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French fancies out to steal the show; It looks like happier days for motoring manufacturers could be here again soon, as they offer us a glimpse of things to come. BILL CAVEN reports from the Paris Motor Show.


PARIS is famous for its wine, women and Seine. But for now you can include some stunning metalwork to that list.

For yesterday, the French capital provided a much needed shot-in-the-arm to the beleaguered automotive industry.

For in a bid to shrug off sluggish new car sales, a host of manufacturers came up with a host of exciting new futuristic concept vehicles in time for the opening of the Paris Motor Show.

At the same time some went that inch further by displaying anumber of dramatic new models that will be arriving hot off the production lines in a matter of just a few months.

The car companies were clearly determined to put on the razzle and dazzle by showcasing more newcomers than you could shake a stick at.

Leading the blast-off were the home-based brands of Peugeot, Renault and Citroen, who took full advantage of being on their own soil to attempt to grab the limelight. However, when it comes to headline grabbing, Ford are old masters at this malarky and proved it once more.

The marque previewed their all-new Mondeo as it nears final production form ahead of its arrival early next year.

And clearly Mondeo Man and Madame are in for a pleasant shock if its dynamic new lines are anything to go by.

Ford president John Fleming revealed that the stakes are high as the Mondeo is not only the meat but also the bones of the oval badge.

He said: "The Mondeo has always been a major player in Europe, and with more than four million owners looking for us to deliver something special, we have every intention of meeting their expectations."

Coming hard on the bumpers of the new S-MAX and Galaxy models, Ford have splashed out pounds 500 million transforming the new Mondeo home in Genk, Belgium.

The new Mondeo takes the company's "kinetic design" form language to a completey new level.

In other words the look is striking and unmistakably worthy of a Ford badge.

Equally when it comes to design flair Citroen are never far behind. What with dancing robots and ice-skaters, the Gallic genuises have come up with another head-turner in the C-Metisse.

Exceptionally stylish and powerful, this beauty proves that a high-performer can also be environmentally-friendly.

Not only can it boast a top speed of 155mph, the C-Metisse is also designed to eke out more than 45 miles to the gallon.

The four-door coupe is also highly practical thanks to its show-stopping gull-wing front and rear doors.

Abit more down to earth is the eagerly-awaited Peugeot 207 Epure which offers more open top motoring.

Peugeot are no strangers at getting their kit off as they displayed eight years ago when they unveiled the 206 CC. The coupe-cabriolet with its neat folding roof captured the imagination and won over hundreds of thousands of hearts - and wallets.

Now Peugeot are set to repeat the trick by offering the same wind-in-the-air experience with its new 207 hatchback.

Although Peugeot have dubbed the Epure as a concept car, you can bet your pension that it will be reality by next year.

But what makes the car that extra bit special is that it is powered by an electric motor developed by the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group.

The powerplant features a new GENEPAC 20 20 kW experimental fuel cell designed by the French Atomic Energy Commission.

Not to be outdone, Renault took the wraps off their planned new prestige fourseater Nepta cabriolet.

Aimed at the top end of the luxury market, it offers blistering performance from its 420bhp twin-turbo V6 engine.

The elegant low-slung lines of the open-topper reveal Renault's vision of sheer driving pleasure.

The wave-shaped side panels breathe fluidity and highlight the car's elongated lines, an effect which is further enhanced by the use of a specific anodized aluminium finish for the lower part of the vehicle's sills and spoilers. Inside, the Nepta's dashboard appears to be suspended in mid-air and offers an eye-catching combination of analogue and digital displays.

The rotary gear shift is also centrally-mounted and is easy and comfortable to use.

Renault insist that the Nepta is a combination of a dream car and the passion for mechanical engineering excellence.

Once again, motor-driven gull-wings are the order of the day as the designers look for something a little bit more dramatic.


Peugeot 207 Epure' Renault Nepta' Citroen C-MAtisse' Ford Mondeo' IT'S THE WAY AHEAD: The giants of the motoring world are certainly putting on the style, introducing a host of stunning concept models in time for the Paris Motor Show. Among the heavy metal on display is the brand new Ford Mondeo which will hit European roads early next year' ON A WING AND A PRAYER: Citroen fans will be praying the gull-winged high-perfomance C-Metisse will soon be put into production
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 29, 2006
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