Audis Sport quattro concept

Audi's Sport quattro concept

This month, we take a detailed look at Europe's largest motor show of 2013 - the Frankfurt IAA. Glenn Brooks assesses the key models having their global debuts, and will follow this with a comprehensive post-Frankfurt report later in September.

Two years ago, European car markets were mostly in deep decline and some manufacturers such as Nissan even chose to miss the Frankfurt IAA. A lot has happened since then, though the ups and downs of the markets known formerly as the Big Five, continue. Spain is no longer large enough to be in the Five but there has been a good recovery in the UK as well as in many countries in the Central and Eastern parts of the region.

One constant is the domination of sales by the Volkswagen Group. As I write this in early September, ACEA is yet to release numbers for July, let alone August but its tally for the first half of the year sees VAG controlling 24.8 percent of the European market. That's up from 24.1 percent for H1, 2012 and reflects not only the troubles of Opel, Renault and the PSA brands but also the strength or recoveries of Audi, Škoda and above all SEAT, each of which bucked the overall 6.7 percent YoY decline of the total market.

The IAA marks the start of something especially interesting for Volkswagen and that is the debut of an electric Golf. The e-up! we first saw at the Barcelona motor show in May and it is being followed up by a potential van variant, the e-load up! Other models premiering include the fastest ever Golf - a new R - and the TDI Bluemotion which can supposedly travel up to 1,500km before needing to be refueled.

What you won't see on the VW stand is a replacement for the Passat. That, despite the current car being eight years old. Not many have noticed this fact but while Fiat Group was the one high profile company to publicly state it would slash R&D spending through the European economic downturn, Volkswagen Passenger Cars seems to have been doing something similar. My evidence? The Polo is four and still no facelift; the same applies to the Amarok; the Scirocco has not been freshened since its launch six years ago; the Tiguan and Eos are seven; the Golf Plus is eight (its replacement will probably be revealed at the show); the Transporter, Shuttle and Multivan are an almost shocking ten years old, as is the Caddy; and the Phaeton is now eleven.

Other members of the Volkswagen Group naturally have important new vehicles premiering in Frankfurt. This includes the first so-called 'Spaceback' model from Škoda (Rapid). There will also be a facelifted Yeti but no sign of the long wheelbase model which has just had its world debut at the Chengdu motor show and will be manufactured only in China, for now at least.

SEAT is adding an estate body style to the León range, Audi has the new A3 cabrio and a new ultra (low emissions) sub brand as well as facelifts for the A8 and S8, and Bentley has a yet more powerful 4.0-litre biturbo V8 for the Continental coupe and convertible. Which leaves Porsche, which finally reveals the production version of the 918 Spyder, a hybrid hypercar which charges to 100km/h in under 3.0 seconds yet under certain conditions, it can deliver up to 94mpg. Here's a related question: can a firm that sells 106,000 vehicles in the first eight months of this year (up 15 percent YoY), the majority of them a big SUV, still be thought of as a niche maker of sports cars?

PSA has been doing the opposite to Volkswagen, with new or updated models constantly appearing. After slow sales of its MMC-supplied C-Zero and iOn plug-ins, and its own HYbrid4 diesel-electric vehicles, things have gone quiet on the EV and hybrid fronts. Citroën has the Cactus concept and Grand C4 Picasso, but the Peugeot 308 will be the group's big news at the IAA. It's the brand's first model on the EMP2 platform, following the Citroën C4 Picasso which debuted earlier in 2013. Weight reduction and manufacturing cost savings are the main benefits with this new architecture.

In addition to a second facelift for the Mégane range, Renault will reveal a concept car. This will supposedly herald the launch of a premium sub-brand. Call it a rival for Ford's new Vignale line cars. If Renault and Ford are like an AmEx Green card, then 'vin-ya-le' (Ford's official pronunciation guide) and what we think will be called 'Initiale Paris' should get you Platinum Card style extra benefits, or as Ford is claiming, "a unique upscale product and ownership experience". And the Renault concept? Likely to be a preview of the CMF architecture Espace/Grand Espace replacement, which is due to enter production at Douai in 2015. I for one hope it looks like the Ondelios, a big crossover concept from five years ago, rather than the original Initiale Paris concept from 1995.

