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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show -
Richard Tanner / Shane O' Donoghue / Kyle Fortune / Phil Ahern
The Internationale Automobil-Austellung (IAA) - or Frankfurt Motor Show to you and I - is the world's largest motor show. Many a significant debut has been made at the IAA - including the first VW Beetle and the first turbocharged mass production car - since it first opened its doors as a mini exhibition in 1897.
This year's event was every bit as thrilling as usual, bringing much glamour to a city known as the financial centre of Germany. The bi-annual event (it alternates between passenger vehicles one year and commercial vehicles the next) attracted 940,000 people in 2005 and the organisers expect the crowds to swell for this year's exhibition. Although the German manufacturers like to flex their muscles here with massive show stands, the Frankfurt show offers a world stage for vehicle introductions of any origin. Here's a taster of what's on display.
We got our first glimpse of the AC Schnitzer Profile concept in Frankfurt, though we needed sunglasses to look directly at the orange-liveried BMW M Coupé-based sports car. It's likely that the new parts making up the concept will go on sale individually shortly.
Alongside the new range-topping DBS, Aston Martin gave the V8 Vantage N400 and DB9 LM their debuts, celebrating motorsport success for the brand this year.
Audi couldn't let BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate their home show, so the all-new A4 made its world debut, alongside an updated A8, a 572bhp RS6 Avant and a couple of green models to balance things up.
Bentley showed the updated Continental GT, alongside the new GT Speed model that packs 600bhp - we've driven the Speed already.
Pride of place in the BMW building (that's right, it's not just a stand) was given to the new X6 'concept'. Going on previous BMW form you can be sure that the production version, due to debut at Detroit in January, will be little different. We're not sure that the world needs a high-performance coupé-like SUV, but we can't help liking the X6 and there will be a hybrid version in 2009. Ready for the showroom right now is the new 1 Series Coupé, featuring BMW's new twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine in the line-up.
German Merc tuner, Brabus, celebrated its 30th birthday at the show with the crazy Bullit, a V12-engined Mercedes C-Class. It's so wrong in so many ways, but it looks the business and packs a hard to argue with 720bhp punch. Less well endowed in the engine department is a still impressive 335bhp Startech Starster, based on the humble Dodge Avenger and The Brabus Ultimate 112, which is based on the new Smart Fortwo cabriolet.
The Americans unveiled their Saab 9-3 based BLS estate (or should we say station wagon). Like its Saab cousin, it'll utilise the E85 BioPower engine among several other more conventional powerplants.
GM's budget brand brought the cool trio of mini-car concepts from New York along, as well as a restyled Kalos hatchback, now called the Aveo and a mildly updated Corvette range.
Dodge intends to continue extending its range across Europe and hence gave its new MPV, the Journey, its world debut in Frankfurt. It's thought to fit below the huge Chrysler Grand Voyager (itself replaced at the show) and rival such cars as the Ford S-MAX.
We dropped by the Ferrari stand to ogle the new F430 Scuderia, which was unveiled by Mr Michael Schumacher himself, though the event was marred by having to fight for space. Our man Fortune will be driving the new Scuderia a couple of weeks after the show...
Although the cute new Fiat 500 is on sale in Italy, the Frankfurt Show will be many punters' first chance to see it in the metal and its cuteness is emphasised by a massive show stand structure dedicated to the car. Fiat also launched EcoDrive, a collaboration with Microsoft bidding to educate drivers in driving with fuel economy in mind.
Ford unveiled the all-new mid-size Kuga crossover model, effectively a production version of Ford's iosis X concept displayed in Paris last autumn. It'll look to take on the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 when it arrives next year. There was also the Verve concept car previewing the next Fiesta to keep us interested and Ford also revealed its ECOnetic models, developed versions of current cars in the line-up with optimised fuel economy. The Focus received a facelift too, adopting the headlight style from the new Mondeo, which is effective.
Honda continued to focus on the environment with the FCX fuel-cell car on display, though the Japanese company is obviously keeping its interesting new metal until October's Tokyo Show. However, the next Accord shape was previewed in the form of a concept Accord Tourer. We noticed that the Small Hybrid Sports Car Concept was repainted for the occasion.
