Paris motor show 2010 – the CAR live blog

Published: 01 October 2010

Welcome to the CAR Live Blog – bringing you all the action live from the 2010 Paris motor show floor. Read on for updates of all the news, unveilings and launches as they happen 24/7, reported by Tim Pollard (TP), Ben Pulman (BP), Sarah-Jayne Harrison (SJH) and Richard Webber (RW). See our separate reader blog by CAR user Mark Hamilton who’s also blogging on the show. NB We’ll be adding the latest Paris motor show posts at the top in blog format, so read from the bottom up for the correct chronology. All times are local French time (GMT +1)


6.35pm: McLaren and bouncers
As I prepare to catch bus back to our hotel with Gavin Green, we bump into Antony Sheriff and Ron Dennis, CEO and chairman of McLaren Automotive. A pair of gorilla bodyguards lurk mysteriously behind. ‘Just off to see Lotus,’ chirps Sheriff.

5.46pm: One hour on and Lotus is rammed
time to swoop on Lotus. The crowds are frankly unbelievable. It’s one hour after the unveiling and the stand’s still mobbed. We see Queen’s Brian May and McLaren design chief Frank Stephenson poring all over the new Esprit, Elite, Etern and Elan. We have to queue to get on the stand. There’s no doubt of the ambition here but many of us wonder how on earth they’re going to pull it off.

5.40pm: Making a Fisker of it
The first Karma luxury hybrid saloon off the production line is unveiled on Fisker’s stand, so I have a good poke around the interior. It’s a plush cabin and finish is generally good, but rear headroom is really tight, there are signs of glue residue in places, and fake wood trim doesn’t tally with the car’s projected image. [Fisker later point out the Karma uses certified rescued wood retrieved from the storms in California and the bottom of Lake Michigan]

5.15pm: A divine occurrence somewhere in Hall 5.1
That stunning parade of new Lotus models had most spectators pinching themselves. The plans are there, and evidently the money is too: all but the Eterne have bona fide interiors installed, and the starlit procession of special guests (Brian May, Mickey Rourke, Naomi Campbell and, um, a Baldwin) can’t have come cheap, either.

5.05pm: Lotus and The Big News
Quite a 17 minutes at the Lotus stand. Five new concepts lined up for production in the next few years. 5.0-litre V8 Esprit, 4.0-litre V8 Elan, the front-engined Elite we’ve seen in recent pictures, with electric hard top and optional hybrid drive plus KERS, a new Elise due in 2015, and a Rapide-style four door luxury sports saloon called the Eterne, featuring a 611bhp V8. All feature the Elite’s sleek but fairly intricate lines. Cripes.

5.00pm: The CAR video
Meeting the CAR news team to shoot some post-show video analysis; come back later to hear Georg Kacher, Gavin Green and Ben Oliver chew the fat. Chat to ex Volvo design chief Steve Mattin, who is still looking for a way back into the industry. ‘Should have news soon,’ he confides. Come to think of it, wasn’t that him in the Porsche inner sanctum earlier?

4.10pm Soul sister

RW Hyundai’s ix20 gets the full unveil, sporting the brand’s new, less anonymous front end styling, and more engaging lines than we’re used to from the Korean brand. There’s diversification on the way, too, as the Genesis coupe will hit Europe before the year end, and bosses won’t rule out other new entries like the upmarket Equus saloon.

3.20pm: Kids everywhere

No wonder the Paris motor show has the highest attendance of any global car show: there are suddenly kids everywhere. I even spotted two toddlers cowering by the carbon Lamborghini. Perhaps they let children in after school to inflate the numbers.

3.20pm: Missed Rolls
Woops. Missed the Rolls-Royce press conference as I’ve finally seen the Evoque and stayed on the Range Rover stand for a proper look around it. And then got caught at the Renault stand, gawping at the tandem-seat electric Twizy. Very cool.

3.17pm: Porsche’s new CEO
The biggest interview of the day? I bag half an hour with the new chief executive officer and president of Porsche, Matthias Muller. He’s not even started yet, taking over the reins tomorrow. Four Brits have the floor and we grill him on product proliferation (you sense he thinks there are too many variants of cars like the 911), motorsport (he reveals Porsche may enter the Dakar again, now VW finds it ‘too easy’, and says they’re considering F1 and Le Mans entries), future product (VW is holding a review of forthcoming models and will report back at year end) and the 918 Spyder. ‘We are studying the plan now and will finish our report in late 2010; it will go on sale in early 2011 with market introduction in 2013 maybe.’ What about the new proposed small Porsche? He won’t comment in detail but agrees there is space beneath Cayman/Boxster. The man seems convivial and keen on cars; word is he’s more enthusiast biased than the cash-centric Wiedeking ever was. That’s a good thing. Porsche has a rocky few months ahead as it integrates into the Volkswagen empire.

