Paris Motor Show: Light, tight and tasty

By Jacqui Madelin

The Merecedes SLS AMG coupe electric shatters electric power's eco image, and the Audi Crosslane is a sharp looker.Photo / Jacqui Madelin
The Merecedes SLS AMG coupe electric shatters electric power's eco image, and the Audi Crosslane is a sharp looker.Photo / Jacqui Madelin

The Paris Motor Show might have been short on stop-press headliners but it had its moments. For me, those moments overshadowed the over-arching theme of lighter cars drinking less fuel than ever before.

Mercedes' electric SLS and Audi's Crosslane concept tied for my favourites, the SLS AMG because it shatters electric power's eco image. An electric motor drives each wheel, the four working through two transmissions to hurl 552kW and 1000Nm to the ground, a lot more than the standard 6.2-litre V8 and good for a zero to 100km/h time of 3.9 seconds. Sound? A button controls that inside the cabin via 11 speakers. The sky-blue-metallic SLS AMG goes on sale for about $650,000.

The Audi Crosslane previews the upcoming Q2. Sharp-edged lines are constructed from an aluminium spaceframe chassis reinforced with carbon fibre, for strength without weight, tech too costly for a production Q2 but likely to appear in high-end models. Here, it's visible around the sill, windscreen and grille.

As for the cabin, removing the fabric Targa-style roof uncovered eyeball-searing yellow leather with a simple driver- focused dash and controls. The concept gets a 1.5-litre petrol engine that powers the battery for the electric motor.

Only the French could top that, with Renault-Nissan's curving carpeted hills and sea of bouncing light-globes showcasing eye-catching concepts - such as the Nissan Terra with its Leaf electric motor up front boosted by smaller electric motors out back, and the iPad-style tablet that slots in to double as instruments, satnav and entertainment, though watching YouTube while negotiating Europe's frenetic roundabouts isn't recommended.

Citroen again rolled out the Tubik van - not new but a fascinating showpiece nonetheless, and the up-market Numero 9 from April's Beijing Motor Show.

Award for the most dynamic reveal went to Jaguar Land-Rover, not because the F-Type and new Range Rover were unexpected but because its show topped the special effects tally in a year not noted for them, with huge sliding screens; skull-bending engine noises; and a waterfall through which the new Range Rover drove into a reflecting pool.

Arriving in a cloud of smoke at the wheel of a red F-Type, Jaguar designer Ian Callum had the coolest speech, too - he introduced the car then said, "it speaks for itself" before walking off. The unassuming Scottish designer boasted a pink-blossoms tie.

It was in stark contrast to Land Rover's Gerry McGovern, who was clearly energised by the response to his new car from a British brand, which was presented by a German - CEO Dr Ralph Speth - and owned by an Indian, Ratan Tata, who stepped forward for a brief moment in the limelight before returning to the shadows.

- Herald on Sunday

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