BMW Active Tourer heralds a new dawn of FWD models for the firm
Bentley Continental GT3 is Crewe's first motorsport car for a decade
Mini Paceman reaches the UK in March 2013
Third-generation Seat Leon will be offered with five doors or three, and as an estate
Latest Range Rover pushes the brand even further upmarket
Bold styling of the Renault Clio 4 was influenced by the Fluence concept
Mondeo estate will arrive in Britain after the hatch; expect it early in 2014
A 200bhp Kia Procee'd is expected in Britain during 2013
Just 200 Mini John Cooper Works GPs will come to Britain, priced at £28,790
Production version of the Peugeot 2008 would rival the Nissan Juke
Audi Crosslane Coupe concept previews the Q2, an entry-level Audi SUV due in 2015
McLaren expects Spider to outsell the MP4-12C coupé
Hot Ford Fiesta ST will feature a 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine
Citroën DS3 imitates its Mini and Fiat 500 rivals by offering a convertible
New Kodo design language gives Mazda 6 estate a sleek appearance
Singer Lana Del Rey performed at the Jaguar F-type's unveiling
Next Lexus IS will take styling cues from the LF-CC concept
Turbocharged EA888 2.0-litre engine will give the Mk7 Golf GTI more than 220bhp
Lamborghini Gallardo facelift introduces a new range of personalisation options
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo hints strongly at the styling of a load-lugging Panamera
Audi A3 Sportback is lighter than outgoing model; due in Britain early next year
VW Cross Caddy unlikely to reach Britain
Skoda Rapid will push the next Octavia upmarket; prices start at £12k
Gallardo Spyder has received no cosmetic alterations and continues unchanged
VW Golf Mk7 promises class-leading efficiency and interior quality
Full scope of VW Group empire on show at Paris
Huge presence of VW displays importance of Paris show
VW Group now stretches from motorbikes with Ducati to the world's most expensive cars with Bugatti
New Kia Carens marks the completion of the company's range overhaul
215bhp Countryman JCW rivals VW Golf GTI
BMW M Performance packages offer increased power with no efficiency penalty
Volvo hopes to lure customers from SUV rivals with the V40 Cross Country
Range-topping 63 AMG is the most powerful Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake, with 518bhp
Mercedes' Aesthetics S concept previews the styling for next year's S-class
Fully fledged production Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive expected soon
Peugeot Rallye concept suggests 208 will follow its predecessors into motorsport
Facelifted RCZ adopts new Peugeot family grille, first seen on the 508
Ford's mid-life refresh for the Fiesta also sees the introduction of new engines
Juke Nismo provides cosmetic and performance tweaks for the Nissan crossover
SQ5 TDI is Audi's first diesel-powered 'S' model
Like the entire Golf Mk7 range, GTI will be lighter than its Mk6 equivalent
Mk7 Golf arrives in Britain this November
F-type undoubtedly one of the stars of this year's Paris show
Three-door Hyundai i30 will start at approximately £15k
Paris motor show of huge importance to all manufacturers
Audi RS5 cabriolet should cost around £70,000 when British cars arrive early next year
Huge weight loss and rear-wheel drive for Bentley Continental GT3
Second Porsche Panamera will closely resemble the Sport Turismo concept
Gallardo Spyder, 560-4 and Superleggera attract plenty of attention
Elements of the lF-CC's dash look production-ready
To the casual onlooker, the 2012 Paris Mondial de l'Automobile seemed what most motor shows are meant to be: a happy celebration of the launch of an impressive collection of new cars. Certainly the mix of new machinery was rich and varied, and even this year's crop of concepts seemed pleasantly realistic and on the pace. For your first few minutes, you might even have missed the fact that Europe's mainstream car industry is in deep trouble.
The cracks were soon visible, however, first in the relative simplicity (read cheapness) of stand designs - Ford, for instance, was much smaller, and struggled to look like more than a car park - and then in the voices and expressions of the many top managers who made presentations. These people are taught to behave like poker players, but things are so bad and manufacturing capacity is currently racing so far ahead of demand, that the size of the problem could not be disguised or glossed over. Even before lunch, car bosses had become heartily sick of the which-plant-will-close question.
Yet all the new product was terrific. The mainstreamers are being attacked from the cheaper end of the market by aggressive and well-financed Koreans, and from above by highly successful premium manufacturers like BMW and Audi. They have no alternative but to make convincing new products - and they did.
Renault had the new Clio, supported by a racy 200hp Renaultsport vision and the showroom-ready Zoe electric car, the model they believe will "humanise" electric car sales. Ford had a whole plethora of machinery: revised Fiestas, the new Mondeo, a roomier Kuga, the baby SUV EcoSport and even a Berlingo-style civilised van called Tourneo Connect. Peugeot made a further fuss of its recently-launched 208 by showing both the new GTi and a "premium luxury" version called XY. Having delayed its new contender in the 208-Clio-Fiesta arena, the Punto, Fiat looked rather bereft, though its cute and ultra-versatile Panda 4x4 provided a minor hit.
Of course, there was the New Golf, which as usual had that confident, crafted-from-solid look that tells you its backers are very well financed (albeit by the sales of premium market Audis). The Golf has made an art form out of delivering exactly what buyers expect, even before they see it, and nobody doubted that with this latest edition the success would continue.
The premium makers, sustained by strong international sales and reasonable demand at home, were making hay. Chief among them was JLR, which showed the magnificent new Range Rover that seems to have been coming for years, and the fabulous F-type Jaguar. Both had tumultuous debuts, and were received with the all-important international critical acclaim. It must have occurred to Jaguar men that there would have been much to lose, had they botched the arrival of the true successor to a car so large in history as the E-type, but (barring the malfunction of one headlight) they didn't.
If there was one Jaguar jarring note, it was over pricing. Given the relative difficulty (versus product excellence) of car makers in lower sectors, it hardly seemed moral that a sports car billed for years as a Porsche Boxster fighter should have a top price - before bespoke options - of £80,000. Several industry-watchers couldn't help wondering whether JLR's practice of charging more than expected for its products, though it works at present, will one day bite the thriving UK concern on the backside.
There was, of course, wall-to-wall talk about market prospects in Europe, and the main conclusion seemed to be that premium cars would keep doing all right, but there would be years of struggle - and potentially big reorganisations - for the mainstreamers. VW's top men, sounding unnecessarily smug, loudly predicted that some of their opponents would fail, something Fiat's Sergio Marchionne sternly rebutted. But it seems that for now, the best Europe's top executives can do is to chase non-European export sales even harder, and do an even better job of "smiling through".