Dacia, the brightest star in the Renault Group constellation, continues to twinkle with ever greater radiance. Frankfurt sees the release of a facelifted Duster but it won't be for the UK and Ireland - cars for there come from India, and the Alliance's Oragadam plant in Tamil Nadu is not yet scheduled to build the restyled model. Dusters for LHD European markets are built at Dacia's Mioveni plant in Romania.

I mentioned Ford's new aspirational line, which will be launched in Europe from early 2015. Ford of Europe is showing saloon and estate versions of the forthcoming Mondeo Vignale - luxurious interior fabrics, big alloy wheels, bespoke grille and so on. As Citroën DS5 sales have been proving for two years now, you don't need to sell 50,000 or 100,000 units a year of pricey cars like this to make the business case add up. Maybe Peugeot will soon try something similar as its high priced 508 RXH, 508 HYbrid4 and RCZ sell nowhere near as well as the DS line cars.

It seems slightly odd to list Opel as GM Europe's largest brand when Vauxhall has been for some time now the unsung hero. Including August, car sales in the UK have risen for 18 consecutive months, and this continues to be GM's biggest regional market. Britain is also the top country for Insignia sales so the facelifted model debuting at Frankfurt is well timed to keep the momentum going. The Corsa is also still selling well in the UK at least, despite its almost eight years of production - we won't see the new one (codename: S 4500, Gamma 2 platform) until Geneva next March.

Some of us remember when Fiat was a rival to VW, PSA, Renault, GM and Ford in Europe but this hasn't been the case for a few years now. An unusual strategy of publicly fighting with its home market workers' unions and holding off investments in replacement models has taken its toll on brand image and sales. Alfa Romeo is down to just two models (the 4C is not yet in dealerships), each of which gets the tiniest of updates at Frankfurt, and Lancia has almost nothing new on its stand. Furthermore, the Punto is now eight and, from what I am hearing, seems unlikely to be directly replaced. The word is, a five-door version of the next 500 will appear in 2016 as the effective successor.

Happily, the future looks brighter than the present for Fiat. A new version of the 875cc TwinAir engine will be launched in the 500 at the IAA, and there is a new 1.6 diesel for the 500L and its derivatives. The Cinquecento has been built for five years with not even one facelift but is still selling well, and the 500L is a growing success across Europe.

Here's something interesting - can you name the largest market for the Cinquecento in 2012? It was the US. There was only about 800 cars in it, but that shows you just how far car sales fell in Italy last year and the gap will no doubt have widened by the end of 2013. Why should that matter? Well, the 500 for North America was re-engineered before it went on sale there and it could well be that the next one will be heavily influenced by the preferences of US buyers. There are even noises that it won't be built in Mexico, either, just Poland: Chrysler's plants are stretched so it needs Toluca's capacity for models which are bigger and more profitable than the Cinquecento.

Nissan, whose Sunderland factory has built more cars this year than Fiat's Italian plants, says it will reveal a new SUV at Frankfurt. That should be the W32-R X-Trail, which might appear to be an odd decision given that the W32-S Qashqai would be a more obvious model to replace first. Yet Nissan is still selling as many units of the standard wheelbase (P32L) Qashqai as it can build, so you can understand why it would want to continue with this seven-year old vehicle series into 2014. I hear there is to be no direct replacement for the (N32L) Qashqai+2. I should also mention that the new X-Trail is the first model for the Renault-Nissan Alliance's CMF architecture. Don't call it a platform.

BMW and Daimler will no doubt be seeking to outdo one another with their show stands - the former was the first to have an integrated test track at the 2009 event, then Audi copied the idea in 2011.

