FRANKFURT, Germany – Day two at the Frankfurt Motor Show found me scouring the outer halls – there are 11, in case you were wondering – and I found several gems scattered across the far reaches of the show.
Once again, I’m trying to focus on cars that will be sold in Canada (eventually), but there are exceptions which I’ve made based on market and brand significance – and cool factor.
At any rate, without any further ado, here’s what caught my eye on day two (in alphabetical order):
The Skinny: Remade, but the iconic high-performance sedan is still V8-powered and bad fast. And, for the first time, it comes equipped with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive (with rear-wheel drive capability).
By the numbers: The sixth-gen M5 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 that produces 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft. of maximum torque and is mated to an eight-speed (automatic) Steptronic transmission that drives all four wheels via xDrive with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) turned on. Fortunately, the DSC can be turned off, which allows the driver to enjoy a more traditional (rear-wheel) driving experience. Did I mention the M5 is fast? 0-100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 11.1 seconds, with a top speed of 250 km/h (304 km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package).
In market: For the first time in M5 history, BMW is launching it with a First Edition. Only 400 will be built (in Frozen Red Metallic, pictured), with 32 earmarked for Canada. Each First Edition will come with high-gloss Shadow Line trim, piano black finishes inside and a plaque on the centre console indicating the car’s production number (i.e. 1 of 400). These copies will begin arriving next spring, with pricing to be announced closer to launch. Regular M5 production will, presumably, commence afterwards.
The Skinny: The Concept Z4 marks the eagerly awaited return of BMW’s classic roadster after the second generation ceased production following the 2016 model year.
By the numbers: BMW has yet to confirm powertrains for the Concept Z4, but speculation is just a Google search away if you’re curious. I’m not going to publish that info here (as much as I’d like to) because it can’t be verified. BMW’s press materials from Frankfurt make no mention, unfortunately, of powertrains, so there are no numbers to report. I’m including it here because it is one of the flat-out, best-looking cars I saw at Frankfurt, and when it comes to roadsters, looks matter—a lot.
In market: Once again, BMW has been mum so far on when the new Z4 will arrive, but a production variant should surface sometime next year with availability arriving later – think late 2018 or early 2019.
The Skinny: Okay, let’s get this out of the way – the i30 N isn’t coming to Canada. At least not right now. We are getting the garden variety i30, however, which is being rebadged as the 2018 Elantra GT for North America. I’m including the i30 N, however, because this European-market hot hatch is important to Hyundai as it’s the first model from the Korean brand’s high-performance N line.
By the numbers: The i30 N is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine available in two performance profiles. The standard trim delivers 246 horsepower and 260 lb-ft., while the performance package produces 271 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. The only transmission on offer is a six-speed manual which drives the front wheels. 0-100 km/h time is rated at 6.4 seconds for the standard trim and 6.1 seconds for those equipped with the performance package, with a top speed of 250 km/h for both.
In market: Pricing hasn’t been confirmed but the i30 N is expected to go on sale across Europe at the end of 2017. Hyundai is said to have global ambitions for the N brand (which stands for Namyang, South Korea and the Nürburgring test track in Germany, where the cars are being developed), which presumably also includes North America. Conventional wisdom of late suggests we’ll get an N car of some kind eventually, but it probably won’t be the i30 N. Stay tuned.
I-PACE eTrophy Series
The Skinny: Jaguar Racing intends to launch a one-make racing series to serve as an exclusive support series race for the FIA Formula E Championship. Jaguar claims it will be the world’s first production battery electric racing series.
By the numbers: Jaguar’s press release didn’t include any output numbers, but there are some nuggets about the series and the race cars. Among them, Jaguar plans to have up to 20 I-PACEs in each race, the company’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) unit located in Warwickshire, UK will build all of them, and they will be based on the production I-PACE SUV.
In market: Jaguar aims to launch the I-PACE eTrophy Series to coincide with the fifth season of Formula E, which is at the end of 2018. That timeframe coincides with the arrival of the production I-PACE.
The Skinny: Created in Kia’s European design centre in Frankfurt, the company suggests the Proceed could hint at the future design direction for the cee’d model line, a line of compact cars that includes a hatch and a wagon that are sold exclusively in Europe.
By the numbers: The Proceed is a concept and Kia has yet to hint at what might lie beneath its long, sleek and handsome exterior. It’s low roofline and muscular proportions, not to mention its Stinger-esque front end, suggest it could wind up packing quite a punch in production form.
In market: Kia isn’t providing any hints as to when the Proceed might lead to a production car or cars, but it has a pretty good track record of turning its concepts into production. And although, the Proceed is aimed primarily at Europe, its eventual production offspring could be sold around the world, including North America.
John Cooper Works GP Concept
The Skinny: Inspired by MINI’s racing victories in the Monte Carlo Rally 50 years ago, the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is a design study that represents an evolution of the 2012 JCW GP and the 2006 Cooper S with JCW GP Kit, both of which were available in limited quantities (2,000 units each).
By the numbers: MINI’s press materials didn’t mention anything regarding the drivetrain, so there’s nothing to report there. The car was cordoned off on a rotating platform, so no poking around was possible. It looks as fast as a bat out of hell, though, what with its generous amounts of carbon fibre, large front and rear aprons, side skirts and roof spoiler. The massive front air intakes, air deflectors and front air scoop, along with 19-inch track-worthy wheels suggest its built for adrenaline-pumping fast laps.
In market: So far, MINI hasn’t said anything about when (or if) the John Cooper Works GP Concept will be turned into a production car. At this point, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope.
Photography by Lee Bailie