Steve Cropley runs down the key launches and big news from one of the year’s biggest motor shows
2 October 2018

Welcome to Autocar’s extended coverage of the 2018 Paris motor show, one of the biggest events of the motoring calendar.

The Mondial de l'Auto, held in Paris’s Porte de Versailles exhibition centre, traditionally features a host of new metal from some of the world’s biggest manufacturers. While this year’s show was slightly quieter than usual, there were still a number of significant new launches, including the new BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the Skoda Kodiaq vRS.

Read on to catch up on all the news from the show, with editor-in-chief Steve Cropley's full report and our unrivalled live updates.

Paris motor show 2018 report, by Steve Cropley

It was a relief, after days of depressing forecasts, to see some shiny new cars at Paris’s biennial Mondial de l'Auto.

Naysayers including national media outlets such as the Daily Mail started killing the Paris motor show several days ahead of its start, with pious stories wondering whether this was “the end of the road for motor shows”. It’s certainly true that upwards of a dozen car makers – including big names like Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Volvo, Volkswagen, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and McLaren – failed to front, and the event was certainly the poorer for that.

But that opened proceedings up for the mighty locals, Renault and PSA (with Peugeot, DS and Citroën), which made hay with quality concepts and a series of new models. In any case, this was still a show that produced a whole clutch of highly saleable new SUV models, an all-new, seventh-generation BMW 3 Series, and public debuts for the electric responses from Mercedes and Audi to the early success of Tesla’s Model 3 and Jaguar‘s I-Pace.

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Having said all this, it was hard to get away from a mood of grim realism as many of this event’s participants continued to battle the diesel downturn, the introduction of the new WLTP test procedure (and the disposal of pre-WLTP models), the uncertain effects of Brexit (Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth fired another powerful volley at the legislators for a lack of action to preserve an industry that so deserves to thrive) and deep concerns about selling cars in the US.

As expected, French makers led the charge, buoyed by a recently healthy market and relatively small effects from Dieselgate. DS, PSA’s luxury marque, showed its 3 Crossback, the first application of the platform that will eventually carry the new Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa, vital cars for the fast-recovering group.

They topped that by showing the oddly named DS 3 e-Tense, the battery-powered offshoot that uses the same platform and is on course to become the first-ever all-electric Vauxhall, wearing Corsa clothing, in less than two years’ time. Citroën’s best effort, the good-looking C5 Aircross concept, was a plug-in hybrid model, due next year, while Peugeot easily took ‘concept of the show’ honours with its e-Legend concept, full of highly plausible connectivity and autonomous gubbins, but whose styling suggested a modernised, ‘edgified’ Peugeot 504 coupé, one of the most beautiful cars of its era.

The appearance of the previously revealed Audi e-Tron and the Mercedes EQC signalled that the ‘Tesla or nothing’ EV era is really over, especially since the I-Pace is only just starting to appear in numbers. Life is going to start being very different now. More evidence of this greeted the unveiling of the latest all-new BMW 3 Series – an impressively, competently derivative car, for all the noise they made about its new face. Once upon a time, a new compact Beemer was a national event. It now comes under the heading of ‘Quite Interesting’, but an electric Merc is much more so.

The only supercars of note were Ferrari’s twin V12 retro roadsters, SP-1 and SP-2, dubbed part of a new Icona series to mark the fact that they’re so hideously expensive no one’s quite willing to name the figure. Oh yes, and David Beckham turned up to unveil the new car range from the Vietnamese Vinfast firm, BMW-based and a good deal more promising than a start-up in a country with a meagre car-making heritage might sound.

In all, Paris was very interesting, busy and a good day out, even without upwards of a dozen marques participating. Despite these absences and having to cope with the effects of the latest in a line of Parisian mayors clamping down on cars, this show looks likely to endure because locals have always attended in big numbers. As I was told constantly, at Mondial de l'Auto the footfall is exceptional. Long may it continue to be.

Paris motor show 2018: as it happened

Autocar had full coverage of everything that happens at the show, with expanded coverage on autocar.co.uk. Our team at the show in Paris included editor Mark Tisshaw, editorial director Jim Holder, editor-in-chief Steve Cropley, deputy editor - digital Rachel Burgess and news editor Lawrence Allan. They charged round the news events and show halls, sniffing out the news and asking difficult questions to the great and good of the car industry.

Meanwhile, deputy editor James Attwood, deputy digital editor Tom Morgan, staff writer Jimi Beckwith and editorial assistant Sam Jenkins were on duty in Autocar Towers in glamorous Twickenham, helping to keep autocar.co.uk and our social media channels full of news, photos and updates.

Get in touch with us via the comments below, on Twitter @autocar, or via our Facebook page here.

Tuesday October 2 17:00

Press day at Paris is drawing to a close, so there's just time for a round-up of today's major announcements. The BMW 3 Series was easily the biggest launch of the show, and it showed in the number of comments on the Autocar Twitter feed, and the number of you reading our comprehensive launch stories here on the website. Skoda's Kodiaq vRS proved popular, too, suggesting there's an audience for a hot seven-seater SUV after all. If there had been a prize for design, Peugeot would have won it with the e-Legend concept, but it was Renault that went big on forward-thinking concept cars: the K-Ze electric SUV is closest to production, while the luxury autonomous EZ-Ultimo limo occupied the opposite end of the price spectrum. For all the details on these cars and more, scroll down through the live blog.

