Highlights from Frankfurt Motor Show

This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show offered plenty of green and practical vehicles alongside the high-horsepower, ultra-expensive luxury vehicles. In order to present a true picture of the show, following are some of our highlights from every category:

Alfa Romeo

The Italian automaker took the wraps off its MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde (translation: green four-leaf clover). The special edition MiTo is powered by Alfa’s newest MultiAir engine, a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder gas engine developing 170 horsepower.

Parent company Fiat launched its new MultiAir gas engine technology earlier this year, which it claims can cut fuel consumption by up to 25% and reduce CO2 emissions by 10%. The MultiAir engine is paired with the new-generation C635 six-speed manual transmission, developed in Italy and featuring what Alfa promises to be clean, swift changes with short shifts and vibration- and noise-free operation.

The luxurious MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde features 17-inch alloy wheels on low-profile tires and mirror housings finished in a dark satin silver.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin unveiled its elegant new Rapide, the automaker’s first production four-door sports car, featuring four “swan wing” doors and plenty of room and luxury for the driver and passengers.

The rear-wheel-drive Rapide sports a front mid-mounted 6.0L V12 outputting 469 hp and 443 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. It has a rear mid-mounted Touchtronic 2 six-speed automatic transmission, allowing the driver to change gears automatically or manually via the steering column-mounted magnesium paddles.

There are 10.6 cubic feet of cargo room for all four occupants’ luggage and their skis. Passengers are coddled in comfort with features such as hand-trimmed individual seats and a personal face-level heating and air conditioning system up front. For everyday use, says Aston Martin, the luggage compartment features a movable bulkhead to permit access from the rear cabin, while the rear seats fold flat at the touch of a button to create a flat loading space, increasing the luggage compartment to 26.5 cu. ft.


Audi showed its sexy new topline R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro, featuring a 525-hp V10 and a zero-to-100-kilometres-an-hour time of just 4.1 seconds, according to the automaker. The two-seater has a cloth top weighing just 30 kilograms that keeps the car’s weight and centre of gravity low, says Audi, and it opens and closes automatically in just 19 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h. The car also features the aluminum Audi Space Frame, giving it a weight of just 1,720 kg with the manual transmission.

The R8 Spyder comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and a 5.2L engine featuring FSI direct fuel injection. It is also available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission.

The R8 Spyder has a top speed of 313 km/h, and it features plenty of safety items to keep all that fun under control, including quattro all-wheel drive, rollover protection in the bulkhead, air bags in front and head and thorax side air bags in the backrests.

Audi says the new Spyder will be available next spring.


The Bentley Mulsanne is not only a stunningly picturesque piece (with curves in all the right places), its light lilac (sounds awful, looks great) paint has a lustre so deep it looks as though one can dip a finger into it. The cabin is finished with the same sort of attention to detail – it takes 15 hours to hand-finish the steering wheel.

Everything from a herd’s-worth of fine leather and ultra-deep shag pile carpet to a 2,200-watt Naim for Bentley audio system are in place. Of course, grace is nothing without pace and so the 6.75L V8 engine, which is married to an eight-speed automatic, has been tweaked. Along with a 15% reduction in fuel consumption comes the needed power – 505 hp and, are you ready for this, 752 lb-ft of torque at just 1,800 rpm! Ah, life in the rich lane.


BMW launched two new hybrid vehicles – the ActiveHybrid 7 and ActiveHybrid X6. The 7 Series version is a mild hybrid that sandwiches an electric motor between its 4.8L twin-turbo V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. With both power sources working together, the system produces a net output of 458 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. This brings a zero-to-100-km/h run of 4.9 seconds and an average fuel economy of 9.7 litres per 100 km in the EU test cycle.

The X6 differs in as much as it’s a full hybrid that can operate on electric, gasoline or both power sources. At the heart of the hybrid is the Two-Mode system BMW shares with General Motors and Mercedes-Benz. Two electric motors – which are integrated into the transmission – and a 4.8L twin-turbo V8 produce a combined 478 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. The X6 runs to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, while returning an average fuel consumption of 9.9 L/100 kilometres.


