Highlights From This Years Frankfurt Motor Show

 

Bentley has a ‘defining moment’

The all-new Continental GT made its global debut at Frankfurt.

Commenting on its unveiling, Bentley’s chairman and CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, said: “Today is a defining moment for Bentley Motors. Today we build on our recent success story and look to the future with a new car that will set new standards in luxury grand touring. Today we introduce a car that is the ultimate in extraordinary design, technology and innovation.

“When Bentley launched the original Continental GT in 2003 it established an entirely new market segment – the modern luxury grand tourer. “Today, I’m convinced that we are redefining this segment again. It is an honour to replace a car that has – for 14 years – been the benchmark against which all other grand tourers are judged.”

The third generation of the legendary Bentley Continental GT is designed, engineered and handcrafted in the UK, ensuring, says Bentley, that the highest levels of attention to detail, artistry and cutting-edge technology are blended together “to create the finest grand tourer ever produced”.

The new Bentley Continental GT is available to order now, with customer deliveries starting in Q2 next year and Bentley has confirmed that a plug-in hybrid model will be available in the future.

Honda gives us a cute little EV

Honda revealed an all-new electric vehicle, the Urban EV Concept.

The Japanese firm says the concept car is built on a completely new platform and sets the direction for the technology and design that will appear on a future battery electric Honda production model.

The concept was officially introduced by Honda Motor Co president and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, during his press conference speech.

“This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019,” he added, confirming that the concept is set to be launched within two years. Honda says the concept showcases advanced technology within a simple and sophisticated design.

On the outside its low and wide proportions give the car a planted, muscular stance that hint at sporty driving performance. Its compact proportions mean it has a total vehicle length 100mm shorter than the Jazz supermini. The Honda emblem on the concept is backlit in blue, which previews a new styling feature for the company‘s future EVs.

At the front of the car, interactive multilingual messages can be displayed between the headlights, including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road, or charging status updates.

From the inside, Honda says that the driver gets excellent visibility thanks to slim A-pillars and a wide windscreen that appears to sweep around the entire front of the car.

Entry and exit from the vehicle is via rear-hinged coach doors. The electric charging cable connection is housed on the bonnet. The concept can accommodate four occupants, across two bench seats finished in different materials.

Duster cleans up

The original Dacia Duster was a triumph in the SUV market – offering a lot for its bargain basement starting price of less than £10,000.

Indeed, the budget version of Renault has done very well since coming to the UK. The question is, could it be in danger of creeping upmarket and losing its value edge?

The new Duster was unveiled at Frankfurt by Jean-Christophe Kugler, executive vice president and chairman of Europe Region. He said: “By building on the strengths of its predecessor, the all-new Duster simply brings customers more – all for a price that is still unbelievably affordable.

“As you can see, every single feature we added helps to facilitate everyday motoring.The all-new Duster is more Duster than ever. It’s an off-roader that will take customers further in even greater style and comfort.”

With more than one million cars sold, Dacia Duster has been revised and updated seven years after the model was first released. It gets new styling, equipment and a completely updated interior. The front and rear ends appear wider and the car’s lines are more horizontal with a higher belt line.

Meanwhile, new roof bars and prominent front and rear skid plates are pointers to the new Duster’s adventurer credentials. A new LED front lighting signature further accentuates Duster’s new look.

On the inside the dashboard has been totally redesigned, with the MediaNav display moved to the upper part of the dashboard. The seats have been revised for upgraded comfort and support and there is new kit awaiting buyers, including multi-view camera, blind spot warning, curtain airbags, automatic air conditioning and automatic head lights.

It goes on sale in the UK from the middle of 2018.

Kia had a busy one

Kia unveiled the Pro_cee’d Concept, alongside a series of new production models at the show.

The South Korean manufacturer says the Pro_cee’d Concept presents “a bold vision for a potential member of the next-generation cee’d family”. The concept was revealed alongside the new Kia Stonic crossover, which made its public premiere in Frankfurt.

The Picanto X-Line and upgraded Sorento were also revealed for the first time, before they go on sale globally later in the year.

The new Kia Pro_cee’d Concept has been created by Kia’s European design centre in Frankfurt and hints at the design of the next-generation cee’d model family.

The extended hot hatch styling provides a low roofline, muscular proportions and compact footprint, says Kia. The concept features a striking ‘Sharkblade’ in the bodywork which reinforces the lack of B-pillars, while lateral strakes exaggerate the Pro_cee’d Concept’s waistline and lend an air of muscularity to the rear of the car.

Inside, the cabin is inspired by the world of bespoke tailoring and haute couture, says Kia.

Four split-back seats are wrapped in rippled black fabric, tailored by hand, with hand-painted satin fabric lining the doors and flowing into the footwells. The Pro_cee’d Concept’s dashboard controls are finished in highly tactile knurled aluminium.

Gregory Guillaume, chief designer Europe for Kia Motors, said: “With many European drivers now seeking performance alternatives to the three-door hot hatch style, we began thinking about a different halo model for the cee’d family.

