Which cars will grab the headlines at the Frankfurt Motor Show
The last big motorshow of 2011, where manufacturers will showcase what's new for 2012 starts today. Yes, you've guessed it's the Frankfurt Motor Show and Autoblog UK will be there this week to bring you the latest on new models, concepts and what's happening in the industry.
We've rounded up 10 of the cars we're really looking forward to seeing and which we think will be the headline-grabbers when they're unveiled this week.
1. Aston Martin Zagato
The first chance for buyers and the general public alike, to see what the road-going version of the limited build Aston Martin Zagato will look like.
Design highlights include the massive spoiler, low-slung front end and arch-filling alloy wheels.
Don't look too closely at the interior though, as this car is a converted racer and we will have to wait a little bit longer to see what £330,000 will buy inside this special Aston.
2. BMW i8
The i8 is my favourite of the two new BMW i cars on show. With its gull-wing doors, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the futuristic EfficientDynamics concept, that was shown here for the first time here in 2009.
The i8 boasts 349bhp and is fitted with four-wheel-drive, but BMW claim this plug-in hybrid sports car is capable of 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds, with impressive fuel economy figures of 104mpg.
The production version of the i8 will be launched in 2013 and looks exciting enough for anyone with an interest in electric cars and even those that don't.
3. Ferrari 458 Spider
There's always plenty of interest in new metal from the prancing horse, so this Spider version of the 458 Italia should prove popular at Frankfurt.
Much more than a 458 with the roof lopped off; this new Ferrari convertible is innovative, with a folding aluminium hard top roof rather than the canvas version that was fitted to the previous F430 Spider.
Underneath the curvy styling, Ferrari has made changes to the suspension, throttle response and engine note to increase the enjoyment with the hood down. So the power and performance of the engine remains unchanged, with the 4.5-litre V8 still getting to 62mph in the same 3.4 second time as the coupe.
Prices are yet to be confirmed for the 458 Spider, but it will be introduced to the UK market next year, hopefully just in time for the spring.
4. Fiat Panda
The masters of the art of small car building, Fiat, have chosen Frankfurt to debut the all new, third generation Fiat Panda.
Yes, it might look similar to the outgoing car, but with 6.5m sales, it's probably best not to move too far away from a top-selling formula.
Bigger in every way, the new Panda's interior has space for five and class-leading boot volume. Plus there's the flexibility of a sliding, split-folding rear bench.
Power comes from a choice of three petrol engines, with a 1.3-litre diesel expected later. The new Panda is due to go on sale in April next year.
5. Ford Evos
Yes the Evos electric-hybrid four-door might be a new Ford Coupe, but no it's not the new Capri. In fact, the new Ford concept demonstrates the blue oval's new design language - RIP Kinetic design.
So. while the Evos isn't expected to make production, expect design features like the grille, side swage lines and bulging rear arches to make it onto future Ford production cars.
6. Jaguar CX-16 concept
The Jaguar C-X16 concept could be the most exciting car to be shown at Frankfurt, as it gives us first look at a future small sports coupe from the Indian-owned British manufacturer.
Possibly the coolest feature of the new Jag has to be the hybrid electric set up, as the C-X16 gets a Formula 1 style boost button on the steering wheel, which is good for an extra 94bhp that lasts up to ten seconds.
The additional juice comes entirely from the electric motor, which is linked to a 375bhp V6 petrol engine. Combined, they're good for a 4.4-second sprint to 62mph and a 186mph top speed.
The likely Porsche Cayman rival is most likely to cost in the region of £50,000 and is expected to go on sale next year.
7. Land Rover DC100 concept
How do you go about replacing a motoring icon? Well BMW did it with the MINI and Volkswagen did it with the Beetle - but it's not easy. Land Rover's now facing the same challenge as a new Defender is due by 2015.
To test public opinion, this DC100 concept that makes its debut at Frankfurt, is Land Rover's first go at it. The company is planning to enlist the help of existing and potential customers before they sign off the final design.
It's certainly not as distinctive as the original, the circular headlights and the curve of the front wings being the only similarities. Still, it's a fair bet that the finished car will look very similar, in a slightly less gawky sort of way.
8. Mercedes SLS roadster
Mercedes will finally pull the covers off its beautiful convertible version of the SLS at Frankfurt. Sadly, losing the roof has also meant the disappearance of the flawed but wonderful gullwing doors, but at least the conventional doors will make getting in and out of the SLS Roadster more painless.
The fabric roof can be raised or lowered in just eleven seconds and at speeds of up to 30mph and there are three colour hood options of black, red or beige to match or contrast with the nine body colours.
UK prices are yet to be announced, but we'd expect drop-top SLS motoring to come at a premium over the gullwing.
9. Porsche 911
Porsche's evergreen, iconic sports car receives a subtle new look with the launch of the long -awaited new version at Frankfurt.
It might be hard to spot the changes on the outside, with a nip here and a tuck there. In fact, probably the biggest change is inside, with the Panamera-like interior and its raised centre console.
However, underneath is where things get really interesting, with a radical new seven-speed manual gearbox as standard and Porsche is ditching the six-speed version seen on most cars.
The intention of this is to make the most efficient sports car possible. Alongside the usual impressive 0-62mph acceleration times, one of the most eye catching figures is the claimed fuel consumption of 34.4mpg – a massive 6mpg improvement over the old car – and a 194g/km CO2 rating.
Thankfully, all this impressive economy doesn't stop the new 911 being faster than its predecessor, and the entry-level model with the PDK automatic gearbox is 0.3 seconds quicker to 62mph, taking 4.6 seconds – 4.4 if you press the Sport Plus button on the optional Sport Chrono Pack.
10. Volkswagen UP
Volkswagen will be hoping to make more of an impact on the city car market with the new Up, the car that kills off the forgettable Fox.
The car debuts a pair of new three-cylinder petrol engines, one with 59bhp, the other with 74, with the lower-powered Bluemotion Technology version averaging 67.3mpg. Expect a zero emissions electric version at some stage, too.
At just over 3.5m long the Up is shorter than the Fox and is one of the littlest four-seaters around. However, clever packaging means the engine is right over the front axle and we're promised masses of interior space.
In Volkswagen showrooms from December, this city car is available in three distinct flavours, called Take Up, Move Up and High Up. No prices have been announced yet, but we reckon the entry-level car, the Take Up, will come in at around £8,000.