Frankfurt Motor Show 2011

Frankfurt, Germany – 400km from BMW in Munich, 320km from Audi in Ingolstadt and 200km from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart.

It’s easy now to understand the relevance of the bi-annual Frankfurt Motor Show, one of the world’s largest autofests … and around ten times larger than the halls at Sydney or Melbourne.

Days away from the opening of the 2011 show, we’ve assembled a preview of the main concepts and production vehicles set to debut (plus we’ll have a full show wrap in theWheels, November issue).

Starting with slick, slinky concept cars, we have the Ford Evos (see pic), a plug-in hybrid sports car that won’t see the light of day just yet, but, according to the brand’s global design boss J Mays, gives an accurate guide to Ford’s Kinetic 2.0 design theme. It’s expected that the Jaguar C-X16 (see pic) will make production as a Boxster/Cayman-rivalling new-age E-Type.

The concept is powered by a 280kW/450Nm supercharged 3.0-litre V6 working in combination with a 70kW/235Nm electric motor, but the two-seat rear-driver is expected to score a more conventional powertrain in production guise. Peugeot and Kia will also sex-up their stands, with their respective HX1 (a long and low six-seater, hotter than an Odyssey) and Four Door Concept (swoopy like a Merc CLS, suicide doors like a Mazda RX-8, and rear-drive like both).

Themes emerged between production-car unveilings at Frankfurt, too. A four-door muscle car war will be waged between the 412kW BMW M5, and a trio of Audi S models, including the 382kW S8 and 309kW S6/S7 Sportback. At the budget-brute end of the spectrum, the philosophically-similar 347kW Chrysler 300C SRT8 will debut – watch out FPV and HSV, it’s due here next year.

Several premium brands will whip the tops off their mainstream coupes. Ferrari will show its 458 Spider; it gets an all-aluminium electric folding hard-top that, according to Maranello, weighs 25kg less than a fabric top and folds neatly aft of the mid-mounted engine in just 14 seconds. Bentley will show its roofless new-gen GT that, unlike the 458, can seat four in lush leathery luxury and gets a fabric roof. The most fuel-efficient V8 in the world will also debut, under the bonnet of the new SLK 55 AMG. Its 5.5-litre DI V8 gets start-stop and cylinder deactivation tech to notch-up a claimed 8.4L/100km.

Lid firmly attached, the Porsche 991 911 and Mini Coupe will both debut, with media first drives of each to follow the show.

Moving down to the more prosaic end of the motor-scale, the all-new Hyundai i30 and Honda Civic will be shown, Skoda’s MissionL concept will preview the next-gen Octavia, and Subaru will show a production-ready bright-orange Impreza XV – all rivals for 2012.

Half-hatch, half-MPVs will be on display in the form of Merc’s sexier second-gen B-Class, the Renault Frendzy, and the new but still oh-so-cute Fiat Panda. A proper compact SUV, the Mazda CX-5, and proper off-roader, the Land-Rover Defender concept, will also appear.

On the lightweight, downsizing front are the VW Up, Smart Forvision, BMW i3 and Audi A2 city cars, all with baby engines or snappy electric power. It won’t be long before all four cars are zipping around the streets of Europe.

Finally, a bizarre entry for Citroen (who else?) in the Tubik concept (see pic). It’s a modern-day, French take on the VW Kombi, a 4.8-metre long van powered by a 2.0-litre HDi diesel/electric (Hybrid4) drivetrain.

We’ll have Wheels reporters keeping you updated with all the latest news from (the gigantic halls of) the Frankfurt show, so stay tuned. There’s bound to be more than a few surprises. For a full wrap-up of the show, check out the Wheels, November issue, on-sale September 19.

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