The Best of the Paris Motor Show 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart

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Auto fans, rejoice! The new season of automotive shows has begun with the Paris Motor Show (or more elegantly, the Mondial de L’Automobile) currently underway in France. While fans were pleased with the modest offerings at last month’s official kickoff in Moscow, where the Mazda6 took center stage, Paris is the official launching pad for manufacturers to debut their first 2014 models as well as solicit feedback on concepts that may make a production debut as early as New York or Beijing next year. We scoured the ranks in each category for the best of the best, so check out our selections below and make sure to check back over the coming months as we go into more detail on these beasts of the road, as well as our coverage of next month’s highly anticipated L.A. Auto Show; who knows where the 2013 Playboy Car of the Year is hiding.

When it came to choosing the Best of Show, it was a no-brainer that the much-rumored new Jag F-Type was the star of the show. A shining example of class, elegance and sheer power that exemplifies the importance of this vehicle to the JLR brand under new owner Tata, lead designer Ian McCallum’s vision is sure to put Jaguar on a highly competitive course for the future. Available next summer in three output models, a supercharged three-liter V6 (340 and 380 horses) or a 495-horsepower five-liter supercharged V8, this is truly a sports car dream, with gorgeous songstress Lana del Rey on board as the face of it.

Hot on the heels of yet another major launch earlier this year with the roadster version of its MP4, the 12C “Spider,” the McLaren P1 concept is not only a worthy successor to the legendary McLaren F1 but strikes a balance between design and functionality for those who actually want to take their pride and joy out for a ride more than once in a blue moon; the company is aiming for a production variant that is “the best driver’s car on both road and track.” While powertrain specs won’t be released until next year, the adjustable “active” rear wing to boost downforce and carbon fiber monocoque are just a tease of the final beauty of this supercar.

We’ve been fans of Mercedes’ SLS AMG Coupe ever since it was announced as the spiritual successor to the SL300 Gullwing. The Electric Drive version premiering in Paris was not only visually striking, but as the world’s most powerful electric super sports car, with four motors producing the equivalent of 740 horsepower, this new beast of the road has the ability to hit 0-62 in just 3.9 seconds. Utilizing technology derived from Formula 1, this exciting emission-free coupe has more than enough power at almost 738 lb.-ft. of torque.

Ever since our trip to Europe to experience the Mini family, we’ve been excited for its seventh and latest member to take a bow with the upcoming release of the Paceman, a step removed from the four-door Countryman and the self-proclaimed world’s first Sporty Activity Coupé. While still attempting to stay true to the go-kart feel of the rest of the lineup, the Paceman is an innovative combination of fun, retro design with prominent body lines that emphasize the aerodynamic sports body and muscular wheelbases. With a top-tier combo offering of 181 horses and 19” alloy rims, we are excited to get this toy on the road.

The follow-up to the LF-LC we highlighted from Detroit earlier this year, the new LF-CC hybrid concept provides a glimpse into the future for Lexus’ premium mid-size segment in keeping with their L-finesse design language, which clearly shows through the powerful front façade, deep spoiler and massive signature spindle grille. Mated to a 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain, this RWD, aerodynamic vision is powerful, bold and an exciting step for the company.

We haven’t been the kindest to Smart’s concepts in the past, but we do believe that the Benz designers behind the hilariously bubbly Forstars concept — christened a Sports Utility Coupe — have really stepped it up a notch with the addition of a glass dome roof (hence the stars name) and the outlandish integration of a film projector into the vehicle’s hood, enabling drive-in films as you go. Though we strongly discourage using it behind the 18-wheeler on the freeway; you may get a ticket for that.


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