FRANKFURT MOTOR SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
All the new models from Frankfurt
As the largest and by far the most popular motor show in the world, the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung biennially draws close to one million visitors to the German financial capital of Frankfurt. Some come here for business, others for pleasure, but all come to get a glimpse into the future of the automobile.
Like other traditional motor shows, Frankfurt is under pressure to morph into more of an experiential gathering than a large-scale show and tell, although the 2017 event saw the introduction of no fewer than 58 new cars and concept cars, an increase over the number of reveals in 2015.
It was notable, however, that in the face of growing negativity towards fossil fuel-powered cars, this year’s Messe focused firmly on new mobility solutions, electrification and automated driving. Despite this reality, most major manufacturers still found space to cater for enthusiastic fans from both sides of the internal combustion versus electrification debate.
Amid a flurry of new electric concepts, Audi introduced the latest version of its flagship A8 sedan. Once the pioneer of the all-aluminium executive saloon, Audi now showcases its prowess in the field of autonomous technologies.
Naturally sophisticated and supremely elegant – even if it doesn’t push the boundaries of Audi’s exterior design language too far – the A8 is a practical exercise in advanced autonomous driving for the German automaker. Audi claims that the A8 is the first car to bring level three autonomous technologies to any road with a central barrier between traffic directions – allowing it to start, accelerate, steer, and brake without driver intervention. Called Traffic Jam Pilot, the system works at up to 60 km/h via 12 ultrasonic sensors and four 360-degree cameras around the car, a long-range radar and laser scanner at the front, a front camera at the top of the windscreen and a mid-range radar at each corner.
Audi says that this new tech will likely trickle down to other models ranges within the next 24 months.
In 2015, Bentley used the Frankfurt Motor Show to debut its long-awaited Bentayga super-luxury SUV. This year, the Bentley boys showed their all-new Continental GT. The third-generation grand tourer replaces the current generation GT, which will bow out of service in early 2018 after a phenomenal seven-year spell for the luxury automaker.
Described by Bentley CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, as a “defining moment” for Bentley Motors, the new Continental GT is touted to produce 467 kW and a monstrous 900 Nm from its revised 6.0-litre W12 engine, promising a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 330 km/h.
Showcasing something new from each of their BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad brands, the Bavarian company showed – among others – the muscular new M5 (the first with all-wheel-drive), and the 6 Series GT replacement for the now defunct 5 Series GT which BMW killed off earlier this year.
The new Gran Turismo 6-er is lighter than the 5 GT by 150 kg, more aerodynamic, and significantly more elegant than its predecessor. The interior too has been given a full-scale makeover, with the rear providing space for three without compromising on the already generous luggage compartment. The 6 Series GT is scheduled for local launch in November 2017.
While the X7 and iVision Dynamics Concept drew the large crowds, the Concept 8, in particular, caught our eye. Developed to spearhead the launch of the 8 Series Coupé next year, the Concept 8 is comprehensively kitted out with luxury items such as Merino leather, an iDrive controller of Swarovski Chrystal, as well as an exclusive smoky quartz interior.
Ferrari was one of a handful of Italian motoring brands at this year’s show, but they made the most of the opportunity by introducing the new Portofino entry-level replacement to the California T. Although it carries the same 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 as the Cali T, Maranello has squeezed extra power from the source, and substantially stiffened the chassis.
The local arrival date is set for early 2018, and when it does, we expect it to be capable of a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.5 seconds, and a top speed of
“IT WAS NOTABLE, HOWEVER, THAT IN THE FACE OF GROWING NEGATIVITY TOWARDS FOSSIL FUEL-POWERED CARS, THIS YEAR’S
MESSE FOCUSED FIRMLY ON NEW MOBILITY
SOLUTIONS, ELECTRIFICATION AND AUTOMATED
320 km/h. Whether we’ll try that kind of pace with the roof down is another question altogether.
