Notwithstanding the incongruous absence of Nissan, the 2011 Frankfurt motor show sees an automotive industry in a determinedly upbeat mood, with the German manufacturers especially keen to show off at home. Glenn Brooks, who will be walking the halls for just-auto in the coming days, considers which models matter.

You can’t write a preview of the 2011 IAA and not begin with Volkswagen. The Group and the brand itself are determined to steal the show, which is curious, really, as the up! is reportedly the only all-new VW model premiering in Frankfurt. True, Audi has 10 declared world premieres and Skoda will preview its forthcoming global rival for the Chevrolet Cruze, but the Volkswagen Group hasn’t really got a potential blockbuster debut to crow about. Perhaps that will change on the first press day as that giant stand fills out with the new cars that have been already announced and maybe a few surprises to come.

As mentioned, Audi’s debuts are many, though of that 10, several are facelifts (A5 and S5), while others are production versions of previous concepts (A8 hybrid) or else high performance derivatives of existing cars (S6, S7 Sportback, S8). The little urban Sportback and urban Spyder look interesting as design studies for city cars, but Volkswagen’s NILS, a tiny EV concept, seems more likely for production.

BMW will also be showcasing two low emissions or zero emissions models, the lightweight i3 concept small car and the i8 concept supercar. Each of these previews a limited-production model and will uses the company’s forthcoming ‘LifeDrive’ architecture. LifeDrive marries carbon body panels to an aluminium chassis in the quest for light weight and thus extra range for on-board electric power. Both cars will enter production in 2013, sharing electric motors, power electronics, and high-voltage lithium-ion batteries.

It’s set to be an important show for BMW’s archrival Mercedes-Benz with the debut of the second generation B-Class. As well as introducing a new architecture, dubbed MFA, the B-Class will be the first car to be manufactured at the new Kecskemét plant in Hungary. Rastatt, in Germany, which builds the outgoing model alongside the A-Class, will also manufacture both the new B- as well as the as yet unseen third generation A-Class. Other MFA-platform derivatives will follow.

Of the remaining Germany-based brands, Opel will lift the covers on a small EV concept, as well as the new Zafira Tourer, while Porsche will not only give the new 911 its international debut but also the last and most powerful derivative of the old shape 911, the GT3 RS 4.0, now with a few handling tweaks and 20 more horsepower.

Toyota Europe, which recently revealed the third generation Yaris, will debut a major facelift for the slow-selling Toyota Avensis at Frankfurt, alongside a minor series of updates for the Prius. The production version of the much-premiered Prius Plug-In Hybrid will have its debut alongside these two. The second generation Aygo had at one time been expected to debut at the show but this car, along with the replacements for the Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1, should instead arrive in the first quarter of 2012.

Volvo, meanwhile, lifts the covers on a revised XC90 at Frankfurt. Not only is this model now nine years old, but it reportedly has another two years left in its lifecycle. The company, has, incidentally, quietly dropped the Yamaha-sourced V8 versions of the XC90 and S80 which it had been selling in very small numbers for some years. Fittingly, with the days of eight-cylinder Volvos now over, the IAA also serves as the venue for the launch of a new family of low-emissions four-cylinder engines.

FIAT, which has seen its market share across Europe falling steadily throughout 2011, aims to arrest this decline thanks to the imminent launch of the third generation Panda. The little car will undoubtedly prove to be a brisk seller in Italy and, Fiat hopes, in Germany too.

A new version of the Fiat Punto also debuts at Frankfurt but in this case, that means a facelift, not the all-new car that will not be launched until 2013. Having been launched as the Grande Punto in 2005, and then morphed into the Punto Evo as part of a facelift which premiered at the last Frankfurt motor show, the car is now set to become simply the Punto as part of its latest nip and tuck. The main mechanical change is the addition of Fiat’s two-cylinder TwinAir engine.

As for Renault, it may yet pull a surprise as its announced world premieres consist only of facelifts for the Twingo and Koleos, plus the launch of a plug-in van concept, the Frendzy. A new Clio is due in 2012 so this might well be premiered in pre-production form.

PSA has already released images of two concepts for the IAA, one of which, the Citroën Tubik, is a pure fantasy – a nine-seater reinvention of a classic van from the brand’s distant past. The other, the Peugeot HX1, is a somewhat more svelte but equally unlikely luxury crossover – its role is to suggest new styling directions and garner more publicity for PSA’s diesel-electric HYbrid4 powertrain.

Another major player in Europe, Ford, is emphasising new, fuel efficient petrol engines at Frankfurt, with the debuts of 1.0-litre, three-cylinder versions of the Fiesta and Focus. A new low-emissions sub-brand, ‘ECOnetic Technology’ will also be showcased on the Ford stand. Enthusiasts will be far more interested in the Focus ST, which is said to be due for an unveiling at the IAA, along with the striking Evos concept. The latter supposedly contains strong hints as to the look of the next Fusion for North America and its forthcoming spin-off, the fourth generation Mondeo.

Hyundai will be hoping that the second generation of its Astra and Focus rival, the i30, will have even more success than the strong-selling original – the car will be unveiled in five-door form at Frankfurt. Its future twin, the KIA cee’d replacement, follows at the Geneva show next March. Speaking of Kia, a design study for a possible rival for the Passat CC will premiere at the show. This concept, the KED-8 GT, uses an evolution of the Hyundai Genesis’ rear-wheel drive platform.

