Easily the most important new model premiere will be the G20 BMW 3 Series

Easily the most important new model premiere will be the G20 BMW 3 Series

It's going to be an unusual bienniel Paris Mondial de l'Automobile. European markets appear to be strong yet there is anxiety in the air due to worries about a correction in 2019. Not to mention some big names still waiting in line for their models to be checked for compliance with WLTP rules. Volkswagen, which is the worst affected, has also decided to sit out the Paris show. 

The number of cars already announced is a good indicator of the general level of positivity, even as many brands have taken the decision not to have a presence. In some cases that comes down to cost - the prices charged by the organisers of such events are always on the high side - whereas for others, the issue is their vehicles not attracting enough attention due to being lost in a welter of general publicity. Better to hold a bespoke event elsewhere, goes the thinking, as we have recently seen with previews of the Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC taking place in San Francisco and Stockholm.

The other reason for the absence of the Volkswagen brand is a simple one: there is no major new model due for launch. The Polo and Tiguan are fresh, the Golf still about a year away from needing replacing and the Passat....well, outside Germany, is the Passat even a core model for VW? It's due for a facelift very soon so inevitably that will happen after the Paris show. Volkswagen is also planning to make a big splash with the T-Roc, its long overdue entrant in the B-SUV segment, and that too will take place later in the fourth quarter.

The VW brand might be absent from the Mondial but that doesn't mean that the Group's other divisions will give the show a miss too. Far from it. Audi will give the e-tron its public premiere and also show the next generation A1, this time available only as a Sportback. Facelifts for the A4 and TT will be two other novelties, along with a fresh Q3 which grows by almost 10cm. Which probably means that one day we will see a Q1, with the second generation Q2 becoming a touch bigger.

SEAT is on a roll with profits and fresh models, and the Tarraco will be its Paris show star. The company says it won't go larger than this new SUV, which is to be manufactured in Wolfsburg. The brand's other models are all doing well, and next year we'll see some replacements, such as new editions of the Mii and León.

As for Škoda, it has been talking a lot about the RS/vRS version of the Karoq in recent weeks via a series of press releases showing the model bit-by-bit. It's not a production that matters most for the Czech firm at the show though: it's a concept. Next year, the super-successful brand will at last be permitted to challenge the supremacy of the Golf and this is what the 4,356mm long Vision RS concept hints strongly at. There's no official model name as yet. The five-door C segment hatchback will also serve as the replacement for the Rapid, in Europe at least.

Porsche has been especially quiet ahead of next week's media preview days, which could mean that the new 911 will be revealed there as a potential show stealer. The 992 series car is thought to be the introductory model for what will become a Volkswagen Group rear- and mid-engined modular architecture.

Ford, Nissan and Opel are the other three major brands aside from VW which will be absent, although none has a major model due for launch in the next few months anyway, so it's understandable. Nissan must really regret its strange decision to keep the Juke in production for such a long time: this is why the brand's sales slide has been so dramatic throughout the European region in 2018, even as the Qashqai holds up admirably in the face of intense competition in the C-crossover class. As for Opel, a facelift for the Astra could do wonders to help lift that car's registrations; Vauxhall Motors' dealers would have loved to have had an updated car to sell many months ago. It should appear during the first quarter of 2019.

Naturally, both of the French OEMs will be using their home city's show to best effect. Firstly, Groupe Renault. There has so far been no news out of Dacia but there again, its line-up is mostly fresh and sales are very strong. Renault will have an autonomous concept on its stand as well as a facelifted Kadjar (plus new engines) and the 300 horsepower Mégane R.S. Trophy. There has been no mention of an updated Talisman but that car is now three years old.

The fifth generation Clio is also due very soon so this could well be an additional debut. It's also now known that Renault is planning a variant to take on the Fiesta Active, i.e. a Clio with some plastic around its wheel wells and raised suspension. That one won't be in production until 2019 though.

Groupe PSA seems to have forgotten that the Citroën C5 Aircross was a world premiere 18 months ago at AutoShanghai, having recently claimed that the model will be just that at the Mondial. What's not in doubt is the global debut of a plug-in hybrid variant. For reasons which are not clear, this is being called a hybrid rather than a PHEV. Production starts next year and it will have the same 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine plus one or two motors powertrain as all other future EMP2 architecture PHEVs. That list includes the DS 7 E-Tense 4x4 (two motors); Peugeot 508 Hybrid, 508 SW Hybrid and 3008 Hybrid4 (two motors); as well as the Opel and Vauxhall Grandland X PHEVs.

The electrified EMP2 powertrain produces some 300PS (220kW) when linked to two motors and that also means standard all-wheel drive. A 225PS (165kW) front-wheel drive application with just the one motor will instead be fitted to some of the models listed above.

The 7 E-Tense 4x4 won't be at Paris but the first fully electric DS will be, at least in pre-production form as sales are not due to commence until 2019. That's the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense. This is the first Groupe PSA model to use the battery-electric version of the CMP architecture which the company co-engineered with major shareholder Dongfeng Motor. The non-electric DS 3 Crossback will be another world debut and this small crossover will eventually replace the DS 3 and DS 3 Cabrio. Those two cars are set to remain in production until the end of next year though.