A few final bits of breaking news: Petrol and diesel versions of the new Kodiaq RS were considered, says Skoda R&D boss Christian Strube, but because torque ‘was really important’, the car maker went for diesel. No petrol version is planned.

And finally, Renault boss Thierry Bollore wouldn’t say a mean word against outgoing Formula 1 partner Red Bull, when asked if he was glad to be breaking with them.... he tactfully said: “we have had a fantastic story with Red Bull, three generations of engines. It has been a fruitful partnership.” With four drivers' titles and four constructors' championships, there's really no arguing there.

Tuesday October 2 16:30

Renault has said the K-Ze is a global electric car but is very hesitant to commit to any regions beyond China, where it will launch next year. There is no timeframe for it coming to Europe with the brand saying it would measure its success in China first. We’d be amazed if it didn’t make it here - so long as the numbers add up.

“Diesel is not dead,” said Skoda R&D boss Christian Strobe confidently, confirming a newly developed diesel will launch in the next-generation Octavia, expected in 2020.

Mercedes development chief Ola Kallenius admits that some models were delayed by the rush to get existing cars certified to the new WLTP standards. “There have been some restrictions in the past few months in the wake of the switch over but as of today, we’re through,” he said.

Tuesday October 2 16:00

Merc’s long-term plan for Maybach is for it to “stand on its own two feet, like AMG,” according to Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche. The inference there is that bespoke models for Maybach could happen again in the future, but first Mercedes will raise volume, awareness and credibility in the brand with more models still based on Mercedes like the S-Class and GLS.

In the race to bring down public charging times of EVs, Renault is aiming for 124 miles of charge in 15mins, says Gilles Normand, Renault’s electric vehicle boss. Today, the Zoe can charge up to 62 miles in 30mins.

BMW's head of design, Adrian van Hooydonk, says his team is being pushed harder than ever to differentiate the styling of its cars, and relishing the prospect. "I told them that if they can change the 3 Series then they have really changed BMW, because it is really at our core," he said. "Designing a Z4 or 8 Series is special of course, but those cars aren't as visible as the 3 - and that was the message they carried through the design process. The result is a car that is more differentiated from our other vehicles than ever, and which shows a new direction, with less lines, but much crisper ones, and also lines that emphasise what's important, such as around the rear wheels."

Tuesday October 2 15:30

Vinfast's show stand has been a hive of activity all day. It's presumably intrigue at an all-new brand, with lots of buzz around Vietnam finally having a global automotive brand. We've overheard a number of people mention that their cars look like Vauxhalls, however.

Brexit is never far from the lips of car company bosses in Paris today. Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche hopes “everything possible to maintain the flow of goods between the continent and Great Britain” is done.

The Skoda name which replaces the Skoda badge on the back of its Vision RS concept at the show will roll out across its model range, R&D boss Christian Strube confirmed. He said it would help build the brand. “The idea came up in China where there are many, many brands. It is very difficult for Chinese people to understand the Skoda badge.”

JLR supremo Ralf Speth is generally a measured fellow, but the threat of no Brexit deal and the continuing demonisation of diesel is increasingly vexing him. “What I don’t get is that we have so many opportunities coming down the line, in electrification, connectivity and data, and the UK has the people, the universities, the expertise to capitalise on this. But the conditions must be right, and we must be in a position to generate the funds to provide the investment required. I have never known such a race for alternative solutions, but we will miss out on a slice of the pie if we don’t look forward and plan to succeed. With the right resources the UK has an opportunity to succeed.”

Tuesday October 2 15:00

We interrupt your regular scheduled motor show coverage with some breaking news: The new Land Rover Defender has been spotted testing on UK roads ahead of an expected September 2019 reveal.

Peugeot has the 3008, 508 and 508 SW plug-in hybrids at Paris, but no 5008. Product Director Laurent Blanchet told us that's because turning it into a PHEV would force Peugeot to remove the car's third row of seats - rendering it entirely pointless.

Toyota is paving the way for a high performance version of the new UK-built Corolla. The standard car is already available with a higher powered 175bhp 2.0-litre hybrid engine, and Toyota is citing the improved dynamic performance of the TNGA platform as a justification for offering a more performance oriented version. But the company's GR nomenclature, reserved for properly high-performance models, will not be used with this powertrain, leaving room for something more powerful to compete in the hot hatch segment.

Rachel Burgess spotted this head-turned earlier. "Everyone loves a converted Disco, and what better than one made for the Austrian Red Cross as an emergency mobile command centre?"

Tuesday October 2 14:30

The all-electric EQC might have pride of place on the Mercedes stand this week, but the company hasn't forgotten about other alternative fuels. According to development boss – and future Daimler chairman – Ola Kallenius, hydrogen fuel cells are still part of the solution to zero emissions mobility in the future."

Lots of love for the new Suzuki Jimny, says Steve Cropley - helped no end by the unashamedly retro styling. Market pundits point out it’s almost unique in being a three-door; superior demand for small five-doors promises a bigger selling Suzuki SUV with more doors very soon.

Skoda R&D boss Christian Strube reluctantly admitted to us that WLTP changes could have an effect on an engine’s refinement. He said that in normal mode, there is no difference but in Sport mode, the engine response isn’t quite as good. “It’s difficult to make the same sportiness,” he said.

Tuesday October 2 14:00

Vietnamese firm VinFast wheeled out David Beckham to launch its new A2.0 saloon and SA2.0 SUV - but James Attwood reckons they missed a trick. "Given Kia got Robert de Niro to endorse the Kia e-Niro, surely VinFast should have signed up Vin Diesel rather than Beckham," he said, to the amusement of nobody in the Autocar office.

