Frankfurt Motor Show highlights the future of the car
Once the excitement of the weird and wonderful concept models has worn off it's usually quite easy to spot the overriding theme of a motor show. Frankfurt 2019 was no different. The theme this year was electricity.
No, we aren't surprised either.
To be fair this has been the case for the past few years, but the launch of the Volkswagen ID.3, Porsche's Taycan, the Honda e, Vauxhall's Corsa-e and others made this year's show a celebration of actual production cars, rather than the aforementioned concepts. Even Lamborghini bowed to the inevitable and gave us its first hybrid - the Sian - although being a Lambo it does boast a ludicrous amount of horsepower.
These new EVs will be on sale within the next six to 12 months, which is going to mean your next lease choice might be a bit harder to make. Although if an EV isn't your ideal choice there was plenty of good old fashioned horsepower to keep the more traditional petrolheads happy, too.
We've picked out a few highlights from this year's show, and as the theme was electricity that seems a reasonable place to start.
This five-door city car stands out not so much for what it is, but for how remarkably close it is to the concept that stole the show a few years ago. Due to go on sale in early 2020, the Honda e will come in two versions, the most powerful of which will feature a water-cooled 35.5kWh battery pack, a 152bhp electric motor and a range of 125 miles.
The interior is utterly delightful with a bank of touchscreens across the dashboard as well as a clever camera system replacing conventional side mirrors with small cameras that broadcast an image to two small screens in each corner of the dash. The Advance model adds a semi-autonomous parking mode, upgraded wifi and a rear-view mirror that doubles as a reversing camera. It's the quirky retro styling that really makes the Honda e stand out though.
Stuttgart's first all-electric model, the Porsche Taycan, was finally revealed at this year's show. Tasked with the simple goal of knocking the Tesla Model S off its perch, this four-door fastback is aimed squarely at those people with a hefty budget and a desire for something fast. Very fast. It will be available in three variants but it's the range-topping Turbo S that gets the pulse racing with 750bhp and 1,050Nm of torque, a 0–62mph time of 2.8 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 161mph.
Porsche says the Taycan will cover around 250 miles between charges and the charging rate of up to 270kW should allow a top up charge from five to 80 per cent capacity in something like 20 minutes. The Taycan doesn't quite match the range of the Tesla but in terms of looks and equipment it more than makes up for it, and let's face it, it's a Porsche and that's got to be a deciding factor.
Vauxhall had quite a packed stand this year, making space for the brand new Corsa range, an updated version of the Astra, and the new Grandland X Hybrid4 PHEV. It's the Corsa that attracts the eye as the range now includes an all-electric variant of the popular supermini.
The new Corsa is the first new model from Vauxhall since its purchase by Peugeot-Citroen and subsequently it shares much of its underpinnings with the latest Peugeot e-208.
That means a 50kWh battery pack and a 134bhp electric motor offering a maximum range of 211 miles on a single charge.
The Corsa-e will be available in two trim-levels, both featuring alloy wheels, LED headlights, and rear parking sensors. When deliveries begin in April you'll also be able to choose lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, blind spot assist and adaptive cruise control, as well as safety tech and assistance features include automatic emergency braking, automatic parking assistant and a rear view camera.
Volkswagen had an equally busy show stand. The highly anticipated all-electric ID.3 hatchback made its first full appearance at Frankfurt, with VW claiming this new car could be as important to the brand as the original beetle and the Golf.
The ID.3 features a 201bhp electric motor, support for 100kW fast-charging and a choice of three battery sizes – 45kWh, 58kWh and 77kWh. The flagship model boasts a range of up to 342 miles with a less powerful variant with 148bhp and a smaller-capacity 45kWh battery for a range of between 143 and 205 miles. A range-topping version can also be configured to combine the 201bhp motor with a 77kWh battery, allowing the ID.3 to travel between 242 and 342 miles between charges. Expect the VW ID.3 to tick a lot of people's boxes with a great range of specification backed up by German engineering.
Land Rover Defender
Away from the electric offerings, Land Rover chose Frankfurt to reveal the brand new Defender. Four years after the Defender ceased production the rugged off-roader is back with a new look.
The new Land Rover Defender will be initially be available in long-wheelbase “110” trim, with five doors and the choice of five, six or seven seats, with a short wheelbase, three-door “90” variant to follow later next year.
The redesigned Defender is inspired by the boxy nature of the original but with a much more contemporary feel. Some clever design choices have made the interior more practical as well as offering more seating options. The initial line-up will feature a choice of two petrol or two diesel engines, the most exciting of which is the P400, which mixes a straight-six turbocharged and supercharged petrol motor producing 395bhp. This is the fastest model in the range, with a 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds that will return up to 29.4mpg. It may not be the most practical choice road car choice, but it's definitely the coolest.
If it's power you're looking for then Audi was the stand to visit. The latest high-performance RS7 Sportback and RS6 Avant estate both made an appearance in Frankfurt. And a very welcome one, too.
Both provide the aggressive RS styling additions, and both are hurled towards the horizon by a retuned version of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine found in the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga. Power and torque figures stand at 592bhp and 800Nm respectively. That translates to face-bendingly quick acceleration and an - admittedly optional - top speed that's only a fraction off 190mph. Plus you get all the benefits of Audi's undoubted brilliance when it comes to designing beautiful interiors.
If you fancy something a bit smaller Audi also unwrapped a new performance SUV, the RS Q3 Sportback. It's got the same turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine as the Audi RS3, producing 395bhp , and like the all Audi "RS" models, a very aggressive cosmetic overhaul. If you've got even the smallest drop of petrol in your veins then Audi is definitely on your side.
It wouldn't be fair to mention it in the introduction and not give you a few more details, even if you have no intention of leasing one today - which is probably good because they're only building 63 of them, and they are all sold.
Lamborghini's first hybrid model, called the Sian, is based on the Aventador and boasts a re-tuned version of Lamborghini's naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 engine as well as an electric motor.
The electricity comes from a supercapacitor rather than a conventional battery, which Lamborghini claims is three times more powerful than a lithium-ion battery of the same weight. Whether that's the case is a question for a scientist, all we know is that adding electricity to the mix has boosted the power to a colossal 808bhp. That means the Sian is not only the most powerful Lamborghini ever made but also the quickest. Lamborghini claims a 0-62mph time of less than 2.8 seconds and a top speed - but still not officially confirmed - of something in excess of 217mph.
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