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This year, the biennial Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) at Frankfurt was a bit subdued. Saeed Akhtar and Ajay Joyson bring you the lowdown on all the hottest cars and concepts plus the electric cars and hybrids that were the surprise package



The Rapide is Aston Martin’s first four-door production car in more than two decades. The production Rapide is nearly identical to the original show car that was first displayed at the Detroit Auto Show in 2006. Essentially a DB9 stretched to fit four medium sized gentlemen, the Rapide is powered by a 6.0-litre V12 churning out 470bhp and 600Nm of torque.  To maintain its coveted status as the most  exclusively beautiful four-door production car, only 2000 cars will be built per year at a dedicated plant at Magna Steyr’s facility in Graz, Austria with the first deliveries to commence in early 2010. Prices are expected to be around the Rs 1,26,00,000 mark.


After its widely publicized unveiling at the Pebble Beach Concours in the US, the new Mulsanne made its debut on home turf at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Drawing inspiration from the firm’s racing heritage, (remember the Mulsanne straight/corner at the Le Mans?) the new flagship model is the first Bentley to be conceived, styled and engineered entirely at their headquarters in Crewe in 80 years. A newer and heavily redesigned version of the iconic Bentley 6.75 L V8 propels the Rs 2.67 crore car.



The Audi pavilion at Frankfurt was absolutely electric. The smokeless cigarette here is the e-tron, a high-performance sports car with a purely electric drive system. Four motors – two each at the front and rear axles – drive the wheels, making the concept car true to the legendary Quattro badge. Audi’s lithium-ion battery provides a truly useable energy content of 42.4 kilowatt hours to enable a range of approximately 248 kilometers. Producing 313bhp and 4,500 Nm (no typos there) of torque, this two-seater accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, and more outrageously, from 60 to 120km/h in 4.1 seconds! Now you can’t ignore that torque, can you?

Audi’s first supercar goes topless and gets 30kg of reinforcements to the sides and a roof that goes up (or down) in 19 seconds flat at speeds upto 50km/h. The 5.2-litre V10 is unchanged, produces 510bhp/528Nm and rockets to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds. The inevitable additional overall weight increase of 100kg has slightly lowered the top speed to 310km/h. The obvious difference, excluding the soft top, are the full LED headlamps. Transmission will be the same six-speed manual or the automated R-tronic.




BMW’s rather awkwardly named Vision EfficientDynamics was undoubtedly one of Frankfurt’s most striking looking concepts. Designed by BMW’s new design chief, Adrian van Hooydonk, this show car is capable of M3 levels of performance while returning 27kmpl and emitting just a fraction of CO2 that the M3 would. A 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine and two electric motors power the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept producing an anticipated 356hp and 800Nm of torque for true supercar performance. Read more on the the concept on Pg 62.


The BMW X1 is the fourth X-series car in the BMW lineup and we hope it turns out better than its slightly bigger sibling, the X3. Powertrain options range from a six-cylinder petrol unit to two four-cyliander diesel engines. You also get various configurations with all-wheel drive (xDrive) or rear wheel drive (sDrive) depending on your needs.

BMW is clearly not taking hybrids lightly. After the stunning Vision ED, the company has showcased not one but two Hybrid models – the Active Hybrid X6 and the Active Hybrid 7. Both have a turbocharged V8 petrol engine combined with an electric motor(s) to provide more than 450bhp and a 0-100km/h time of less than six seconds. While the Active Hybrid X6 has two electric motors, the 7 has just one. The Active Hybrid 7 uses a conventional auto gearbox whereas the Active Hybrid X6 has a CVT. It goes without saying that fuel efficiency has shot up and CO2 figures have dwindled.


Boasting the highest specific output engine in Ferrari’s history at 125bhp/litre, the 458 Italia is Ferrari’s latest entry-level V8. Confusing, eh? The 458 tag is derived from the all-new 4.5-litre V8 engine mounted behind the cockpit in a mid-rear layout with direct fuel injection – a Ferrari first. Power is hiked to 562hp while the redline comes in at a stratospheric 9000rpm. 540Nm of turning force is available at 6000rpm, but if kerb crawling is more your style, then keep in mind that over 80 percent is available right from 3250rpm. Ferrari says the 458 will sprint to 100km/h from standstill in just ‘under 3. 4sec’ and will also be the first volume production Ferrari V8 to top the 320km/h mark.