Though Frankfurt was another chance for Hyundai to wheel out the cool Veloster concept car, it's the i-Blue MPV-crossover that attracted the most attention on the Hyundai stand. Not only does the concept house a hydrogen-powered fuel cell, Hyundai reckons it'll be in production in less than ten years.
The Jaguar XF made its pre-production debut at the Frankfurt show and under the harsh motorshow lighting didn't look as good as we hoped, although its interior is just beautiful. The jury's out.
Now here's something you'd not expect from the Korean manufacturer: a menacing sports coupé, which is described as a concept. The Kee is a 2+2 and some might say it has a certain Audi flavour to it... No surprise there, given that Kia's new design boss, Peter Schreyer, was responsible for much of Audi's current design language. Oh, and the three-door cee'd was also be on display, called the pro_cee'd.
The only new metal on Maserati's stand was the new Quattroporte Sport GT S, a hardcore addition to the four-door line-up.
Mazda used the platform of the new Ford Mondeo to build its new 6 saloon and having seen the car in the metal it is arguably better looking without being bland. Both saloon and estate versions were on hand in Frankfurt.
The awesome new C63 AMG made its world debut at the show, in both saloon and Estate formats. Stealing the limelight on the vast Mercedes stand though was the F700 concept car, a technology demonstrator for a future super-luxury Merc with a conscious. It looks hideous, but packs some serious new ideas, not least of which is the DiesOtto engine.
One of the production stars of the show was the new, stretched MINI, the Clubman (which we've driven). Also on hand were the John Cooper Works Cooper S and the Challenge race car.
Pride of place on the Mitsubishi stand went to the Concept-cX that previews a new compact SUV, as well as the company's new range of 'Clean Diesel' engines.
The funky Mixim electric car concept stole our attention on the Nissan stand, but it's a pity it will never be made. A facelifted Micra may not have been noticed next to it, but there was a Micra C+C painted in a new paint finish too called the Colour + Concept.
Due to be launched in September just days after its world premier at the Frankfurt show is the all-new Peugeot 308, but the concept 308 RC Z coupé and 308 SW Prologue versions stole the limelight, as did the new 'Hybride' version.
Still no sign of the Panamera, but Porsche fans can console themselves with the 530bhp 911 GT2.
An all-new Laguna saloon and estate (Sport Tourer) were unveiled at this year's show, though the gorgeous Laguna Coupé concept overshadowed the production cars. A new Kangoo also debuted, alongside a cool Compact concept version. The Clio also spawned a stretched, estate-like version called the Sport Tourer.
Saab finally moved away from front-wheel drive with its new 9-3 Turbo X, to be available in saloon and Sportwagon formats.
The new Fabia Estate and its (slightly) chunkier Fabia Scout cousin made their debut in Frankfurt and Skoda's green card was the new 'Greenline'.
Considering the Tokyo Show is only six weeks after Frankfurt, it's surprising how much Subaru revealed in Germany. The show marked the European debut of the new Impreza hatch, plus a WRC concept version was unveiled by Petter Solberg. Also on the stand was Subaru's new 'boxer' diesel engine, a facelifted Tribeca and an all-new Justy 1.0-litre supermini based on the Daihatsu Sirion.
The production version of the Suzuki Splash was in Frankfurt, alongside a ready to go SX4 World Rally Car. Perhaps of more interest to enthusiasts though was the presence of a new D-segment concept called the Kizashi, previewing Suzuki's move up in the world. We're not too hopeful that the concept's low slung shooting brake style will make it into a Suzuki showroom though.
Toyota revealed the sub-Aygo iQ city car concept. No doubt we'll find out more about a possible production version at next month's Tokyo Show.
Star of the Opel stand was the well proportioned Flextreme MPV concept, though Frankfurt was the official debut of the new Agila and a new green Corsa called the Ecoflex.
Compact SUV buyers have been waiting for a VW model in the sector and the Frankfurt Show marks the entry of the stylish new Tiguan. The focus was on fuel economy though, with six new BlueMotion models and a rear-engined concept city car called the Up! - the latter being one of the show stars and likely for production.
The Swedes got in on the green theme with the superb ReCharge concept car and another less futuristic C30-based 'Efficiency Concept'.