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09/14/03 * THE BIG SHOW CONTINUES

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Sep 14, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE BIG SHOW CONTINUES

By Contributing Editor CHUCK DAPOZ

Frankfurt Part 3: Non-German European Brands

ALFA ROMEO 166

Alfa 166 (Production vehicle) The Alfa 166 is the new flagship of the Alfa lineup - and another example of a manufacturer claiming to have combined a sedan with a coupe. While Alfa's new advertising slogan is "Beauty is not enough" expressing the importance of content over style, it nonetheless promoted design of the 166 over engineering or performance. Four gas engines are available, the most powerful a 3.2L, 24-valve V6 that produces 240 hp, and two turbodiesels. The new Alfa 166 goes on sale in October.

ASTON MARTIN DB9

Aston Martin DB9 (Production vehicle) Aston Martin unveiled the all-new DB9, which will replace the DB7 as the brand's volume model, though volume is a relative term you aspire to sell 5,000 units a year. Under the hood is a 5.9L V12 pumping 450 hp. While that's almost anemic compared with power coming from some of the German uber-cars, the DB9 weighs in at 3,767 pounds, nearly 1,000 pounds less than some of its competitors, such as the Mercedes-Benz CL coupe, allowing it to rocket to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds with a six-speed manual and a flat five seconds with its ZF automatic. The body and frame are all aluminum, with the fenders and decklid made of composite. The hand-built DB9 will be available in the US next summer, priced around $160,000, following its spring launch in Europe.

CITROËN C-AIRLOUNGE

Citroën C-Airlounge (Concept vehicle) The Citroën C-Airlounge is a design exercise in aerodynamic efficiency, achieving a Cd of 0.26. Its 3.0L V6 develops 210 hp, driving an automatic transmission with gear-changing paddles on the steering wheel. At sustained highway speeds, the suspension lowers the vehicle to improve stability. The interior is minimalist and nearly all white - even the pile carpet is white - with red accents. The C-Airlounge has five individual seats, though the rear middle seat can retract onto the floor, allowing the other two rear seats to move into a true 2+2 configuration.

FIAT PANDA

Fiat Panda (Production vehicle) If you're looking for basic, affordable transportation, the four-passenger Fiat Panda could be for you. The first Panda was launched in 1980, and since then more than five million have been sold. Two gasoline engines are available on the updated version, a 1.1L and a 1.2L, developing 54 and 60 hp respectively, and there's also a 1.3L diesel, the smallest, most advanced of Fiat's second-generation Multijet direct injection diesels, producing 70 hp. The new Panda goes on sale this month, beginning at about $8,900.

JAGUAR X-TYPE ESTATE

Jaguar X-Type Estate (Production vehicle) Jaguar launched its first-ever station wagon, the X-Type Estate. It has unique body panels rear from the B-pillars, and Jaguar is boasting about the car's versatility and, especially, interior space. With the rear seats folded down, the X-Type Estate offers greater usable volume than its two primary competitors, the BMW 3-Series Touring and the Mercedes C-Class Estate. The rear seat can be configured to provide seating for one, two or three passengers, depending on how much luggage space is required. In addition to the two gasoline engines offered in the US, 2.5L and 3.0L V6s, a 2.0L diesel is also available. The gas engines will be mated with Jaguar's Traction-4 all-wheel drive. The new X-Type Estate goes on sale in Europe in the spring. There are no plans for US sales.

JAGUAR R-D6

Jaguar R-D6 (Concept vehicle) Jaguar also introduced a concept car, the R-D6. This shapely four-seater is based on a shortened version of the new aluminum-chassis XJ, and like the XJ it uses aluminum and composites for the body. The R-D6 weighs in at just 3,300 pounds. The engine is the 2.7L, twin-turbocharger V6 diesel that will be introduced in the 2004 S-Type next year. It uses the latest, high-pressure, common-rail direct injection, generating 230 hp and a massive 369 lb-ft. Zero-to-60 time is less than six seconds. R-D6 rides on 21-inch wheels, machined from solid aluminum, with ultra-low-profile Pirelli 255/30 R21s in front and 275/30 R21s in back. There are no plans for production, but Jaguar says the R-D6 further develops its design direction and hints at products to come.