"Talking of celebrity endorsements, the new Renault K-Ze is ripe with possibilities: depending on how you actually pronounce K-Ze, the French firm could approach Jay Z or KC (and the Sunshine Band, obviously)"

It’s fair to say that national pride runs strong here, if the crowds on the French carmakers’ stands are anything to go by. Of course, manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes are busy, but the Frenchies definitely win hands-down for sheer numbers.

And speaking of BMW, the brand's driving dynamics boss Peter Langen reckons that the company board have bought into his argument that dynamics investment offers one of the best returns, because you buy experience as well as physical technological advances. "Whatever a dynamics engineer learns he or she can apply everywhere, every day," he says. "That investment pays back over and over, and it was great to see that recognised when the board agreed with my proposed goal to make the new 3 Series the most dynamic car in its class."

Tuesday October 2 13:30

Renault's stand is packed with autonomy and future thinking, but there is still room for the odd old motor. This Renault 5 has been converted to run the electric powertrain from the Zoe:

“As a technology optimist, I can see this coming in the next 5-10 years,” so says Mercedes development boss Ola Kallenius on the adoption of solid-state batteries to boost the energy density of electric cars. “It’s a good solution and could be a step change. There are a lot of start ups working on this but it’s really hard to pin down on a particular year.”

Not everyone is a fan of the BMW 3 Series’ new look. After plenty of arguments on the Autocar Twitter feed, we’ve asked the question directly: Are a you a fan or not? Vote below:

Tuesday October 2 13:00

The B-Class might be the big launch today, but Mercedes’ most significant car at Paris for its bottom line is most likely its all-new GLE, a car with a now 21-year lineage. Since its original launch as the ML, the very first Mercedes SUV (discounting the G-Wagen, as Merc’s own figures have…), Mercedes has gone on to sell five million SUVs and now has seven in its range. So far in 2018, it has sold 540,000 SUVs, more than 2017 as a whole, and around one third of its total sales.

Toyota's reintroduction of the Camry is partly to compensate for the deletion of the Avensis. Toyota GB expects to sell about 1000 a year, mostly to taxi companies who will value its space, reliability and hybrid driveline. The new Corolla Touring Sports effectively replaces the Avensis wagon.

Peugeot CEO Jean Phillipe Imparato spoke quite emphatically about the problem with EVs currently. "One of the biggest challenges we face is not technology, is not product, it's not charging time, it's charging plugs. Where are all the plugs!? Go and find a plug now. People don't want to pay to have plugs in their apartments."

Hyundai UK boss Tony Whitehorn is in bullish mood, with the firm set to ride the tidal wave of interest in electrification with a wave of plug-in hybrid launches next year. Already demand for the Ioniq hybrid is outstripping supply, with Whitehorn estimating he could sell 10,000 cars a year if supply wasn't restricted to below 7000. Likewise, demand for the Kona Electric has already hit 500 cars - enough to fill order books for the next nine months if Whitehorn can't negotiate a greater supply. "The momentum is building and we're in a great place to capitalise as the new launches roll out," he said.

Tuesday October 2 12:30

What do you drive when you could have any BMW you want? In the case of BMW's driving dynamics boss Peter Langen it's currently a BMW i3S complete with range-extending motor, which he says has consumed just 20 litres of fuel in eight months, despite covering 14,000 miles. "Next I'm getting a new 330i and then the new 330e," he says. "These are my kinds of cars, and I want to experience everything our customers will."

Some clarity on the future of Mini's Oxford plant this afternoon, as the boss of parent firm BMW, Harald Krüger, says he still sees a long-term future for it. The factory will shut for a month on March 29, the day the UK is set to leave the European Union. "A hard Brexit is a lose-lose situation: we lose, the customers lose and the countries lose." Krüger said.  "My hope is that the solution can be pragmatic, but we must plan for every eventuality."

Renault's electric vehicle programme boss Gilles Normand has been telling Autocar how surprised he is that there is such low EV uptake in the UK. “The UK, for me, is a mystery. You have all the things that you need for an EV market - you have good incentives you have quite good charging network, you have congestion taxes ins London which are are favourable to EVs. Yet it’s only 0.4% of the market when its 1% in Europe on average and close to 3% in Netherlands.”

New piece of car tech alert: the Mercedes GLE has a ‘gesture control that’s not a gesture control’. It’s a body language reader instead, Merc claims. So, say a driver at night reaches over to the passenger seat to pick up something, the interior light on that side will automatically come on to help them find out. Sounds like one we need to see in action.

Tuesday October 2 12:00

BMW's driving dynamics boss Peter Langen claims that the new Z4 is better to drive than he ever imagined. "It's not about outright power and it's not about on-the-edge handling - it is about finding the sweet spot that allows any driver to find the limit and be excited, and for a guy who spends a lot of time driving some very fast cars, I'm surprised by just how much fun this car is. The sweet spot is much larger than I expected."

Kia is using Paris as the debut motor show for its Proceed and Ceed GT models, which makes perfect sense according to Julian Rendell - with sister brand Hyundai making hardcore hot hatchbacks, it leaves Kia to concentrate on fastbacks and its flagship Stinger saloon.

Wireless, induction charging for EVs is well on its way, but is prohibited by cost, Renault electric vehicle boss Gilles Normand tells Autocar. The technology has moved on massively from three years ago - then, you could only have 5mm between the two plates for charging; now it’s up to 50mm.

