Frankfurt Motor Show 2005

The Frankfurt Motor Show is about to open to the public, and I’m at the Frankfurt airport heading back home after several busy days at this huge international auto show. And not only is it huge in importance – more than 80 vehicles made their world-wide debut – it’s massive from a size point of view. There are ten buildings filled with cars and car-related items, all connected by hallways that seem to go on for ever. My feet are still tired.

 

The Frankfurt show happens only once every two years, alternating with the Paris Motor Show. There are three days reserved for just media, and there are press conferences happening as often as every 15 minutes, sometimes three at a time. To say that it’s been a busy few days would be an understatement.

 

There was plenty of new products that debuted here in Frankfurt, many of which will be coming to America – eventually. Here are some highlights:

 

Porsche Cayman S – It’s been in all the car enthusiast magazines, and its finally being shown to the public. Based on the Boxster, the Cayman is a hard-top 2-seat coupe. It looks good in pictures, and even better in person. Initially will be available with a 295-hp flat six, likely that there will be a non-S trim with less power, and eventually a more powerful version as well. On sale in the U.S. next spring.

 

Volvo C70 – The original C70 was available as a coupe or convertible, and when it was introduced it was quite stylish. But that was quite a while ago, and it is time for a refresh. Apparently Volvo agrees, and the Swedish company debuted the all-new C70. Rather than producing two bodystyles, Volvo gave the C70 a retractable hard top. With the top up, it’s ready for all weather – sun comes out and the top can quickly be completely hidden underneath the rear decklid. The C70 is based on the S60, and carries through similar styling cues from the rest of the Volvo lineup. Driving should be good as well – the body is twice as stiff as the outgoing C70, and the 200 hp T5 engine should be available. Manual transmissions are available in Europe, unknown for the U.S. Should arrive early next year.

 

Volkswagen Eos – There certainly seems to be a trend towards hard-top convertibles – VW had one too. The Eos is a Golf-based convertible, so its not very large. However, it does have seating for four, and yes, it does have a retractable hard top. The system is quite innovative – the main section of roof features a glass sunroof that can be tilted or slid open. The 5-section roof folds completely under the rear deck, and while truck space with the top stowed is not huge, VW did have two pieces of luggage in there. Eos will come the U.S. sometime next year.

 

Mitsubishi Sportback Concept – This car was one of my favorites of the show. This sleek 4-door hatchback has a mean face, and with the sloped roof and small windows, it looks fast sitting still. Word is that this is built on the same platform as the Caliber, the new small crossover coming from Chrysler next year. Personally, I think this would make a great next-generation Lancer Evolution.

 

Jaguar XK – I was disappointed when this car debuted as a concept at the Detroit show earlier this year, especially with the grille. Jaguar made a few tweaks to the car since then, and now it looks much better, in my opinion. Expect a super charged R and a convertible to be introduced in the near future.

 

Fisker Coachbuild – Henrik Fisker has been responsible for the designs of some of the most beautiful sports cars on the market, including the BMW Z8 and the DB9 and V8 Vantage from Aston Martin. So now Fisker has left Aston Martin and started his own company that designs new bodies and interiors for current production cars. He will pick two production models each year and build 150 vehicles based on each. The first two are the Latigo CS (based on a BMW M6) and the Tramonto (based on the Mercedes SL55). The cars are gorgeous, but they’re expensive. $128,000 for the transformation – after you’ve purchased the production car.

 

There’s plenty of other new product that debuted in Frankfurt, but I just don’t have time to cover everything. Here’s a quick list of other significant vehicles:

  • Mercedes- Benz S-Class, ML63 AMG, R63 AMG concept
  • Audi Q7
  • Jeep Compass Concept
  • Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
  • BMW Z4 Coupe Concept
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Ford iosis Concept
  • Honda Civic 5-Door

 

For more details about these and other cars, go to http://autos.msn.com/as/minishow/default.aspx?s=Frankfurt2005.

 

Next big show: Tokyo in about four weeks.
--Perry Stern

 

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