APA at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile 2016 

By Ron Corbett

Eager crowds filing into the show

Nearly 1.1 million paying customers passed though the turnstiles at the Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles by the time the Paris Mondial de l’Autombile ended on October 16th. Attendance was down roughly 100,000 from 2014, the last time the biennial event was held, but organizers were pleased with the numbers considering the lingering unease after the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris last year.

There has been a lot of journalist chatter about the decline of auto shows, and some automakers have soured on the massive expense of displaying their wares at car shows. Several small-volume luxury brands and surprisingly, Ford, skipped the show, but by all appearances attendees couldn’t have cared less, as the venue was packed with enthusiastic crowds on the weekday the APA visited.

Discounting the Smart ForTwo and Yaris hatchback, which are assembled in France, no French car has been offered in Canada since Peugeot pulled up its stakes in 1991; it was surreal to see that makes which are merely footnotes in the Canadian market are still very much alive in Europe and offering some very compelling vehicles. 


The CXEXPERIENCE concept car echoes the spirit of Citroën's landmark DS and CX models

This slinky luxury concept car looks massive, but it’s about the same length as a D-segment stalwart like the Ford Fusion. The chances of the CXPERIENCE reaching production are slim to none, as Citroën’s last super-luxury car, the 2005-2012 C6, was a commercial disaster. If the CXPERIENCE did reach the market, it would likely be the range-topper for Citroën’s DS luxury sub-brand, which has been a separate make since 2014.

The CXPERIENCE is a plug-in hybrid with an 80kW electric motor with an electric-only range of 60 kilometres. Total system horsepower, in combination with an unspecified internal combustion engine, is 300. Unusually for a Citroën, which has employed front-wheel drive since the 1934 Traction Avant, the CXEXPERIENCE has a traditional front engine and rear-wheel drive layout.


The Citroën C3 made its public debut at the Paris show

Citroën introduced its new C3 B-segment (Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent) entry at the Paris show. Based on the same platform as its corporate cousin, the Peugeot 208, the new C3 elicited a lot of interest from the show goers. It is offered in a variety of two-tone colour schemes and can be equipped with plastic cladding featuring air-filled circles referred to by Citroën as “Air Bump”. The cabin is fronted by a very clean, horizontally arrayed dashboard with crisp gauges; audio and climate functions are controlled via a user-friendly touch screen common to most Peugeot-Citroën products. Seats are comfortable front and rear, but rear legroom is a bit tight. Good trunk space. 

The Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid has an unusual powertrain

Like the Audi Allroad and Subaru Outback, the 508 RXH is essentially a 508 wagon with some extra ground clearance and plastic wheel lip extensions. The elegant station wagon body and sumptuous cabin are conventional; its hybrid powertrain, combining a 37 horsepower electric motor with a 163 horsepower 2L four-cylinder turbodiesel, is not. Like the Lexus RX hybrid, the rear wheels of the all-wheel drive system are driven electrically. According to Peugeot, the 508 RXH hybrid logged a miserly 4L/100 km on the EU combined fuel economy test cycle.   


The Peugeot 3008 DKR will compete in the 2017 Dakar Rally

The 3008 DKR is Peugeot’s entry for the 2017 Dakar rally scheduled next January. Although it shares its name and a few styling cues with the production 3008 model, this is a full race vehicle, with a space frame chassis, carbon fibre composite body, a 340 horsepower 3L V6 diesel with twin turbos and a super-long-travel all-wishbone suspension.

Can't wait to see the next generation of Renaults as the French firm says the Trezor concept car represents its styling future

While the Trezor looks like an exotic styling exercise, Renault maintains that it is a preview of the company’s future design direction. The central portion of the car is a structural carbon cell, with tubular steel elements attached to the front and rear of the central tub. The body is formed from carbon fibre. Following the lead of Renault’s Zoe and Twizzy electric vehicles, the Trezor is all-electric.


Renault's radically topographic show stand demonstrated the Twingo's strong handbrake

Although the third-generation Renault Twingo debuted a while ago, we’ve included it here as it’s an unusual design that has spawned other cars. The first two Twingos were conventional front-wheel-drive cars; the current version, with a rear-mounted engine returns to a format not seen on a mainstream Renault since the Renault 8 of the mid-1970s. The Twingo is also the starting point for the Smart ForTwo and ForFour.

With clean, purposeful styling, the tiny Twingo avoids looking whimsical. The cabin reflects a clear focus on minimalism but avoids looking stark. The cabin is narrow, but has enough space for two occupants, with ample legroom in front. The rear seat is easily accessed but legroom is unimpressive, certainly tighter than the similarly-sized Chevrolet Spark. The trunk is above the engine at the rear of the Twingo; it is substantial considering the small size of the car and the rear-engine layout. Power stems from a pair of three-cylinder engines.

The new Micra trades cuddly-retro for a look that can be described as Mini-Me Murano

The fifth-generation Nissan Micra made its formal debut at the 2016 Paris show. The new car is built on a 75 mm (3 inch) longer wheelbase, and is 123 mm (5 inches) longer and a touch taller than its predecessor. According to Nissan, this new larger Micra will replace both the current model and the larger Versa Note.