It shows how far Honda has fallen in the last 12 months that news of a new Civic five-door is ranked below the Hyundai i30 in terms of relevance for the European market. The company will be hoping against hope that this all-new car can restore its fortunes in the region. The fourth generation CR-V which would also help matters, will not, it is said, reach Europe until late 2012, despite its imminent US market launch.

Away from the world’s major manufacturers, some of the smaller brands promise to be generating many pages of publicity for their makers. Ferrari is using the IAA to launch the 458 Spider, Jaguar will show a preview of a rival for the Maserati GranTurismo, SsangYong’s XIV-1 concept hints at a future challenger for the Kia Soul and Subaru inches closer towards revealing the production version of its forthcoming sports coupe with the unveiling of the BRZ Prologue concept.

The world’s first Maserati SUV will be another debutante at the show. Leaked images of this rival for the Porsche Cayenne show a perhaps surprisingly elegant 4×4 with virtually no hint of its origins: the model will be built in suburban Detroit alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee on which it is based.

Fisker will continue to blaze the trail it led with the launch of the world’s first luxury plug-in hybrid sedan in 2010 by revealing a new derivative of the Karma sedan at Frankfurt. The Surf, a shooting break, is reportedly set to be launched in relevant global markets from mid-2012.

Finally, what could well be the most intriguing debut of the event, the mysterious Eterniti Motors Hemera. Is it based upon the Porsche Cayenne, as its outline suggests? And where exactly in London will this ‘hand made Super SUV’ be assembled? All will be revealed on Tuesday 13th.

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

just-auto’s proprietary Production Life Database (PLDB) contains an extensive number of codenames for future EVS, also lists expected launch dates for such models. PLDB is updated daily and can be rapidly searched for details of over 1,500 current and future global vehicles, from 187 makes/brands and 99 vehicle groups.

IAA 2011 world premieres

  • Abarth 695 Competizione
  • Abarth Punto Sport
  • Aston Martin V12 Zagato
  • Audi A2 concept
  • Audi A5 facelift
  • Audi S5 facelift
  • Audi A8 hybrid
  • Audi R8 e-tron prototype
  • Audi R8 GT Spyder
  • Audi RS 5 facelift
  • Audi S6
  • Audi S7 Sportback
  • Audi S8
  • Audi urban Sportback concept
  • Audi urban Spyder concept
  • Bentley Continental GTC
  • BMW 1 Series (five-door)
  • BMW 520d EfficientDynamics
  • BMW i3 concept
  • BMW i8 concept
  • BMW M5 sedan
  • BMW X1 sDrive20d EfficientDynamics
  • Changan EADO
  • Citroen Tubik concept
  • Eterniti Motors Hemera
  • Ferrari 458 Spider
  • Fiat Freemont AWD
  • Fiat Panda
  • Fiat Punto facelift
  • Fiat Punto TwinAir
  • Fisker Surf concept
  • Ford Evos concept
  • Ford Fiesta ECOnetic Technology
  • Ford Fiesta ST concept
  • Ford Focus 1.0-litre three-cylinder
  • Ford Focus ECOnetic Technology
  • Ford Focus ST five-door and wagon
  • Honda Civic five-door
  • Honda Insight facelift
  • Hyundai i30
  • Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel
  • Jaguar C-X16 concept
  • Kia Rio three-door
  • Kia GT concept
  • Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale
  • Land Rover DC100 concept
  • Land Rover DC100 Sport concept
  • Lexus GS 450h
  • Lotus Exige S
  • Lotus Evora GTE
  • Maserati Kubang
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz Concept B-Class E-CELL PLUS
  • Mercedes-Benz F125! concept
  • Mercedes-Benz M-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 CDI
  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
  • Mercedes-Benz Viano Vision Pearl concept
  • Mini Coupe
  • Opel RAK e concept
  • Opel Astra GTC
  • Opel Zafira Tourer
  • Peugeot 508 RXH
  • Peugeot HX1 concept
  • Porsche 911
  • 911 GT3 RS 4.0
  • Renault Frendzy concept
  • Renault Koleos facelift
  • Renault Twingo facelift
  • SEAT Exeo facelift
  • SEAT IBL concept
  • Skoda MissionL concept
  • smart fortwo electric drive
  • smart forvision concept
  • SsangYong SUT-1 concept
  • SsangYong XIV-1 concept
  • Subaru BRZ Prologue concept
  • Subaru XV
  • Suzuki Swift Sport
  • Toyota Avensis facelift
  • Toyota Prius facelift
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
  • Toyota Yaris three-door
  • Volkswagen Beetle R concept
  • Volkswagen NILS concept
  • Volkswagen up!
  • Volkswagen buggy up! concept
  • Volkswagen cross up! concept
  • Volkswagen e-up! concept
  • Volkswagen eco up! concept
  • Volkswagen GT up! concept
  • Volkswagen up! azzurra concept
  • Volvo Concept You
  • Volvo XC90 facelift
  • Yo-Auto concept

For more details on models to be shown at this year’s IAA: Frankfurt debuts