The Paris Motor Show (Mondial de lAutomobile) is a biennial event held during even numbered years at the Paris expo Porte de Versailles. The 2014 show is open to the public from October 4 through 19, with press days immediately preceding its launch. More than 50 car manufacturers are on hand for one of the biggest and most interesting auto shows of the fall season.
Auto Trends is not in Paris — instead, we are relying on our many contacts in the UK and elsewhere to share their news. There is no lack of good information coming from “The City of Light,” including the following important releases.
Volkswagen XL Sport Concept
If Volkswagen is ever to make a serious go of it in the United States, it needs to deliver models that are exciting, innovative and wholly unexpected. One such model made its debut at the Paris Motor Show: the VW XL Sport concept.
Its sports car layout embodies the best of Volkswagen Group design, combining elements of Audi and Porsche to deliver a Volkswagen unlike none other. What’s particularly interesting about this model is that it is powered by a motorcycle engine, specifically a 1.2-liter two-cylinder Ducati motor. Ducati, owned by Lamborghini — itself an Audi subsidiary and, therefore, a Volkswagen Group entity — offers this 197-horsepower engine in its Superleggera motorcycle. With the bike it makes 99 foot-pounds of torque and is paired with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
Sticking this engine in a sports car changes things quite a bit, particularly as greater weight and mass are factored in. But the XL weighs in at just under 2,000 pounds, benefitting from high-strength steel frames, resins and polymers reports the New York Times.
A slippery co-efficient of drag, a top speed of 168 mph and a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds are some of this model’s chief attributes. Its fuel economy estimate has not been released, but let’s just say that this vehicle could help Volkswagen’s CAFE numbers immensely. Oh, yeah, although it is a concept, Volkswagen plans to build it.
Audi TT Range
If you like the Audi TT roadster, you should know that Audi has plans to extend the TT’s range to encompass multiple body styles. At the Paris Motor Show, Audi unveiled the TT Sportback, its third concept vehicle based on the Audi TT Sportback.the TT. The TT Allroad and TT Offroad were showcased at auto shows in Detroit and Beijing respectively this year. The TT Sportback is the latest iteration on this delicious theme.
Autocar says that the Sportback is “…not simply a stretched version of the three-door TT coupe, but that it is intended to belong to that family.” Key elements include: trapezoidal headlamps, prominent wheel arches, 21-inch wheels and a highly-defined Tornado body line. It also features a liftgate style tailgate similar to what is found in the Audi A7. A new turbocharger affixed to a 2.0-liter engine should provide substantial kick — it is mated to a sequential shift 6-speed automatic transmission.
Toyota C-HR Concept
Another concept on display at the 2014 Paris Motor Show is the Toyota C-HR, instantly seen as a new competitor to the Nissan Juke. The Juke is Nissan’s “cute ute” although some insist that the car is downright ugly. Nevertheless, the subcompact Juke is a hoot to drive, especially when a six-speed manual transmission is present.
Toyota is looking at slotting a crossover beneath the RAV4 and the C-HR may fit that bill. Its rakish style, embodied by its diamond architecture puts the style into the segment. Toyota says that the concept offers “state-of-the-art handling and control” and will feature an advanced powertrain. It could also point to a new styling direction for all Toyota crossovers.
Honda Civic Type R Concept II
Honda is known for presenting concept vehicles that eventually go into production. They’re not like other automakers that love to tease us with cars that we’ll never see, although Honda’s competitors will routinely use such concepts to point to future styling trends.
At the Paris Motor Show, the Honda Civic Type R Concept II builds on the previously introduced Concept I unveiled at the Geneva auto show this past March. The latest concept offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, what should push performance up near the 300 horsepower range. Enthusiasts should also be delighted by the gearbox — only a six-speed manual transmission will be offered.
The Civic is a front-wheel drive model, so torque steer is common to this layout. However, Honda says that a new steer axis front suspension with a pair of supporting kingpins should cancel that effect. Adaptive shocks, a track-oriented drive mode and special skirting are among the other key features of this hot-looking pocket rocket.
BMW 2 Series Cabriolet
The Paris Motor Show featured the unveiling of a pair of BMW 2 Series convertibles, the 228i and the M235i. The 2 Series is the coupe off-shoot of the 1 Series and the cabriolet models are designed to put the icing on the cake.
That icing is likely to fly off the cake as you zip down the road with the top down, especially if the M version and its 3.0-liter inline turbocharged six-cylinder engine are selected. The larger engine is rated 320 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque according to Autoblog. Even so, the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is no slouch either as it comes in rated 240 horsepower and 255 foot-pounds of torque. Standard six-speed manual transmissions will delight enthusiasts; they can also opt for eight-speed automatics.
The new BMWs will also make an appearance at the Los Angles Auto Show next month. The convertibles will go on sale in early 2015.
Light vehicle sales up 9.4 percent for the month.
Analysts had expected that September 2014 auto sales would rise and they were not disappointed. GM, Chrysler and Nissan paced the industry, with each enjoying sales gains of 19 percent for the month. Ford sales dipped slightly, Toyota moved up just under 2 percent, while Honda sales rose by 12 percent.
