Mondial de l’Automobile – Paris Auto Show – October 2010

Three things will epitomise the 2010 Mondial de l’Automobile, held in Paris, for me. Firstly, an overwhelming sense that despite all the economic gloom of recent years, research and development in the automotive sector is very much alive and well, and the industry is responding far more avidly and quickly to the challenges to reduce the environmental impact of its products than just about any other. Evidence for this was supplied by the eco credentials that were plastered over so many cars, along with a huge number of electric cars which were on show. Second thing is my gratitude that I do not have to put up with French union militancy on a daily basis. Around lunchtime there were huge noisy demonstrations by the GCT, among others, who marched not just around the campus, but through the halls, scattering paper debris all over, and plastering many cars with particularly adhesive stickers which took the stand cleaners some hours to remove. French CRS riot police were in attendance and the tear gas that they used at one point was particularly unpleasant, as I caught a mouthful of the stuff just as I was trying to buy my lunch. Third impression was of the huge crowds, the stifling heat and the sheer exhaustion I felt after 10 hours on site. So, in the time I was at the Parc des Expositions, here is a summary of what I saw, found and the 713 photos I took.


Always a busy stand whenever I visited, there were 4 cars on show, all of them new in some respect. Essesse versions of the Punto Evo and 500C were newly announced, and the more familiar 500 was sporting a newly available dark grey colour. The very nice, but rather costly 695 Tributo Ferrari was the fourth car of the display.

Another extremely busy stand. Pride of place went to the Giulietta, three of which were on the stand. I could not get near!

There was an 8C Competizione Spider,  as well examples of the MiTo, 159 and Brera.
If there was an Aston stand, then I certainly did not find it.


One of the largest stands, and also one of the very busiest. I went here first thing, and as it quickly became clear that plenty of others had had the same idea, decided to make this the last port of call just before closing time. Some rather enthusiastic security personnel were keen to ensure that no-one lingered much after the 8pm end of the show, though, so I still did not get to sit in everything that I wanted to do.

Centrepiece of the stand was a display comprising the e-Tron Spyder and the new A7.

Rumours have it that Audi are now planning a limited production run of their tribute to the 30 year anniversary of the Quattro. This car looks far less boxy in the metal than it did in the pictures, and actually quite appealing.
The R8 is always a magnet for the crowds, and there were 2 production cars here: an R8 Spider and the limited volume R8GT.
Of the production cars, the new A7 was attracting the most interest. I am not taken with the pop-up sat nav sceen, but otherwise this is a good looking car with a superlative interior, and plenty of room in the back and boot despite the coupe lines. A version of this has to be a contender for me in 2012 when the S6 lease is up.
Smaller brother to the A7 is the A5 Sportback, shown in S5 guise, and also a good looking car.
A representative sample of each of the ever expanding number of models was also on show, all of them attracting lots of attention. The A8 and A1 are still relative newcomers.
Let’s end the Audi show with the very covetable RS5. I suspect that this car is the nearest Audi has come to recreating the magic of the B7 model RS4. Very nice.
The revised Continental GT was the star of this stand. Although it looks very similar to the old model, study it for a little longer and the detailed changes quickly become apparent.

A representative sample of the rest of the range was also on show, from the latest Mulsanne, to the SuperSports and GTC versions of the Continental, and the Flying Spur.
This was a very busy stand, even though there were few models on show. The 6 Series Concept, the F12,  looked very production ready. This was one of those cars where the lighting turned out to be truly terrible for the photographer, even though it was good enough to get a good look at the car. Less controversial, or even characterfully styled than the outgoing model, I predict that this car will do well.

New production model was the latest X3, which is not that different looking from the outgoing model.
There were a number of Efficient Dynamics branded models on a raised display around one edge of the stand, and these were joined by the concept car that debuted at Frankfurt in 2009.  
Production cars included the Active Hybrid 7 series and this X1.
Exhibited on the second floor was this rather nice 328 racer from the 1930s. Shame you could not see it properly!
A stalwart of many a show, these are Pininfarina designed city cars.

All the cars on this stand were silver. The Coupe and Wagon versions of the CTS were making the European production debut, and were joined by some more familiar offerings.

Several debuts here, including the Orlando people carrier, a rather blander car than the concept version had led everyone to expect.

Officially this Aveo and the Cruze 5 door are both concepts, but they both looked production ready.
The facelifted Captiva has a very large snout indeed. Not an improvement, to my mind.
The Spark went on sale earlier in the year. We were spared the Woody version, thankfully.
The Volt will shortly go on sale in the US, and will come to Europe, to compete with the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.
There was a race equipped version of the Cruze to look at, close up.  
The Camaro and Corvette completed the display.
As befits a French marque, this was a massive stand, and it was generally very busy, which was hardly surprising as there was plenty of interest.

