Eco-dazzle at Paris Motor Show

 
Ryan Borroff
Two key trends revealed themselves at this year’s Paris Motor Show. First, while the carmakers have showed eco concepts for years, this year was the first Paris Show where so many production versions of hybrid and electric cars were launched. Second, the sports and supercar brands proved that they too have a place in this emerging sustainable landscape. So, after a difficult few years for the global car market, this year’s Paris Show demonstrated that things are looking up for the car industry and the environment too. Here’s what we liked best.

Renault showed its sensational DeZir concept, a red love-inspired super EV concept with alternate gullwing doors and a luxurious quilted interior. It showed a whole new design direction for Renault under new design boss Laurens van den Acker and for many people it vied with Jaguar’s concept for car of the show.

Jaguar C-X75 concept, an outrageous 780hp electric supercar – powered by gas turbines as well as electric motors to ensure a top speed of 330kph and a 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds – was controversial. Pundits disagreed on whether this should be the way that future Jaguars should look. But there was no doubt that there hasn’t been so much excitement and so much optimism at Jaguar, and around Jaguar, for years.



QUANTITY – AND QUALITY

At Land Rover, the new “baby” Range Rover Evoque proved a stunner with the most curves we’ve ever seen on a product from the company. Most astonishing of all for the British 4x4 brand, the car will be available as a two wheel drive version too. It’s the first time ever that Land Rover has sold a car without 4WD.

At Renault, the quirky Twizy city EV has made it into production, one of the first of Renault’s new electric range to do so. It’s a 1+1 tandem-seater – like a motorcycle – and will be marketed as a secondary car for urbanites to whiz about the city in. Expect it to do well in France if they can get the price right.

Peugeot’s nifty little HR1 concept SUV gives a hint at the future 208 model. It’s a good looking car with a striking A-pillar and a high stance. It’s super eco too; Peugeot has taken a tiny 1.2 litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, turbo-charged it and connected it to its Hybrid4 system so that it can produce 150bhp yet still return a massive 81mpg whilst producing only a miniscule 80g/km CO2.

Lamborghini’s Sesto Elemento concept may not have been utterly convincing yet it is proof that Lamborghini is serious about using carbon fibre to lose weight from its supercars and that it too will have a more eco caring future.

Porsche proved that it can still squeeze more models out of its range and what a car this was. Shown in a fantastic shade of blue, this latest Speedster – the fourth in history – is inspired by the legendary 356, boasts 408hp and can do zero to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds. And only 356 of them will be built.

Audi’s latest e-Tron Spyder concept was shown alongside a Quattro concept which was less successful. With its curved windscreen this Audi convertible looks straight out of the Blade Runner movie. Audi claims the diesel-electric hybrid can accelerate from 0-62mph in around 4.4 seconds, achieve fuel economy of 128mpg, emissions of just 59g/km of CO2 and has a range of more than 621 miles.

Is it a car or a van? Maybe even Nissan doesn’t know, but its Townpod concept certainly turned heads. A quirky and functional EV – based on its LEAF car – is pure white, stylish, perfect for town and a car for Apple enthusiasts.

But the biggest story of the show had to be at Lotus. The Norfolk-based company debuted five cars at the Paris Show, which is a massive show of intent about how it wants to grow its business. The cars were divisive. Considered by many to be too radial a departure for Lotus in design terms, many questioned how on earth the company would be able to introduce so many cars so quickly. It’s clear that Porsche, even Aston Martin, are templates that Lotus wants to follow.