The biennial Frankfurt Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) is upon us, with the media preview days taking place on 15 and 16 September. Time then to take a look at some of the new models and concepts making their global debuts.
The dominant force in the German and European market continues to expand the model ranges of its multiple marques. As expected, the Volkswagen brand itself will have the Group’s main highlights at the 2015 edition of the IAA. While yet to be confirmed, the second generation of the Tiguan is expected to appear, replacing what is now a very aged model. The long wheelbase derivative should then follow at November’s Guangzhou and/or the LA auto show(s).
Another car which has been allowed to become old is the CC, so Volkswagen may reveal the second generation of this low-roof sedan at Frankfurt, or else hold it over for LA or the NAIAS in January. A model which is really quite urgent now is a B-SUV for Europe and other parts of the world. It is extraordinary that the Volkswagen brand has no entry in this segment so don’t be surprised if such a vehicle appears at the IAA. The T-ROC and Taigun concepts have provided clues in recent years as to the styling of a production model. There might even be two vehicles – a pure B-sized SUV and a slightly larger B/C model, each one tailored for the preferences of potential buyers in different regions.
Other new models set to be revealed by Volkswagen AG include Bentley’s first SUV, the Bentayga. This will use the MLB Evo platform as introduced by the Audi Q7. The new Audi A4 sedan and Avant are two other confirmed world debuts for the show, as is the S8 plus and a new e-tron concept. The last of these previews the Q6, a plug-in SUV intended to take on the Tesla Model X. Audi might also show the SQ7 TDI, the diesel-electic Q7 3.0 TDI e-tron quattro, A4 allroad, Q1, A5 & S5 and/or R8 Spider.
Seat is yet to announce any properly new vehicle world premieres but its Qashqai rival (project code: SE376) is due out in the first quarter of 2016 so it might well be revealed in Frankfurt. Škoda too will have a C-SUV that’s also based on the new VW316 Tiguan. Reportedly to be called Polar, its maker refers to it as the A-Plus SUV. SK416 will use the Group’s MQB A/B architecture, as should next year’s closely related but smaller follow-up to the Roomster crossover/minivan. The Czech brand will also officially reveal the estate version of the Superb at the IAA though cars are already in showrooms in many European markets.
Porsche will use the IAA for the first showing of a range of low CO2 turbocharged 3.0-litre engines for the 911, and the car also gets a mid-life facelift. Styling updates for the Boxster and Spider will follow in 2016, but the next truly new Porsche is still some 9-12 months away, which is when the next Panamera is due to appear. It will be the first model for MSB, a Porsche-developed architecture that other VW Group brands such as Bentley and possibly even Bugatti will utilise.
Of the remaining German OEMs, one in particular will be hoping to steal the show. The new Opel Astra goes into production in England and Poland shortly after its global premiere. The three-door will not be replaced, but the current car remains in production for a while and has been recently renamed: Opel GTC. The same applies for the Vauxhall variant of the three-door. Opel’s Astra sedan will not be replaced immediately but its successor should appear in 2016. The Sports Tourer estate will also be revealed at the IAA. Codenames are D2JO (Delta 2 architecture, Global J-car, Opel) & D2JOW (Wagon).
A new Meriva is also on the way but GM Europe should hold this one over for Geneva 2016, though it may show a concept at the IAA. The next model will be manufactured at GM España’s plant in Zaragoza (Figuerelas). While it’s a joint project with Psa Peugeot Citroën, an Opel team in Rüsselsheim is leading the engineering. PSA will supply powertrains for Opel-Vauxhall and its own related model(s) and the first vehicles will come to market in late 2016.
Bmw Group should have the as yet unseen (F57) Mini Convertible at Frankfurt, with the Clubman, another car for the UKL1 architecture, already confirmed. This will be the public debut for the latter as the F54 Clubman was revealed to the media at events in England and Berlin a few months back.