September 2014 Auto Sales
The big news for the month came from the Chrysler Group. Not only did the company register its 54th consecutive month of month-over-month sales, but it surpassed Toyota in sales: 169,890 to 167,279 units sold. Likely, Chrysler won’t be able to sustain its hold on third place and is still 238,000 units behind Toyota for the year.
GM’s surge was led by GMC and Chevrolet, up 27.7 and 20.4 percent respectively. Buick sales rose by 11.8 percent while Cadillac sold one more vehicle in Sept. than they did last year for virtually no change. The biggest gainers were the Chevrolet Silverado on 50,176 units sold or up 54.4 percent for the month. The Chevrolet Cruze, up 44.7 percent and Traverse up 45.1 percent also paced the bow-tie brand. GMC, by the way, saw sales of its all-new Yukon nearly doubled. GMC Sierra sales also came in strong, up 24.7 percent for the month.
“GM saw strength almost across the board in September, and outpaced the industry with the newest trucks and SUVs at exactly the right time,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “We will have improved availability of heavy-duty pickups and large SUVs in the months ahead, and the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are arriving in showrooms as we speak. This sets us up to finish the year on a very strong note.”
Chrysler continues to ride the crest of mushrooming Jeep sales with Ram also contributing. Cherokee sales have now moved past the Grand Cherokee and are also ahead of Wrangler. The biggest gainer for the month was the Patriot as sales rose by 51 percent. Jeep’s September 2014 sales were up 47 percent.
Ram continues to benefit from interest in its large pickup truck, the 1500 series. That truck recorded 36,612 units sold for the month, up 30 percent month-over-month. Ram sales finished up by 35 percent for the month and are up 25 percent over 2014.
Nissan, Ford and Toyota
Nissan group sales rose by nearly 19 percent, held down by a 13 percent decrease in Infiniti sales. Several models contributed to the onslaught with the biggest gainers coming in the Rogue (up 51 percent) and Sentra (up 61 percent). Frontier sales rose by 47 percent for the month.
Ford’s loss of 3.2 percent for the month can be attributed largely to reduced availability of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck. As of this writing, Ford is transitioning from its 2014 to 2015 model year, bringing to the market an aluminum-bodied truck. Even so, Ford sold 59,863 pickup trucks to lead all comers. Ford reported strong sales for the Fusion, Transit Connect and the all-new Transit van. Lincoln sales rose 12.5 percent largely on demand for its all-new MKC crossover and a new Navigator SUV.
Toyota’s sales inched up by 1.7 percent even as demand for the Camry and Corolla slipped. Sales of the RAV4 and Highlander crossovers as well as the 4Runner SUV helped move Toyota forward. Lexus sales increased by 7.3 percent for the month.
Honda, Hyundai and Kia
Honda’s sales rose by 12 percent as both its Honda and Acura brands notched double-digit sales increases for September 2014. The outgoing Honda CR-V, now being replaced by an all-new model, contributed 23,722 sales for the month, ahead of the Civic’s 22,263 and behind the Accord’s 32,956 units sold. Increased demand for the MDX and RDX crossovers and demand for its ILX sedan fueled growth.
With all core Honda models now made in North America the Honda brand is continuing to gain strength with American car buyers, said Jeff Conrad, Honda division senior vice president and general manager. And with the redesigned 2015 Honda CR-V going on sale today we expect our momentum to continue to grow as step-by-step we reinforce our light truck lineup.
Hyundai and Kia are gradually moving to a place where the two Korean automakers should sell 100,000 units monthly between them. Kia sales were up 6.9 percent for the month while Hyundai sales increased by 1.6 percent. Both automakers, joined at the hip, are feeling the effects of capacity constraints. Nevertheless, the two manufacturers are operating their US factories at full tilt and are relying on imports to satisfy customer demand.
Best of the Rest
The rest of the market saw sales all over the place. The Volkswagen Group continues to struggle, falling 9 percent on the month. VW brand sales fell by 18.6 percent, but Audi sales rose by 14.2 percent. Mazda sales rose by 6.7 percent, Mitsubishi surged by 38.9 percent and Volvo sales rose by 11.4 percent.
Subaru continues to shake up the market, enjoying a 30.7 percent boost for the month. Subaru sales rose by nearly 10,000 units, representing the seventh time this year the automaker surpassed 40,000 vehicles sold in one month.
Jaguar sales fell by 13 percent, Land Rover was down 8.3 percent and Porsche sales increased by 16.6 percent. BMW sales rose by 8.6 percent, Mini sales plunged 20.5 percent, Mercedes-Benz recorded an 10 percent increase and Smart sales climbed by nearly 20 percent. Tesla sales fell by 15.4 percent.
September 2014 and Year to Date
In all, 1,246,006 new vehicles were sold in September 2014, up 9.4 percent for the month. Light trucks continue to outsell passenger vehicles 665,746 to 580,260. Through September 2014, sales are up 5.5 percent for the year to 12,431,305 vehicles sold. Annualized, sales are on pace to top 16.5 million units for the year.
See Also — Highlights of August 2014 US Auto Sales
Sales data supplied by car manufacturers and Autodata Corp.