Most examples of the latest C4 and DS4 were mounted up high, but there were floor displayed versions as well. I am not a fan of either of these, preferring the looks of the old C4 cars.

The Lacoste is an interesting concept car, which could be seen as a sort of modern reinterpretation of the Mehari.
The Survolte and Revolte concept cars staged another appearance.  
Citroen were celebrating their rally success with versions of both the C4 and DS3 on show.
Newest offering on this stand was the much praised Duster, a bargain-priced 4×4 which should make it to the UK in 2012.

A French sports car, with electric propulsion.

Ferrari had a huge stand area, so the cars were not crammed in as can sometimes be the case. As this was one of many stands where only those with an invitation could gain access, that meant viewing the cars from a distance. Newcomer was the 599 SA Aperta, which was parked next to a “regular” 599 GTB Fiorano.

There was also a black 458 Italia and a California to see.

This stand was dominated by the popular 500 model, sales for which have now exceeded half a million. Show news was the availability of the innovative TwinAir engine, which it is proudly boasted is the cleanest petrol engine in production. A range of 500 and 500C cars were on show, including some limited edition models such as the Van Diesel trim.
I’ve had a year to get used to the Punto Evo, and whilst it is still true to say that I prefer the pre-facelift model, it is still a good looking car.
There was one example of each of the other current models on show: Panda, Qubo, Doblo and Bravo.  
Rumours abound that the Karma, long a star of many a motor show will finally enter production in the coming months.

Ford are getting ready to launch the production versions of Focus 3, so had several of the cars on show. Three models were on a display, and there were a couple in which one could sit on the show floor. The interior does indeed represent a massive improvement in perceived quality over the current model, though it now appears almost fussy, with a vast number of buttons on the steering wheel which outnumber all the other functions on the rest of the dashboard. Form your own conclusion on the ST. I personally did not like its gaping gob, or the combination of the rather nasty gold colour with the graphite wheels.

Even more imminent is the new C-Max, with both 5 seater and 7-seater Grand C-Max cars to be seen. The striking paprika orange and yellow colours of previous exhibitions was repeated here.
The recent facelift to the Mondeo is subtle, but evident.  
Ford were launching their upcoming WRC Fiesta on the stand, it seemed to be attracting lots of interest.
More familiar models were also on show, ranging from Ka to Galaxy.
Tucked away in Hall 3, Honda had quite a large stand, but it was spread over an area straddling the main thoroughfare of the Hall, suggesting that Honda are large, but do not necessarily see France as their key market. Newcomer was the Jazz Hybrid, which could do well in the market when it goes on sale next spring.

The CR-Z went on sale this spring, and it has not done that well, or even been that well reviewed, failing at being either a sports car or an eco-car, though.  
This was definitely the zaniest vehicle on the stand.
Among other production cars, not much stood out for me.
A vast stand, but buried in Hall 3 with the wackier French micro cars, there was one show debut here: the ix20, which looks awfully liked a rebadged Kia Venga.

Surprisingly the face-lifted i10 was not on show. I assume that Hyundai France are too mortified at the uglification that it was undergone?
Elsewhere on the stand, yet another reminder than Blue is Green, with the eco credentials of many of the cars on prominent display.
The Genesis, in saloon and coupe format, has been well received in the US. Here it was making a European showing.
Even larger than this is the new Equus, which has also just gone on sale in the US.
The ix35 was launched earlier in the year and is starting to appear on our roads.
Still relatively new to Europe, there was an example of each of this Japanese marque’s cars on show, with pride of place going to the new M saloon, shown in M30d and M35h forms. It was joined by the G37 range, and the EX and FX SUVs.

Still offering a range of commercial vehicles, the latest products were on show.

One of the real highlights of the show for me was this, the C-X75 Concept. Much smaller than I had imagined, it is a very striking car indeed.

Access to the rest of the stand was by invitation only, and as I was not invited, I could only look at the latest XF, XJ and XK from a distance.

Newcomer here was the latest Grand Cherokee, with an interior that is leagues better than anything ever seen on a Jeep before.

There was an example of each of the other models in the range as well.
Debut for once concept car, and one production model, respectively the Pod and the Optima.

The Sportage only recently went on sale. This one is not in the signature burnt orange colour of the launch cars.
This was the very first stand I visited, as it was situated at the entrance to Hall 4. Three cars were on show, all of them striking, one of them especially so. In the metal the Sesto Elemento looks slightly aggressive than pictures had suggested, but it is still not a car for anything other than the extreme extrovert.