Tuesday October 2 11:30

"Had my first look at the EQC yesterday evening, Mercedes’ first mass production electric car" says editor Tisshaw. "The pictures I’d seen previously made it seem like R-Class the second, yet in the metal its proportions couldn’t have been more different. Daring it is not, but this is a car with greater kerb appeal than Instagram appeal."

The Volkswagen Group used to try and dominate the motor show conversation with its ‘Group Night’ show within a show on the eve of a major motor show. In Paris, it’s hardly even turned up. How things change.

Peugeot CEO Jean Phillipe Imparato says other carmaker's ideas of autonomous "boxes" transporting people to one place is "totally boring". He reckons that such technology should be used to enhance driving pleasure, not remove it entirely, citing the e-Legend concept as an example of that. Imparato also took a dig at other manufacturer's production delays due to WLTP legislation. "We didn't have to stop production, we didn't have to store stock, we didn't have to buy airports to park loads of unsold cars in. We were ready".

Tuesday October 2 11:00

We haven't verified it, but the Bugatti Divo may be the most expensive car at this year's Paris motor show with a base price of £4.5m. However, it has a significance well beyond that, as CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Autocar on the eve of the event. "If we want to turn some of our ideas into reality then the important thing is to show that we can widen our customer base - and this is what the Divo has done," he said, referencing the possibility of a second model line joining the Bugatti stable.

Why did the development team behind the new BMW 3 Series head to Wales for testing during the car's development? BMW's driving dynamics boss Peter Langen is full of praise for the challenges the roads present - although not all for good reasons. "The roads in Wales are challenging - both for the contours and types of corners, but also sometimes the quality," he says. "The point is that if a car works on such challenging roads, then it will work anywhere. Wales can cover almost every type of challenge a car will face."

With WLTP certification for the new plug-in hybrid Range Rover and Range Rover Sport due next week, Jaguar Land Rover UK MD Rawdon Glover is optimistic for an upswing in sales. “The order bank is looking very promising,” he reports. “The Range Rover is accounting for 40% of pre-orders and the Sport 22%, which is ahead of expectations and very encouraging for the future.”

Skoda has made an impression on Hilton Holloway with the Vision RS concept, which he says proves just how far the brand has come unver VW group ownership.

Tuesday October 2 10:30

How to promote the new Kia e-Niro EV? From a teaser video shown in Paris it appears that the firm has tied up with Hollywood icon Robert De Niro for a future promotional campaign. The screen legend made a brief video appearance during the firm’s press conference promising we’d be seeing more of him soon. Let’s hope the ad agency didn’t collect a huge fee for that brainstorm, says Jim Holder.

 

Night follows day, so GLE Coupe will follow GLE, right? “That would be promising speculation,” said Merc boss Dieter Zetsche, removing any last lingering doubts with his smile as he said it.

Over at the Porsche stand, the Macan facelift is very much out of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mould, says editor Tisshaw. "Still the finest-handling SUV around, and proof physics can be defied."

Mercedes isn't concerned with the diesel emissions debate, which boss Zetsche calls a "non-issue". More efficient petrol engines have made diesel uneconomically viable in smaller cars, but fleet customers buying and leasing larger models have taken a "rational" approach to the issue.

Tuesday October 2 10:00

Less than an hour after the BMW 3 Series was revealed, Audi design chief Marc Lichte has come over to have a look. "Yes, it does look nicer than an Audi A4", says editor Tisshaw.

Motor shows tend to be about reveals, but today also brought news of a potential retirement. According to Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche, a replacement for the SLC small convertible is by no means a formality. One reason? A lack of appeal to Chinese buyers. 

In the photo below, on this very spot in 2012, McLaren revealed the P1. Six years on, the real estate isn’t quite as valuable.

Infiniti's President Roland Krueger says that the Project Black S took just 12 months to go from a design concept to a functioning vehicle, a record for the brand and faster than the vast majority of rivals - despite its complex dual-hybrid powertrain with an F1-inspired KERS system. "The system is, essentially, exactly the same as what you'll find on an F1 car, but as it is a road car these parts are uniquely developed". Although not cited for production, the powertrain shows that you can add clever hybrid tech without changing the base engine very much.

Tuesday October 2 09:30

Steve Cropley has found an easy way into Bugatti Chiron ownership: the excellent Lego kit, on display to its own large Paris crowd. The full-size model even has full-size sound effects - but is most certainly not for sale.

Normally when a motor show arrives in town, it’s the only gig in town. Advertising posters covered in show stars, hotel lobbies and airports packed with hosts holding up car company logos waiting to bus people to the show. But not this year: Paris is having a Ryder Cup hangover, with reminders of Europe’s great win around every corner, and glum-looking Americans around the next.

One insider has told Autocar that some carmaker no-shows at events like Paris is not a result of cutting budgets, but a better understanding of a car buyer’s journey. Ten years ago, manufacturers would not know if interest at a motor show had resulted in a sale, but now, better use of data means a car maker can measure the outcome better.

Elsewhere, the motoring industry doesn't pause for a show like Paris. Mazda confirmed that it would launch its first two electric cars in 2020: a full battery EV, and a range-extender hybrid. The big news is the PHEV will use a rotary engine - giving some hope to fans of the company's Wankel-engined sports cars that a sequel could eventually get the green light. 

