2007 frankfurt auto show:

2009 Jaguar XF: Replacing the S-Type

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Jag’s New XF Revives a Commitment to Style and Grace
Jaguar previewed the replacement for their aging S-Type with the C-XF concept at the January 2007 Detroit auto show (click for our story). When the production XF photos were first released in August, contributor George Peterson was quick to praise the new look (click here). After that, the XF had a formal introduction at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show, and we had a chance to get a little closer and look at what Jag is really offering as an S-Type replacement. Depending on market, the order books for the XF opened this month, though the first deliveries won’t be until March 2008. And no launch is complete without a dedicated website, check out www.jaguarxf.com for Jag’s take.

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Jaguar needs the XF to re-establish the brand’s style and luxury credentials in the middle of the lineup. The new XK and XJ haven’t lost that touch, though the V8 engines that give the smaller XF a competitive powertrain in its class leave the larger, more expensive entries slightly behind their competition. And, as Peterson pointed out in his design review, the XJ and XK look too much like recent generations. The out-going S-Type did not age gracefully and, while its style hearkened back to Jaguars of old, the S-Type looked old too quickly in its relatively long lifespan. Further, the lower priced Jaguar X-Type has not done Jaguar any image favors. The all-new XF needs to rekindle the passion of Jaguar and at first blush looks equal to its task.
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With carryover engines, development of the XF focused on styling, creature comforts, and incorporates many driving aids and electronic helpers from the XK. The XF also debuts features like the JaguarSense proximity sensor and JaguarDrive Select gear selector. The XF will be the entrylevel U.S. Jag about the end of the decade, and it has the luxury feature updates it needs, including improved quality of interior materials. The debate will continue on styling, but powertrain and features boxes are all checked, and suspension elements and tricks suggest the driving dynamics will be strong as well.
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BMW Concept X6 and X6 ActiveHybrid: BMW X DNA Defined

At the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW Introduced The “First” Sports Activity Coupe
Technically, BMW is right. This is the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe. But that seems a matter of degrees, as Infiniti’s FX is really the world’s first SUV Coupe (and that was introduced back in 2003). The difference between an SAV and an SUV is in the mind of BMW, not the mind of the consumer.

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Claims to world’s first aside, two X6 Concepts, one with an undefined but implied large conventional powerplant and another with BMW’s also largely undefined two- mode hybrid powertrain, were shown at the 2007 Frankfurt show in September. The X6 Concept and X6 Concept ActiveHybrid preview a vehicle we’ll see on the roads in 2008, built alongside the X5 at the company’s Spartanburg plant. Both gathered strong interest at the show, though the real test will be seeing the X6 on the autobahn, freeways, and suburban and city roads next to everything from the most sedate family sedan to the largest SUV to the smallest sports car. Will its striking roofline be enough to draw attention and appreciative looks or just look out of place? Though given graceful and dynamic surfacing, below the beltline the X6 looks every bit the SUV it is.
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The X6 and X6 ActiveHybrid Concepts show what to expect from the exterior, though the interior and powertrain and mechanicals details are yet under wraps. We expect conventional X6 powerplants to be pulled from the X5, and the ActiveHybrid Concept confirms BMW’s intent to offer the jointly developed two-mode hybrid system (after the fragmenting of DaimlerChrysler, this is a four-way venture between GM, Daimler, The Chrysler Group, and BMW). BMW will use their own engines with the two-mode hybrid system, as do the other partners, and may call the system ActiveHybrid in production.
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2009 Aston Martin DBS: Automotive Inspiration

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Aston Martin‘s history is of gorgeous design wedded to a racing engineer’s heart. These cars take your breath away, on the stand or on the road, even being crashed in James Bond films. Should I happen to find my life situation seeing the overwhelming change that would be needed to afford supporting a more than $300,000 DBS, would I? Maybe. As fantastic as these vehicles are, somehow they often get left off my what-if daydreams. They’re so beautiful, so expensive, and a sufficiently rare sight on my Midwestern roads that they can slip by. And there are so many terrific options these days it is only more and more difficult to choose. It truly is a wonderful time to dream, and in Frankfurt I was reminded to expand those dreams.