3.05pm: No Nagare
Over to Mazda to see the facelifted 2, which is also now cleaner and greener too. And to learn that my MX-5 race car from earlier this year wasn’t exactly safe… The Shinari concept car is nowhere to be seen – and neither is the phrase Nagare. We’ll hardly miss it.

2.50pm Covering for Richard
 Time to allow Mr Webber to have a brief break (and lunch), so I graciously takeover just in time for Ferrari’s press conference. Luca di Montezemolo is on form, casually introducing the new stop/start-equipped California, wishing Alonso luck for the remaining 2010 F1 season, and promising a road car with KERS within three years.

2.45pm: Maserati goes the hard route
Maserati has enjoyed a strong recovery in 2010, and the UK market has risen most, seeing 62 per cent growth. Maser’s quickest ever car is launched today – the 188mph GranTurismo MC Stradale, which puts marque’s prolific track exploits to use in a lightweight racer for the road. We’re told to expect proprietary chassis and engines in the future, starting with the next Quattroporte, and there’ll be a new upper E-segment saloon, too.

2.20pm Peugeot’s hybrid power
Twelve months after its Frankfurt debut as a concept, Peugeot’s production 3008 HYbrid4 is on show. Delivering diesel power to the front wheels and electric drive to the back axle, its hybrid four-wheel drive system also features in the madcap HR1 concept, a chunky crossover with grungy Demolition Man styling. Thumbs up.

1.25pm: Volvo still love a bit of safety 
Mention of building the world’s safest bus didn’t launch Volvo’s press conference in gripping style, but the V60 sports tourer makes a good impression as a slightly more practical alternative to the stylish S60. A full estate car it is not, but there’s decent boot space, and the R-Design versions add aggression inside and out. An electric-drive C30 is due in 2011, and diesel hybrids are on the agenda for 2012.

1.10pm: Mini’s electric scooter up close
Unlike Smart’s effort, the Mini electric scooter is a working unit that doesn’t need Flintstone power to shift. A single boggling Mini-style headlight gives it character, too. But it’s the BMW Motorsport-powered WRC Mini that lights up the stand. The Countryman-based racer looks fantastic with a row of lamps at the front and sounds gritty and eager when we’re treated to a few revs. Prodrive will race it from 2011.

12.55pm: Six of the best for BMW 
A quiet show for BMW. The 6-series concept has a full glass roof and more composed, balanced styling than the current car that points strongly to the next generation coupe. The Efficient Dynamics Active E concept is a 1-series coupe EV, to be piloted like the Mini E, and will hone the planned Megacity’s power train.

1.00pm: Technical issues
TP You might have spotted that our homepage isn’t updating properly; lots of stories are being hidden in the secondary story area. Try looking at the News landing page or the Paris Motor Show A-Z page for a full list of all the stories we’re uploading from Paris. Technical brains trying to solve our IT woes…

12.25pm: Over to Mercworld 
Lots to see at Merc: A-Class zero-emissions E-Cell to be leased in limited numbers in France, Germany and Holland, a four-cylinder S-class in the form of the S250 CDI BlueEfficiency (369lb ft of torque with 149g/km of CO2), and the new CLS with its wide, upright grille, reminiscent of the SLS supercar.

12.15pm: Smart’s weird and wonderful E-scooter 
Smart’s E-Scooter concept is introduced, fawned over, and eventually mounted by a young French songstress, who fades into a Vaseline-lensed outro alongside a grinning, floppy-haired squirt. If I’d had any lunch it would be on its way back up presently.

11.50am: Nissan Juke production, Five seat Infiniti on the way
RW Encouraging news for Nissan’s Sunderland plant, where Juke production will raise output to 400,000 units per year. We’re told there’s a five-seat Infiniti EV on the way, but Nissan’s big reveal today is the Townpod concept, a van-inspired four seat electric city car with storm trooper bodywork, suicide doors and a luxurious, multi-screened interior.

11.10am: Renault Fluence on sale next year
RW Renault boss Carlos Ghosn announces the Fluence electric family car will go on sale next year in Europe at the same price as the diesel version, though batteries will be leased monthly. Then it’s the (almost) production-ready Zoe EV, and the Dezir electric coupe concept, which has more than a hint of R8 about it, especially in the aluminium sidepods and wide rear grille.