The 2013 event will be the first public outing for the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, along with a PHEV variant that's due to enter production in 2014. We shall also get the first look at the Concept S-Class Coupé which previews the CL-Class replacement, the production version of the GLA-Class, the turbo V8 S 63 AMG - the V12 turbo S 65 AMG is being held over for the LA and Tokyo shows in November - and a conceptual preview of the four-seater smart which the brand's press release notes will enter production in the final quarter of 2014 - a lot later than had been thought at one time.

As a retort to the Mercedes powerfest, BMW will use the IAA to emphasise the i3 and i8, each of which gets its premiere in production form as does a PHEV concept version of the new X5. But it won't all be about plug-ins, extended range EVs and plug-in hybrids; the new generation X5 is also a world premiere, as is the 4 Series Coupé and the motor show debuts for the 5 Series, Touring and GT facelifts. The car codenamed F45 might also appear, finally, in production form. Will it be called '1 Series GT'?

Toyota and Lexus will be, as ever, seeking to draw attention to petrol-electric hybrid tech. A 400bhp engine inspired by the Toyota Le Mans racer has been shoehorned into a Yaris, while the LF-NX concept shows how next year's edgily styled NX crossover might look. Where will it be built? Alongside the RAV4 at Tahara or Nagasuka in Japan would be my guess, but don't also discount Woodstock in Canada as another production location for this Evoque and Audi Q5/Q5 hybrid rival. Will there be a non-hybrid version? It seems there will be, Toyota having reportedly trademarked NX 200t in addition to NX 300h.

I should have mentioned Infiniti with Nissan but this brand, which has made only the tiniest of impacts with European buyers might have a more (red) bullish future in the region if the Q30 is a success. The concept at the IAA looks good in the preview pics and Sunderland is presently being expanded to prepare for an annual up to 60,000 units of this Mercedes-based model from 2015.

Hyundai hasn't had much to say in advance of the show, other than announcing the European premiere of the i10 (India's new Grand i10) which has just gone into production in Turkey and Tamil Nadu. As for Kia, I've been told not to pay too much attention to the Niro concept's hybrid powertrain but take away the show car doors and other fanciful details and this could well be the first look at a future small crossover. This would be an eventual entry into what we should rightly call the Juke segment.

JLR will be revealing a design study which previews Jaguar's first crossover. The C-X17 concept is the first use of D7a, a new evolution of the Range Rover and RRS Sport's PLA platform specially modified for future crossovers and cars. The XQ production model will be built at Solihull and should appear in early 2016. I must not forget to mention the diesel hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and Land Rover will also announce pricing for these models at the show, plus another world premiere, the facelifted Discovery.

Mentioning a big SUV which will be 12 years old by the time it is replaced brings me to Volvo. No, the next XC90 won't be at Frankfurt, but its platform will be, under the Concept Coupé. The former VEA petrol and diesel engines also premiere at the IAA. These are now known as 'DRIVE-E' and will steadily replace the existing four- and five-cylinder units over the next two years.

Finally, some world premieres for brands which are minor players in Europe: the Mazda3, a concept from Suzuki which previews a Juke rival, and, a wagon version of the Honda Civic.

No doubt there will be some surprise debuts which I haven't listed (the BMW X4 or X7, a new Bugatti, a Lagonda, the Audi Q2, Q6 and/or Q8, Renault's next Twingo, a SEAT crossover), so check back with just-auto throughout Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 for all the latest news.

For the full list of global debuts see the below list and check back towards the end of next week for a comprehensive review of the show.

just-auto's proprietary Production Life Database (PLDB) is updated daily and can be rapidly searched for details of over 1,550 current and future global vehicles, from 98 OEMs’ 200 brands/makes.

