The Paris motor show opens its doors on Thursday 2 October 2014 - with more than 100 world debuts expected under the strobing flare of flash guns and gaze of the world’s media. Problem is, it’s such a big exhibition, it can be tricky to know what to look for. Here’s CAR magazine’s pick of the eight big stories and themes every car enthusiast should be looking out for.
For a full preview of all the new cars at the 2014 Mondial de l’Automobile, check out our Paris motor show preview here.
1) The new Lamborghini
Anyone with an ounce of 98 RON petrol running through their veins will be waiting on tenterhooks to see the new Lambo, one of the few cars yet to be unveiled in advance of the show. Always a banker for motor show shock and awe, the new bull has yet to be officially unveiled - but is tipped to be called Asterion and stretch the Lambo range somewhat unconventionally. We can’t wait to see what this most outrageous of car makes has planned…
2) The rise and rise of the crossover
If proof were needed that SUVs are taking over from the humble hatchback and practical people carrier, look no further. The Paris motor show will be crawling with crossovers - cars mixing family-friendly attributes with the shape of the taller mud-plugging SUVs. The new, taller Renault Espace - sadly not coming to the UK this time - is a case in point. But note also the Honda HR-V, Peugeot Quartz and Toyota C-HR concepts, and Fiat’s 500X. Crossovers will continue to proliferate at Paris. The new, seven-seat Volvo XC90 is worth a look too.
3) Changing of the guard at Ferrari and Aston Martin
A game of musical chairs is underway at the top of Europe’s greatest sports car brands - and the music stops at Paris this week. It’s Luca di Montezemolo’s last show in charge of Ferrari, as he’s ousted by Fiat overlord Sergio Marchionne. And Aston Martin has a new boss, too - Brit Andy Palmer, formerly of Nissan. Will be fascinating to see these two men in action, for the last and first times. LDM has reined during a golden period in Maranello, while Palmer joins at a pivotal time for Aston.
4) The French starring on home turf
So many motor shows are hogged by the rampant German premium brands, so it’s a refreshing change to see the French car makers looking confident on home soil. Citroen will show the intriguing Divine DS concept and the funky C1 Urban Ride crossover; Peugeot has a full set of Quartz crossover, warmed-over 308 GT and a refreshed Exalt; and Renault the aforementioned new Espace plus Eolab concept showing the tech that could underpin a future Clio. Expect more surprises from our Gallic hosts.
5) Can mainstream brands fight back?
American giants Ford and General Motors will be desperate to give their European divisions something to cheer about. But is the much-delayed Ford Mondeo and a new Vauxhall Corsa blighted by recalls of its predecessor enough to get visitors - and therefore, ultimately, customers - excited? We’ll know for sure at Paris when we see the cars in the metal for the first time.
6) Two Brit stars: Jag’s XE and a new Discovery
This year’s Paris motor show plays host to two major British debuts: the seminal Jaguar XE and new Discovery Sport from sister brand Land Rover. We’re not merely being patriotic - these two newcomers are properly influential and incremental new products from an on-form company. The XE could make or break modern Jag, while the Disco Sport is proof that the Range Rover/Sport twinning approach is working. But can it increase the appeal of the more lacklustre Freelander it replaces? JLR hopes so.
7) Is the Porsche 911’s reign over?
The Porsche 911 has been the benchmark sports car around the £60-70k mark for as long as most of us can remember. So kudos to Mercedes-Benz for attempting to dislodge this most persistent of heroes from its pedestal. The new GT by AMG is voluptuous and focused, and just a little bit 911-ey itself. It’ll be one of the show highlights for sure.
8) Affordable fun is making a comeback!
Thankfully you don’t need to splurge £100k on a Merc GT to have fun. Some of the best cars at Paris are bound to be very egalitarian, cheaper machines. The Mazda MX-5 is set to be one of the stars, a sub £20k roadster and only the fourth member of the MX-5 family since launch 25 years ago. And the Smart Fortwo and Forfour will be worth a look, too. The Fortwo remains a unique proposition; nobody’s bettered its city manners and the new one promises to move the goalposts again. We welcome such fresh thinking and hope to see more at the Paris motor show.
9) Surprises of the Paris motor show 2014
Please god, let there be some surprises at Paris. In an age of drip-feed and carefully stage-managed reveals, so much is seen in advance of motor shows. But expos are so much more exciting when we see car makers go off script on the day. We’d wager the VW Group colossus has a surprise or two up its sleeve, for starters. And here’s to many more…