The new Ford Grand C-Max delivers enough space – despite its compact overall dimensions – to accommodate up to seven passengers in surprising comfort. With its sliding rear doors, the format mirrors a traditional minivan – it is anything but. It has style (it actually looks like a pumped-up car rather than a mini-minivan) and it is based on the same platform as the European Focus that’s set to arrive in North America in 2010. The highlight of the C-Max is the novel middle-row seat. The centre seat folds up and slides under either of the outboard seats, creating a walk-through when it’s not in use. The beauty is that the whole operation requires just one hand. In Europe, the C-Max will be powered by both diesel and gasoline engines. When it arrives in North America in 2011, it will likely be powered by Ford’s latest gasoline-powered four-cylinder EcoBoost engine. The advantage to the EcoBoost system is that the combination of turbocharging and direct inject reduces fuel consumption by up to 20% when compared with a naturally aspirated engine producing the same power.


The new ix35, which will arrive in North America badged as the Tucson, is a snazzy ride that has been upsized. It now rides on a 2,640-millimetre wheelbase, which is 10 mm longer than the previous model. With an overall length and width of 4,410 mm and 1,820 mm (up 85 mm and 20 mm, respectively), it comes with significantly more interior space.

When it arrives in Canada, it will likely be powered by Hyundai’s 2.4L four-cylinder with a V6 engine option. Both engines will be married to a new six-speed automatic transmission. As for content, everything from an air-conditioned glove box (to keep the pop cool) to keyless ignition will be available.


Kia’s stylish new 2010 Sorento features either a 2.4-litre gasoline or an all-new 2.2L diesel engine. Both engines can be mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

The Sorento has plenty of safety features including six air bags, active head rests, ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control and a tire pressure monitoring system. As well, it includes an optional four-wheel-drive system, Downhill Brake Control and Hill-Start Assist Control.

Kia has also infused the new Sorento with touches of luxury, such as keyless entry, an automatic dual-zone air conditioning system and plenty of cargo space as well as an audio system featuring built-in audio streaming, USB, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. A panoramic sunroof is also available to brighten up the interior for the driver and up to seven passengers. The second and third row can be folded flat for added cargo room.

Kia also unveiled its new Venga, a cute little hatchback available in either gasoline or diesel 1.4L or 1.6L versions. The Venga features a built-in CD player and AUX and USB outlets for iPod and MP3 players.


If price were no object, the ¤1.1-million 2010 Lamborghini Reventón Roadster would be a welcome addition to any driveway.

The gorgeous topless two-seater features a 660-hp, 6.5L V12, launching the Reventón to 100 km in a breathtaking 3.4 seconds. It reaches a top speed of 330 km/h. The limited-edition model will be available to only 20 people, so you’d better get in line now.

Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Lamborghini, calls the Reventón a “mobile form of art.” No argument there. Its designers are said to have found their inspiration in aviation as the aggressive wedge shape evokes images of fighter jets.

The Roadster features a unique new shade of matte grey called Reventón Grey, an attractive paint that shone under the bright lights of the show.

The luxury continues inside with the instruments mounted in a casing machined from solid aluminum, while the leather seat cushions are perforated with precision stitching on the outer edges.

Standard on the Reventón Roadster is the e.gear automated six-speed sequential manual transmission. The driver controls the gear shift, which is activated hydraulically via two steering wheel paddles. As well as “normal” mode, the system offers a “Corsa” and a “low adherence” mode. The driver just has to keep his or her foot to the floor and the rest is handled by e.gear, says Lamborghini.

All Reventón Roadsters are being built on the Sant’Agata Bolognese production line. Deliveries of the Italian beauty will begin next month.


The highlight of the Lexus booth was the LF-Ch Concept. The five-door hatchback hybrid, which rides on a 2,600-mm wheelbase and P225/35R20 tires, could very well be the replacement for the now-retired IS 300 Sportback. Inside, the styling takes a turn for the better. From the fancy instrumentation to the wingback-style seats, it comes together in a tasteful harmony. Sadly, that’s about the extent of the information – it is powered by a hybrid powertrain, but no word on which one or when the LF-Ch might come to market.


The introduction of the new GranCabrio completes Maserati’s product lineup that now consists of three models – Quattroporte, GranTurismo and GranCabrio.

The four-seat open-top GranCabrio features impressive styling by Pininfarina and is a “dream car designed and built for men and women who love to live life in an understated, though sophisticated, manner,” says the automaker.

The GranCabrio is powered by a 4.7L V8 producing 433 hp and a six-speed manual transmission. It will be available next spring.


