American auto shows haven’t fully embraced the idea of “booth babes,” gorgeous women who help show off the industry’s finest new cars and concepts. Some U.S. shows do without booth babes entirely. In Europe, luckily, booth babes are a staple, adding sex appeal to the already pulse-raising display of kickass cars. So we’re extra-grateful that the fine folks at VW sent us to Paris and the South of France to check out the Paris Auto Show and VW’s first-ever hybrid, the all-new Touareg SUV. The Paris show had an eye-popping array of new vehicle launches and mind-bending concept cars, including the stunning Lamborghini Sesto Elemento concept above (it’s there, believe it, you just missed it at first because of the model in front).
Let’s roll the highlights.
VW’s Hot Hybrid and Slick Sedan
VW is looking at a big year, with an all-new Jetta just out, a redesigned Beetle coming mid-2011, and what they’re calling the “New Mid-size Sedan,” or NMS, also due mid next year. VW revealed sketches of the NMS during the Paris show.
But the big news for U.S. buyers was VW’s first ever hybrid, the 2011 Touareg. Combining a direct-injection V6 gasoline engine with a special electric motor, the supercharged hybrid Touareg offers better fuel economy than a V6 engine, with V8 performance stats like a 0-60 time of 6.2 miles per hour. Wider and shorter than the previous generation Touareg, the new design is distinctly more manly and sporty. VW says it’s aiming to combine utility, luxury and performance in one package. After tearing around the streets of Monaco along parts of its famed Grand Prix course, we’d say they hit the mark.
Quattro Looks Very Sexy at 30
Another stunning debut at the Paris show was the Audi quattro concept, a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the automaker’s four-wheel-drive system. Sexy curves, a powerful 408-horsepower engine, 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds. We want one. Unfortunately, it’s a concept, so we won’t be seeing it anytime soon, but keep your fingers crossed it eventually goes into production.
Sacré Blue! Porsche 911 Speedster
Porsche calls the azure exterior of the limited edition 2011 Porsche 911 Speedster “Pure Blue.” It has to be about the most beautiful blue ever to grace an automobile. The color was specially created for this ultra-exclusive Porsche (it also comes in Carrera White), of which only 356 will be produced in homage to the Porsche 356 Speedster that bowed in 1953. Severely raked windscreen, wide rear end, twin humps behind the passenger cabin… you can have it for about $200,000.
Toyota’s Killer Concept: FT-86
Hey Toyota dudes, you want to reverse the bad press trend? Make the FT-86 concept car already. This kickass coupe has been around the auto show circuit for a while, and we’re huge fans; it’s the first Toyota to get the blood boiling in quite a while. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel and experience some sudden intentional acceleration.