The doors are open on this year’s Paris motor show, at the French capital’s Parc des Exposition, and Autocar can report that, as ever, it’s packed full of new and improved metal, from extravagant concepts, to reinvented road cars soon to be turning up at a showroom near you.
Sports car enthusiasts will find plenty to look at; Ferrari’s new F430 and Porsche’s second-generation Boxster appear for the first time, before spring 2005 UK sales debuts. Aside from these, however, Mondial de l’Automobile 2004 plays host to international debuts from all of the ‘big three’ producers, and they make for a varied and comprehensive show well worth the modest 10 Euro entrance fee. Ford’s crucial new Focus hatchback takes its official show bow, alongside a convertible Focus concept fitted with a folding metal roof – the Vignale (right)– that could become a production reality within two years. There’s also plenty to see on the blue oval’s subsidiary stands. Nextdoor with Mazda, there’s an all-new medium-sized people carrier on show, as well as a fire-breathing saloon, both for the first time. The company’s 5 midi-MPV features a unique ‘6+One’ seating arrangement and sliding rear doors – both firsts in its class. The 6 MPS is a 256bhp fast four-door that its makers hope will break new territory for the marque. Volvo is showcasing a new 4.4-litre petrol V8, which it will use to make its XC90 SUV more appealing to American buyers. Jaguar's showing is an understandably modest one, following the tumultuous developments of recent weeks. Land Rover’s presence is similarly retiring, now that its new Discovery has broken cover. But Aston Martin has something to shout about: namely its fastest-ever production car, the new Vanquish S, which packs 520bhp, a revised front bumper and grille, and is capable of upwards of 200mph.
Paris is a landmark show for rival General Motors, not least because it’s reinventing its European branding strategy. As reported in this week’s magazine, it is showing a large, Korean-developed seven-seat SUV called S3X, as well as a new three-door Kalos supermini, and a concept called M3X due to father the next Matiz. All three will come to the UK as Chevrolets, rather than Daewoos, within the next two years.