auto news headlines will inevitably return us to last month’s Paris Motor Show. Held biennially, the show dates back to 1898, serving as the pioneering showcase for the ever-evolving automotive market, and one of the largest shows to this day. Visited more frequently than such showcase stablemates as Tokyo and Frankfurt, Paris has evolved to encompass three separate marketplaces: automobiles, motorcycles and the more expansive concepts described as ‘new mobility’.
To say that the 2018 Paris Auto Show was ‘highly anticipated’ would be an understatement of criminal proportions. Considering the advancements seen in hybrid and EV automobiles, as well as in driver-assistive and autonomous technologies, there would inevitably be a wide array of headlines to follow. But another area of focus would come in the expanding counter-culture of power and performance, an area focused less on sustainability and more on restoring the joy of driving for the true enthusiast. Factor in the always captivating styling innovations presented by various automaker concepts and it becomes inevitably important to keep one’s head on a swivel.
So what were some of the major show-stealers of the Paris auto show that we’re still talking about weeks later?
The Mercedes-AMG A35
A 4.7-second sprint from 0-60mph while wrangling 306 capable horses is nothing to shake a stick at. That said, make it an all-wheel drive hatchback with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and you get a near-perfect “driver’s car” with an eye towards everyday utility. More specifically, you get Mercedes new A35. In our mind, it even stole the headlines away from its electric Mercedes cousin, the EQC400 crossover which anticipates a confident 279-mile range. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention…
The Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow
Okay, there’s not a lot of real-world place for discussion of this one, but…’oooooooh’. All jokes aside, this concept is intended to be part of the EQ all-electric lineup but goes about it in the most unconventional way imaginable: by channeling the styling of Mercedes’ pre-WWII Grand Prix cars and promising up to 768 hp and a top speed of 250 mph. That said, the only thing more unlikely than this becoming a reality, is the likelihood that (even if it did) we’d ever find ourselves behind the wheel of one. So, let’s get back to reality….
The BMW 3 Series
For just over four decades, BMW’s 3 Series has served as the most accessible point of entry into the Bavarian automaker’s iconic sedan lineup. And while its “bread and butter” status will inevitably remain intact, thanks to a combination of weight reduction, adjusted handling specs and dimensional changes (height reduction and increase in width, respectively) things aren’t all ‘Schweinshaxn and Obatzder’ in the eyes of the enthusiast. BMW’s intention to phase out the manual transmission in the 3 Series feels somewhat hasty and short-sighted. We know, we know…times must change. But really? Must they change that much?
American enthusiasts might be disappointed to learn that Audi’s compact crossover capable of a 4.8-second sprint to 60mph will only be available in Europe. That said, it’s hard not to appreciate the 2.0-liter turbo engine that will take the all-wheel drive SQ2 up to 155 mph, channeling 296 hp. We know we are (disappointed, we mean).
Hyundai i30 Fastback N
And speaking of disappointing us, let’s talk about Hyundai’s i30 Fastback N. Properly equipped (with the Performance Package) the i30 wrangles 272 horse and 260 lb-ft of torque through a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed manual transmission. 0-60 time? A confident 6.1 seconds, and with a top speed of 155 mph this good-looking rig sounds like a lot of fun to drive. Alas, the closest we’ll get is Hyundai’s Veloster N.
Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO
Listen up race fans…the updated R8 comes equipped with a 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10 that serves up a staggering 580 hp and 400+ lb-ft of torque. With its aerodynamics re-engineered for stability, it’s hard not to perk up at the thought of further upgrades considering the well-deserved credibility earned by this R8’s already impressive predecessors.
As alluded to up above, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the array of self-driving concepts that are being served up. Combining autonomous technologies with hybrid and EV advancements create a real sense of evolution in terms of vehicles, reminding us that the future might actually be “now”. And nothing screams “future” like the EX-Ultimo, which Renault describes as a “lounge on wheels”. Equipped with patented augmented reality infotainment for the enjoyment of passengers, it sure feels like something out of a ‘near future’ science fiction movie (and not a cheesy one either). We’ll be very excited to see if the EZ-Ultimo concept makes it to the production stage because, if it does, it will be sure to gain a strong foothold in the autonomous market.
Coming seemingly out of nowhere is the Peugeot e-Legend. Honestly, I never saw this throwback styled all-electric concept coming, and it wow’d me from the first look. Carrying over some of the design language of Peugeot’s classic 504, it carries the refinement expected from the automaker but seems to channel some of the bravado of Detroit steel. Bold front fascia and a sleek body style are captivating enough, but factor in 456 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque and you have a “driver’s car” capable of reaching 60 mph in under four seconds. Even more impressive is that the e-Legend is powered by a 100kWh battery, with an estimated 373 miles of range per charge. To paraphrase DiCaprio, “you had my curiosity, and now you have my attention”.
What Was Your Pick?
With so many innovative offerings to choose from, we want to know. What do you consider the highlights of last month’s Paris Motor Show?