2011 Frankfurt Motor Show
Despite global financial concerns, the bi-annual Frankfurt Motor Show greeted some 10,000 automotive journalists with upbeat sales projections and the most dazzling array of new production and concept cars seen there in a decade. The theme of the 2011 Frankfurt show, “Future Comes As Standard” was on display with nearly 90 world introductions.
Home market leader Volkswagen rolled out the long awaited production version of its Up! minicar. Seating four comfortably, the Up!’s 3-cylinder gas engine is capable of over 50 miles per gallon. Natural gas powered and all-electric Up!s are also expected. VW was also among several brands to showcase one and two seat commuter concepts. This NILS is one all-electric answer to the daily grind.
And, from VW’s upscale brand Audi, the Urban concept is another. In both hardtop and convertible, there’s room for two and an electric range of about 35 miles. Promising more practicality is this four-seat Audi A2. This all- electric, drive-by wire concept is a tease to Audi’s EV Mini fighter due in 2013. Gas and diesel versions will follow later.
Two world premieres dominated the enormous Mercedes-Benz exhibit. Globally, a lot is riding on this second generation B-Class. Now far more stylish, this very compact front-driver is slated to finally come to America with gas, diesel, and even hybrid-electric power. An electric version of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster is possible, but we’d opt for this 571-horsepower V8 drop top any day. Weighing barely more than the Coupe, the SLS Roadster covers with a traditional cloth top rather than metal.
Porsche always has important news at Frankfurt, and nothing could be more so than a 7th generation of the 911 Carrera. With the iconic shape intact, the longer, lower, wider 911 will have more power and efficiency. It arrives here early next year.
BMW’s main production intro at Frankfurt was a new 1-Series. More aggressive outside, and roomier inside, a 5-door arrives soon with a U.S. bound coupe and convertible due later. Getting more attention is their new “i” electrified sub-brand. BMW sees this i3 as the sporty city EV of tomorrow. While the striking i8 plug-in hybrid takes BMW’s EfficientDynamics concept to a near production ready level.
While Ford is a U.S. company, it has deep German roots. So Frankfurt is where Ford revealed the brand’s evolving look. The aptly named EVOS concept adopts a wide mouth, sinister look complete with squinty headlights. Visually sleek, sadly the quad butterfly doors are just for show.
Other Frankfurt highlights include Maserati’s take on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Kubang SUV. There’s a lot of bang for the buck in this hot rod Fiat 500, the 185-horse Abarth 695 Competizione. And who knows, if gas prices go up enough we might even see the new Fiat Panda city car stateside. This XV Concept foretells a more efficient crossover utility for Subaru. Meanwhile, Land Rover is headed back to the future with the retro DC100 and DC100 Sport SUV concepts. As to practical production cars, the all-new Toyota Yaris subcompact was a standout.
For supercar fans, Ferrari took the lid off the 458. The new Spider has a power hardtop. Rival Lamborghini goes from the track to the street with yet another version of the Gallardo.
While Jaguar’s C-X16 is a future hybrid-electric two-seater concept with world-class performance and killer looks. Upstart Fisker showed this Surf, a station wagon version of its Karma luxury hybrid. And, Bentley hits the reboot button on the Continental GT Convertible. Still posh, but with just a little more flair.