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Paris Motor Show 2014: The Podium Winners (And Podium Of Shame) Photo:
 
 
Connor Stephenson | Oct, 03 2014 | 11 Comments

It’s a Paris Motor Show that encourages visitors to "plug in", "tune out" the internal-combustion engine noise and "drop out" of the polluting society that’s bringing hellfire and damnation to our climate.

Which is to say that plug-in hybrids are the order of the day, for companies big and small.

As always, there were winners and some truly sad losers. Here is a list of the first day's best, and worst, in show. (According to this writer, at least.)

 

PODIUM OF SHAME

 

Quelle horreur! Lamborghini Asterion

Lamborghini should make both the best and worst lists for this, its Asterion concept. It broke every rule of 'super car lore' by rolling silently onto stage in electric-only mode.

Sure, if Lambo built this plug-in hybrid - purely to bring its theoretical emissions total down and comply with European legislation - people would buy it.

And not least because it’s the most powerful car the company has ever produced - but, surely, there’s no way they’d ever willingly use the silent-running EV mode.

That would be like buying a Bang and Olufsen stereo and using it as garden furniture.

So the Italians score a fail for even daring to produce the Marcel Marceau of super cars - and for naming it after a minotaur, because that’s a hybrid of man and bull, geddit?

To be fair and even-handed, they must win some applause for using electric motors to add unnecessary but wondrous grunt to its V10 engine, giving it a combined output of 669kW and a 0-100km/h time of 3.0 seconds flat.

And a highly theoretical and practically unrepeatable claimed fuel figure of 4.2 litres per 100km.

Lambo claims people will use the EV functionality “in cities”, but have you ever seen a Lamborghini driver sit quietly at traffic lights without revving hell out of their engine?

Repeat after me: it’s only a concept, it’s only a concept, it’s only a concept...

 

Opel Adam

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Holden took journalists all the way to Paris this year, which is new ground indeed for the Aussie company, to look at the Opels that will soon make up much of its range.

Let’s just hope the appallingly named and stupidly styled Adam hatch doesn’t make it onto the boat.

Here is a car that’s so clearly trying to be a cheap version of a very successful marque, the MINI Cooper, right down to its stupid, happy little face.

Not to mention those endless customisation options and its outrageous colour palette - many of which seem to have been borrowed from soft-drink can designs of the 1980s. Mello Yello, anyone?

It’s a failure of both imagination and design, and a blight on anyone born with the name Adam.

 

Mini Superleggera concept

The clever folks at Mini just about got away with the five-door version of their classic car, which was also unveiled at Paris, even if it was hilarious trying to watch full-sized humans trying to clamber in and out of its pocket-square-sized rear seats.

What it didn’t get away with was the Superleggera concept, which has been spied before but truly cast a pall over the whole Mini stand here.

Look at it from front on and it’s kind of stylish, a bit daring even, and definitely something different for this brand, which usually just cuts the same sausage different ways, and in different diameters.

But wander around to the back and it all goes horribly, tragically wrong.

For a start there’s that weird central fin down the boot, which looks like it’s been borrowed off a Klingon’s forehead, and then there’s the stylistic woefulness of the Union Jack tail lights.

Yes, it’s only a concept and such tomfoolery won’t make it to production if they do build it, which is apparently being seriously considered, but overall the design just doesn’t hang together.

Not just a Mini fail, a rather large one.

 

PODIUM WINNERS

 

Tres bien! Mercedes-AMG GT

In pictures, and in its spec list, you can instantly see what Benz is trying to do with the new AMG GT coupe.

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Amg is taking the fight to Porsche and its venerable 911, and sure, it looks nice enough - but has it really got the sizzle, the proportions, the muscularity to take on such a proud beast?

And then you see it in the lurid metallic flesh, as we did here in Paris, and it fairly makes your heart come to a stop.

Thrusting and nose heavy and SLS-lite from front on, it cuts a bold figure and has a strong chin, nose and jawline, but as your eyes wander around its flaring hindquarters to the rear it’s hard not to be blown away.

Jaguar’s F-Type has the best back end of any car, possibly in history, but the GT deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. It just looks … right. And tough.

Yes, if you examine it from the rear three quarter there are even touches of 911 about it, but if you’re going to fight someone, it’s always worth weakening their guard with a bit of flattery first.

If it’s half as good to drive as it looks - and the AMG badges suggest it should be - the GT will be one hell of a car.

 

Audi TTS Roadster and TT Sportback Concept

It’s too hard to split the new TT S Roadster and the surprisingly lovely TT Sportback concept, so let’s just give Audi one gong for the both of them.

The TT S, with its stunning 228kW 2.0-litre engine and 4.9-second 0-100km/h dash doesn’t exactly come as a surprise - every TT Coupe has been followed by a convertible version - but what’s impressive is just how stunning it looks.

Previous Roadsters were pretty, smiley and even slightly girly affairs, but this one has an edginess, a mean sharpness around the eyes and grille, that make it the best ever from the TT sub brand - which seems set to grow into a whole family of cars.

It’s even more fabulous inside, with the digital dash making room for a lighter than air cabin feel of simplicity and beauty.

What is surprising is that the Sportback concept, a TT with five doors, doesn’t look like an aberration.

Surely the designers can’t take one of car history’s most beloved coupes, stretch it by 29cm, widen it a little and jam two more doors in without ruining it? Yet somehow they have.

And this concept also wears a bigger, wider new grille, which Audi hints is just a taste of what’s to come for the family face.

This is one concept that’s definitely destined for production.

 

Volkswagen XL Sport

VW’s XL1 is a victory of substance and science over style, a fuel miser the company describes as its “technological beacon”, with an economy figure of 0.8 of a litre per 100km, thanks to its slippery shape and light weight.

Sadly it has all the presence and charm of a praying mantis with wheels.

Somehow, though, they have taken this tech marvel and turned it into something truly desirable (despite a disappointingly depressed looking rear-light cluster), the XL Sport.

While the design has been pimped and prettied, it’s the car’s beating heart that will really turn heads, and ears.

For the XL Sport, the company has taken the engine from one of its newest acquisitions, Ducati Motorcycles, and made a proper hybrid of sports bike and sports car.

The bike in question is the awesome Panigale Superleggera, and the engine is the world’s toughest two-cylinder power plant, good for 145kW and capable of screaming in fiery Italian fashion all the way to 11,000rpm.

Just hearing it drive on stage set the hearts of every motorcycling enthusiast alight, because Ducati makes the best sounding bikes on the planet, just as Italian car makers produce the best exhaust notes.

Then combination of light weight, aero tech and screaming bike performance make this possibly the most exciting car at the whole Paris Motor Show.

What's won you over so far this week? Tell us below.

MORE: TMR's Paris Motor Show coverage

 
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