Tuesday October 2 09:00

Renault design boss Laurens van Den Acker presented the EZ-Ultimo, the third concept in the car maker’s autonomous vision of the future. It's a luxury limo that could be used by individual users, or by companies to transfer passengers. It might also become an app-controlled ride hailing vehicle.

It's not all European car makers at Paris, of course. Seen below is the GAC GS5, a chunky VW Tiguan-sized SUV that the Chinese company will use to spearhead its European launch plans “in the near future”.

Steve Cropley has been speaking to Suzuki boss Dale Wyatt, who says they’ve so far had 4500 people sign up on the website as “interested” in the Jimny. "First time they’ve ever had such a thing." That’s 150% of the previous model’s best annual sales (it ended at 1100 units annually in UK after 20 years). Problem is going to be volume. Demand in Japan, where it’s made, has been “staggering”. Wyatt sees 1100 cars in first year, then 2000.

Tesla rarely goes in big at motor shows, so this stand is actually pretty sizeable for the controversy-ridden electric car brand. The only similar-sized Tesla stand Rachel Burgess spotted at this year's major motor shows was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Tuesday October 2 08:30

The new BMW 3 Series has been officially revealed, in what was easily the biggest press conference of this year's Paris show so far. BMW says it has tuned its compact saloon to "defeat rivals at every level" - and we've got all the details.

The new car is based on the same platform as the 5 Series and 7 Series, and has grown in order to comply with crash regulations. We've compared new and old here to see how much bigger the G20 generation is compared to the outgoing model.

We've also got a picture special detailing the 3 Series' main rivals, BMW's development and testing process, and what to expect from future engine variants, including a hybrid.

“Had a nose around the Mercedes-AMG 35 yesterday, surely one of 2019’s most anticipated real-world heroes,” says Mark Tisshaw. “Merc’s taking on everything in the family hatchback class with A-Class, from economy diesels to mega-hatches with the upcoming 400bhp A45 AMG. But with the A35 AMG, it hits the heartland of the hot hatchback segment, with specs that look awfully similar to the Volkswagen Golf R. Lovely.”

From what dep ed Rachel Burgess has seen so far, the Peugeot E-Legend is the standout car of the show. "It’s original while blending a dash of retro and a dash of (autonomous) modernity. Still, the busiest stand I’ve spotted so far is France’s very own premium brand, DS."

Tuesday October 2 08:00

Jim holder snapped the below view from the Jaguar Land Rover stand, which looks directly out onto BMW's upcoming press conference. JLR CEO Ralf Speth was spotted on the balcony watching. No need to guess what he's waiting to see.

Speth has good reason to be happy, regardless of what the competition is up to: UK orders for the Jaguar I-Pace have reached a point that customers are now waiting for six months for delivery - the maximum UK MD Rawdon Glover is comfortable with. “The level of interest is extraordinary, but we’re having to look at ways to keep the waiting list reasonable, he said. ‘We can see from our web traffic that interest continues to be strong, and we’re enjoying the challenge of keeping up with that.”

Our roving reporters also spotted some unfortunate choice of words on this Seat billboard this morning - we're guessing the answer is probably "because it was supposed to be done yesterday."

Tuesday October 2 07:45

France is famously protective of its car industry. A few years ago, a senior French minister chose the Paris motor show to criticise Kia for nothing more than selling cars and gaining ground here. So for editor Tisshaw, spotting Paris motor show chief executive Jean-Claude Girot leading Chinese brand GAC Motor’s press conference rather than a GAC exec feels a bit like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Mercedes has just debuted the latest B-Class, with interior tech borrowed from the A-Class and driver assistance systems that first showed up on the S-Class. The third-gen MPV will compete with the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, with order books opening in December. Mercedes added a bit of light am dram to its press conference, with some scripted conversation between execs (delivery needs work, according to Autocar editor Tisshaw), swiftly followed by some musical theatre with a live band performing in front of a video of the new B Class driving around. It’s "as bizarre as it sounds", apparently.

Our fearless leader Tisshaw has now sharpened his elbows to secure a place on the BMW stand ahead of arguably the biggest Paris reveal. "The BMW 3 Series won’t be unveiled for another half hour, yet the stage is already rammed with photographers ready for that elusive first photo. Huge car, huge interest."

How do you get to and from the Paris motor show if you are the boss of a car company that makes some of the world's most exclusive cars? Well, if you're Stephan Winkelmann, Bugatti's CEO, you jump on the train. "You know, this is the home motor show of Bugatti, so it is great to be able to get here in just two hours," he smiled. "Our cars are fantastic, the best, but for this kind of journey the train can work too."

Tuesday October 2 07:30

How do you find 40 buyers for a £4.5m Bugatti Divo? It seems all you have to do is ask your dealers the names of your best Chiron customers and invite them to see it. "In total it took one month, but that was down to how long it took to get the car from Europe to the USA, to the Middle East and then Asia," says CEO Stephan Winkelmann. "Then, they were all sold."

If Hyundai's i30 N hot hatch wasn't quite hot enough for you (in the looks department, anyway) the brand just revealed a set of N Option personalisation upgrades that give it an even more purposeful look. New wheels, exhausts, wings and plenty of carbon fibre all join the list, but there's no word on when they will be available to order, or whether existing owners will be able to get involved.

Mark Tisshaw is impressed with the off-road tech in the new Mercedes GLE. "Get stuck in the sand, and it’ll take over the controls and ‘jump’ up and down with individual wheel control to get you out. Remarkable."