Nothing new to see here, with a representative of each of the models, including some rather odd two-tone finishes to the Musa and Ypsilon, and a matt finish to one of the Delta cars.

Highlight here was the new Evoque, three of which graced the stand. This is certainly quite different from all the current cars in the Land-Rover range, looking much lower than they are, even though the reality is that it is quite a large car. I like it.

Star of this stand was the LFA, which was hidden away at the back, behind all the production cars.

Front of stand were versions of all the latest models, with pride of place going to the new CT200h, a car which does not seem to have particularly enthusiastically received by the press.
This was the one roped-off stand to which I did manage to gain access, and just as well, as seeing the 4 striking concept cars from outside the stand would have been challenging. I say 4, as the 4-door Eterne was conspicuous by its absence and also does not appear in the rather nice handout that Lotus were issuing. Enjoy instead, the concept cars that were there:


Representing current production were a couple of Evora, including the latest automatic car, and the Exige.
Newest offering here was the GranTurismo MC12 Stradale, a more focused version of the car that has been around for a couple of years.

There was also a GranTurismo S, along with the racing model as well as more familiar road cars on the stand.
A trio of historic cars were at the centre of this stand: the R360, 110S Cosmo and first generation MX5.

The MX5 SuperLight  had a special display all of its own.
Newest production model is the latest 5.
The 3 MPS is not a common sight on our roads.
New model here is the latest CLS. I have to say that this is disappointing, looking bland from some angles and rather heavy-handed (eg around the huge door handles) in others. Not a visual improvement on the model it replaces.

The SLS AMG remains a great looking car, and this white paint shows this off to good effect.
A popular stand, unsurprisingly. Centrepiece was the new WRC version of the Countryman.

Production versions of the Countryman were also on show. Still does not appeal to me, but then I do not really “get” Mini, so it was was probably not aimed at me.
There were representatives of the ever expanding range of Hatch and Convertible models also to be seen, along with a Mini E.
The Mini Scooters were tucked away in one corner of the stand.
Nothing particularly new on show here, so displays were confined to a sample of the current range, and several of the rather costly  MiEV cars.

Three electric cars starred here. Two of them were the Leaf, which is ready for sale, and the third, the TownPod,  is a rather more challenging design.

The new Micra really is dullsville. Very bland, even in a bright colour as this one was.
The Astra GTC looks production ready, but it would appear we will have to wait as further 12 months for that.

The new Astra SportsTourer is about to go on sale. Bland in the extreme.
The Meriva went on sale earlier in the year, but is still not a common sight on the roads.   
Opel were showing the Ampera, their version of the Volt.
Peugeot had a huge stand, and it was packed. It was not that the crowds had come to see the Le Mans 908 car, though that was on one corner.

They probably had not come to see the rather gawky concept cars, either, of BB1 and HR1, though they might just have been there for another look at the SR1 which appeared at Geneva earlier in the year.

The 508 was making its production debut, and this car is visually so much nicer than the outgoing 407.
Nicer still is this 601, a reminder of the first folding metal roof system from the 1930s that Peugeot fitted to a number of their cars at the time.
The 3008 Hybrid 4 is the world’s first diesel hybrid vehicle.
Furthering their eco credentials, Peugeot is poised to launch the Ion. This is rather more familiar as the Mitsubishi MiEV, but doubtless will have more sales appeal, in France, at least, with the lion badge on it.
Porsche had a vast stand, but almost all of it was off limits to anyone unless they “had an invitation”. It seemed that unsupervised unruly children were OK, but prospective target customers were not. So, I could not get close up to anything much on here, and some of the new cars, like the 911 Speedster were way back too far to see at all. I did capture these, though.

A vast stand for Renault, of course, with much being made of their imminent electric cars, with concept versions of several staging an appearance. Most striking was the DeZir.

The Zoe looks very different from the last one we saw, a year ago, and the rather distinctive nose of this one is alleged to be shared with Clio 4.
The Twizy has not changed much and looks like an attempt to revisit the market BMW tried with their ill-fated C1 scooter.
There will also be an electric version of the Fluence, a rather dull saloon version of the latest Megane.
Speaking of dull, this was the show debut for the Latitude. Of all the cars targetted by the “Manifestation”, this was the one which required an army of people to clean off the stickers and gunk, presumably causing such offence as it is a Korean import and not a French car at all.  
The Gordini badged Twingo and Clio made an appearance. I saw and dismissed these at Renault World Series and my mind was not changed here!
There were cars from Renault’s current motor sporting efforts, too.  
Four cars on general display, although it was clear that a fifth was tucked away almost out of sight of the general public.

There were several of the latest 9.5 cars, though I seem to have failed to take any photos.