The stunning Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG would remind most people of the iconic 300 SL, yet Mercedes says that the car points towards the future and not the past. Whatever. With its Gullwing doors, long nose and bonnet vents, it is one of the most stunning cars ever to come out of Munich. The incredibly sexy body is honed from expensive carbonfiber beneath which sits a supercharged 5.5-litre V8, a five-speed automatic gearbox and aluminium underpinnings. The 563bhp car accelerates from 0-100km/h in just 3.8 seconds and goes onto hit a top speed that is limited to 317km/h.


Remember the Reventón? Sorry, that was a bad one. Who can forget the Raging Bull’s edgiest, costliest and the most exclusive road car ever that draws inspiration from jet fighters. Now the topless version of the Reventon gets a targa roof, the SV’s manic 6.5-litre V12 engine and the same space age console and interiors. The engine, in its new guise, develops 661bhp at 8000 rpm (the coupe made 650bhp) and 660Nm at 6000rpm thus propelling the car to 100km/h from standstill in just 3.4sec and all the way to 330km/h.


C70 AND C30
The C70 ditches the Swedish manufacturer’s straight and conservative design philosophy for a slightly more modern looking shell with curvier panels and sweptback headlights. The three piece metal roof is unchanged from the previous version. Tail lights are newfangled LEDs. To make the most of a good thing, the C30 borrows styling cues from the new C70. A new sports coupe package is on offer too with stiffer springs, quicker steering and recalibrated dampers. Engine options range from a 99bhp 1.6L to the T5 which pumps out a substantial 227bhp. The C30 will be available come November while the C70 will be in showrooms  early next year.


Fedde Talsma, Exterior Chief Designer at Volvo with one of his creations.




Hyundai’s collection was less outrageous and more realistic. The Korean biggie took the wraps off its production ready i10 Electric zero emissions vehicle at Frankfurt. Running solely on electric muscle, the vehicle is powered by a 65hp motor and a 16kWh battery. The i10 Electric promises a driving range of 160 kilometres and a top speed of over 128km/h. Interestingly, the i10’s batteries can be recharged to within 85 percent of its capacity within 15 minutes under the quick charge cycle. The car is set to go on sale in Korea in the second half of 2010, but whether the car will be sold in its motherland (India) is yet to be known.



HS Lheem, MD Hyundai Motor India with the i10 electric


Its official now, the Tucson is on its way out and is scheduled to be replaced by the ix35. Curvier, snazzier and more muscular, the new ix35 is definitely better in the looks department than its predecessor. A cleaner 2.0-litre turbodiesel is expected to power it while an even cleaner 1.6-litre turbo engine producing 170hp is expected in the near future.


Based on the Carrera RS 2.7, the car is built to be a rolling showcase for the customization skills of the Porsche Exclusive division. The 3.8-litre engine with Direct Fuel Injection produces a peak power of 408bhp transmitted via a standard six-speed manual tranny. Black painted 19-inch alloys adorn the car which sits lower by 20mm then its siblings. The interior has got to be one of the very best ever seen in a 911 with all sorts of luxury and techno whizbangery. The only downside is the strictly limited run of just 250 units at the staggering cost of Rs 10,947,700 per unit.

The latest GT3 RS spurns all its previous conservativeness and goes for a lurid colour scheme with red wheels and highlights. It also improves on the previous 911 by pushing up the peak power output by 35bhp to 450bhp. The specific power output now stands at more than 118 bhp/litre – simply incredible for a non-turbocharged engine. The revised Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is reset to improve the sporting behavior of the wider track chassis while the lead battery is replaced by a lighter and more advanced lithium-ion one. It will go on sale in the UK in February for approximately Rs 81,00,000.