Meanwhile, Steve Cropley has spotted a lion over at the Peugeot stand. It's rather hard to miss, really. "Was told recently that this highly automotive emblem actually comes from company’s pre-car, tool-making days. It was supposed to embody the suppleness of a wood-saw and the sharpness if its teeth..." 

Tuesday October 2 07:00

The time before 8am at a motor show always feels like the calm before the storm. But there's still a lingering sense that this is going to be an unusually quiet year, mainly due to the lack of many big debuts and reduced brand presence. If previous years have taught us anything, though, it's that surprises are always around the corner. We'll be keeping you updated if anything unexpected does land.

There's still plenty to see on each stand, though. It's always heartening to see some old metal amongst the new. This Renault is its first and is from 1898 - that makes it 120 years old!

Peugeot's e-Legend concept might be getting all the attention, but as the 508 SW is a car you'll actually be able to buy sometime soon, we made sure to pay it a visit. The First Edition spec on show for the first time at Paris this week includes bespoke exterior styling and alloy wheels, full leather interior and a full brace of options as standard.

We’ve driven it already, but the Jimny will no doubt get plenty of attention on the Suzuki stand. Rachel Burgess thinks it looks great in this Jungle Green colour, which was apparently designed to "blend into a forest environment". Although that's probably not going to help much at a motor show.

A tip following last night's Q60 Black S prototype reveal: Infiniti's design boss Karim Habib hinted that a new, small Lexus UX-rivalling SUV could be on the way for next year. While he remained shrewd at revealing details, he told us we will "see a couple of new things in that area" for 2019.

Tuesday October 2 06:00

An early start in Paris, with the show floor opening from 6:30 CEST, and an even earlier wake-up call for the UK support team, but there's already been plenty of overnight breaking news. 

Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations division announced a heavily customised Discovery, which will be joining the Red Cross emergency response fleet. It acts as a mobile command station, with communications equipment and storage for an eight-rotor drone equipped with thermal imaging capabilities. 

An open-top concept car isn't enough to convince Mark Tisshaw that Smart is ready to talk about the future just yet: "Smart is 20 years old, and I can’t work out if that makes it young or old. Certainly, its designs remain fresh and interesting, yet with concepts like the Forease, designed to celebrate said anniversary, I can’t help but think an opportunity has been missed to look forward instead of sideways with a bit more of the same."

Meanwhile, it seems Bugatti is closer than ever to adding a second model to its line-up. At the European debut of the Divo, boss Stephan Winkelmann admitted it now had the customer bass to justify an expanded range, but stopped short of confirming what form a second car would take. Rumour has it the four-door saloon is out in favour of a high-riding SUV...

Lots of opinions on Renault's Z-Ze electric car overnight on the Autocar Twitter and Facebook pages. For many, the K-Ze show car just looks like a Kwid - a car popular in India and notorious for being poorly rated in safety tests. But the CMF-A platform on which they are both built has been heavily adapted for the K-Ze, said Eric Feunteun, EV programme boss, ensuring it is compliant to safety requirements around the world.

Monday October 1 19:00

Renault had the first real surprise of the show with the K-Ze, a compact, affordable electric car that takes inspiration from SUVs and should arrive in Europe by 2020. It will sit below the Zoe in both dimensions and price, and will go on sale in China first before it reaches us here in the UK.

Monday October 1 18:00

It's a prototype, but that didn't stop the Q60 Black S performance hybrid from stealing all the attention on Infiniti's Paris booth. Since it was first revealed at Geneva in 2017, the concept has evolved with a more aggressive bodykit, bonnet vents and a bespoke interior to compliment the dual-hybrid drivetrain. Regenerative braking and heat-recovering units work together with the 3.0-litre V6 engine for a combined 563bhp output. 

The show hasn't officially started yet, with doors set to open early tomorrow (Tuesday), but based on what we're expecting to be announced, you'd be forgiven for thinking there's a lack of announcements at this year's show. Editor Mark Tisshaw explains why that might be here.

Monday October 1 16:00

Another chance to see a recently announced car in the metal as Mercedes pulled back the curtain on the new GLE. The BMW X5 rival, which is due to arrive early next year, was officially revealed in September, but Paris marks its motor show debut. The second-generation model gains Merc's most advanced suspension system, eclipsing the one available in the S-Class saloon, and will be available with a long-range diesel plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Meanwhile, finding the time to write up news from the show floor hasn't been the only challenge for 6ft 5in editorial director Jim Holder - when not running between reveals, his hotel 'desk' is just a little on the small side...

Monday October 1 14:00

Smart announced its 20th anniversary concept, the Forease, ahead of the show, but this was the first opportunity to see it in the metal. The open-top EV is a sign of things to come from the brand, which will be going electric-only in Europe from 2020.

Mercedes, meanwhile, opened its doors early for a closer look at the hottest version of the latest A-Class. Until the A45 arrives in 2019, the AMG A35 is the fastest small Mercedes, with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine delivering 302bhp to all four wheels. It will rival the BMW M140i, Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R when it arrives later this year.

 

Bugatti's track-focused Divo hypercar made its European motor show debut, having been officially revealed in the USA last month at Pebble Beach Cours D'Elegance. It develops the same 1,479bhp from its eight-litre, quad-turbo W16 engine as the Chiron, but gains downforce improvements and chassis tweaks to give it the edge around a circuit, instead of prioritising straight line performance.