IAA 2013 world premieres:

Alfa Romeo Giulietta facelift: dark headlights standardised, new 110kW 2.0 diesel

Alfa Romeo MiTo facelift: new grille, also gains 105HP 875cc TwinAir petrol engine

Audi A3 Cabriolet: switches to MQB platform, retains a fabric roof

Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra: first car for 'ultra' (low emissions epithet), 3.2l/100km

Audi A8, hybrid & S8 facelifts: mid-life updates to face challenge of new S-Class

Audi Sport quattro concept: PHEV powertrain with 700PS biturbo V8 & 800Nm

Bentley Continental V8 S: new coupe and convertible variants, 521bhp turbo V8

BMW 4 Series coupe: replacement for the two-door 3 Series, on sale from October

BMW 5 Series, GT & M5 facelifts: on sale since July, this is their motor show debut

BMW Concept X5 eDrive: prototype of a PHEV, TwinPower I4 + one electric motor

BMW i3: production model, EV powertrain, optional (petrol) range extender

BMW i8: PHEV supercar, production to begin at Leipzig plant in late 2013

BMW X5: four-cylinder (diesel) power a novelty for the third generation of this SUV

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse Legend Edition: three cars will be made

Caterham Seven 165: €25,000, on sale in Jan, 80hp Suzuki K6A 660cc engine

Changan CS75: prototype of a new SUV due for launch in China in late 2013

Chevrolet Camaro convertible facelift: only the coupe debuted at NY show in Mar

Chevrolet Cruze: new 81kW/110hp (99g/km) version of existing 1.7-litre diesel

Chevrolet Orlando facelift: minor update was announced in South Korea in July

Chevrolet Trax front-wheel drive 1.4 petrol turbo: new variant, on sale from Oct

Citroën Cactus concept: four-door crossover, bubblewrap-like bumpers on doors

Citroën C-Elysée WTCC: 380bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine from DS3 WRC

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso: seven seats, wheelbase grows by 11cm to 2.84m

Dacia Duster facelift: Romania-made model only, UK and Ireland's car unchanged

Ferrari 458 Speciale: 445kW/605hp 4.5-litre V8, 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds

Fiat 500: 105HP 875cc TwinAir two-cylinder petrol engine is new for the 500

Fiat 500L Living: motor show debut for this Serbian-made 5+2 MPV

Fiat 500L, 500L Trekking & 500L Living/MPW: 1.6 MultiJet II 120HP diesel engine

Fiat 500L, 500L Trekking & 500L Living/MPW: 1.4 T-Jet 120HP petrol engine

Fiat Fremont Black Code: new top trim level, unique grille and 19" alloys

Ford 99g/km Focus: specially calibrated 100PS 1.0 EcoBoost, on sale in early 2014

Ford Mondeo Hybrid: Europe's version of the US and Canada's Fusion Hybrid

Ford S-MAX concept: preview of project C539, to be built in Valencia from 2014

Ford Mondeo Vignale sedan & wagon: top-spec model grade from early 2015

Honda Civic five-door facelift: its debut was at the last IAA in September 2011

Honda Civic Tourer: production version of wagon concept from the Geneva show

Hyundai i10: project BA, will be built in Turkey and India from September

Infiniti Q30 concept: preview of Daimler MFA architecture model due in 2015

Jaguar C-X17 concept: preview of 'XQ' (X761) crossover due in early 2016

Jaguar XJ '2014 model year': revised rear suspension for LWB, updated interior

Kia KED-10 Niro concept: designed in Europe, likely preview of a B segment SUV

Kia Optima diesel facelift: petrol variants premiered at New York show in March

Kia Picanto LPG: 49kW/67hp 1.0-litre bifuel model for DE, IT, NL, PL, PT, & GR

Kia Soul diesel: petrol engined version premiered at the New York show in March

Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse: 570hp (419kW) V10, loses 70kg

Lancia Delta 2014MY: refreshed interior, side skirts & body-coloured bumpers

Lancia Voyager S: black grille & tinted headlight backs, same as Chrysler T&C S

Land Rover Discovery (no longer '4') facelift: second update for this nine-year old

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: new 'Active Driveline' 4WD and ZF 9-speed auto

Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid: TDV6 diesel + one motor, 340PS peak power