“The Pro_cee’d Concept represents a bold new vision of how the vibrant soul of the pro_cee’d could be reincarnated and revitalised for a new generation of performance-oriented drivers.”

Volkswagen glimpses at its future

Volkswagen pointed the way to the future in Frankfurt.

Along with the world premiere of the new I.D.CROZZ – a zero emission SUV that will go into production in 2020 – three other premieres were featured: the new T-Roc, the new Polo GTI and the updated Golf Sportsvan.

Dr Herbert Diess, VW’s passenger cars chief: “We will be thoroughly updating our vehicle range by 2020 and expanding into important segments. In 2025 Volkswagen brand will already be offering 23 all-electric models and invest 6 billion euros in electric mobility over the next five years.

“In this process, the different drive technologies will continue to have currency for many years to come. It makes sense for diesel, petrol and electric drives to mutually complement one another.”

In presenting the updated I.D. CROZZ, a four-door electric concept car, Volkswagen showed us its SUV of the future. This crossover of SUV and coupé, which makes, “a masculine and powerful impression”, has been systematically further developed with an eye towards a production car.

In its interior, the new I.D.CROZZ impresses with a large amount of space and a highly versatile seating concept. B-pillars were omitted in the I.D. CROZZ, so that the large swinging and sliding doors could be opened wide, and it is even possible to transport a crossbike without any trouble.

The CleanAir system – a new Volkswagen development – continually supplies clean air to the interior.

Now it is also possible to open and close the doors and activate the fully automated ‘I.D. Pilot’ driving mode by voice command. The front and rear axles each have one electric motor drive whose torque distribution is controlled via an ‘electric propshaft’. The driving range of the SUV that outputs 225 kW and boasts a top speed of 111mph is up to 310 miles.

We already can’t wait for next year!

Landmark Announcement On Future Of Cars

 So why is this a big deal now?

Alternative power is nothing new for the car industry – electric and hybrid power is now mainstream – but two key announcements have signalled a major step towards a different future for the automotive industry.
 
It probably came as a bit of a surprise to many people when the French government announced its goal to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
 
 
That’s only 23 years away and, while it’s bound to attract some criticism from manufacturers and drivers, France’s big manufacturer, PSA, which makes Citroen and Peugeot cars, said it fitted with its plans to offer hybrid or electric versions of 80 per cent of its cars by 2023.
France is unusually dependant on diesel fuel, which is blamed for choking Paris in particular. The capitals mayor wants to ban diesel cars by 2020.
 
He’s not the only one – London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested that the same thing could happen in England.
 
France’s landmark announcement came in the same week as Volvo becoming the first major carmaker to announce that every model it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor.
 
It’s a historic landmark – the end of cars that only have internal combustion power. Volvo says that the announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification “and highlights how, over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine, electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history”. 
 
Similar announcements by other manufacturers are surely not far off.

What does it all mean?

These announcements are some of the most significant in regard to the future of cars for some time. Although technology continues to evolve, most of us still rely on traditional petrol or diesel power.
 
The reason is simple – although many people are attracted to electric cars or hybrids, the purchase cost is often over and above that of internal combustion and the maths don’t make sense.
 
But that’s changing – electric and hybrid cars are increasingly in line cost-wise with their petrol or diesel counterparts – take the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf as good examples.
 

 How will I power my car in the future?

 Electric cars have come a long way since the early efforts like the G-Wiz. Nowadays, most mainstream manufacturers offer an electric option.
Take the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq as good examples.
 
These cars are making electric power affordable, with purchase costs now coming closer and closer in line with petrol cars. The problem is range, but there are signs that issue is being pretty quickly addressed.
 
A few years ago you’d be lucky to get 100 real-world miles out of an electric car.
But technology is advancing quickly. A Tesla Model S, for example, might set you back £60,000+ at the moment, but its range is 300-400 miles. And that’s in line with petrols and diesels.
 
This sort of range will inevitably filter down to more modest electric cars over the next few years, while purchase costs will also continue to fall.
 
It’s not overstating things to imagine that in five years electric cars will offer few disadvantages over those powered by internal combustion.
For those who continue to worry about range, however, there are hybrids. And they are the most likely to benefit from announcements like we’ve seen from France.
 
Because they combine electric with petrol power there are no range problems and they will get around such new legislation. Toyota’s Prius was the trend-setter and now most of Toyota and Lexus’ range offer hybrid options.
 
And then there are fuel cells. The infrastructure is way off, but this is one to get excited about. Again it’s Toyota leading the way here.
Sure, the Mirai currently costs £60,000 to buy, but you fuel it like a traditional car – just with hydrogen rather than petrol or diesel – and it emits nothing but water.
 
 
And even the world’s top hypercars are now hybrids – such as the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918. It just proves that a change of power doesn’t have to mean cars will be any less exciting.
 

Will classics become even more important?

Quite possibly, yes. It’s not likely to be something that kicks in for quite some years, sure, but in the next couple of decades or so it’s perfectly conceivable that petrol and diesel-powered cars will become sought-after classics.
 
So if you’ve already got what is currently considered a classic car then look after it. The chances are its value will keep going up.