At the other end of the size and price scale, BMW Group will reveal the Dawn, a convertible version of the Wraith. It goes on sale from mid 2016. Pricing wise, it sits above the Ghost and Wraith (Ghost coupe) and below the extended wheelbase Ghost. Despite its enormous size, it’s a 2+2. The next new model from R-R after the Dawn will be the Phantom. This is due out in 2016 and shall be the launch vehicle for a space frame architecture upon which all future Rolls-Royces will be based, including RR31, the Cullinan SUV.
The BMW brand may reveal the M2, but this might instead be shown in LA as there are so many other models having their global debuts at the IAA. This includes a plug-in 3 Series, the 330e; the new X1 which switches to a front-wheel drive architecture; the public debut for the urgently needed 3 Series (the C-Class has been destroying it in major markets such as Germany, China, the US and the UK); the 2 Series Active Tourer 225xe; the X5 xDrive40e (another PHEV); and the facelifted M3 sedan.
Daimler will show the smart fortwo cabrio as well as electric drive variants of the fortwo and forfour. These go on sale in 2016. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, has the C-Class Coupe and its C 63 derivative plus new engines and names for the (Mercedes-AMG) GLA 45 4MATIC and CLA 45 4MATIC, and, the S-Class Cabriolet. A GT roadster could also be shown, as well as a facelifted GL-Class that becomes the GLS-Class, an SL facelift and the SLC-Class (a restyled SLK). Finally, the 6.5-metre long Maybach Pullman might appear too. Daimler won’t be mentioning this statistic but it’s almost guaranteed to tip the scales (and any truck attempting to lift one from a tow-away zone) at more than three tonnes.
Renault is getting ready to have yet another attempt at attacking the Golf via a new generation of the Mégane. As with the next Astra, there will only be five-door hatchback (BFD) and estate (KFB) body styles this time around. Each will be built in Spain (Palencia). Slow sales of the coupe and coupe-cabriolet mean neither will have a successor. In the class above this one, Renault is also about to launch a new model to replace the Laguna. The Talisman is seen as a global car, though it won’t be offered with right-hand drive. The sedan (LFD) comes first, to be followed by a wagon (KFD). Both will be manufactured in France at Georges Besse/Douai.
The Renault Nissan Alliance has a lot more new product on the way, with the Alaskan, a Nissan-based 1-tonne pick-up, presently under development for the Renault brand. This is due out in 2016 and it will be followed by a version of the same basic model for Mercedes-Benz. Sources believe the truck with a three-pointed star on its grille will be marketed as the GLT-Class. Like the NP300 on which they are each to be based, these shall be manufactured at Nissan Europe’s Barcelona plant. The Japanese firm will also reveal the European version of the rest of the world’s Navara/Frontier/NP300 at the IAA.
Dacia will have a quiet Frankfurt though a Logan facelift is needed to arrest falling brand sales across Europe. Mid-life refreshes for this car as well as the Dokker and Logan are expected to appear at Geneva next March.
Nissan may show a second Sway concept at the IAA. The brand is said to be keen on eventually phasing out the Note and replacing it with a small SUV to complement the Juke crossover. This model, which is being styled in Paddington and engineered at Cranfield, would be built at Sunderland from 2017. How can that be when this facility is at capacity? The thinking is that Note production could slowly wind down and end in 2018 or 2019.
In a few years’ time, Nissan Europe’s B segment range will consist of a new Micra (production starts at Renault’s Flins plant in late 2016), the Juke (second generation will be on sale in 2017), and the Sway (out in 2017, and similarly sized to Brazil’s future Kicks, another B-SUV), with the Note to quietly disappear. Nissan is apparently keen to abandon sales of models which appeal mostly to older buyers. Why? Well, leaving aside OEMs’ obsession with having a youthful image, a high percentage of retirees value a low transaction price over all other factors, meaning vehicles such as the Note are often money losers. At the moment, little is known about the concept car that has been hinted at, but it could be a preview of the thinking behind the replacement for the 370Z. A crossover? Stranger things have happened in this industry.