10.50am: Citroen party
 Revised, larger C4 and new DS4 on show at Citroën. The latter gets the THP 200 engine from the top-dog RCZ. It’s a handsome thing, despite carrying some bulk, although metallic brown paint and caramel leather under pink lights give it a predictable Citroën oddness. We’ve just seen the DS3 WRC car under wraps outside; it sounds rorty and race-spec loud. Should make a good splash when the covers come off.

10.23am: Jag buys jet company
 We’ve seen the C-X75 concept car. Now Tata Motors has announced they’re buying a stake in Bladon Jets, a Shropshire company behind the turbine power of the range extender. Suggests the tech is not merely a fantasy, no? 

10.10am: The Lotus stand lurks
 Localised media scrum expected at 4.45pm this afternoon in the vicinity of Lotus. That’s a lot of dustsheets covering some very interesting shapes! 

10.00am: A coffee with the top brass at Saab
 Victor Muller and Jan Ake Jonsson, the chairman and CEO of Saab, give us an update on the fledgling Saab business. Since taking over in February, they’ve shored up the business, struck an engine supply deal with BMW (initially for the Mini’s 1.6 turbo and ancillary software) and predict sales this year of 40,000. They have already signed a deal for diesel engines for the new 9-3 due in 2012 and are putting the finishing touches to their new Phoenix platform. It’s a development of the GM Epsilon platform and will underpin the next 9-3, 9-5 and – should funds allow – the proposed new 9-1. Except Muller keeps calling it a 92. ‘We’d love to do it, but it’s not currently in our business plan,’ says Jonsson. ‘It’ll be our first priority in the next stage.’ 

9.55am: Jaguar unveil the C-X75 concept
 Huge moment on the Jaguar stand when the C-X75 concept is unveiled. It’s a four wheel-drive, range extended electric car using four electric motors, charged by a pair of micro gas turbines. 0-62mph will take 3.0sec, top speed over 200mph, and more than 560 miles per tank of fuel. Looks sci-fi. Is sci-fi. Face heralds next generation of production Jags.

9.40am: Range Rover Evoque
 Range Rover Evoque looks smaller and lower than I’d expected, but that raked rear roofline doesn’t pose a problem for headroom. Legroom is more compromised, but with knees apart it’s acceptable. Stitched dash trim feels nice but looks like the original A3’s boggo finish.

9.25am: Ford’s future Focus
New Ford of Europe boss Stephen Odell waxes lyrical about the new Focus, part of the One Ford strategy of global homogeny. An electric version will come in 2012, but the big news today is the hot ST, using a 247bhp 2.0-litre EcoBoost four cylinder in place of the previous Volvo five-pot. Odell highlights interior tech as a Focus strength, such as smart phone sync functionality that’s apparently so good it increases willingness to buy three fold. Fiesta RS WRC menaces from the far end of the stand. 

9.30am: Toyota’s new baby
Toyota says it is recovering well from the Prius brakes drama, sales of the model are up 25%. New Verso-S mini MPV is titchy-short at under four metres, but there’s good room front and back for this lanky passenger. Show car seats already showing wear, though. Technology includes rear-view cameras and seven-speed CVT transmission. Available from February 2011.

9.20am: News at JLR

Just out of a  breakfast chat with Tata Motors CEO Carl-Peter Forster. He sees Jaguar Land Rover swelling from today’s  250,000 combined sales to something more like 300,000 ‘in the medium term’. Obviously lots of chat about future product (the C-X75 from last night and the Evoque, the current star gracing CAR Magazine’s cover this month), but we also press him on which British plant he’s going to close. Forster admits it has already been decided and an announcement will come before year end. ‘But we’re growing in the UK; we will employ more people, not fewer,’ he vows. So bye bye one factory (Solihull, we’d wager), but hello more jobs. Seems a logical decision.

9.05am: Power cut in the press centre
Well that’s good. A power cut in the media centre means we’ve been paralysed for more than half an hour. No power. No wi-fi. No updates. My schoolboy French is being tested here, but we finally seem to be up and running.

8.45am: Bentley’s autocue gaffe
The stirring Conti GT promo reel and royal warrants above the stand give me goosebumps. Momentary patriotic pride punctured when boss Paefgen reads “applause” off the auto cue by mistake. Titter. The new Conti GT looks good; in the metal, it’s more different than it appears in the photos where it looks like a carbon copy of the old one. It’s evolving like the 911; how very German.