As part of Hyundai’s quest to become the number one Asian automotive brand in Europe by 2021, the Korean automaker presented three new models at the Messe. All eyes were on the i30 N – Hyundai’s first high-performance car based on its successful WRC challenger, as well as an elegant five-door fastback coupé, and a sub-compact SUV badged as the Kona. The i30 N will probably come to our shores to do battle with the likes of Volkswagen’s GTI and Renault’s Mégane GT.
With its 205 kW turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, the i30 N has a top speed of 250 km/h and takes care of the 0-100 km/h sprint in 6.1 seconds – compared to the GTI’s 6.3 seconds, and the Golf R’s 4.6 seconds.
It is unlikely, yet not impossible, that we will see the Kona in South Africa. Should it happen, this model would aim to capture the market segment currently held by the Renault Captur and, to a lesser extent, the entry-level Renault Duster.
Hyundai also used the IAA platform to announce the launch of its first pure-electric car-sharing platform in metropolitan Amsterdam. Comprising 100
Hyundai IONIQ vehicles, this programme represents the brand’s entry into the world of e-mobility.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER
Jaguar’s big announcement at IAA 2017 centred on the Jaguar eTrophy all-electric race series to support the FIA Formula E championship. Described as the “world’s first international championship for production-based electric cars”, the eTrophy series is set to begin in late 2018.
Alongside this announcement, Jaguar also revealed that it would be creating its own racing car, based on the design of the upcoming electric Jaguar I-Pace. Dubbed Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, the modified crossover is currently being developed by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) unit back home in the UK.
Keeping the momentum going around the recently launched Discovery, Land Rover showed an extreme SVX version that develops 390-odd kilowatts from its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine. It boasts massive 32” tyres and increased ground clearance and, as with the Jaguar iPace eTrophy, the SVX was brought to life by the company’s SVO division.
Although the Mercedes-Benz GLC crossover is a familiar sight on local roads by now, the company showed a hydrogen fuel cell version at Frankfurt this year.
Powering the GLC F-Cell is an electric motor with 147 kW and 350 Nm of torque that comes paired with a plug-in chargeable 13.8-kWh lithium-ion battery that will be, according to Mercedes, the first plug-in hydrogen-powered production vehicle. They also claim that this combination endows the car with a 430-kilometre range, of which 78 km is in electric-only mode. That’s not half bad considering that you’re talking emissionsfree motoring…
Expected to be production-ready by 2019, the GLC F-Cell joins the ranks of several global automakers who either already have a hydrogen fuel cell car on the road – such as Toyota and Honda – or have advanced plans to have H cars road-ready by 2020. The latter includes other German brands Audi and BMW, with Ford and GM, and even Italian design house, Pininfarina, getting in on the action.
Few manufacturers attract quite as much attention at their stand as the Stuttgart-based Porsche, and this year the prestigious German car marker did not disappoint. Launching their powerful Cayenne Turbo as a double-whammy together with the 911 GT3 with Touring Package, the new 404 kW V8 Cayenne has the driving dynamics of a sports car and will please buyers with its completely revised exterior.
The GT3, on the other hand, is aimed at purists who insist on a six-speed manual gearbox, a variable rear spoiler, while the GT2 RS will be the pride and joy of those with deep pockets and the skills to handle 520 kW of brute power.
As Frankfurt is the traditional “home base” motor show for Volkswagen, the brand has always had a significant presence here, and IAA Cars 2017 was no exception.
With the company set to invest €6-billion (R93-billion) in electric mobility over the next five years, the group showed all nine badges in the stable – from Volkswagen to Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche, down to the renowned Italian motorcycle brand, Ducati.
Catching the eye, from a South African perspective, however, was the appearance of the compact-sized T-Roc crossover. Like its larger Tiguan sibling, the T-Roc will be offered with a range of turbo engines, consisting of three petrol and three diesel versions. As always, buyers will be able to choose between six-speed manual gearboxes or the superlative seven-speed DSG. Seen as a direct competitor to Audi’s Q2, the T-Roc should be available in South Africa during 2018 as a full import.
BMW iVision Concept
Land Rover Discovery SVX
Jaguar iPace eTrophy
Mercedes GLC F-Cell