Making its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the LF-Ch full hybrid concept is Lexus’s first approach to the competitive premium compact segment. In profile, the tapered side glazing, a muscular rising beltline and a sharply truncated rear overhang project the car’s premium compact character. With a wide track, a long wheelbase and a low centre of gravity layout, the LF-Ch’s full hybrid powertrain is engineered to deliver performance expected from a premium compact hatchback along with low fuel consumption and a reduction in CO2 and NOx emissions. With the benefit of the full hybrid technology of the Lexus Hybrid drive, the car can also be driven in a fully electric EV mode which allows for urban driving with minimal noise and zero emissions.


For sheer practicality, you just can’t beat the Skoda Superb Combi. With an overall length of 4838mm, boot space is not much of a concern at 633 litres. And yeah, tucking the rear seats down will transform the rear into a cavernous 1865 litre black hole. Engine options start from 125bhp but there is also a V6 variant with 360 odd bhp on tap. The Combi will go on sale in February 2010 in the UK.


Volkswagen added another variant to the UP! range of concept vehicles this year. Christened the E-UP!, the new concept car is a completely zero emissions (ZE) vehicle. It is powered by an electric motor capable of delivering a peak of 81PS (54PS constant) channelling drive through the front wheels. Given the 208Nm of torque this 1085kg ZE vehicle can accelerate to 100km/h in 11.3 seconds before reaching a top speed of 135km/h. The batteries have a capacity of 18kWh which allows a theoretical range of 130 kilometres. VW have also proposed public charging stations through which 80 percent of the vehicle’s battery capacity can be made available within an hour. The E-UP! also has a series of solar panels measuring 1.4 square metres mounted on the roof to aid charging.

The most powerful and fastest accelerating Golf ever produced was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Developed by Volkswagen Individual, the 4WD Golf R is equipped with a 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder engine developing 270PS. The new mill is lighter and 20PS more powerful than the 3.2-litre V6 found in the outgoing Golf R32 in addition to being more efficient. The Golf R equipped with a six-speed DSG gearbox can accelerate to 100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds while the top speed is limited to 250km/h.


Breaking their own records comes easily to Brabus. The uber-tuner unveiled this V12 as the fastest saloon in the world. The fourth E V12 generation, based on the latest Mercedes E-Class, is powered by the newly developed twelve-cylinder BRABUS SV12 R Biturbo 800 engine developed specifically for this vehicle. Hold on to something firmly as we rattle off the figures – peak horsepower of 788bhp, 1420Nm of torque, twin turbos, limited slip differential, height adjustable suspension and a monstrous 12 cylinder 6.3-litre powerplant. At 1980 kilograms, the Brabus E V12 sprints from rest to 100km/h in 3.7sec and tops out at 370km/h.


REVA, makers of the (in) famous G-Wiz electric car also made their presence felt by launching the Reva NXR and the NXG. The REVA NXR is a three-door, four-seater hatchback more suited for urban driving. Top speed is 104km/h with a range of 160km per charge. The car facilitates a fast charge of fifteen minutes which will provide a 40km range. The REVA NXR has keyless entry and operation, dual charge ports, intelligent digital display and a range of telematics. Styled by Dilip Chhabria, the REVA NXG is also a two-door, two-seater car with a targa top. It has a range of 200km per charge and a top speed of 130km/h.



The new Astra boldly treads in the Insignia’s footsteps and looks very contemporary, sleek and every inch the hot hatch that it aspires to be. You get a whopping eight choices for the powertrain, half of which are oil-burners.

The RCZ coupé bears a fair resemblance to the Audi TT coupé. Buyers get to choose between four powertrain options including a 200bhp 1. 6-litre engine which should be adequate to propel the 2+2 seater to 100km/h in just 7. 6sec. The RCZ goes on sale next spring.

SAAB 9-5
Saab is now under Swedish compatriot Koenigsegg’s control but the new 9-5 was developed when the firm was under the control of GM. The new 9-5 has unmistakable Saab styling cues yet looks modern. Three turbocharged engines are on offer including a 2.8-litre V6 and a diesel variant.

The Ghost might be the latest entry-level Rolls but it sure does luxury like nothing its size. A new super smooth 6.6-litre V12 with twin-turbos powers the new car producing 563bhp. Overall, the car looks very much like a younger and sportier version of the Phantom but not as much in-your-face as its elder sibling.