Monday October 1 12.00

While the main press day of the show starts tomorrow (Tuesday), many of the machines have already been revealed by the manufacturers. We’ll run through some of the machines that will be looking all sparkly in Paris here, as well as updating you with news from those Autocar staffer already hard at work in Paris (well, they’ve promised us they’re hard at work, and not taking snaps of the Eiffel Tower…).

Skoda had got an early jump on the Paris fun by revealing two vRS performance models. One is the long-awaited Kodiaq vRS, a high-performance version of the firm’s popular seven-seat SUV. Apparently, it’s already broken the ever-prestigious Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record for a seven-seat SUV.

The firm has also revealed the Vision RS, which previews the firm’s forth Rapid replacement. The new machine is being placed as Skoda’s first true Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf rival in the family hatch class. Intriguingly, it’s being previewed with a hot vRS version, powered by a 242bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain. Nick Gibbs explains why the firm is doing that here.

The French firms are always under pressure to deliver headlines at their home motor show, and Peugeot has unveiled a future-gazing autonomous car concept. The Peugeot e-Legend is styled after the firm’s classic 504 coupe – which is 50 years old in 2018 – and aims to prove that electric and autonomous cars can be stylish and hold substantial driver appeal.

The e-Legend has gone down very well with the public so far – and with many in the Autocar office. Deputy editor James Attwood, who got to see it during a preview event recently, has already thrown his towel down and claimed it as his ‘star car’ for the show (find out what everyone else chooses later this week). Atters has also written about his hopes that Peugeot might be persuaded to put a version of it into production.

Paris motor show: what’s on display

Check out our A-Z guide of the new metal being revealed at the show this week.

Audi A1

The reveal process for the new A1 happened a while ago, but the first in-the-metal look we'll get at the new Mini rival will be at the Paris motor show. 

Audi A4

Audi is updating its 3 Series rival with a sharper look and more standard kit. The car is due to go on sale during the summer, so we can expect it to make its show debut in Paris.

Audi Q3

Audi's smallest SUV is now the Q2, so the Q3 has had some growing up to do. And that it has - Audi claims that the car is more practical, better equipped and more grown up in its styling than before. 

Audi SQ2

Audi's Mini Countryman rival gets a 296bhp version of the S3's turbo four-pot engine, and will do battle with the BMW X2 M35i when sales start early next year.

BMW 3 Series

BMW’s lost some ground to Mercedes-Benz since the C-Class became the country’s — and Europe’s — top-selling compact executive car. The brand will look to the G20 to make up some of the lost pace, despite other car classes being savaged by SUV sales.

BMW i3 update

BMW has shoved more batteries into the i3 and in the process has upped its range by 34 miles on the WLTP test cycle. 

BMW X2 M35i

BMW's X2 M35i is the brand's latest hot SUV, and is the first M-badged car to come with four cylinders, instead of six. Sales start in March and rivals will include the Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R, but it has beaten both to market.

BMW X5

Speaking of which, while BMW’s rival to the Jaguar F-Pace has already been shown, it will make its first public outing at the Paris show. It’s got a fresh new look, architecture shared with the 5 and 7 Series and it is larger in every direction than its predecessor.

BMW Z4

It’s been a long time coming, but the new Z4 will arrive first in Pebble Beach, but also in Paris as the overhauled rival to the Porsche Boxster and Mercedes-Benz SLC. BMW promises a renewed focus on dynamic ability for the new car, as well as a completely different look from its predecessor.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid Concept

Citroën's first plug-in hybrid will arrive in 2020, and is closely previewed by the near-production-ready concept set for a Paris debut. It's also the closest thing to a hot Citroën we'll get for a while, with 225bhp and 249lb ft on tap. Electric-only range is claimed to be 31 miles. 

DS 3 Crossback

The DS assault on the plush SUV market continues with the 3 Crossback — a rival to the BMW X1 and Jaguar E-Pace. The electric powertrain in the small SUV shows us where DS is going with the 3 Crossback, which is expected to eventually replace the ageing 3 hatch. Traditional, internal combustion-engined variants will also be sold, however.

DS 7 Crossback E-Tense

We've already had a drive in a prototype DS 7 Crossback E-Tense, but the final car is due to make its inaugural apperance in production form in Paris in the coming weeks. 

Honda CR-V Hybrid

Honda's first European hybrid SUV is almost here; ahead of an early 2019 on-sale date, the brand has revealed the car's diesel-rivalling CO2 and fuel economy figures. It'll also get a debut in Paris. 

Hyundai i30 Fastback N

We don't know what it'll look like yet (although educated guesses can be made, based on the existing Fastback, and hatchback N), but we know what it'll drive like from our drive in a prototype. 

Infiniti Project Black S Prototype

Infiniti's visually dramatic Q60 Project Black S Concept edges closer to production as it's revealed at the Paris motor show in prototype form. 0-60 comes in under 4.0sec thanks to a performance hybrid system producing 563bhp. 

Kia Ceed GT

Kia's Ceed GT tops the Ford Focus rival's range with 201bhp on tap from a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. 

Kia Proceed

Kia’s shooting brake version of the Ceed, the Proceed, replaces the previous slow-selling three-door hatch version and deletes the apostrophe from its name for good measure. 

Lexus LC Limited Edition

Exclusive paint and interior design marks out the LC Limited Edition. The name is no exaggeration, either - only ten will come to the UK - five hybrids and five naturally-aspirated V8s. 

Lexus RC facelift

Due in late 2018, Lexus's entry-level coupé gets a makeover inspired by the LC coupé, as well as tweaks to improve the handling and ride. 

