“Particularly interesting this year is the Audi bombardment of alternative energy fuelled cars.”

FRANKFURT, Germany.

The Frankfurt international auto show covers an area roughly the same size as a small European country.

At least my feet figured that to be true after covering most of the premier Euro show’s 23 hectares. By the end of the day, the hybrid powered shuttles that I had pooh-poohed earlier in the day as transport for the lazy looked a mighty attractive method of returning to the main gate.

The show is a feast for the automotive senses with every segment represented from tiny micro cars to oversized, grossly modified and, frankly, oddified BMW X5s.

Ten years ago, the big Euro shows were just an opportunity to gaze longingly at makes and models we would never get to drive back home. Now it’s a global marketplace and manufacturers are competing with world cars modified only slightly for each country.

And what the likes of Audi, VW, BMW are parading here will be coming to your neighborhood showroom sooner rather than later.

Particularly interesting this year is the Audi bombardment of alternative energy fuelled cars. Significant because the German manufacturer has never been one to rush into following the latest fad or fashion. Its unveiling of its e-tron Quattro electric concept means it’s come up with solid, performance oriented machines that will not disappoint. The debut offers a foretaste of a production car set for the model year 2018. A single charge will haul a car load for up to 500 kilometres, courtesy of the all-wheel quattro drive, which features a front-mounted and two rear-mounted motors.

Sharing the platform are some not too shabby hybrids! – The Q7 e‑tron 3.0 TDI quattro plug-in hybrid promise an all-electric range of with up to 56 km. The Audi A4 g‑tron is expected to consume less than four kilograms of natural gas per 100 km driven. Doubt that one will sail our way despite the excesses of natural gas we have in our corner of the world.

Sneak peeks of the A4 range are there to see but more about that popular line soon as Driveway is heading to Venice to spend some time at the wheel.

VW group stablemate, Porsche is also going electric this year with its four-seat Mission E concept. It also boasts a 500-kilometre range and 600 horsepower performance. Don’t hold your breath for its arrival.

It used to be that Asian manufacturers soft pedalled the Euro shows but not anymore. Nissan is dazzling the crowds with its oddly named electric powered Gripz 2+2 Crossover concept. Its design is inspired by classic desert rally cars and racing bicycles.

Kia from Korea is showing its new Sportage and promises it will go on sale early next year. The Sportage back story demonstrates how serious the manufacturer is about producing sport utility vehicles that have backwoods performance capabilities.

The fourth-generation vehicle is almost at the end of a worldwide development programme, which has seen test vehicles subjected to numerous durability and reliability tests, equivalent to a cumulative distance of more than 5.5 million kilometres, As Kia pointed out recently that’s “approximately 137 circulations of the Earth around the equator, and a far greater distance than many motorists will cover in a lifetime of driving.”

The little company that could is reminding us why it deserves to be among the big boys, unveiling its Koeru crossover SUV concept.

Which brings me back to another Volkswagen Group offering from VW itself. The all-new Tiguan was announced with great fanfare at last week’s media preview. Take a look at the picture then stretch your imagination. No, I mean stretch it in your imagination because we are apparently only getting an extended version of the utility vehicle. And it’s unlikely to arrive for at least another year.


 

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