Mercedes-Benz and its AMG tuning arm pulled the wraps off the SLS AMG, a stunner that comes complete with gullwing doors – a throwback to the original 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The combination of an aluminum spaceframe, an AMG-tuned 6.3L V8 engine that pushes 571 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque brings forth an awesome number – each of the stallions only has to motivate 2.83 kg. This means it warps to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 317 km/h. Power is relayed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission and a sports suspension. Having the perfect 47/53 front-to-rear weight distribution and a low centre of gravity promise the handling will match the performance.


Hot on the heels of the announcement Magna has sealed the deal to purchase Opel, the company pulled the wraps off two very different cars – the 10th-generation Astra and the futuristic Ampera.

Along with its perky style, the latest Astra boasts a longer wheelbase (up 71 mm to 2,685 mm) and a wider track. This brings appreciably more interior space and a higher degree of flexibility. The trunk can be configured in three different ways and there’s an available bumper-mounted bike rack. The list of engines (eight in all) is said to cut the Astra’s fuel consumption by 12% on average. The Astra also brings some advanced technology to the entry-level market – a camera that not only alerts the driver if he drifts out of his lane but can also recognize street signs.

The Ampera is a funkier version of General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt. It uses the same T-shaped battery and flex-fuel engine to provide electricity needed to drive the motor when the battery is spent. Opel will launch the Ampera in 2011. With Saturn disappearing, at least in Canada, neither is likely to grace Canadian roads. Pity!

The old adage about pictures saying more than words was alive and graphically obvious in Frankfurt. Chevrolet was relegated to a makeshift building (almost hut-like when compared with the opulence that defines the rest of the show) with a decaled-up Cruze sitting out front and a couple of cars inside. At least Chrysler, which did not show anything new, had a tidy, if small, booth nestled in beside its new paramour, Fiat.


The 2010 911 Turbo made its debut here, boasting more power and better fuel efficiency. According to Porsche, the sports car consumes up to 16% less fuel even though it features an additional 20 hp for a fuel economy of 11.4 L/100 km. It features a twin-turbo, 3.8L six-cylinder boxer engine developing 500 hp.

The new 911 Turbo comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission and optional seven-speed PDK. With the PDK, the 911 goes from zero to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and it accomplishes the feat in only 3.5 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono Turbo. It reaches a top speed 312 km/h.

New design elements include titanium-coloured louvres in the side air intakes and new LED daytime driving lights, as well as new double-arm exterior mirrors offering a better view to the rear and improved aerodynamics, says Porsche. There are also newly designed rear lights and larger tailpipes.

Porsche also unveiled its new GT3 RS, which features a 3.8L flat-six engine and 450 hp. It will be available with a six-speed manual. The GT3 has a wider track and is equipped with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) system to improve handling dynamics, says the automaker.

The GT3 RS accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in four seconds and has a top speed of 310 km/h.

Porsche also unveiled an exclusive, limited-run 911 Sport Classic. It will have a limited run of just 250 cars – but not to North America. All will come in the exclusive new paintwork colour Sport Classic Grey. The Sport Classic features a 3.8L six-cylinder boxer engine developing 408 hp and a top speed of 302 km/h.


Rolls-Royce unveiled its new baby, the Ghost. An attractive vehicle, it’s powered by a new 6.6L twin-turbo V12 – unique to the model, says Rolls-Royce.

The Ghost has direct injection and outputs 563 hp, which launches it to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. The Rolls reaches an electronically governed top speed of 1250 km/h. Power is transmitted through an eight-speed, shift-by-wire automatic transmission.

How much fuel does a Ghost consume? It has a fuel economy rating of 13.6L 100/km.


Toyota has joined the plug-in crowd with its very own Prius plug-in hybrid. Although the automaker is calling the vehicle a concept, it is being billed as a 2010 model.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept is derived from the latest-generation Prius, combining high-output lithium-ion batteries with its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology to offer an expanded fully electric EV driving mode. The Plug-in Hybrid Concept can be recharged from a conventional electrical outlet in just 90 minutes, according to the automaker. The Concept’s lithium-ion battery pack promises seamless acceleration and a top speed of 100 km/h when driven in EV mode, says Toyota.

The Plug-in Hybrid Concept can travel approximately 20 km in EV mode. For longer distances, it operates in the manner of a normal full hybrid.

In early 2010, more than 500 units equipped with lithium-ion batteries will participate in a limited lease program worldwide so Toyota can evaluate each of these technology enhancements in a real-world environment, the automaker says.

Photograph by: Ralph Orlowski