Mercedes-AMG A35

The warm version of Mercedes’ new hatch arrives in early 2019 as a 300bhp understudy to the 400bhp full-fat A45. It’ll rival the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R, while the A45 will be more of a match for the RS3 and BMW M2

Mercedes-AMG GT 43 4MATIC+ 4-door Coupé

Mercedes-AMG's latest bespoke model borrows the 369bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine from the S450 and CLS450 models. 168mph and 0-62mph in 4.9sec are claimed.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon

Mercedes is also taking the A-Class to the fight against the Audi A3 saloon by making a long-booted version. The A-Class saloon’s styling has already been revealed on the Chinese-spec long-wheelbase car, but a slightly different look will be applied to the European car.

Mercedes-Benz EQC

Mercedes' EQC, its first electric car from its EQ sub-brand, broke cover in Stockholm on 4 September. The car's first public outing, however, will be at the Paris motor show where the Autocar team will be able to gain further detail on the Jaguar I-Pace rival.

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Another large luxury SUV set for Paris - the Mercedes-Benz GLE. It's been overhauled for its second generation (although technically it's older, given its rebadge from its ML-badged predecessor), with a long-range plug-in hybrid variant and trick suspension.

Peugeot 3008, 508, 508 SW plug-in hybrids

Peugeot's electrification push continues, with plug-in hybrid versions of its large-selling 3008 SUV, and new 508 and 508 SW (see below) D-segment offerings. 

Peugeot 508 SW

Peugeot's saloon has been given a new fastback shape, but what about the estate? Well, that's been given a sharp new look too, and we'll get our first in-depth look in Paris. 

Peugeot e-Legend concept

Peugeot's e-Legend concept is, predictably, an electric car. Less predictably, it's a dramatic and simply-designed coupé, with styling paying more than a passing nod to the now 50-year-old 504 Coupé.

Porsche Macan

Porsche's smallest SUV has been with us since 2014, so it's time for a mid-life refresh. We've already had a drive in a prototype, so take a look at our first impressions here before first examples hit the road at the end of the year. 

Renault Kadjar facelift

The lightest of refreshes to the Kadjar's exterior styling betrays more comprehensive interior updates, as well as a new 1.3-litre petrol engine and revised 1.5-litre dCi diesels.

Renault concept

Nothing is yet confirmed, but Renault is almost certain to take a concept to its home motor show. Last time around, the brand unveiled the dramatic Trezor concept  — an autonomous supercar that previewed the new styling direction of the brand. 

Seat Tarraco

Seat's long-awaited seven-seat SUV will finally bow in at the Paris motor show, with a name decided via a public vote and design drawing from the brand's smaller SUVs.

Skoda Karoq Scout

The next Skoda to get the tough off-road treatment is the Karoq, which gets a choice of two diesel engines and one petrol in rufty-tufty Scout spec. Four-wheel drive comes as standard, too.

Skoda Karoq Sportline

Off-roading not your thing? Skoda's revealing a Karoq Sportline at Paris too, and it's got an exclusive 2.0-litre TSI engine with 187bhp. 

Skoda Kodiaq vRS

Skoda’s first hot SUV, and what will be the second model in its vRS line-up since the Fabia vRS was canned, is already the fastest seven-seat SUV around the Nürburgring. It has been fully revealed this week in Paris ahead of sales starting at the end of the year. 

Skoda Vision RS

Skoda's Rapid hatchback isn't long for this world, and it won't be directly replaced. Instead, it'll be replaced by the production version of this - the Vision RS, which takes its sportiness up several notches and pitches it directly against the Volkswagen Golf. The Golf GTI is in the crosshairs too, with a vRS version following. 

Smart Forease anniversary concept

Daimler's city car brand, Smart, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so is taking a "simple, reduced and pure, yet never boring" concept to Paris, with nods given to the 2002 Crossblade and 2011 Forspeed concept.

Suzuki Jimny

The Japanese carmaker has a reputation for quirky offerings, and this year we will see the European debut of the dinky new Jimmy 4x4 before first examples hit the roads later this year. 

Suzuki Vitara facelift

Suzuki's refreshed small SUV (yes, another one) gets a new engine lineup and tweaked styling. 

Toyota Camry

The Camry has returned to Western Europe, and the occasion is to be marked by the car's appearance at this year's Paris motor show. It's got a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain under the bonnet. 

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

The Corolla - not Auris - Touring Sports arrives in the UK in spring 2019, alongside the regular Corolla hatchback. It'll be revealed at the Paris motor show. A third body style, a saloon, won't be offered in the UK. 

Toyota RAV4

The new RAV4 may have been introduced to the world earlier this year at the New York motor show, but it'll be introduced in Europe at the start of October in Paris. 

Toyota Yaris GR Sport

Missed out on the chance to get your hands on the Yaris GRMN? The GR Sport is the latest car to get warmed up styling based on a sporting badge, with GRMN-inspired flourishes across the car's exterior.

Join the debate

Comments
46

15 June 2018

The above pictures show how banal actual production cars look as compared with concept cars. In particular, its hard to believe the new X5 is a 2018 design.

15 June 2018

I reckon the production version of the new 8 series will also be disappointing.

16 June 2018

Surely the most disappointing motor show preview ever.

24 September 2018
jason_recliner wrote:

Surely the most disappointing motor show preview ever.

I thought it was just me as I was scrolling through the pictures. Maybe one or two nice looking motors, but generally dull!

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