Infiniti, which is as unfairly invisible a brand in Europe as Jaguar, given how good the cars are, hopes that things will change in 2016. Much rests on how the Q30, a debutante at the IAA, is received by the market. A closely related crossover, the QX30, joins the five-door hatchback within a few months. Each will be manufactured in the northeast of England and exported worldwide.
PSA Peugeot Citroën hasn’t made any announcements about major new products for the IAA but that isn’t surprising as 2015 was planned as a year of facelifts rather than replacement models or additional ones. This strategy has been disguised by the ‘Back In The Race’ plan which is an attempt to preserve cash while the PR spin keeps that quiet. Hopefully for the highly indebted firm’s future, this idea will be more successful than it has been for what is now FCA.
Just as it did with its recent return to profitability, PSA may well spring a surprise by revealing the next Citroën C3 at the IAA. For the moment, only a Méhari concept has been confirmed and that car will be based on the existing C4 Cactus. A new C3 Picasso is, like the C3, due out in 2016 so that might also be previewed by a prototype. As for DS, the only productoion novelty at Frankfurt will be the rebranded and facelifted former Citroën DS4. A Crossback derivative to challenge the Volvo V40 Cross Country will also be new, as will a concept car. New models for Peugeot don’t seem likely this year, replacements for the 3008 and 5008 being due in 2016. The Fractal concept will, PSA hopes, draw attention away from the lack of fresh product on the Peugeot stand.
Of the remaining manufacturers, FCA will give the Alfa Giulia its public debut and might also show a prototype of the Maserati Levante, as well as hatchback and and/or wagon versions of the Fiat Aegea project, and the made-by-Mazda 124 Spider. An LA debut would make more sense for the little roadster as the Fiat brand’s US market sales are in trouble.
Speaking of the Hiroshima-based OEM, it will have a crossover concept but whether this previews the overdue CX-9 replacement or a potential CX-4 or CX-6 no-one is saying. Mazda might also show a prototype of an MX-5 with a folding plastic roof: the roadster-coupe was easily the better seller in Europe of the old car’s two body styles. Company insiders report that the r-c probably won’t appear until 2017. Why so far away? Sports cars usually fade rapidly after the first year or two of production so Mazda hopes that by adding a new body style and perhaps another engine or two in 2017, 2018 and 2019, sales will remain brisk. TMC and FHI’s Toyota 86/GT86, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are sad examples of great cars that no longer sell well as they have not been further developed.
How odd to have mentioned all the major Japanese OEMs but no word about Honda. The European division now has the best line-up it has offered in many years but that’s not really saying much. There will be a lot of fuss made about the Civic Type R but the next generation Civic will be revealed in the US next week. And when will Europe have that model series? Not until 2017. Similarly, a mid-life facelift for the Jazz is due in 2016 but this ‘new’ car for Europe probably won’t have the update until 2017. And let’s not mention the lack of diesel power for this little hatchback. It would be a wonderful surprise should Honda reveal something truly innovative at the IAA but sadly, this does seem unlikely. The Project 2&4 track car concept will draw the crowds to the Honda stand, at least.
Honda’s loss of market share in EU markets has been HMG‘s gain. Hyundai, as the group’s lead brand, could well pull the covers of its global Prius/PHEV challenger at the IAA. This car has been developed under the AE project code. Kia Motors has its own DE derivative and this should be a crossover to complement the AE five-door hatchback. Sources suggest the Kia will be called Niro, a name which was used for a concept. A new Sportage (QL is the project code) has been officially announced as a global debut for the IAA. An updated prototype of the Optima estate might be shown too, or perhaps kept under wraps until Geneva. Both go on sale in Europe during 2016.
At the time of writing, Ford of Europe remains in the Nothing Much Has Been Announced category. Well, the Galaxy will have its public debut, but a new Ka could appear, and the European markets Edge will be there but we’ve seen the Edge at previous regional shows.
Toyota will have the Prius and it might also show another concept preview of next year’s Qashqai challenger. How about a B-SUV? That would be a great idea for TME but like Volkswagen, Hyundai Europe and Kia Motors Europe, it has well and truly missed the boat in this segment.
