The 67th instalment of the Frankfurt Motor Show is in full swing until September 24, and this 2017 event has once again proven its global relevance. Manufacturers from all corners of the world converged in the German industrial city with their latest wares.
Audi sprang a surprise by unveiling a rear-wheel drive R8 dubbed the R8 V10 RWS (Rear Wheel Series). It is essentially similar to its four-wheel drive quattro sibling, save for the fact that power in the RWS is sent to the rear wheels only. That breaks with the four-wheel drive convention of the model and rather explains why the company’s performance arm changed its name from Quattro Gmbh to simply Audi Sport, although the reason is just a theory on our part.
Nonetheless, the R8 V10 RWS should be significantly lighter than its quattro sibling, livelier to drive and also exhibit much more responsive steering that is not corrupted by traction duties.
Bentley showed its new Continental GT, which looks less ungainly than the outgoing model, thanks to a sharper nose and a fastback-like rear. Of course, the interior is still bespoke with high-quality, hand-stitched quilted leather and an adaptable centre console fascia being one of the new model’s highlights. It will still be powered by the company’s 6.0l W12 engine, while we can expect V8 models to be introduced at a later stage.
BMW went to town this year with a number of future EV (electric vehicle) concept cars, but it was perhaps the more conventional vehicles that attracted the most attention. Not the least of these is the sixth generation M5 performance sedan that is the first M5 to feature four-wheel drive, which is thankfully adaptable, so the vehicle can still be driven in rear-wheel drive only mode, too. It will use a similar 4.4l V8 twin-turbo from its predecessor, but tweaked slightly to make 441kW and 700Nm. It will arrive in SA in the first half of 2018.
Still on the Bavarian brand, the firm has also shown the X7, which is bigger and more luxurious than the X5 and has seating for seven occupants. Many have criticised it for being, well, ugly, but I am of the view that it will be toned down slightly in the final production guise. Among other things, it will have a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, which should make it more appealing to China and the US, which we reckon will be its biggest markets.
Ferrari’s California replacement, the Portofino, also made its official debut at the show. New from the ground up, the model is said to only share its predecessor’s 3.9l V8 twin-turbo engine, which is good for around 440kW and 700Nm. From a styling perspective, it looks every bit a thoroughbred Italian stallion and that should give it a more universal appeal as a result.
Honda seems to have stolen the show, however, with its Urban EV Concept hatchback. With its retro looks that hark back to the first generation Civic hatch, the model looks at how the coolness of a hatchback can still be distilled in an electric propelled model of the future. We reckon Honda should just build it as is, as it looks like the coolest hatchback since the Mark I Volkswagen Golf.
Renault unveiled its eagerly awaited Megane RS that will for the first time be offered with a 1.8l turbo unit that is said to churn out 205kW and 370Nm. However, there will also be a more powerful Trophy variant introduced pushing out around 220kW. The new model can now be specced with a six-speed dual clutch automatic with paddle shifters on the steering column, as an alternative to a six-speed manual gearbox.
It will have rear-wheel steer and Renault says it will be the bes-handling model in the segment. Earmarked to be launched sometime in the second quarter of 2018, likely in both Lux and Cup variants, the new Megane RS does look promising.
Porsche has introduced a less in-your-face version of its 911 GT3 sportscar. Behold the GT3 Touring Pack that sees the rear wing lopped off the model creating a look quite similar to that of the 911R. Of course while the latter was a limited run of just 991 units, the GT3 Touring Pack will be a series production model. While there will probably be a market for this kind of derivative, I believe that the wing is every bit an essential part and character of the 911 GT3.
Once again the Frankfurt Motor Show seems to have pulled out the stops to make it the best yet and if the number of vehicles displayed at the show 9s anything to go by, the future of the car looks to be bright.
Full Frankfurt Motor Show coverage in next week’s Business Day Motor News on September 21