Best cars of the Paris Motor Show

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 4, 2018.
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From an electric Mercedes supercar to visions of autonomous driving, the pavilion had it all

This week in the Porte de Versailles in Paris, the world’s automakers unveiled their best new cars at the Paris Motor Show (the show which began on Tuesday runs until Oct 14).

There was plenty to see, especially for those dismayed by the ongoing diesel scandals and excited by the prospect of electrification: Jaguar showed the electric I-Pace sport utility vehicle (SUV) meant to capitalise on Tesla’s latest woes; Audi displayed the electric and track-ready eTron Concept and the eTron SUV; while Mercedes-Benz brought the gleaming electric EQ Silver Arrow Concept. Plus, as China becomes an even bigger market for efficient cars, Renault rolled out several all-new electrics on its home turf, including the EZ-Ultimo and K-ZE, while Smart offered a tiny electric two-seater called the ForEase.

But no auto show is going fully electric, at least yet. Porsche debuted a new colour (red) on the Speedster Concept that has been making the rounds this year and announced it will make 1,948 of them. BMW showed off a brawny new 8 Coupe, a svelte Z4, and the new 3-Series. And Ferrari brought the two Monza race cars it hyped earlier this year — they provided some almost Old World-feeling sparkle to a show otherwise devoted to the future.

Here is the best of what was seen. — Bloomberg

 

The Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow electric concept supercar is an homage to the record-breaking Mercedes W 125 race car from 1937 and the latest in a line of extremely futuristic electric cars Mercedes has produced in recent years. The EQ Silver Arrow has only one seat and a body style “intended for straight-line acceleration,” said designer Gorden Wagener. Though it will not go into production, it will serve to influence forthcoming cars made by the Stuttgart-based brand.

 

French automaker Renault unveiled its latest battery-powered car, the K-ZE this week. According to the French automaker, the affordable electric crossover will have a range of 250km and will be made in China, where it will go on sale along with in Europe next year.

 

Renault’s all-electric and autonomous EZ-Ultimo is meant to be offered as an on-demand service for private trips and premium ride-hailing offerings. Designed for a luxurious ride, its interior is panelled with wood, which Renault says is a nod to traditional Parisian Haussmann-style apartments, while the worktops are marble and the bench seat and armchair are upholstered in leather.

 

BMW’s best-selling 3-Series demonstrates how manufacturers have moved away from luring customers with luxurious trimmings and engine choices. The latest iteration has gadgetry like smartphone entry, auto-reverse and an in-car assistant that learns drivers’ routines, aimed at delivering a crucial sales bump after growth slowed.

And a high-performance M version of the sport sedan will be the first in the family to use enhanced autonomous driving systems that will control the car for longer periods of time than before, plus it will have a newly developed 360-horsepower (hp), 3-litre turbocharged I6 engine.

But the exterior of the new cars remains largely familiar, with BMW’s distinct kidney grilles, blunt front nose and slightly arched roofline.

 

The Mercedes-Benz AMG A35 is notable as it is an all-new entry-level model for the brand. Based on the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, it is powered by a newly developed 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine with 306hp and all-wheel drive. Car fans call it a “hot hatch,” and it comes with a number of unique drive modes, including Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Slippery.

The AMG A35 goes on sale in Europe in early 2019; it will not be sold in the US.

 

The Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow electric concept supercar. Mercedes first showed the EQ Silver Arrow in August at the 2018 Pebble Beach Car Show—the design incorporates analogue and digital dials on the controls in a nod to both the past and the future.

 

A new Smart ForEase celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Daimler-owned brand. The brand is calling the two-seater an electric urban concept. It comes without a roof, in order to maximise “youthful, carefree” attitudes, according to the brand. (Domes set behind the seats provide protection if needed.)

The ForEase is the latest from Smart, which says that from 2020, it will be marketing only battery-electric cars in the US, Canada, and Europe.

 

Mercedes gave the public its first glimpse of the new EQC electric crossover, which was unveiled in Stockholm last month. The EQC is Mercedes’ first fully electric crossover. Its targets include the Tesla Model X, the Jaguar I-Pace, and the iVision Next vehicles from BMW. The electric SUV, which Mercedes initially debuted as a concept in Sweden, is roughly the same size as the Mercedes GLC.

On the outside, it has thick chrome trim and a new oversized Mercedes grille. Besides EQC badging, the rest of the body of the vehicle looks similar to the standard Mercedes line-up.

Inside, too, much of the car remains familiar. Mercedes says EQC’s interior is inspired by the world of consumer electronics, with its recently new large surfboard style screen at front and rose gold accents on the buttons and vents.

It comes with electric motors that generate 402hp and 564 pound-ft of torque. Mercedes puts preliminary figures at 0-60mph of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

 

Ferrari’s open-top supercar is billed as the closest thing to a Formula 1 racer ever built for the public market. The carbon-fibre 810hp Monza will come in one-seat and two-seat versions. The company has picked 499 of its most loyal customers to get the chance to buy one of the €1.6 million (RM7.66 million) racers.