Power, glory and green at 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show

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Story and photos by Jim Robinson
Metroland Media

FRANKFURT, GERMANY – While there was a green theme running through it, the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show was a return to the glory days of splendor and style.

Everywhere you looked there were eye-popping vehicles that made people feel that in the green days of tomorrow there will still be cars with passion we want to drive.

Perhaps the biggest draw at Frankfurt was the world debut of the 11th generation Porsche 911. The familiar athletic appearance of the 911 has a 100 mm longer wheelbase, reduced height and up to 20-inch diameter alloy wheels.

The 911 Carrera has a new 350 hp 3.4-litre, flat six, direct injection engine and optional seven-speed PDK transmission returning 34.4 mpg.

Also celebrating a world premiere at Frankfurt was the Panamera Diesel powered by a 3.0-litre V6 developing 250 hp. Power is handled by an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.

For me, it was not blood red Italian supercars or German autobahn panzers that stole the show in Frankfurt, but a Euro sports sedan from all places – Korea.

Kia, which can’t seem to put a foot wrong showed up in Geneva with the GT Concept that, with its 3.3-litre twin turbo direct injection engine and rear-wheel drive, had to shake BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

Of the three all-electric concepts on the Audi stand, the most interesting was the four-seat A2 concept looking like it wouldn’t take much to put into production. It features state-of-the-art multi-material hybrid construction plus space-age specifications including contact-free battery charging, by-wire steering and braking, LED matrix lighting technology and a semi-autonomous running mode.  

Weighing just 1,150 kg, an electric motor is transversely mounted in the front, and delivers 115 hp of peak power to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission.

This power output permits a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 93 mph.

Audi had a huge presence at Frankfurt starting with the A8 hybrid that uses a four-cylinder gasoline engine for the first time in an Audi model at this level offering performance befitting its 241 hp and 354 lb/ft of torque.

The Audi A8 hybrid can drive at up to 100 km/h purely on electric power and has a range of up to 1.86 miles at a constant 37 mph.

Audi also revealed four new high-performance Audi S models sharing one remarkable new eight-cylinder engine, which enables them to counterbalance outputs of up to 520 hp with the potential for up to 29 mpg.

The new bi-turbo V8, incorporating cylinder on demand technology and a host of other advances, replaces the naturally aspirated V10 FSI engine in the all-new S6, S6 Avant and S8 models, and in the process improves economy by as much as 25 per cent.

Also having its world premiere in Frankfurt was the new BMW M5. It features a new, high-revving V8 engine equipped with M TwinPower Turbo technology delivering a peak 560 hp and 500 lb/ft of torque through a seven-speed M double-clutch Drivelogic Transmission to the rear wheels, where the new Active M Differential ensures an ideal distribution of drive torque, even in highly dynamic driving situations and on rough terrain.

Average fuel consumption of the new BMW M5 is 9.9L/100 km in the EU test cycle and has been reduced by more than 30 per cent compared to its predecessor.

The Chevrolet Colorado Rally Concept previews the next generation of this midsize pickup truck while the futuristic-looking Chevrolet Miray merges a jet-inspired exterior with an advanced hybrid powertrain technology.

The Colorado Rally Concept is powered by a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine and sports two 5.5 hp winches that have been incorporated into its front and rear bumpers.

Making its global debut was the Ford Evos Concept representing the ultimate expression of Ford’s new global design language, and exploring key future powertrain and vehicle technologies.

Seamless connectivity between the vehicle and the driver’s ‘personal cloud’ of information is at the heart of the vision for its capabilities. With information from the cloud, the vehicle can provide the same connected lifestyle the driver experiences at home or office.

The car knows the driver, and automatically adapts handling, steering and engine controls to deliver an exceptionally dynamic driving experience.

The new Lexus GS 450h full hybrid made its world debut marking the start of further expansion of the GS range in the near future. The GS 450h uses a V6 Atkinson cycle gasoline engine, with a two-motor hybrid system in a front-engine/rear-wheel drive configuration.

Improvements have been made to every aspect of its second-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system, achieving both significant reductions in fuel consumption, CO2, NOx and PM emissions with performance that is on par with comparable V8-powered rivals.

Maserati pulled a full-size luxury SUV out of its hat with the Kubang concept. Of interest to North Americans is that Maserati said the Kubang will benefit from many synergies from Jeep now that Jeep is part of the greater Fiat family.

Mazda held the world premiere of its all-new Mazda CX-5 compact crossover. The CX-5 is the first of a new generation of Mazda products that will adopt the full range of Mazda’s breakthrough Skyactiv Technology and the new design theme, ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’.

The Mazda CX-5, which evolves Mazda’s hallmark fun-to-drive character, will be progressively introduced to global markets from early 2012. Unique themes of the KODO design theme include a prominent new frontal treatment with a bolder Mazda family face and more dynamic styling that conveys a strong sense of vitality and agility.

The Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG is the most powerful SLK of all time. Its newly developed AMG 5.5-litre V8 engine features cylinder shut-off and combines the ultimate in performance with the best possible fuel consumption. With a peak output of 422 hp, the SLK 55 AMG outperforms all of its direct competitors. SLK 55 AMG accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited).

The next generation Suzuki Swift Sport made its world debut with a more aggressive and dignified exterior look thanks to a low-slung form that gives a sense of stability and tension, and a big front grille that evokes a sporty performance feel. 

Higher power and lower fuel consumption are delivered by the 1.6-litre M16A engine, which Suzuki developed exclusively for the Swift Sport. 

The engine is mated to a specially developed six-speed manual transmission, resulting in performance that is both exciting and environmentally responsible. 

The Volkswagen NILS is a single-seat electric concept vehicle that offers a glimpse of a new form of minimalist mobility. This concept car, which features an aluminum space frame, wing doors and freestanding wheels, has the dynamic performance of a sports car, yet travels silently, and with zero emissions.

Volkswagen has a large number of concepts including: the Beetle R Concept, a study of the sportiest Beetle ever; Beetle Fender, tribute to Fender guitars; Tiguan R-Line, the first generation of the Tiguan R-Line was a bestseller. The new edition of the R-Line SUV will follow at the beginning of 2012; and the Golf Cabriolet Exclusive will be sold as the new top version of the Golf Cabriolet starting in 2012.