Jaguar C-X16; Volkswagen Up; Porsche 911; Ford Focus; Ford Fiesta; Maserati Kubang SUV
23 December 2011

Every second September, arguably the world’s most important motor show rolls into Frankfurt, occupying not only a large part of the biggest financial centre on mainland Europe but also sizeable swathes of several issues of Autocar.

But once more, it was a British car that had showgoers barging past halls full of sleek German executives to catch a first glimpse of it. Time alone will tell whether those who saw the reveal of the Jaguar C-X16 will have been afforded an ‘I was there’ moment to rival the 1961 unveiling of the E-type at the Geneva motor show, but no one could have mistaken the momentous feeling in the air. And it soon became clear that if Jaguar can only make the resulting road car as good as the C-X16 looks, it will have a world beater.

Other Frankfurt stars came from far and wide and included everything from VW’s cute and clever Up city car to the public debut of the new Porsche 911. In between, we were especially pleased to catch sight of ST variants for the Ford Focus and Fiesta.

You could hardly miss the vast Maserati Kubang SUV, either, this Italian blue blood joining the fast-swelling ranks of premium-plus manufacturers like Bentley and Jaguar working on similarly configured cars.

Away from the showground, we were being blown away by a new British sports car that could hardly be further away from the realm of the colossal off-roader. The BAC Mono is almost certainly the least practical car ever to be offered for sale to the general public on account of its grand total of one seat, but for the selfishly inclined it is hard to think of another more involving or rewarding way to indulge your passion, short of buying a seat in a Formula 3 team.

As the month drew to a close, supercars were on our mind and we introduced the new Lamborghini Aventador to the Ferrari 599 GTO to discover the identity of Italy’s ultimate supercar. As it transpired, Maranello’s prancing horse trampled all over Sant’Agata’s raging bull. Any car that looks and sounds as good as the Aventador but does not fulfil that promise in the way it drives is always going to leave a faint whiff of disappointment in the air.

This was not a problem faced by either the Mercedes-Benz SLS roadster or the new, long-awaited BMW M5. Indeed, we rated the open SLS as a better bet than its gullwing-doored coupé brother. But it was Munich’s new super-saloon that really blew our mind.

Having had the odd reservation about some of BMW’s recent high performance offerings, it was gratifying to discover a car so faithful to M-car values while, at the same time, proving so relevant to those drivers wanting an ultra-high speed performance car but needing a more frugal, less profligate form of progress in a new, changing and challenging world.

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