Shiny stars come out to play at Paris motor show

Porsche has plans to build a wagon based on the Panamera.
Porsche has plans to build a wagon based on the Panamera.

BOLD and beautiful ...

European car makers did their best to put on a happy face at this year's Paris motor show, despite gloomy economic conditions that have meant job cuts, factories earmarked for closure and predictions that car sales in Europe this year will be at their lowest for 17 years.

Mercedes-Benz led the charge with an electric supercar - the $1.25million SLS Electric Drive - that is as expensive as it is impractical, while local hero Peugeot countered with a hybrid rival for the Porsche 911 and Jaguar unveiled a successor to the E-Type.

But behind the typical hype and bravado were some of the most important new-model launches of recent times.

Heavyweights Volkswagen and Toyota revealed their rival Golf and Corolla small cars, while luxury leader BMW signalled its intent to steal more sales from mainstream rivals with its new, predominantly front-wheel-drive small car.

There were continuing nods to the environment - and impending tough European and US laws on vehicle emissions - with Mercedes unveiling an electric version of the B-Class and Nissan pulling the covers off a fuel-cell version of the Juke mini off-roader.

Peugeot, General Motors, Audi and Fiat all showed baby SUVs, targeting the big growth segment of the new-car market. GM's Trax baby SUV will arrive Down Under with a Holden badge next year.

Peugeot injected a bit of spice into proceedings with a new 208GTi, while sister brand Citroen unveiled a rag-top DS3.

Here are the stars of the show.


Lexus LF-CC

A new hybrid-powered coupe concept that gives a strong hint as to how the next-generation IS midsize model will look when it launches next year, the Lexus Future Coupe Concept launches the next iteration of the luxury brand's styling language, with a prominent ''spindle" grille and quirky wheel-hugging bumper designed to be aerodynamic, as well as send more air to the engine bay and brakes.

The concept confirms Lexus's intentions to take on Mercedes-Benz's C-Class and the BMW 3-Series with a two-door coupe.


Peugeot Onyx

Having axed its Le Mans racing project late last year in preparation for the economic crisis, the French brand needed something to do with its racing machines - the Onyx is the result.

The wide, angular concept uses the same diesel-electric hybrid powertrain originally destined for the world's most famous endurance race.

It's a 447kW 3.7-litre V8 turbo- diesel paired with a kinetic energy recovery system that gives a power boost under acceleration.

The Onyx is also an opportunity for the company's boffins to experiment with new materials inside and out.

The bodywork is made from a mixture of carbon fibre and copper - which is untreated, so its finish will evolve over time. The interior is a minimalist affair with the seats, the console and the floor made from a single piece of carbon fibre covered in felt.


Nissan Terra

Four-wheel drive, three motors, one fuel cell and zero emissions. They're the highlights from Nissan's electric SUV concept - dubbed TerrA.

Although the compact body and interior styling have a futuristic bent, the drivetrain beneath is more likely to head into production.

The front wheels are powered by the electric motor used in the Nissan Leaf but the rear wheels have in-wheel electric motors; providing AWD traction when needed. Electricity can be generated by a hydrogen fuel cell under the bonnet.


Smart Forstars

Created to preview the exterior styling treatment set to grace the next generation of Smart models, the three-door ForStars hatchback also hints at what Smart describes as a new SUC (sports utility coupe). It's so named because of the way its glass roof structure allows occupants to peer into the sky.


BMW Concept Active Tourer

While in essence a concept crossover people-mover, the Concept Active Tourer is the car that previews the brand's first-ever front-wheel drive model.

The Concept Active Tourer is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid.

The car seems set to heavily influence the design, packaging, ride and handling of the German marque's next generation of small vehicles, which will offer the choice of either front or four-wheel drive.


>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  cars cars news drive lifestyle motoring motor show paris

Rings offer hope at treacherous Fingal headland

This all-terrain vehicle was funded for Fingal SLSC after its namesake, Ryan Martin, died at Fingal Head.

Flotation devices and more on the horizon for deadly headland

Bust a move to get weight down

DANCE: Peter Leroy (centre ) is teaching people to   dance to Tina Turner's hit song Nutbush City Limits, as a fun way to help improve fitness levels.

Join the new Nutbush exercise class.

Local Partners

To the stranger who Photoshopped my picture

MIRANDA agreed to have her photo taken with her mum in a jewellery store. When she logged onto Instagram the next day, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

Don't delay: this test could save your life

LIFE-SAVING: Rob Patch is on a mission to convince people to have their sleep apnoea checked in order to prevent an early death.

"The doctors said I had come there to die.”

Cricket's Merv Hughes can’t stomach drink and drug-drivers

AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 26: Merv Hughes of Australia prepares to bowl on December 26, 1990 in Australia. (Photo by Getty Images)

former Australian cricketer’s first car was an HT Holden wagon.

Russia’s seedy ‘virginity trade’

On Russian social media, young girls and women are being recruited to sell their virginity to wealthy men. Picture: The Sun

Girls as young as 17 sell their virginity

Cancer teen married two days before death

19-year-old cancer patient Lydia Dominguez married her boyfriend Joshua Ordonez just two days before she died.

Teen with cancer dies after getting married two days earlier

Dad’s shock: ‘I was told I was a paedophile’

Karl Pollard was taking his daughter Stephanie to visit her sick grandmother. Picture: SWNS/Mega

Hotel apologises after wrongly accusing innocent dad of paedophilia