Paris 2012: Beauty Meets Realism

2013 Paris Auto ShowEvery year the Paris Motor Show stands somewhere between New York and Geneva on the great “beige business to awesome cartoons” scale of wackiness.  It’s a place where grey-clad businessmen and hipster designers converge.  Here are a few highlights of the bold and the boring.

Peugeot Onyx: The Gallic design geniuses at the Standing Lion must have thought Prii Priuses were too boring.  2013 Paris Auto Show
If people have to drive hybrids everywhere to satisfy their consciences, why not make those hybrids exponentially beautiful?  The Onyx concept is a low, mid-engine supercar whose most distinctive feature is the mirror-finished copper plating along the flanks.  Until you lift the deck and see the 600 hp diesel V8.  A wee electric motor helps out with 80 hp, and it’s supposed to average 50 mph.
We say it’s Bold. Peugeot will likely never build it, and no variation will get the copper plating.  It’s crazy, it’s innovative, it’s everything you’re looking for in a concept car.

2013 Paris Auto ShowGallardo Face Lift: Lamborghini isn’t calling their near-10-year-old Gallardo by its name anymore, opting mostly for the “LP560” designation instead.  This year they moved some accents around on its face.  It looks…nice.  It’s still a beautiful Gallardo, after all.  But by now the supercar market is so flooded with the baby bull, it will take a little more than a new mold to impress us.

Verdict: Boring. We don’t have anything to complain about, really, since Sant Agata is busy manufacturing the components of the searing Aventador, but the Gallardo’s new, crooked teeth are barely newsworthy.

2013 Paris Auto Show

McLaren P1: Since McLaren has only ever built 2 cars, the F1 and the MP4-12c, they’re doomed to comparison.  But apparently McLaren never intended to advanced, chip-encrusted MP4-12c to be the spiritual successor to the raw, banal F1.  They left that to their newest project, the P1.  It looks daring and insanely fast.  But we don’t know how fast yet, because they haven’t released any engine specs.

Verdict: Bold. McLaren aren’t going for the fastest-in-the-world record like they did so long ago with the F1.  They just want to make a great drivers’ car.  That looks like a supermodel spaceship.

BMW Concept Active Tourer: In a stroke of fanboy blasphemy, the Bavarians have built a FWD commuter car.  It’s big, it’s tall, it’s crossover-ish, it’s almost beige, and it’s probably not too far from production.  Its only interesting quirk is the turbocharged 3-cylinder under the bonnet.  Perhaps they’re fishing for new fanboys in the Geo Metro tuner segment.

Our take: Boring. We’re not against BMW making a FWD car, but it had better live up to its Ultimate Driving Machine heritage.  “Concept Active Tourer” sounds like an experimental program to get geriatrics out of the house.  Which is very well may be.

2013 Paris Auto ShowAudi Crosslane Coupe Concept: Like half-wild animals, we recoiled at the initial sight of the Crosslane, mostly because it has “cross” in the name, which means it’s another useless crossover.  But it isn’t.  It’s good-looking, it only has two seats, it has a truck-bed-like cargo area, and the roof comes off.  That’s neat.  And though it just had to be a hybrid, Audi used some carbon-reinforced fiberglass wizardry to keep the weight down to about 3000 lbs, and the projected production costs down, too.  We could get behind that.

So we guess it’s actually pretty Bold. It will undoubtedly be a Quattro when it reaches production, and there’s even a chance for a nerd-pleasing TDI.  …What’s that?  It will hit production?  Great!  Wait, what?  Since Audi’s making this thing they’re not going to go through with the absolutely perfect Quattro Coupe they definitely promised us!?  Nevermind!  It’s BORING. Audi, you’ve ruined our lives and we’re running away and don’t try to call!

2013 Paris Auto ShowCarbon Fiber Noble M600: It is what it sounds like, and that’s all it needs to be.  And that could actually be Noble’s slogan.  Noble have always had a devil-may-care attitude about them, which is why their cars don’t have power steering or ABS, and why their traction control toggles are missile switches out of fighter planes.  A noble is probably the most difficulty risk challenge you’ll find in a brand new supercar.  And the M600, with its 600 hp Yamaha V8, and trim, beautiful bodywork, is just the candidate for strutting around naked in bare carbon fiber.

You guessed it.  We’re calling this one Bold. We’re too afraid of it to call it anything else.  When you’re dealing with this much power and this much crazy, you compliment and move along.  Sheesh.  It’s like staring down a mean-drunk panther.

What do you think of this latest batch?  Do they bore you?  Do they, er, embolden you?  What else did you like in Paris this year?  Sound off below.

Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.

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