Peugeot is doing something very interesting at the Mondial: showing an electric and autonomous concept which isn't a pod. Instead, the E-Legend is a four-wheel drive coupé with styling influenced by the 504 Coupé from the 1970s. The battery pack has a claimed capacity of 100kWh, power is 340kW and torque is 800Nm but never mind any of that, just soak up the plush blue velvet upholstery. Finally, one brand at least, has remembered that many people buy cars because they love the looks of them - could this be where self-driving cars are headed?

Back in the land of series production models, the 508 SW will be a debutante for Peugeot. The five-door hatchback is now in production and this estate will join it on the line at Mulhouse in November. Hopefully, the brand will have more luck in this segment than Renault has had with the Talisman. And the version for China draws closer to production too. This will be longer and could be called 608. Pre-production cars have been seen recently. These look very similar to the 508 fastback but have extended rear doors and a small silver plaque on the pillars bearing a PEUGEOT badge.

What Peugeot really should be doing is launching a new 208. The current car has been around since the end of 2011 and with the strength of the Polo, PSA may well regret saving some money by putting back the release date for Peugeot's best selling hatchback. As with the new DS 3 Crossback, the next 208 will be a model for the CMP architecture.

Another major player, Hyundai-Kia, will have various new models at the show. For Hyundai, that includes its third N vehicle; this time the sports badge is being applied to the i30 Fastback, while there is a tiny exterior update for the i30 range but some fresh engines too.

Kia will be revealing the successor for the three-door Cee'd which becomes a five-door shooting brake called ProCeed. No point in wondering if the Telluride will also be there: it won't. The big SUV won't be offered in Europe; the world debut will be at the Detroit show in January.

Toyota Motor Europe will be showing the estate version of the Auris replacement, with this also being the first European show for the new Corolla. Back in March, the five-door car was revealed at the Geneva show as the Auris but then Toyota changed its mind - the car is to Corolla the world over. Well, except in China, where FAW Toyota gets to have a Corolla and Guangzhou Toyota will have a slightly altered car called Levin. As for the long-awaited Supra, TME might well reveal the car as a surprise but it would probably make more sense to show it in Los Angeles - we shall see.

Nothing major from Lexus, incidentally, just a facelift for the RC. We saw the UX at Geneva and production of this 4.5m long crossover has just started.

Mercedes-Benz will be doing its best to dominate the Paris show and not let BMW's vital new 3 Series steal all the limelight. The A-Class sedan won't be a major model for Europe so it's curious that the car is being revealed rather than held over for the LA show in November. Meanwhile, the public will see the EQC for the first time after its recent private unveiling to journalists in EQC400 form at an event in California. Paris will also host the debuts of the B-Class as well as a new generation GLE-Class which will soon begin rolling off the line at the Vance/Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama. Some say the GLE Coupé will be another world premiere but this isn't confirmed.

One other Mercedes world premiere shall be the A 35 4MATIC. This isn't a direct replacement for the A 45 but instead one of two new models, the other being the future A 50 4MATIC. These are intended to give Mercedes-AMG two bites of the cherry when it comes to fast C segment hatchbacks (and, from 2019, sedans too, in the US and certain other countries) and direct rivals for the Audi S3 and RS 3.

Will we also see the AMG Project One hypercar in Paris, one year on from the debut of a prototype at the Frankfurt IAA? Things have gone deafeningly silent in recent months and yet production was at one time supposed to be commencing this month - let's see if the car's name is at least announced at the show if not the final design.

There won't be a Mini stand at the Mondial, BMW deciding that due to no scheduled facelifts or new models, the brand may as well give the event a miss. The BMW brand though has multiple world premieres, the most important of which is the 3 Series sedan. We'll also learn which additional variants of the Z4 are coming and when, see the M5 Competition for the first time at a motor show, and also get our first look at the M version of the X2. Oh, and not forgetting the new G05 series X5 including a PHEV variant which BMW is claiming has an EV range of up to 80km.

Of the smaller premium makes, Volvo has decided not to attend, while Jaguar is saying nothing so far about any world debuts. Yet might we see a facelift for the XE and maybe even for the XF? And how about a preview of the rumoured fully electric successor for the XJ? As for Land Rover, a new Evoque is due in 2019 and there is reportedly going to be a Range Rover equivalent of the Jaguar I-Pace built by Magna Steyr - might that model turn up as a prototype?

Finally, VinFast. Not too much is known about this Vietnamese start-up other than the man behind it and his ambitious plans. There will be SUV and sedan concepts at the Mondial and each is said to have a production equivalent on the way, commencing in September 2019. The company wants to be building 500,000 "units" per year by 2025. That includes passenger vehicles, a battery-powered motorcycle, internal combustion engines and electric motors. Engineering and styling are being undertaken in partnership with Pininfarina.

A full analysis of all the world debuts will be published in a second Management Briefing in the days after the event. Before then, a constantly updating list of world premieres can be found here.

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