Motorshows might not be the dazzling, hugely important events they once were, starting to fade in grandeur even before a global pandemic put paid to them for a few years. But that doesn’t mean that motorshows are redundant, extinct, or uninteresting. Particularly when they take place in one of the automotive industry’s heartlands - Germany.
IAA Munich 2023 is a case in point, with some key new models launched and a sprinkling of concepts about the venue to get drivers excited about what the future holds. Of course, it’s largely electric - or at least electrified - and heavily tech-focused, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few surprises.
We look at the major new models revealed at the Munich Motor Show 2023.
BMW Neue Klasse
The importance of this Neue Klasse concept can’t be overstated. It’s supposed to give a taste of BMW’s next generation of electric cars, and sees a clean, modern design, yet one that harks back to one of the Munich brand’s most famous models.
Unveiled in Frankfurt in 1961, the “Neue Klasse” from BMW brought together a number of core design details for the manufacturer that we now expect on every model. It also heralded an era of smart executive saloons that drove brilliantly and sportily for decades. In a time of ever increasing crossovers and SUVs, it’s a brave move to pitch the Neue Klasse saloon - concept though it currently is - as the direction BMW will take next. It’s one that should be applauded though.
Inside is a similarly minimalist cabin, with one large screen and a wide AR display at the base of the windscreen. Oh, and corduroy upholstery, which we hope will be retained as an option if… when, the Neue Klasse comes into production.
Beneath the surface, BMW’s latest e-drive systems improves efficiency and range by about a third over the already high-tech powertrains found in the likes of the i4 and forthcoming i5. Charging will be quicker too. Expect the concept to form the basis of the next-generation 3 Series, 5 Series, and 7 Series over the next few years.
BYD Seal U
Given its European debut at Munich 2023, BYD’s Seal U is a family-sized crossover that has been confirmed for UK sale early next year. Initially launching as a plug-in hybrid, the Seal U will also get pure-electric powertrains further down the line, as BYD expands its presence in the region.
Unexpectedly, considering BYD has focused only on pure-EVs for its UK market plans so far, the PHEV is likely to feature a 1.5 litre petrol engine and 18.3kWh battery. Combined, that will give the Ford Kuga rival around 200hp and an electric-only range of around 60 miles - though specifications are yet to be confirmed.
Details of the EV are a little more forthcoming; in Europe at least. A 72kWh battery with 260 mile range and 87kWh model with 310 mile range will be offered, and the platform it’s built on can take charging at up to 150kW.
Let’s start with the concept, and in case you hadn’t guessed, that’s the DarkRebel; silly name, but Batmobile looks and serious desirability factor. An all-electric shooting brake concept, the DarkRebel has actually been designed by a crowd of Cupra enthusiasts… sort of.
They suggested what they thought a model should look like, some designers went away and put something coherent together, and some engineers took that design and made an actual model out of the crowd-sourced data. Something about a million monkeys, time, typewriters and Shakespeare springs to mind. Now the DarkRebel is nowhere near the genius output of the Bard, but it’s a handsome looking thing and definitely a good shout for a halo model from the Spanish brand.
The good news is that Cupra is thinking about making it. Details are non-existent, but if it can be made on the VW Group’s MEB platform which underpins the likes of the VW ID.3, Skoda Enyaq iV, and Cupra’s own Born, then the chances of seeing it in production are very good.
Cupra has form here too, with the El Born concept becoming the Born hatch, and the Tavascan concept announced in Munich as going into production as the… well, Tavascan. The electric performance crossover will join the range in 2024, and will feature a 77kWh battery powering twin motors producing a combined 225kW or a range of 280 miles.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class All Terrain
It’s a bit of a surprise that a new E-Class All Terrain exists, but exist it does. An SUV for those that don’t really like SUVs, but do like an estate, the new Mercedes will compete with the likes of Volvo’s V90 Cross Country for the affections of rural drivers across the continent. What Mercedes offers that Volvo (surprisingly) doesn’t, is a plug-in hybrid powertrain, in this case capable of 63 electric miles on a charge.
The E300de PHEV model uses a 2.0 litre diesel engine and electric motor for a combined 310hp with a 19.5kWh battery. There will also be a choice of petrol and diesel mild hybrid models, but any choice of drivetrain uses a nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive.