Another part of TME, Lexus Europe, really needs to grab the attention of German customers so an RC cabrio or the TX, a stretched RX with seating for seven, could be a world premiere at the IAA. The new LS will be revealed at the Tokyo show in October, and the GS-F follows at the NAIAS in Detroit in January. How about a small crossover? No, that might be needed now, but Lexus won’t have one of these until 2018, which is when the SA is set to go on sale as a challenger for the by-then two year old Audi Q1.
There is a chance that Mitsubishi Motors might reveal the Pajero/Montero/Shogun in Frankfurt but if not, it will almost certainly be a global premiere at the LA or Tokyo shows. Another small-in-Europe Japanese OEM, Suzuki, will give the world its first look at the production version of the YRA project. This sees the revival of the Baleno badge. The car is a five-door hatchback and it’s about the same size as the Hyundai i20.
There’s a small chance that the Suzuki YBA will also appear but far more logical would be a global debut at January’s New Delhi auto expo. Project YBA was previewed by the iM-4 concept at the 2015 Geneva motor show. Its model name is not yet known but it will be positioned above the Jimny and below the Vitara. A note on Suzuki’s littlest SUV too: the next Jimny has been delayed yet again; this time until 2018. By then, the current model will be twenty years young.
JLR will be hoping to grab quite a bit of a publicity in the homeland of the far larger brands that it keeps on chipping away at. A cabrio version of the Evoque is a near-certainty, though it might instead have the covers taken off it at the LA show. A concept of the Defender replacement could also appear at the IAA, while a prototype of the next Discovery is another possibility, as is L560, a model to slot between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport. Apart from issuing pics to the media of the Sentinel, an armoured Range Rover, Land Rover has been suspiciously quiet.
Jaguar is just starting to show the first signs of improving sales, much to the relief of Tata Motors, which has been pouring cash into the brand for some years now. The F-TYPE has many admirers but its high price, width, lack of boot space and CO2 numbers are all reasons why it hasn’t sold well thus far. That and the fact that the segment it was inserted into, once dominated by the Mercedes-Benz CLK & SL and BMW 6 Series, peaked a long, long time ago. A brand that is either unknown or forgotten about outside a few parts of England was, alas, never going to revive it.
The future of Jaguar really depends on the success of the attractive but strangely named F-PACE. This crossover is a world debut at Frankfurt and unless ambitious pricing or some other issue undermines it, this should be the model to begin a new era for Jaguar. The great to drive but forgettable to look at XE sedan is now in production, the second generation XF will also soon be, and then will come the XF Sportbrake.
Interestingly enough, JLR is ignoring the potential for an XE Sportbrake: this is a decidedly odd strategy to adopt when you see just how many Passat, 3 Series, A4 and C-Class estates are sold in the UK and, of only minimal relevance to Jaguar, in Germany. Let’s hope that the F-PACE is an overnight sensation and manages to get people talking about the leaping cat brand – awareness is still the biggest problem to be overcome.
Finally, Volvo Cars has confirmed that its previously announced strategy of not attending the IAA remains in place. Ignoring the national show of Europe’s largest market is a breathtakingly strange idea for a brand trying to reposition itself as premium. The firm insists that an annual appearance at Geneva is all it needs in Europe and that the money it saves by shunning the IAA can be better spent elsewhere.
Due to there being no stand in Frankfurt, the S80L-replacing S90 is probably set to appear in LA and also at the Guangzhou show. Failing that, expect one or both of these models at the NAIAS in January, with the V90 and V90 Cross Country to follow by mid-2016. Despite pics of a model car version of the S90 having been all over the web for a few weeks, Volvo doesn’t seem ready to reveal any pics of the real thing. There again, it might well do that next week so as to try to get some publicity. A bigger, much more expensive S80 successor is going to be a hard sell in most countries but as Audi has proved with the long-ago V8, then several generations of A8 and S8, it can be done. It just takes time.
The second part of this month’s just-auto.com management briefing will be published on 21 September. This will be a look back at the trends, new models and significant concepts from the 2015 Frankfurt IAA.