if Porsche is silently taking over the VW empire, which looks to be the case, why have two, three or even four lifestyle SUVs with about as much chance of conquering the great outdoors as I do of climbing Everest with no Oxygen and a cigarette on the go?
Frankfurt had more than it’s fair share of show stoppers, but the headline act for part two simply has to be the Brabus Bullit – representing Mercedes in the absence of anything particularly exciting from the Three-pointed star on home soil bar the C63 AMG.
Apart from that power-packed C-Class Stuttgart opted for a full-on low emissions assault, with 19 new models on offer, and while I’m really trying to get enthused about saving the world there is just something more appealing about huge horsepower and the chance to melt the tyres. And as soon as the C-Class hit the market Brabus got hold of one and shoehorned a V12 S Biturbo under the bonnet, well and truly trumping their chassis donors on this occasion.
It’s similar technology to the brute force that powered the Rocket to the title of the world’s fastest saloon and with a simply daft 720bhp and 974lb/ft of torque, electronically reigned in to 811lb/ft to avoid leaving expensive transmission components all over the floor when the car charges to 60mph in 3.9s, 185mph in 24.5s and a top end speed of more than 220mph.
Of course the show car came with all manner of body armour in carbon-fibre, but Brabus stuck to steel for most of the panels as saving weight simply wasn’t an issue and they needed all the stabilising force they could get over that hard working rear axle. And the price for the show car? An eye-watering, knee trembling €460,000.
The car was built as a demonstration of technology, as well as to celebrate the company’s 30th birthday, and Brabus simply can’t build too many of them. But even before the covers came off there were firm orders for similar weapons back at Bottrop from those with all the money in the world and the desperate urge to spend it.
Brabus also brought the €45,000 Brabus 112, a widebody Smart car with a spectacular interior, 112bhp, unsurprisingly, and fat rear tyres that should make this little city car a real ball.
Carlsson may just have lost out to its rival when it comes to the headline act, but its 720bhp CL is perhaps a more relevant car to the world at large and the interior produced by German leather designer Etienne Aigner was a stunning showpiece. The CK65 ‘Eau Rouge’ is based on the fearsome CL 65 AMG and produces more than 800lb/ft of torque – which should be enough for anyone.
And with an auto box and all the electronic assistance available outside of a life support machine the car will hit 60mph in 3.9s and the top speed is limited to 199mph, or 320kph in more logical currency, to prevent the tyres overloading. And while the performance mods are available for any CL, only 10 Eau Rouges will see the light of day and each will be individualised. That will go some way to justifying the €305,000 + taxes it will take to buy one, and don’t expect Carlsson to have any trouble shifting them.
The tuner hall was a busy place, with Mansory bringing its own AMV8. There’s no big power upgrade, but just look at it – the car is beautiful. With a big brake upgrade with 405mm discs all round, and lowered suspension this car might just be a match for the N400 that Aston so proudly displayed on its stand, and in white with carbon-fibre accoutrements there’s no second guesses on who wins the beauty contest.
Mansory brought it’s widebody Bentley Continental GTC, too, again in a rather spectacular white. But we’ve seen the Widebody look Bentley before, with the Coupe, and Mansory’s unique approach to the Rolls-Royce Phantom that was also on the stand. So it was the Aston that stole the show there.
And just round the corner was the answer to Frankfurt’s environmental issues, a car that manages to combine a keen eye for Mother Earth with devastating power and spectacular looks – the AC Schnitzer GP3.10 GAS POWERED. Based on a 335i Coupe the car comes fitted with a 552bhp variant of the M5’s V10 that apparently left not one spare millimetre under the bonnet. But it gets better, as at the touch of a button the car switches between normal Superplus and Liquid Petroleum Gas.
Now let’s keep it in perspective, LPG produces around 15 per cent less emissions than regular fuel, so this car is not about to save the world. What it does show is what’s possible with green technology, which might be why they painted it that disturbing colour. The mint green-look probably won’t win the car any fashion awards, but in any other colour the design work on this heavily tuned 3 would have been sublime.
The 60mm rear arch extensions are just the start, as this beast comes with huge intakes at the front and even a roof spoiler to keep it planted when it goes to Nardo to prove the efficacy of the powerplant later this year. As for the bonnet scoops and side vents, well cooling just has to be a major issue in this car and any help the engine can get has to be a good thing.
There were other delights in the Tuning Hall, as there always are, but back in the main manufacturer section there were two big launches to consider. First, the Jaguar XF, which is charged with rescuing the manufacturer’s flagging fortunes alongside the simply beautiful XKR. And this is another gorgeous effort from the big cat, but it might just be too little, too late.
The XKR is the first Jaguar not to end up covered in more red ink than a dunce’s final exam and the marque that had become the weak link in a very suspect Ford-owned chain has a chance at resurrection. And if it comes down to real talent, then it will walk it, absolute walk it.
Full of neat touches, like the transmission lever rising from the centre console and the starter button glowing bright red, the XK replacement is an absolute stunner whichever way you look at it. Sporting, aggressive and gorgeous, just like a Jaguar should be, it and the XKR could shake off the old man smell that has formed around Jaguar like a rotting corpse in recent years.
Ford is ready to sell the brand, though, after years of baling out the firm, and any new owner will be looking for a rapid turnaround. And the problem that Jaguar now has is image, so all the 410bhp Supercharged V8 engines and riotous performance in the world won’t stop the decline unless the Big Cat can become cool again. That’s a mountain to climb, and all of us car nuts that remember the halcyon days of Jag are just hoping they can pull it off.
And lastly, because they deserve to be last quite frankly, come the much-awaited VW Tiguan and BMW X6. Munich’s Sport Activity Vehicle is a niche in desperate need of a point and the end result is a car that looks something like a cross between a Z4, a 6 Series and one of those crash dieters before they got thin.
This car is so ugly I vomited ever so slightly in my mouth before turning away for the sanctuary of the other halls, not waiting to hear about the ActiveHybrid power drive, and that’s when I ran straight into the Tiguan, which apparently also redefines the interface between SUV and car. If that sounds like a desperate press release to try and justify a car that has no place on this Earth then, well, it is, and the optional specs of ‘Trend & Fun’, ‘Sport & Style’ and ‘Track & Field’ had the bile rising once again.
The Touareg’s smaller brother is probably a fine car to drive, but why buy the smaller car with a full off-road spec? And if Porsche is silently taking over the VW empire, which looks to be the case, why have two, three or even four lifestyle SUVs with about as much chance of conquering the great outdoors as I do of climbing Everest with no Oxygen and a cigarette on the go?
Looking distinctly Cayenne-like, right down to the ugly nose, the Tiguan might just take the prize for the most unattractive and pointless thing at the show.