The 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show: More power, more technology, more fun
Cars and Calibres
Frankfurt to car nuts means the Frankfurt Auto Show, which is actually spelled IAA, for Internationale Automobile-Ausstellung.
It is a massive show that spreads out over several large halls that are only sometimes connected to each other directly.
It is, even with things like the Audi shuttle system running you around, almost impossible to catch the different launch times that are sometimes within 15 minutes of each other. Just chart your course and go as the wind allows.
The winds brought us, big surprise, to Porsche. And what brought us there wasn’t what we found. There were a lot of rumors, some somewhat expected (the launch of the Cayenne Turbo that came a week or so after the revelation of the Cayenne and Cayenne S).
The new range-topping Turbo uses a four-liter biturbo V8 to produce 550 hp. The Cayenne and Cayenne S, launched just a dozen days ago and several dozen miles away in Stuttgart, both use sixes.
Then there were rumors that never came true: a new Speedster?
Then there was the surprise that got everyone talking and calling in orders: the 911 GT3 with touring package—which is basically the hot road-legal race car without the insane wings and cages.
It has an elegant leather interior, as befits a grand tourer. It produces 500 horsepower, as befits a GT3. And it has a six-speed manual, as befits anyone with the right need.
Every time the purists begin complaining about Stuttgart straying from the path, Stuttgart sets them straight.
On the more dangerously cutting-edge style in Frankfurt was the chopping of the top of the surprisingly well-handling biggest bull.
Lamborghini presented the Aventador S Roadster, which drew so much attention it caused pain (check out carsandcalibres on Instagram to see what I walked into).
Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali, well known for his demands for authenticity and performance, was happy to offer “the thrill of open-air driving without compromising on driving dynamics or the occupants’ comfort.”
Plus, you can personalize it even more. The Aventador S was already eye-opening and award-winning and hugely attention-drawing.
With the Roadster, you better be ready for all the people that will be staring at you. No worries though, it makes everyone look good.
Over with the four rings, new technologies abounded. Two concept cars showed Audi’s vision of the future, complete with their own Audi AI.
Audi Elaine is an electric-powered SUV coupe that is meant to allow the driver to hand over the car for certain chores like parking in a multi-story garage.
Audi AIcon is a four-door design concept with no steering wheel or pedals anywhere.
As usual with Audi, these bold design showboats are also vehicles for the introduction of new engineering ideas, with drivetrain, suspension and digitizations innovations, and the aimed-for ability to go 700 to 800 kilometers on a single charge.
And just in case people think Audi is going too far in one direction, Audi Sport GmbH CEO Stephan Winkelmann presented the new R8 V10 RWS, a rear-wheel drive version of the almost thought-steered modern icon meant for purists.
And for an even older icon, the new RS4 Avant with a 2.9-liter TFSI engine that produces 450 hp and 600 Nm of torque all wrapped up in the Audi estate shape we know and love.
On a far more stately road was the third generation of a powerful family. The new Bentley Continental GT made its global debut in a way that was appropriately subtle.
The new Grand Tourer is, of course, designed, engineered and handcrafted in England.
An enhanced version of the twin-turbo 6-liter W12 TSI motor runs through a new dual-clutch eight-speed transmission.
The 48-volt Dynamic Ride System that made throwing your weight around so much fun in the Bentayga brings that same quick efficient suspension response to the new sedan.
One key trend we are seeing is this: Fun is still important. The driving experience still counts. The cars will be increasingly efficient and tight, and the engines not as large as they were before (with the exception of luxury flagships for the moment).
But the brands known for excitement and performance and technology are clearly focusing their attention on keeping the smile on the driver’s face.
In reality, that demand for increased range and flexibility while still producing decent environment-friendly numbers along with a pleasurable drive may well be what drives our powerplants to be better than ever.
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