With the fifth-generation car, the Micra has morphed from cuddly-retro into an expressive design that looks like a diminutive spin-off of the Murano CUV. Nissan also pulled out all the stops in fashioning an interior that exceeds the expectations of buyers in this class. The driver faces crisply-marked gauges housed in a dashboard containing a large touch screen controlling a number of functions, while retaining more traditional controls for audio and climate. Several two-tone colour interior combinations are available as are option packages that feature large splashes of accent colours. Luxury options include a brand-name audio system, navigation and leather upholstery. Cabin space is greater than in the previous Micra but rear legroom doesn’t match the Versa Note.

For Europe, the Micra will be powered by the same three-cylinder engines used in the Renault Twingo, a one-litre normally aspirated engine and an 899 c.c. turbo. A high-output 120 horsepower variant of the turbo is expected, and that could be the engine used in Canada. The sole transmission announced to date is a five-speed manual, but a CVT is expected as an automatic is a necessity for the Canadian market.  


As the sign says, this Ligier can be driven by anyone 14 years of age or older 

Ligier, a once fierce Formula 1 competitor, produces a variety of vehicles, including the JS50 L. The cars take advantage of a legislative anomaly that allows those 14 years or older, with an AM classification license, to drive on public roads if their vehicle fits within specific horsepower and top-speed limits of the so-called Quadricycle class.

The JS50 L is 334 mm (13 inches) longer than a Smart ForTwo, but lower and narrower. With two-tone paint and some attractive bright accents, it borders on stylish. The cabin design and materials are better than expected from a small volume producer. The JS50 L has very comfortable seats and good space for both occupants. Options include Bluetooth, name brand audio, a seven inch touchscreen, backup camera, air conditioning and a driver’s side airbag!

Power comes from twin-cylinder diesels of either 480 or 500 cc, both of which crank out five horsepower, with the bigger engine generating 19 lb-ft. of torque versus the 12.5 lb-ft. of torque figure from the 480 cc engine. At 350 kg, the JS50 L is light, but acceleration up to its 45 km/h top speed will be pretty leisurely. The transmission is described as Automatic by Variable Drive.

Though it’s small and slow, with a base price of 12,699 Euros, the JS50 L is not cheap. In its publicity materials, Ligier highlights the parental convenience of not having to cart your children around to their activities as a key purchase criterion.  

The new Rio hatchback was shown in Paris, but a sedan is sure to follow

While instantly identifiable, the third-generation Rio has styling that is less whimsical, and reflects the conservative wind blowing through the design studios at Hyundai-Kia. Marginally bigger than its predecessor, Kia promises incremental cabin space enhancements. The hatchback was the only model shown at the Paris show, but a traditional sedan will no doubt be offered in North America.

European buyers will have a variety of engines, including a three-cylinder 1L, as well as a diesel. For Canada, a return of Kia’s familiar 1.6L four is anticipated. A  variety of active safety options, including forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning system, will be available, as will Apple CarPlay-Android Auto cell phone interfaces. The new Rio will go on sale in early 2017 as an early 2018 model. 

Sold in Europe as the i30, Canadians will see this car as the Elantra GT 

Built in Slovakia and called the i30 for Europe, Canada will receive a version of this car, sourced from South Korea, as the Elantra GT. The new car is roughly the same size as its predecessor but reflects the distinctly conservative styling direction on new Hyundai-Kia group vehicles. Despite looking a bit older than the car it replaced, the new Elantra GT is attractive and nicely detailed, with some styling cues similar to those seen on the latest cars from Peugeot.

The driver faces elegant, easily-scanned gauges located in a dashboard dominated by a large, free-standing pod that contains a touch screen flanked on both sides by conventional audio controls. Traditional climate controls reside at the top of the dash centre stack. Bins and bottle holders in all doors and copious open and closed cubbies throughout the cabin should satisfy even the most determined vehicular hoarders. Cabin materials are attractive and there are soft-touch surfaces on the dash top and upper front doors. The front and rear seats are supportive and rear seat legroom is competitive for this size of car. Spacious trunk.

A variety of engines, including a gasoline three-cylinder turbo and a turbodiesel, will be available to European buyers; the 2L normally-aspirated gasoline four offered in the Elantra sedan will probably be the mainstream engine for Canada. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission is offered in Europe but Hyundai’s smooth conventional six-speed automatic is expected for Canada.

European buyers can opt for active safety equipment like lane keeping assist, radar cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.

Sales of the new Elantra GT should begin by mid 2017.  


Not just a facelift, this Audi Q5 is actually all new

Based on the same architecture that underpins the Audi A4, the new Q5 is roughly the same size as its predecessor but about 90 kilograms lighter. The silhouette is a virtual doppelganger of its predecessor, with only the brushed alloy grille accent ring and the flabby accent lines below the windows to distinguish this new Q5 from the old one. Once a style leader, Audi seems to be stuck in a rut.

A 2L gasoline turbo four producing around 250 horsepower was announced for Europe and is expected for Canada. For Europe, a new seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission is offered, and it is a possibility for Canada as well. For this new vehicle, Audi abandoned its traditional Quattro system with full-time all-wheel drive and centre differential for one that operates in front-wheel drive most of the time, sending power to the rear wheels when its computer deems rear traction is necessary.

The new Q5 will be built in Mexico for world markets. 


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