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As time came to replace the Vanquish, Aston looked to the VH platform under the DB9 and V8 Vantage coupe and roadster with its bonded, pressed, extruded, and cast aluminum components. After providing a sneak peak of the DBS first in one of the most amazing crash scenes ever filmed in Casino Royale and again at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California (where Aston was this year’s featured marque), the car’s first auto show outing was at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show in September. The DBS is being built at Gaydon, near Warwickshire, alongside its DB9 and V8 Vantage siblings, rather than the Newport Pagnell facility where the Vanquish had been built. It will be available during the first several months of 2008.
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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: Toyota IQ

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Is Small Beautiful Again?
At the 2007 Frankfurt auto show this month, Toyota showed a concept version of a vehicle expected to be available in Europe in January 2009. The IQ, shown in brilliant white with purple metallic flakes in front of a swirling purple tie-die type background, is shorter than the smallest Toyota, the Aygo, but about as wide and tall as the Yaris. This footprint allows for maximum interior space and minimum exterior space.

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The IQ wouldn’t meet Japan’s keijodisha requirements, the segment there which requires that vehicles be no longer than 3300mm nor wider than 1480mm and use an engine with displacement no larger than 660cc nor delivering more than 64PS. The primary benefit of buying a kei-car is lower automobile taxes, as well as generally being more fuel efficient and often less expensive. The kei-car segment is the only one in Japan in which Toyota does not directly compete, though their affiliate Daihatsu makes several.
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Toyota IQ and Yaris

At 2980mm long and 1680mm wide, IQ is a bit larger than the smart fortwo, but the benefit of this space is the ability to carry more people. smart’s fortwo only carries two, but Toyota says the IQ can carry three if needed. Toyota makes room for the third person in a configuration they call 3+1. In normal driving situations, the driver and front passenger sit side-by-side. When room for a third adult or child is needed, the front passenger seat is moved forward; this is possible in part by a dash that swoops away from the front passenger and allows more space. To help ensure passengers don’t feel cramped in such a small vehicle is a glass panorama sunroof.
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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: The Color this Fall Was Green

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I spent two days crisscrossing the massive Frankfurt auto show, and the focus on reducing emissions and improving fuel economy and “green” solutions could not be missed. Very few manufacturers were not talking about fuel economy gains in their powertrain lineup and many announced hybrid plans or showed hybrid concepts. What we’re seeing here is the culmination of years of research, rather than fiberglass what-if models. Many of these hybrids or other technology-based solutions will be on the roads later this decade.

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Mercedes-Benz will, during the 2009CY, offer a hybrid powertrain in the S-Class and the M-Class, while a smart fortwo mild hybrid system goes on sale in October. Porsche gave updated the Cayenne’s diesel for more power but also promises a parallel series hybrid using the existing 3.6L V6 by the end of 2010CY. General Motors took the system shown under the Chevrolet Volt in January, replaced the gasoline engine with a diesel one, and created the Opel Flextreme as well as showing off an Opel Corsa Hybrid. Volvo put a plug-in hybrid into the C30 to create the Recharge concept. Land Rover is adding stop-start systems in 2009CY, and Audi will bring a hybrid to the Q7.
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Small cars are more prevalent on international roads and therefore more prevalent at auto shows outside the United States. Toyota brought us the iQ, Volkswagen the up!, and Ford the Verve. Renault’s latest Twingo was on the show floor as well, though this was not its debut.
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Notable exceptions to the small and green game were Ferrari and the 430 Scuderia (introduced by Michael Schumacher himself), the Aston Martin DBS (officially introduced at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance), the Bentley Continental GTS Speed, the Lamborghini Reventon (of which only twenty will be made, with a price tag around $1.4 million), and Maserati.
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Day two of Frankfurt’s show holds most of the supplier press conferences, leaving us a chance to take photos and see some general reaction. Frankfurt’s convention center has 10 halls, with at least seven of them holding the major manufacturers and others holding aftermarket and supplier stands. Walking the full show requires much time and comfortable shows and several hours. Interest was strong in the Mercedes-Benz F700 Concept (previewing the next S-Class), the Audi A4, Opel’s Flextreme, Ford’s Verve and Kuga, and Jaguar’s XF. Peugeot and Citroen concepts, the 308RCZ and the Airscape, saw plenty of attention, as did Nissan’s very odd-looking Mixim.
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The Volkswagen Tiguan stand was flocked with people getting a chance to get in and crawl around the new model, with plenty also checking out the up! city car. Interestingly, every time I went through hall 6, home to Italian makes Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati as well as Porsche and Hyundai it was completely mobbed. On the other hand, Kia’s Kee coupe concept and BMW’s X6 concepts didn’t seem to grab attendees as much.
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While going green may be good for us, hybrid systems and new engine developments don’t make for great pictures or put the enthusiasm into driving that a great-looking design can. Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more detailed coverage of many of these. Stay tuned.
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