This year’s Paris motor show is very nearly upon us and the good news is that it looks set to bring some very PH-able new metal into consideration. In order that you might all be able to spot the intoxicating wheat from the ecobox chaff, we’ve gone to the trouble of scoping out everything that ought to be worthy of your attention come October 2nd...
Audi R8 LMS GT3
Having enjoyed great success in multiple championships with its previous R8 GT3s, Audi has decided the time is right for a refresh. The new R8 LMS GT3 focuses on optimised aero and cooling, with improved powertrain durability and will cost customers over €400,000. Its improvements are also available as a retrofitted evolution kit for existing cars, though, at a much more palatable €28,000 plus VAT.
Paris marks Audi going head to head with BMW in a new arena: that of small, all-wheel drive sort of crossover with lots of power and, it would seem, lots of desirability to the buying public. Audi's offering is the SQ2; with much of the hardware from an S3, it promises a sub-five-second dash to 62mph and "compelling" dynamics. Get your order in now for early 2019 delivery...
BMW 3 Series
The arrival of a new 3 Series is always big news, but the launch of the upcoming G20 generation is particularly significant because – hooray – it’ll spawn more performance versions than any of its predecessors. Kick-starting the trend will be all-new M340i model that’ll use a 365hp turbocharged straight six, providing buyers with a reasonably priced and fairly understated driver’s sweet spot. There’ll also be more high-performance six-pot diesels, while the top dog, the next M3, could have around 450hp.
BMW X2 M35i
Few PHers will bat an eyelid at a BMW X2 because, well, it’s another bloody soft-roader. But at Paris we’ll meet the first hot version of this range, a 305hp M35i, and it’ll be the first M-badge BMW with a four-cylinder engine since the E30 M3. Not your cuppa? It seems hot crossovers are here for the long haul because the X2 M35i will soon be faced by a new the Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R…
This is more like it: a new Bavarian sports car. BMW will show its 2019 Z4 – twin of the upcoming Toyota Supra – in Paris a month and a bit after it was revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance. It’ll be an M40i First Edition – which PH has driven in prototype form – so will share its turbocharged straight-six powertrain with the M140i and M240i and produce an identical 340hp.
Hyundai i30 Fastback N
Another car PH has driven ahead of its reveal is the new i30 Fastback N; a sleeker version of the hot hatch we’re running on the fleet at the moment. Along with its new bodyshape, the performance Fastback will introduce chassis changes that are set to be added to the hatch in 2019, so it’s sort of a preview of what’s to come there. Our go in that prototype told us to expect improved refinement without hindrance to the car’s eager and enormously likeable handling.
Kia Ceed GT
In some ways the i30N is the Ceed GT’s brother from another mother because it shares the same structure and both variants sit at the top of their ranges. The sporty Ceed, however, will be far less focused than its cousin, using a 204hp 1.6-litre engine and featuring a slightly less aggressive overall setup. But with development steered by Albert Biermann the finished product will almost certainly be a fine thing to drive (like the prototype we’ve tried).
Mercedes Vision EQ Silver Arrow
Well if you thought the EQ C was a bit dull! Mercedes revealed this incredible EQ Silver Arrow concept at Pebble Beach, the car now making a European debut at Frankfurt. Described by Mercedes-Benz as an homage to the record-breaking W125 of 1937, the Silver Arrow has an output of 750hp and an WLTP range of 400km, or 240 miles. Those perturbed by the EV powertrain will be able to choose a piped in engine sound, including a current F1 car or an AMG V8 engine...
Distinguishing features of the EQ Silver Arrow include those incredible, 168-spoke, rose gold aluminium wheels, measuring 24 inches at the front and 26 inches at the rear, an extendable pair of rear spoilers, alubeam silver paint and a curved panoramic screen inside.
While Mercedes obviously isn't going to make the car, the EQ Silver Arrow is said to embody "progressive luxury" and offer "an insight into the future of our design."
There’s a lot to love about AMG’s A45, like the fact it’s a ballistic missile in the disguise of a hot hatch. But its high price has prevented it from making the sort of market impact of, say, the Volkswagen Golf R. Mercedes aims to put that right by offering a slightly cooled-off version of the new generation model, the A35, which has a tame (only kidding) 306hp.
Mercedes-AMG GT 43 4-door Coupe
AMG’s misleadingly named GT 4-door (it’s more closely related to the E-Class) will gain a new 43-series variant in Paris with the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine as the S450 and CLS450. It’ll provide the car’s four wheels with 374hp and sit beneath the V8-powered 63 model we first met at Geneva. If you’re wondering how it differs from the effortlessly quick AMG CLS 53, expect the GT 4-door to have a brash character to match its more sporting name.
Peugeot e-Legend concept
The uber cool e-Legend concept draws heavy inspiration from Peugeot’s 504 coupe from the late 1960s and, boy, does the company need to build it. It signals the firm’s future design direction, apparently, but can you really imagine a mainstream car maker like Peugeot taking the plunge and building a two-door coupe as gorgeous as this? We hope it does…
Infiniti Project Black S
F1 tech, bold design, 500hp... There's a lot to like about the Q60-based Project Black S, much as there was at Geneva last year, but still there's no commitment from Infiniti to actually building the damn thing. Perhaps by LA 2019 there'll be a production car...
The Macan is now four years old and due its first update, so at Paris we’ll meet the Mk1.5 Macan. Its minor design tweaks will be overshadowed by more significant engine adjustments, including the introduction of a new 3.0-litre V6 in place of the old 3.6. Power will also be up across the range, with the top Turbo S to offer 460hp. It's been announced at Paris that the Macan will cost from £46,344 for the four-cylinder 2.0-litre version.
Porsche 911 Speedster
In one of the less surprising pieces of Paris show news, Porsche has confirmed that it will build the 911 Speedster as previewed at Goodwood Festival of Speed. 1,948 of them, to be exact, a nod to Porsche's first year of car production. To mark the momentous news, Porsche has created another Speedster concept, this time in Guards Red with some very natty RSR-style wheels. Fortunately though, the vital elements haven't changed: GT3 4.0-litre, six-speed manual, no roof. Might be good...
Renault Megane RS Trophy
From a PH-perspective, this could be the car of Paris. As a possible signal that Dieppe knows it needs to up the Megane RS's game already, an even hotter version, the Trophy, is being introduced. It'll use a 300hp version of the performance Meg's blown 1.8-litre four-cylinder with new turbocharger hardware to offer faster throttle response. Watch out Honda Civic Type R.
Skoda Kodiaq vRS
Yes, another hot SUV is to join the already heaving ranks. This one’s already the fastest seven-seat SUV around the Nurburgring, but since we have no idea what other seven-seat SUVs have attempted a time (if any), that record feels a little weightless. Still, the car comes with a 239hp 2.0-litre BiTDi engine (yeah, the diesel one) and given that it’s a Skoda, it should at least offer good performance for fairly reasonable money.
Skoda Vision RS
This slick-looking concept will directly inspire a new hatchback model to fill the Rapid void in Skoda’s line up. Before you skim to the next car in the list, hear this: a performance vRS version is due and it could have 245hp thanks to a hybrid powertrain, like the concept.
We recently tested the new Jimny in the mud and muck of central German forests and it was really rather good. Suzuki will show (a clean) example of the lovable 4x4 at the Paris motor show to provide the public with its first chance to scope the Jimny’s boxy design in the metal before it arrives on roads at the start of 2019. We dare you not to want one.