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2012 Paris Auto Show Autumn Chic

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SEE ALSO:Press Pass Coverage - 2012 Paris Motor Show

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Fashion converged in the City of Light this late September. The clothiers of much of the world came together in Fall Fashion Week along with much of the global auto industry at the bi-annual Mondial De L’Automobile, the Paris Auto Show.

Each year the new global auto show season gets its kick off in either Paris or Frankfurt. More than 300 brands from 21 countries took part in the Paris Show which is important not for only Europe but also for North America.

In my view there was no real overwhelming theme to this year’s Paris Show. The European auto market is depressed from its strong performance in 2007.

Some say it will never be as strong again. And, not unlike the U.S., the European youth are not as interested in automobiles but establishing themselves via electronic devices to communicate and stay in touch.


The official theme of the Paris Show was “Cars and Advertising”. More than a century of car advertising exemplified through fifty different car models was on display. The oldest being a 1900 Peugeot Double Phaeton Type 15.

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With my view west to the U.S., the all-new 2014 VW Golf made its world premier. Volkswagen Group’s aspiration to reach a sales goal of around 800,000 units in the U.S. will be helped by this new-definition of the Golf, the Golf VII. Sister brand Audi unveiled the new A3, the RS5 Cabrio, and a concept Audi Crosslane. The RS5 Cabrio will reach U.S. shores and the Audi Crosslane, with its slightly angrier front face, may just hint at a new design direction for Audi.

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Porsche revealed a station wagon-esque concept of the Panamera. Also in the station wagon theme, Mazda unveiled the all-new Mazda6 Wagon. We won’t see it in the U.S., but we did get our first in-person look at the outstanding Mazda6 sedan that was unveiled in Moscow and will hit U.S. shores.

Jaguar took the cover off its new F-type, a 2-seater powered by a V6 and supercharged V8 and destined for the U.S. with prices starting around $69,000.

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BMW’s first front-wheel-drive BMW was presented in the design study the Concept Active Tourer. The Concept has a plug-in hybrid system that combines a 3-cylinder engine and a synchronous electric motor.

We did see an increased focus by most all of the European car companies on hybrid drive train, having lagged the Asians for a number of years now. Many of these new diesel-electric combinations, which we haven’t seen up to now in the U.S., might just bode well for more new fuel-efficient entries in our market.

Walking the show floor it becomes soon evident that the theme in Europe continues to be small and compact, stylish and energy efficient. Along with the new Audi A3, we saw the Mercedes-Benz A-class expected to hit the U.S., and a refreshed Ford Fiesta and Transit Connect van.

The Lexus LF-CC concept shows the design direction of the next Lexus IS. The IS sedan is expected to make its world premiere at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

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In the exotic spectrum, McLaren pulled the tent, literally, off the P1. A production preview of the supercar scheduled to arrive in late 2013 but probably with some further changes. It’s a two-seater powered by the MP4-12C 3.8-liter V8 assisted by the Formula 1 KERS system. The 900 HP will get it to 60mph in 3 seconds.

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Although not new, the Renault Twizy is certainly intriguing. It’s a fully enclosed, four-wheel, scooter-ish looking, electric powered, tandem two-seater complete with air bags. I’d take one for Chicago.

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All in all, the fashion industry sets many future trends and what better place in the world than Paris to take it all in. Au revoir.

© Larry Nutson