With its blistering 261bhp 2.0 turbo engine, the new Cupra R is Seat’s most powerful car ever. Seat’s self-locking differential system, XDS will be a part of the package while 19-inch wheels wrapped in 235/35 tyres add to the drool factor and, yeah, performance too. For example, the 0-100km/h dash is done and dusted in just 6.1 seconds.

The new Landcruiser persists with its body-on-frame design. Toyota says that they have concentrated on on-and-off-road driveablity this time. So rigidity is increased by 11 percent while electronic anti-roll bars are available on higher versions. The new Multi-Terrain select system will allow drivers to adjust the suspension and power according to the terrain.

The two-seater Mini Coupé concept is a clever way to further extend the Mini brand which has proved highly successful since its rebirth in 2001. The coupé show car is powered by the 1.6-litre twin scroll turbocharged engine from the Mini John Cooper Works, sending 208bhp and 260Nm of torque (rising to 280Nm in brief overboost mode) through the front axle. Mini claims that the car will be notably lightweight with an aluminium roof to lower the centre of gravity and enhance performance.

Weismann unveiled the MF5 roadster to a stunned public at Frankfurt. Underneath the chic retro exterior, it houses a fire-breathing 5.0-litre BMW V10 engine churning out 507bhp. The roadster touches the 100km/h mark in just 3.9sec and hits a top speed of 310km/h. Prices start at Rs. 12,925,161

The Zoe ZE is evidently the most important car amongst the four electric concepts that Renault unveiled at Frankfurt. The 95bhp electric motor and the lithium-ion battery that powers the Zoe is rumoured to have a range of 160km. This funky little four-seater features supercar-ish scissor doors at the front and butterfly doors at the rear.

Alfa Romeo unveiled the latest version of the MiTo called the Quadrifoglio Verde (green four leaf clover). The car comes with the FIAT Group’s latest 1.4-litre MultiAir TBi engine producing 170bhp. The exclusive model brings back the legendary Four Leaf Clover symbol that over the years has appeared on some of Alfa Romeo’s sportiest cars.

Along with the absolutely electric e-tron, Audi unveiled the sexy A5 Sportback. This five-door top of the line variant of the new Sportback model series is powered by a highly efficient, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine with an output of 333bhp. Power is delivered to the wheels via the seven-speed S-Tronic and quattro drive.

Citroen took the wraps off their new C3, a funky five-door small car. The standout feature is the enormous glass windscreen which stretches back past the A-pillars. The production version of the DS3, which shares its underpinnings with the new C3, was also on display.  The Revolte concept is a tribute to Citroen’s infamous 2CV. It takes the basic shape of the precursor and adds a modern touch to it like an electric hybrid drivetrain.

FIAT has revealed an updated version of its Grande Punto, now dubbed the Punto Evo. Other than the slight styling alterations, the big change is the stop-start technology and the company’s clever MultiAir engines. The second-gen 1.3-litre Multijet diesel will also be made available. The car also gets seven airbags, a hill holder system and a new fascia.

The blue oval displayed their C-Max Multi Activity Vehicle. With two sliding rear doors and a tall roof, the C-Max certainly resembles a minivan. It comes with clever seating options and can either be five or seven-seater. Ford will use a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with variable valve timing to achieve better economy and cut CO2 emissions of the engine with comparable displacement.

The South Korean manufacturer revealed the new Sorento soft-roader and the Venga mini MPV at Frankfurt. The new Sorento sports a monocoque construction, a longer wheelbase and more powerful engines. The Venga is all about efficient family transport and space utilization. With both rear seats folded flat, the Venga boasts a voluminous 1552mm long cargo area with a total capacity of 1253 litres when loaded to the roof.

To celebrate 20 years of the iconic MX-5, Mazda unveiled this special Superlight concept. With no windscreen, the aluminium bonnet has been extended towards the cabin with a sheet of carbonfibre. The 124bhp/168Nm engine is production spec. Additionally, it also has a 50mm wider track, a special 30mm lower Bilstein coil-over suspension kit and 17-inch wheels. Complete with eight light carbonfibre seats, the car tips the scales at just 995kg.


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