8.35am: Debut time for the new Bentley Continental GT
RW A revised W12 will give 567bhp and storm the 0-60mph dash in 4.6sec, available early in 2011, with a 4.0-litre V8 to follow later with less scary emissions. It’s a familiar shape, but less rounded, especially at the rear which sports a 6-series-esque lip spoiler.

8.20am: Another motor show, another slug of Audis
RW Audi’s e-tron concept brand is a motor show star yet again, this time in Spyder guise. A biturbo V6 is mated to two 60kW electric motors in this plug-in hybrid, contrary to the all-electric tin top from Geneva.

8.10am: Porsche and the magically reappearing 911
RW The 911 Speedster and Carrera GTS (in hard top and cabrio form) are unveiled at Porsche. Fuchs-style wheels and twin camel bumps behind the headrests give the Speedster an almost convincing retro edge. Outgoing boss Michael Macht hands over the reigns to Matthias Mueller. Or at least, he hands him a steering wheel. Ooh. Symbolic. After yesterday’s announcement of record revenues, he’ll be a happy man. But then 911 and Boxster sales are down. Is Porsche a sports car maker still? Or a luxury car brand now?

8.05am: Skoda goes green
 It’s green day for Skoda with the refreshed GreenLine range. Fabia 1.2 TDI is the star performer at 89g/km of CO2, Yeti and Superb get the eco-badge for the first time. And there’s the first electric Skoda – an e-Octavia.

7.45am: GM goes first
RW Bleary eyes all round but at the GM stand Nick Reilly reveals the Astra Sports Tourer, expected to account for 25% of Astra sales. 1550 litres of boot space with the seats flat isn’t shabby. Next up it’s the Astra GTC Paris concept. “Sculptural artistry meets German precision” says Reilly. It’s certainly striking, with lots of strong creases. The 21-inch bladed rims are oppressively large, though.

7.00am: The doors open at the 2010 Paris motor show
TP The CAR team arrive as the doors open. It’s pouring with rain in Paris. But at least the traffic’s quieter at this time in the morning. Various CAR staffers will be updating this blog page throughout the day, and we’ll be following the press conference trail; CAR reader Mark Hamilton will be writing a separate blog once he’s up and running and we’ve tasked him with digging out the quirkier delights of the Paris show. Got to admire his commitment; he’s jetted in from New Zealand specially.



11.52pm: Mercedes’ pre-show party
BP Just back from Merc’s Paris preview party, held in a cinema on the Champs-Elysees. We were treated to a 3-D film which highlighted all the new metal Mercedes will show in Paris, with the focus was on low CO2 and zero-emissions cars – think SLS AMG E-cell, A-class E-cell, 134g/km CLS, and a new four-cylinder S250 CDI that manages a startling 149/km. Best bit? The film ended with a nose-mounted camera snaking up some cobbled Parisian streets to meet a beautiful girl at a look-out point above the French capital. It was a nod to Claude Lelouch’s film Rendezvous (which used a Merc 450 SEL for the action, but then dubbed in another engine soundtrack after) but it was only at the very end of Merc’s film did we all realise that the car was silent. Welcome to the quiet world of the electric car.

8.30pm: The Jaguar C-X75 is unveiled
Jag’s holding a VIP sneak preview of its new supercar concept car at the Musée Rodin. Very swanky surroundings and the Cool Britannia rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack of Oasis at the Detroit show is thankfully toned down to a much more sophisticated affair. Carl-Peter Forster gives a brief introduction and the covers are swept off the C-X75. It looks sensational. Graceful, modest, alluring yet purposeful too. I think they’ve cracked it with this one. Now that the XF/XJ clan are established, we were wondering what’s next. Now we know.

7.15pm: J Mays on One Ford and what it all means
Ford CEO Alan Mulally told CAR this week that he would be shrinking the Blue Oval’s product portfolio from 97 models to just 20, as he stripped away duplication in different markets. So when I bumped into J Mays, chief creative officer at Ford, I simply had to ask him if the One Ford vision would mean safer, more homogenous styling. Au contraire, he reckons. More budget per car will mean more innovation, more focus (no pun intended), and more flair.

7.00pm: We’re in Paris
The CAR team is arriving in the French capital in dribs and drabs. Some of us have flown, some have driven, most have Eurostarred our way through the Chunnel and across northern France. I arrive at the hotel and prepare to bundle out almost immediately; time for a dinner with Jaguar, where a rather special suprise lurks. Can’t say what yet – but come back in an hour and a half and you’ll see why I’ve bagsed a front-row seat. Just one of a string of world debuts at the 2010 Paris motor show.