Land Rover Range Rover Sport Hybrid: same powertrain as RR Hybrid, 169g/km

Lexus LF-NX concept: arresting styled preview of a future Audi Q5 hybrid rival

Mazda3: public debut for the five-door hatchback, on sale globally from October

Mercedes-Benz 9G-TRONIC: Daimler's nine-speed auto debuts in E 350 BlueTEC

Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Racing Series: customer motorsport prototype

Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupé: previews C217, will replace C216 CL-Class

Mercedes-Benz E 200 NGD: 115kW 2.0-litre natural gas engine

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class: to be built in Rastatt, and likely by BBAC in Beijing too

Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG, S 63 AMG L & 4MATIC: 430kW/585hp 5,461cc turbo V8

Mercedes-Benz S 500 PHEV: evolved from a prototype which debuted at 2009 IAA

MG: not attending as European markets launch not yet extended to Germany

Nissan X-Trail: is also the global debut of Renault-Nissan's CMF architecture

Opel 1.0 SIDI Turbo: 85kW/115hp three-cyl petrol engine, Adam will be first model

Opel Cascada: 147kW/200hp 1.6 SIDI Turbo petrol engine, sales commence in Oct

Opel Insignia Country Tourer: high-riding and high-priced rival for Passat Alltrack

Opel Insignia facelift: should last until its E2XX platform successor appears in 2016

Opel Monza concept: previews new styling direction for Opel/Vauxhall

Peugeot 208 HYbrid FE concept: lightweight tech, updated since its Geneva debut

Peugeot 308: claimed 140kg weight saving, EMP2 platform, 9.7-inch touch screen

Peugeot 308 R concept: two-tone black and red paint, lowered suspension

Peugeot 3008 facelift: mid-life update but still no PHEV version of 3008 HYbrid4

Peugeot 5008 facelift: first update since its debut at the 2009 Frankfurt show

Porsche 911 50th Anniversary: wide body, 1,963 cars, EUR121,119 in Germany

Porsche 911 Turbo: 383kW (520HP) 3.8, seven-speed PDK, PTM all-wheel drive

Porsche 911 Turbo S: 412kW (560hp) 3.8, EUR195,256 in Germany, on sale in Sep

Porsche 918 Spyder: production starts on 18th September, 918 cars to be built

Porsche Panamera Diesel facelift: power is also up by 47bhp to 296bhp

Renault concept: [a] 'vision of the premium automobile', a media statement says

Renault Laguna facelift: already on sale, but this is its motor show debut

Renault Latitude (Safrane in some markets) facelift: updated Samsung SM5 twin

Renault Mégane facelift: first facelift was just 18 months ago (Geneva 2012)

SEAT León ST: the third bodystyle and the first wagon in this model's history

Škoda Rapid Spaceback: shorter than hatchback, boot volume drops by 135 litres

Škoda Yeti facelift: new grille & headlights, first Škoda to have a reversing camera

Škoda Yeti Outdoor: additional variant, silver mirrors & black lower body cladding

smart fourjoy concept: previews the proportions of the four-seater due in late '14

SsangYong: not attending

Suzuki iV-4 concept: preview of a new compact SUV, more details to come

Suzuki Swift facelift: five-door Sport is new as is AWD for Hungarian-made model

Toyota fuel cell vehicle: updated version of 2011 Tokyo show's FCV-R concept

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R concept: 1.6 Global Race Engine and two electric motors

Volkswagen Caddy Bluemotion: 4.5l/100km and CO2 emissions of 117g/km

Volkswagen e-Golf: five-door body style, 85kW/115PS electric motor, a pure EV

Volkswagen e-load up! concept: blocked out windows for this van version of e-up!

Volkswagen Golf R: 300PS 2.0T, AWD, six-speed manual or DSG, 3 or 5 doors

Volkswagen Golf TDI BlueMotion: 85g/km, 1,500km claimed range, 81kW 1.6

Volvo Concept Coupé: first of three SPA architecture design studies

Volvo DRIVE-E engines: I4 petrol & diesel in S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 & S80

For more details on models to be shown at the IAA, see Frankfurt debuts