The All Terrain gets air suspension that raises the ride height by 46mm for increased ground clearance compared to the standard E-Class estate. Other than that, the main changes are the black plastic cladding around the bottom of the body panels and bumper, as well as a new grille, inspired by the SUV models in the Mercedes line-up.
If you thought we were cheating by adding a concept and a production model together for Cupra above, we’re really stretching the definition of our “10 models” in the headline with MINI. That’s because making their debuts in Munich were both the new hatch, in headline MINI Cooper Electric form, and the new Countryman crossover.
The hatch is the next iteration of MINI’s ever-popular core model, and will again be available in petrol or pure-electric versions, launching in the three-door hatch; a five-door hatch and convertible will come along after the initial launch in spring 2023.
The Countryman shares some of the hatch’s design details, but grows significantly over the outgoing model. At 13cms longer and 6cms taller than before, MINI has pushed the Countryman firmly into core compact SUV territory, pitching it somewhere between the likes of Kia’s Niro and the Volvo XC40. In fact, this Countryman is the first to be offered as an all-electric model too, making it a direct competitor in multiple ways to those rivals, though petrol models will also be available.
Renault Scenic E-Tech
Launched in Munich, the next generation Scenic will move away from being a compact MPV and become a family-sized SUV - and judging by the trajectories of each of those sectors’ sales, we shouldn’t be surprised. Oh, and the E-Tech part means it will be all-electric too.
Renault is packing in its considerable electric expertise and building on the foundations of the current Megane E-Tech to offer two different versions of the SUV. The entry-level model gets the Megane’s 60kWh battery and a 170hp electric motor with a range of 279 miles on a charge. There will be a High Range version too, which makes things more interesting for many customers, with a more powerful 220hp motor, and an 87kWh battery for a huge range of 379 miles from the family SUV.
The new Scenic is due to go on sale in early 2024, with deliveries expected to start in the spring.
Smart is following up on the recently released #1 crossover not with the #2 but with the #3 (no, we don’t follow the logic either). Having been previewed earlier this year at Shanghai, the #3’s European debut brought about powertrain details for the revived all-electric brand.
Three specifications will be made available in Europe, though we don’t know what will reach UK customers yet. An entry-level model will feature a 270hp electric motor - likely mounted on the rear axle - and a Brabus version is expected with more than 420hp reaching all four wheels.
Sharing more than a hint of the Genesis GV60 about both its proportions and styling, the Smart has been co-developed with Chinese maker Geely, and is due on sale in early 2024.
Tesla Model 3
Something of a surprise to show goers was the appearance of Tesla acting surprisingly normally and launching a new model at a motor show. This time it wasn’t even a completely new model, rather a significant facelift for its hugely popular Model 3 saloon.
Powertrain updates aren’t the attention grabbing feature this time around, though small improvements in efficiency have seen the Long Range model for example see range stretched to more than 390 miles. Instead, it is styling changes that make up the bulk of the newly presented model, with a much sharper and more grown-up look for Tesla’s smallest and most accessible model. Inside, Tesla has cleared out more switchgear and got rid of the stalks now too, moving the indicators to the steering wheel.
A true concept, the Experimental is Vauxhall’s preview of the evolution of its design language, this time based on a sporty coupe-SUV. Based on a new Stellantis group platform, it could even go into production.
Ignoring speculation for now though, the Experimental concept includes sharp styling and active aerodynamics such as an extendable rear diffuser to help improve efficiency and range. As if to emphasise how much it can help things, Vauxhall reckons the Experimental would be able to do more than 430 miles on a charge.
VW ID. GTI
The first time VW has put its famous GTI on an electric concept, the Volkswagen ID. GTI is based on the ID.2 compact hatch, and takes the hot hatch back to its roots at the same time as looking to its future.
Technically a concept, the ID. GTI is likely to go into production and largely as it looks here. A very similar length to the Polo, but with the wheelbase close to that of a Golf, the ID. Concept sees all four wheels pushed into the corners to emphasise a sporty stance.
Design references to both the original and subsequent GTI models abound both inside and out, but expect similar performance to the current Volkswagen Golf GTI.
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