Cars at Paris Motor Show are fashionably fast and efficient

The 2014 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile – The Paris Motor Show – on through October 19, immediately on the heels of Paris Fashion Week. Paris is the cradle of high style and this show has as much automotive high style as the catwalks had fashion style.

So, it comes as no surprise that Paris’s most talked-about debut is the ultra-fast, ultra-stylish Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid concept. It has three driving modes: a 300-hp battery that has a range of up to 30 miles, a 610-hp V10 gasoline engine, or combined for the 910 hp in the name that does zero-60 mph in an amazing three seconds. Shown in vibrant blue, it could justifiably be dubbed “the blue streak,” and it may never be produced for sale.

Slightly down the speed chart are the Mercedes-AMG GT S, Ferrari 458 Speciale A, Peugeot Quartz concept, Citroen Cactus Airflow 2L concept, and Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept. The Mercedes-AMG GT S is being billed as competition for the Porsche 911 with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that makes 503 hp. In fact, from the rear it even looks a bit like a 911. According to Ferrari, the 458 Speciale A could take on the Lamborghini for speed and acceleration. It has 597 hp and also does zero-60 mph in three seconds. It’s an Italian beauty with convertible top and its weight is lightened considerably through use of aluminum and carbon fiber. Ferrari plans to produce just 499 of them.

French Peugeot’s Quartz concept, even if manufactured, likely will never come to America. The crossover plug-in hybrid has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 270 hp, married to twin electric motors for total output of 500 hp. In all-electric mode it has a range of about 31 miles.

France’s other major carmaker, Citroen, is making waves with the Cactus Airflow 2L concept. It has an exciting hybrid engine combining compressed air with gasoline. A regular hybrid harvests energy from braking and coasting while this Citroen actually gathers and compresses air, storing it in an onboard tank to release as power. It’s a cheaper system than standard hybrid technology because it doesn’t require a battery. Citroen says the Cactus Airflow will get 141 mpg. It could be produced in the 2016 cycle – but again won’t be available here.

The sleek, four-door Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept also is a hybrid with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 developing 450 hp. Adding a 75kW electric motor boosts it to 550 hp still getting 42 mpg.

One the show’s big surprises Volkswagen’s XL1 concept with a V2 engine. Stop scoffing! This V2 shows how motorcycle and automobile can intersect. Driven by a Ducati motorcycle engine, the XL1 gets 192 hp and does zero-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, hurtling you down the road up to 167 mph.

Honda’s been candid about wanting the fastest front-wheel-drive car on Germany’s famed Nürburgring racecourse. In Paris the Japanese automaker hints at impending success with the Civic Type R concept. This hatchback sure looks like it could go fast and the wink-wink responses from Honda to questions hint the Type R could achieve up to 300 hp. It goes on sale in the U.K. next year.

There’s less space here than there are promising cars at the Paris Mondial, including Jaguar’s XE competition for BMW’s 3 Series, Audi’s four-door TT Sportback concept, Bentley’s fast and ultra-luxurious 2015 Muslanne Speed, MINI’s Superleggera Vision concept all-electric roadster, Fiat’s 500x crossover and Land Rover’s Discovery with an airbag on the exterior for protecting pedestrians in collisions.

Très excitants et tres belles!

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About timwjackson

Working every day for a better Colorado.
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