By Richard Bosselman
The absence of some key brands means the Frankfurt motor show is lite on marques … but those who did attend managed to offer some definite heavyweights.
Here’s a quick flick through the big stars and some of the most meaningful NZ-bound product presented at the biggest car event in Europe this year.
Audi RS4 Avant:
With the latest edition of what has tended to be the most popular RS car sold in New Zealand, Ingolstadt’s performance arm has gone back to where it began: After several generations of V8 engines, the new hot wagon version of the A4 is now back to the layout of the very first of this breed, adopting a twin-turbocharged V6 engine.
The 2.9-litre unit produces 331kW and 600Nm of torque - enough, Audi claims, to take the car from 0-100kmh in 4.1 seconds, and on to an electronically restricted speed of 250kmh. Audi will also offer an RS dynamic package that raises the car’s limit to 174mph.
The engine transmits its power through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive and, despite being more powerful that the previous V8, is considerably more efficient, with 17 percent improvement in fuel consumption claimed.
Emissions also drop.
Identified by having larger grilles, an aggressive rear valance with a faux diffuser, and the trademark vents in the wings – plus the usual interior refinements of special logoed sports seats and a pair of bright red M buttons on the steering wheel for individually-customized driving modes – this car’s real appeal comes from it again running a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8.
Outputs of 441kW power and 750Nm of torque represents a decent increase of 30kW and 70Nm respectively, a lift that spreads over a broader rev band – especially the torque, which thumps in from 1800rpm to 5700rpm.
That much oomph promises a 0-100kmh time of just 3.4 seconds with no tyre smoking involved because, as is now well known, Munich has forgone the traditional rear-drive for all-wheel-drive.
Also, this might be one of the last pure fossil-fuelled M cars. The brand has admitted during the show presentation that M cars are likely to adopt some form of electrification from 2021 in order to give additional performance while also meeting ever stringent emission regulations.
Mercedes-AMG Project ONE:
What better way to celebrate 50 years of AMG than with a hypercar?
As its name suggests, the ONE is essentially a road-going version of the company’s Petronas F1 racing car, combining a rear-mounted high-revving 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 with a pair of electric motors on the front axle.
The petrol engine develops “more than” 500kW, while each electric motor pumps out 120kW, making for a system output of “over” 740kW – or more than 1000 horsepower.
Torque figures? Interestingly, these are not quoted. Neither is the time it takes for the Project One to sprint from 0-100kmh. However, the company claims the hybrid hypercar can dash from 0-200kmh in less than 6.0 seconds on its way to a top speed “beyond 350kmh”.
The 1.6-litre engine is capable of reaching 11,000rpm, though Mercedes-AMG says for higher longevity and due to the use of ‘Super Plus’ petrol instead of racing fuel, the Project One’s powerplant remains “significantly below” the race car’s rev limit. How responsible.
It’s also a two seater and will cost upward of $NZ4 million. And, while created to be road legal, it’s only coming out in left-hand drive.
Having early revealed the mainstream editions, Porsche used this event to reveal the flagship third-generation Turbo.
It’s powered by a 4.0-litre V8 with two turbochargers nestled within the V. The twin-turbo V8 generates 404kW of power and 770Nm of torque, up 22kW and 20Nm on the previous model, which had a larger 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8. All that fury is channelled via an all-wheel drive setup and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The brand claims a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds – or 3.9 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package. Top speed is said to be 286kmh.
More special touches … it has active shock absorbers, and six-stage height-adjustable suspension, plus 21-inch alloy wheels shod with 285/40 tyres up front and 315/35 rubber at the rear.
Available features include torque vectoring, a 48V electrical system with active roll stabilisation, and optional rear-wheel steering.
On the inside, the Cayenne Turbo can be had with a 710W Bose surround sound system, a large touchscreen infotainment system, and sports seats with 18-way electric adjustment, heating and what the brand is calling 911-style integrated headrests.
Renault Megane RS:
It’s not all about the horsepower.
Did you ever imagine that being said in respect to this super hot hatch? Well, it’s because this time around the RS, in addition to gaining extra doors – to present in its first-ever five-door format – by taking a new 1.8-litre generating 205kW/390Nm concedes a horsepower advantage to rivals such as the Honda Civic Type-R, Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R.
Two points: RS’s people say having segment-leading power is not relevant to the company’s goals: The number one goal is track-times, not straight-line speed. Secondly, the new engine – shared by the way with the NZ-bound Alpine A110 – will later come out in a 224kW Cup tune.
Anyway, other news is that the powerplants is this time matched to either the usual six-speed manual or – something new and likely to be much appreciated here in NZ - an EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The front-wheel drive system is helped by a Torsen limited-slip differential and 4Control rear-wheel steering.
Oh yeah, the show car’s lurid orange? It’s also showroom-bound.
Think of this car as being a ‘mini-me’ of the recently launched Kodiaq. So says Skoda about the new compact SUV that will be with us in early 2018.
Built on the same MQB modular platform as the Volkswagen Tiguan, but slightly shorter overall, this model will be sold as a five-seater only. All- and front-wheel-drive versions will also be offered.
Whereas its predecessor, the Yeti, competed in the small SUV segment, the Karoq will be positioned in the mid-size SUV class and thus line up against the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai’s Tucson and Nissan’s Qashqai.
Skoda delivers five engine choices, but it’s probable NZ stands best chance of seeing Karoq with a 110TSI 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with the choice of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and potentially also with a 110TDI 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
Suzuki Swift Sport:
Just as we thought, the new performance flagship is powered by the same 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol as the Vitara, uprated with an extra 10Nm of torque. Claimed outputs are 103W and 230Nm, between 2500 and 3000rpm.
As such, the new Sport will be significantly more powerful that the RS, which currently flies the performance flag. That car’s three-cylinder one litre generates 82kW/160Nm. Another reference point: The old Swift Sport had a 100kW/160Nm non-turbo 1.6.
Transmission choices? Ere, no .. as always, it’s just a six-speed manual. Sport-attuned design cues include sharp new alloys, a body kit and a rear bumper with integrated twin-pipes.
The interior is dominated by the same touchscreen found in the mainstream car, with navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, but there are Sport bespoke badged bucket seats, red dials and cabin plastic trims, and metal pedals. There’s also a boost gauge built into the trip computer. Nice.