September 13, 2005
By: Matt Daniels
What a difference a pair of shoes can make. I may not have been the most stylish person walking around today at the Frankfurt Auto Show, but at least I was comfortable, which is what really matters at this show. With my goal to see everything that I didn’t see the day before and to revisit the vehicles I wasn’t able to closely inspect, I had my work cut out for me. A lot of walking was going to take place.
Let’s start out by saying that it is impossible for one person to cover this show in depth. There is just too much too see and too little time. I’m pretty confident I saw most the makes and manufactures during my two days at the show, but that doesn’t mean that I was able to absorb what I saw. For every vehicle that sticks out in my mind as being unique, I’m sure there are at least five others that are just as unique but I didn’t get a chance to really give them an in depth look.
For instance, I attended the Jaguar press conference this morning at which they unveiled the new XK. What can I tell you about it other than it’s a beautiful car? Umm… where did that press kit go? The XK is the first of a new generation of Jaguars. It is the most technically advanced Jaguar ever and replaced the current XK range that was introduced in 1996. Powered by a 300hp, 4.2 liter V8, the XK is lighter, more spacious, and more powerful than the XKR that it replaces.
Sure, I saw the XK unveiling, listened to the executives speeches, and took plenty of photos, but as the press conference finished, it was time to head over to the Porsche press conference – a ten minute walk away. So while I can say I saw the XK, and it’s very beautiful I was never able to absorb the essence of the car. There was always some other wonderful piece of machinery to distract my attention.
And speaking of Porsche, I can say I had a similar experience with the new Cayman S, which was unveiled to the public today. The press conference was already underway when I arrived at the booth, but I discovered it was being held at a different location and was being shown on larger monitors.
Thankfully, two covered Cayman’s were at the booth, so I would at least get see an unveiling in person. I patiently waited for the press conference to end, which ran 20 minutes longer then scheduled. Then the audience had to wait for their executives to make their way back to the booth before they would uncover the cars. Needless to say, after 50 minutes of standing in one spot waiting to see this car, I was more interested in taking a walk rather than inspecting the car. And after all that, they wouldn’t even give me a press kit because I don’t possess a press card from an accredited organization. I guess the Porsche folks aren’t reading AudiWorld ever day like the people in Ingolstadt.
So that gives you a pretty good idea about how the press days work at the Frankfurt show. View one press conference, take some photos of the car, fight the crowd and maybe actually sit in the car (if you are lucky). Then it’s off to another manufacturer to repeat the process all over again.
And when you’re done and reflect on what you saw, you realize that you missed quite a bit as well. In hind site, I barely saw the DaimlerChrysler display, having briefly walked through it the first day. The entire Tuner hall which houses aftermarket companies like ABT, Brabus, MTM, and others, was another quick walk through as the day was coming to an end. There was certainly some interesting machinery there, but time just ran out
Of course, even though there was a lot to see and not enough time to absorb it all, there are vehicles that stick out in my mind as being notable. In no particular order:
VW debuted the Eos, a new four seat hard top convertible. Based upon the Concept C study from 18 months ago, the Eos fills the slot left open by the discontinued Cabrio. A small hardtop convertible, the Eos looks to be a winner for VW. It launches in Europe in the spring of 2006 and VW stated that it will be made available worldwide later that same year. In Europe it will come in a wide variety of gasoline engines, including a six cylinder, as well as a 140 hp TDI engine. No specific information about the North American version was available.
Also in the VW booth was the new R32. The previous generation R32 was a great car to drive and I would expect the same from this new version. Considering we still don’t have the updated Golf, which has been available in Europe for nearly two years, there is no telling when we will see this R32.
The rest of VW’s booth was filled with the entire VW line; the updated Passat and Passat Wagon, Phaeton, Touareg, Golf, and the not-for-U.S. models such as the Polo, Sharon, Touran, and the Multivan. If one thing really sticks out from all the models that VW had on display, it’s my wish that VW would import their small mini-vans to the United States. I think they would do well here.
What really stands out in my mind is the Astra Twin-top, another small hard-top convertible similar to Volkswagen’s Eos. I don’t know much about Opel, but from a pure design standpoint I would have a hard time choosing between the Astra twin-top and the VW Eos.
Opel also debuted a high-performance version of their Vectra model line.
Gallardo Spyder. This one doesn’t require an explanation.
Z4 Coupe concept. BMW adds a roof to the Z4 roadster and unlike the coupe version of the Z3, this one is beautiful. While it is officially a concept, word has it that the production version shouldn’t look too much different.
BMW also showed a X3 Hybrid and introduced the new not-for-U.S. 130 model.
One of the few manufactures to have a full-on design concept vehicle at the show. The LF-A Sports Concept Car is a two door sports car that reminded me a lot of the Audi LeMans from a few years ago. I wasn’t at the press conference and will have to reference the press release later, but in person it was a well executed, attractive vehicle. If they produced this, it may actual get me into a Lexus dealership someday.
There are a lot more vehicles that I would like to discuss, but dinner calls. Look for at least one final update in the near future.