This was an electric version of the long-running 9.3

The Arristo IBe Concept was the star of this stand. Looks neat, and less like a Scirocco in the metal than pictures had suggested.

This was also the first show for the new Alhambra, a close relative again of VW’s Sharan. Neat but rather unimaginative.
All the other current cars were on display, too, including the recently available Ibiza ST.
No brand new models on the Skoda stand, so what we saw was a mix of the familiar production cars and a reminder of the eco credentials of the GreenLine versions.

There was an electric Octavia estate on display, badged Green e Line.  
Lots of these on show, but nothing new.

Plenty of the latest Swift cars on show, including the yet to be released 1.3 DDiS model.

There were also examples of all the other cars in the current range including the Kizashi saloon which has to date only hit the Swiss market in Europe.
Just the Roadster on show here.

The new Verso S looks awfully like a slightly changed Honda Jazz. It was attracting a fair amount of interest, though.

Toyota’s eco credentials were much in evidence, ranging from a cutaway of the recently launched Auris HSD to the electric Prius to some more visionary concept cars, the FT-CH and FT-EV11.
Also from concept car land was the FT86, which looks neat and which would do wonders for Toyota’s oh-so-dull image of a maker of a series of automotive appliances.
Two cars here, the rather strangely named Fetish and the new America. Hmm.


A vast stand, absolutely infested with stand staff, who had the uncanny knack of always being in the way of any picture anyone wanted to take! I managed to avoid engaging any of them in conversation about the new Passat, which is probably just as well, as this car is as dull in the metal as it is in the pictures. I am sure it is very worthy, but it looks so generic VW at the front and the back is now more like a Skoda Superb. Although those familiar with the interior would spot lots of changes, describing this as “all new” is a bold claim, as it is clearly just a rather comprehensive facelift. “Could try harder” has to be the verdict.
There were plenty of other recently announced cars, all of which look more or less the same these days!
Polo was evident in Cross Polo and BlueMotion guises

The Golf R certainly does not shout about its performance credentials.
Star billing was given to the latest S60 and V60. Both were shown in R-Design versions as well as the regular trimmed cars. Neat.

France still has a burgeoning culture of the “micro car”, loathsome little vehicles that can be driven on the public road without a proper licence. and there were stands and stands of the things to amuse and horrify in equal proportions:


This was a special feature on vehicles for a Shanghai to Paris race, and some other global challenges.

Stars of the side stands included these.
Less than stellar is this:  
Hall 8 was reserved for a series of displays of cars from manufacturer’s own collections, and there were some splendid things on show.

Renault had a varied display of cars from their 700+ strong Histoire et Collection, with vehicles ranging from a 1973 R5L, an R5 Maxi Turbo, through a 1966 R4L Parisienne, a couple of 40CV cars from the 1920s and a 1966 prototype, the Type 118, which was ultimately manifest as the rather less ugly R6.

Mercedes has three gullwing cars to show, ranging from the 1955 300SL, through the 1970 C111 to the 1991 F112 car.
Mazda were showing just the one car, the 1991 787B
Opel had 4 cars, each representing a car with rear-opening doors, ranging from the Concept version of the latest Meriva, through a prototype of the first generation model, and a Kadett and Admiral from the 1930s.
The Nissan-Datsun display concentrated on sports cars, with the mid 1960s Fairlady joined by Z cars from the first 240Z to the recently superceded 350Z.
Four Jeeps, from a Station Wagon of the early 1950s through three generations of Grand Cherokee.
A single Mitsubishi, an electric version of their small van from 1989.
The Alfa Romeo display concentrated on the Giuilietta., with examples of the 101 cars from the 1950s ranging from a Coupe to a Berlina, a Spider, an SZ and a Sprint Speciale. A 1970s Giulietta completed the display.
The Citroen display concentrated on the C4. Not the recent one, but the 1920s model, with a variety of different body styles on show, along with an example of a smaller scale car for the younger driver.
Chez Peugeot,  it was the 404 in all its various styles from Berline, to break, coupe and convertible that were shown, along with a record breaking diesel car. Lots of visitors were heard reminiscing about these cars as they stood and gazed at them.
An excellent day out then. It was crowded, and hot and my feet hurt more than a little, long before the end. So much so that I decided against a second day of this, with a forecast of perfect sunny skies was too tempting and I rented a car and headed off to Chartres and Versailles, much to the possible chagrin of the other Motor forummers who were perhaps thinking that as were in the same city we could meet up. I suspect that they will have even worse crowds to deal with, but am sure that they will still have had an enjoyable visit. Worth planning your 2012 diary for a long weekend in Paris in early October.
2010-10-09 18:12:10

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