Paris motor show – best of the rest

There’s always a flurry of fuss at a Paris Motor Show. No sooner has one concept car or design study been announced than another takes its place, as journalists try to live-Tweet for all they’re worth.

In this calm after the storm, we’re looking at some of the cars that either stole the headlines or slipped through the cracks. These cars might not be on sale in the next six months, or ever, but they’re still doing interesting things for the industry and future car buyers that we shouldn’t ignore.

Audi TT Sportback Concept

If you’ve ever tried to use the rear seats of an Audi TT you’ll know they’re really only for kids and, as a three-door coupe, shoving kids into the back isn’t exactly easy. If you don’t want an Audi A5 instead, here’s the answer to your prayers – a five-door Audi TT.

With 120mm more TT between the wheels – 290mm in total – the rear seat accommodation is improved and the extra pair of doors makes access much easier. Built on the now-famed Volkswagen Group MQB platform and powered by a 394hp version of the 2.0 TFSI petrol engine, this TT may only be a concept study but it’s not so far off being production ready.

Honda Civic Type R

Slightly more ready that the TT is this Honda Civic Type R. Arriving in showrooms near you in 2015 and built right here in the UK, it’s the most potent Type R model ever made. It’s also the first turbocharged one, producing 276hp from a 2.0, four cylinder engine that doesn’t just rely on VTEC any more. Interestingly, the ‘CTR’ caters to the enthusiasts by sporting a six-speed manual gearbox in the face of increasingly automated rivals. If this is too much then Honda also unveiled some more mundane Civics at the show.

Nissan Pulsar NISMO Concept

Also making a play for the hot hatch category is this Nissan Pulsar NISMO. When we had a play in the Pulsar back in September we found it was perfectly serviceable but lacked a bit of pizazz. A NISMO version would certainly make up the missing link.

While it looks the part and certainly slots in alongside its NISMO siblings Juke, 370Z and GT-R, there’s not been any specifics about the engine. The NISMO Juke’s 215hp 1.6 DiG-T looks to be a likely candidate, but there are murmurs of the Renaultsport Megane lending its 275hp unit to an even more potent Pulsar NISMO RS version. Look out, Honda Civic Type R!

Lamborghini Asterion

Of course if it’s performance you’re after, you needn’t look any further than, to give it its full name, the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4. If you’re familiar with Lamborghini names, you’ll have already sussed out it has four wheel drive, 910PS (898hp) and is mid-engined. The “I”is an abbreviation of “ibrido” – hybrid.

Yes, this Lambo borrows the 602hp 5.2 litre V10 from the Huracan and straps on a 296hp electric motor, powering the front wheels to provide four wheel drive. It’ll run 31 miles on electric power alone (at up to 98mph) which means the Asterion would hit a ridiculous 98g/km on the emissions test – a tax exempt Lamborghini!

Lamborghini name aficionados will be pleased to note that Asterion was the name of the Minotaur from the Theseus myth – a bull hybrid. Clever. See what they did there?

Renault Espace

While the companies above are going faster, Renault is going smarter with a new Espace people carrier. As the car that launched the sector (in Europe at least), the Espace has a tough job keeping its position in the face of rivals like the Ford Galaxy.

The new Espace is a quarter of a tonne lighter than the old model, despite being 16mm longer between the wheels than the current Grand Espace. There’s more leg- and headroom throughout and a huge 2.8 square metre panoramic sunroof helps keep the brightly lit, airy cabin of its predecessors.

The bad news is that, after withdrawing the Espace from the UK market last year, there’s no intention to sell the new car here. At least for the time being…

Ford Mustang

One model we will be getting in the UK though is the new Ford Mustang. On sale across Europe for the first time in its 50-year history, we’ll be offered the choice of a more frugal 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four cylinder with 310hp, or the more traditional 5.0 V8, sporting 412hp in this application. There’s a choice of automatic or manual gearboxes too.

With European sales in mind, the Mustang now uses independent rear suspension, so those of you turned off American muscle cars by crude leaf springs should take note – this is genuine a shot at the sports car market. Drag racers may not be quite so pleased though.

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