Make a big entrance
ELECTRIC concepts may have hogged the headlines at Frankfurt but the top end of town was focused less on saving Earth than on enjoying it.
Drop-tops and SUVs were the attention grabbers, with Lamborghini, Benz and Ferrari unveiling convertibles and Jaguar and Bentley taking the wraps off SUVs.
Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti released its Q30 compact crossover and Citroen offshoot DS unveiled a compact crossover concept that looks virtually production ready.
Porsche and Audi had the equally spectacular Mission E and e-tron quattro electric concepts (see cover story).
BMW had the recently arrived 7 Series, the new X1 and a plug-in hybrid version of the 2 Series Active Tourer. Subbrand Mini debuted the new Countryman.
Awkward name, awkward looks but there’s no doubt the Bentley off-roader has captured the imagination of luxury car buyers. With 450kW/900Nm from its massive W12 engine, the British bruiser sprints to 100km/ h in 4 seconds flat — matching the current fastest SUV, Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo S.
Lacking low-range ratios, the Bentayga has eight driving modes including four off-road settings. There are heightadjustable air suspension and hill descent control for those inclined to take half-a-million dollars of metal bush-bashing.
Inside it’s typical Bentley opulence, with diamondstitched leather, night vision, head-up display and big Android tablets for rear passengers.
Bentley expects the first Bentaygas to arrive in Australia in May, with 50 to follow by year’s end. Half a dozen “signature” models costing about $600,000 will be followed by a regular half-mill model.
The British brand celebrated its entry into the SUV market by claiming a Guinness world record for the largest “loop the loop” on a 20-metre structure at the Niederrad Racecourse. Stunt driver Terry Grant pulled 6.5Gs during the stunt.
Jaguar describes the new F-Pace as “the world’s most practical sports car”, although cheaper models will be powered by a distinctly un-sporty 132kW four-cylinder diesel. It will join a 220kW V6 diesel and two petrol V6s producing 250kW and 280kW respectively.
Designed more for carving corners than tackling boggy marshes, the F-Pace borrows off-road smarts from sister brand Land Rover, with adaptive surface response technology adjusting the car’s stability control, brakes and engine mapping for different surfaces.
Jaguar says the F-Pace’s footprint is unique, delivering more space and practicality than the current sedan range. The brand claims rear knee room is class leading and luggage space is 650L. Jaguar Australia says the F-Pace will arrive next year and predicts it could become the brand’s top-seller locally.
LAMBORGHINI HURACAN SPYDER
Lamborghini’s open-top is slower than the Ferrari where it counts most, taking 3.4 seconds to reach 100km/h. The switch to open-air motoring also takes three seconds longer, although it can be done at up to 50km/h.
The Spyder’s 5.2-litre V10 (449kW/560Nm) is shared with the donor Huracan, with the 120kg of the folding soft-top adding 0.2 secs to the latter’s acceleration split and taking thirst to 12.3L/100km despite cylinder deactivation and stopstart technology.
Lamborghini boss Stephan Winklemann says the Huracan has been a huge hit for the company, with 3000 delivered in 15 months compared with 1700 in the same period for the previous Gallardo.
MERCEDES S-CLASS CABRIO, C-CLASS COUPE
The S-Class cabriolet is the first open-top four-seater from the brand since 1971. Expected to arrive in Australia late next year at about $330,000, it will be powered by a 335kW V8. The cabrio has air suspension and a body that is more rigid than the preceding S-Class coupe.
Comfort features include climate control that senses when the roof is retracted and adjusts the temperature accordingly. The roof has three layers to cut cabin noise and can be retracted in 20 seconds at up to 60km/h.
Other notables on the stand included the C-Class coupe, due locally in the first half of next year, and the GLC Coupe Concept, apparently production-ready. It is expected locally towards the end of next year with petrol, diesel, plug-in and AMG variants. Prices should start from about $70,000.