LANCIA FULVIA

Lancia Fulvia (Concept vehicle) The Lancia Fulvia is a brave attempt at reviving the legendary car of the same name, which was introduced in 1964 and won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1972. The dimensions of this three-box Fulvia concept are nearly identical to the original, though the track has been widened. All of the body panels are aluminum, resulting in a vehicle weight of 2,182 pounds. Power comes from a 140-hp 1.8L engine, which moves the Fulvia to 62 mph in 8.6 seconds.

MASERATI QUATTROPORTE

Maserati Quattroporte (Production vehicle) The flagship of the Maserati line, the Quattroporte, is back after a two-year absence, now with a Pininfarina skin. This is a big luxury car with a spacious cabin. At a length of 200 inches, it's longer than the base Mercedes S-Class and could be a credible competitor to other large sedans, such as the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. The engine is a 4.2L 400-hp V8, which is mated to a sophisticated five-speed electro-hydraulic gearbox. It's an automatic, but paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow manual shifting. The interior is adorned not only with rich leather and wood but also the latest in technology, including navigation. Prices start at $100,000.

PEUGEOT 407 ELIXIR

Peugeot 407 Elixir (Concept vehicle) The Peugeot 407 Elixir is called a concept vehicle, but even though it's a two-door, we wonder if it hints at the successor for current 406 upper-middle family sedan. It has a long hood, steeply angled windshield flowing into a glass roof, and a rear that is not quite a coupe, hatchback or traditional wagon. The roofline remains relatively high at the back, with the tailgate dropping steeply. Inside is 2+2 configuration, with four identical, adjustable seats. Wheels are 21 inches. The engine is a 2.7L six-cylinder diesel producing 200 hp and tied to a Porsche Triptronic System sequential gearbox, with a gear lever allowing either automatic operation or manual shifting.

SAAB 9-3 SPORT-HATCH CONCEPT

Saab 9-3 Sport-Hatch Concept (Concept vehicle) With the 9-3 Sport-Hatch Concept, Saab declares its intention to enter the midsize wagon segment for the first time. It's a five-door, sport-oriented four-seater that crosses a hatchback with a station wagon. It has a glass roof, and in place of traditional station wagon roof bars are recessed load-fixing points. The power tailgate includes a clever mount for a bike: a bike's front fork attaches to a bracket on the roof that allows the tailgate to open with a bike attached. The 2.0L turbocharged engine produces 250 hp, driving 20-inch wheels.

SEAT ALTEA

SEAT Altea (Production vehicle) VW's Spanish brand, SEAT, took the wraps off of the Altea, which it calls a prototype but also says it will go on sale next year. The Altea is the first SEAT product developed within the Audi Brand Group, which was created in early 2002. It's an aerodynamic, four-passenger mono-space based on the Audi A3 front-drive platform. SEAT calls the Altea an MSV, for Multi Sport Vehicle - in other words, a crossover. The 2.0L engine produces 150 hp and moves the Altea to 62 mph in 9.8 seconds on 19-inch wheels.

VOLVO S40

Volvo S40 (Production vehicle) Although the new Volvo S40 is based on the Mazda3 platform, it has a distinct and large-car feel. At its launch, later this year, three engines will be available: two versions of a 2.5L five-cylinder powerplant, producing 140 and 170 hp, and an entirely new 2.0L turbocharged diesel, developed with Peugeot, that generates 136 hp. Next year a turbocharged version of the 2.5L gas engine will be introduced, increasing output to 220 hp, and it will be available with all-wheel drive. In addition, 1.6L and 1.8L gas engines will also become available next year, along with a 1.6L turbodiesel. The new S40 is shorter than its predecessor, but at the same time it's wider and taller, creating more interior space. The chassis technology was based on larger Volvo models, including the S40's multilink rear suspension. US sales get underway at the end of the year, shortly after the European launch.

Frankfurt Part 4: Non-European Brands Chrysler 300C Touring (Concept vehicle) Daewoo Lacetti (Production vehicle) Ford Visos (Concept vehicle) Hyundai CCS (Concept vehicle) Lexus LS430 (Production vehicle) Mazda3 (Production vehicle) Mazda Kusabi (Concept vehicle) Mitsubishi i (Concept vehicle) Nissan Dunehawk (Concept vehicle)

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