Paris Auto Show Sees Car Brands Competing to Lift European Gloom

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The Paris Motor Show typically isn’t counted among the top-tier automotive exhibitions in the world along with Detroit, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Tokyo. But you wouldn’t know it by how much noise — and news — that global automakers plan to make at the show when it opens next week.

And that’s good. Battling a European market that continues to slump because of Eurozone difficulties and a gathering recession, especially among mainstream-market purchasers, automakers could use the kind of product excitement and dose of optimism that a good auto show always provides the industry even amid the worst markets.

Here’s a sampling of what some auto brands have up their sleeves for Paris:[more]

Kia: The Carens, a European cousin of the Kia Rondo sold in the United States, will debut. It features a sporty design with a low roofline and large wheels, and it’s completely new from the ground up. 

Land Rover: A Defender that will appear in the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, will be featured. The double-cab pickup in Skyfall is one of 77 vehicles that Land Rover Jaguar provided to production of the movie, also including Range Rover and Jaguar XJ.

Lexus: The luxury leader will unveil a new mid-size hybrid coupe concept, the rear-wheel-drive LF-CC, which integrates various new Lexus design cues and runs on a 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain that provides a glimpse of the future for Lexus hybrids.

Nissan: The company is showcasing the Nissan brand’s bolder new design language — its Infiniti luxury brand long has been a styling trailblazer — at the show, exhibiting vehicles such as the Micra ELLE, developed with Elle magaaine; the 2013-specification 370Z Coupe and Roadster with new LED daytime running lights; and a TeRRA concept car powered by hydrogen fuel.

Smart: The Mercedes-Benz-owned minicar brand will be unveiling an electric-powered concept car in Paris, a next-generation, two-seat vehicle known as Forstars. It’s possible that the car will be developed into a rival to models such as VW’s CrossUp and also to be tweaked into a small SUV, a segment whose sales are increasing in Europe.

Toyota: The brand will introduce a new Yaris, the Trend version of its five-door hatchback. It’s aimed at stylish Millennials and features blacked out roof-support pillars to create a “floating” effect as well as a roof spoiler. Toyota also will offer a facelifted version of its Verso, a seven-seat minivan that Toyota builds in Turkey for sale in Europe, South Africa, China and Israel. Toyota claims to have made more than 300 changes to Verso, including styling tweaks and softer plastics in the interior.

Volvo: The brand will display its new V40 Cross Country, designed for young urbanites who may head occasionally to the great outdoors, with innovations in storage, high ground clearance and protective cladding on the outside for those off-road jaunts.

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