Postcard from the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show

During crankandpiston’s sojourn to this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, I learnt several things: walking 11 halls in nine hours will tend to wear mighty holes in your shoe leather; give it time, and the girl on the Lamborghini stand’s expression – given the number of camera lenses aimed in her direction – had moved from sultry to just plain freaked; and while models like the Audi e-tron Quattro concept, the Ferrari 488 Spider, the Hyundai Vision G, and the Porsche Mission-E may have grabbed the headlines, there was plenty outside the limelight worthy of mention.

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Honda’s new Project 2&4 for starters. Just when we’d got used to Honda producing space-age lawnmowers, robots and the occasional CR-V, only the new Type-R Civic and Acura NSX (not now purists…) today tend to get the blood pumping from the Japanese marque’s line-up. It’s good to see though that a sense of character still exists in Minato courtesy of this Ariel Atom-rivalling 212bhp track weapon, which boasts a livery indicative of that worn by the Honda F1 RA272 that Richie Ginther piloted to victory at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. At present, no plans exist to bring said mentalist to production. But given the 999cc V4 RC213V MotoGP bike engine on offer and a startling 14,000rpm redline (the same incidentally as the RA272’s 1.5-litre V12), JDM-istas will no doubt be praying that recent poor Formula 1 form hasn’t put Honda off track work altogether.

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Speaking of track work, Ford had a pleasant surprise in store when the brand new GT headlined its stand. A follow-up to its 2004 predecessor – and with five decades of both GT40 and Le Mans lineage coursing through its intercoolers – the second gen houses a mid-mounted 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost, good for 600bhp and well within Ferrari 488 GTB and McLaren 675LT range. With a 2016 Le Mans return already in the works though, further amendments have been made beneath the surface including tauter suspension and larger brakes, a lightweight carbon fibre build, a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and more aero-efficient bodywork to ensure improved manoeuvrability (you may remember our previous twin test with the Nissan GT-R Track Pack). The new halo of Ford Performance is expected to cost around $360,000 when it hits the market.

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The GT3 RS meanwhile has little to prove. An established road weapon and with more than five decades of 911 development to fall back on, there’s little doubt that the 493bhp naturally aspirated 4-litre flat six-powered sports car will be waltz off the showroom floor with very little elbow grease required, particularly given the ‘come get sum’ modified aluminium bodywork borrowed from the 911 Turbo. Indeed, en-route to Frankfurt, had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the latest generation Porsche. But more on that later…

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Also drawing the plaudits on Porsche’s stand was the new Boxster Spyder, which – as a convertible version of Stuttgart’s baby model – proved a surprising crowd-puller. Unlike its predecessor’s 3.4-litre unit, the newboy receives the larger capacity 3.8-litre flat six from both the Carrera S and the Cayman GT4 (noteworthy given that a GT4 Boxster might already be in the works). Indeed, 370bhp, it’s 45bhp more powerful than a 3.4-litre Boxster GTS (which we took for a spin last year) and only 10bhp shy of the GT4, complete with six-speed manual. Lowered by 20mm on the same suspension package available on the GTS, it seems Porsche has learnt from some of the mistakes it made with its previous generation model.

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Also hogging the roadster limelight was the new Lamborghini Hurácan Spyder, a model that packs the same 602bhp 5.2-litre V10 as its hardtop counterpart as well as similar performance figures…

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…but a raging bull put firmly in the shade by the debut of a sister model, the Aventador Roadster Superveloce. The 740bhp hardtop is one of the most mental Lamborghinis we’ve ever had the ‘pleasure’ to scream at on – you may remember our time with the Lamborghini Accademia – and can only imagine the brutal straight-line speed and face-ripping G-forces produced under heavy cornering will be emphasised yet further by that accentuated 6.5-litre V12 soundtrack. Even with that additional 50kg of kerb weight.

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Across the hall, Volkswagen was busy congratulating Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia on their third consecutive World Rally Championship crown with the Polo R WRC…

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…while Porsche celebrated – after a 17-year wait – its 17th victory in the top class at the 24 hours of Le Mans, courtesy of Nico Hülkenberg, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and the #19 919 Hybrid. Look closely and you’ll still see the detritus picked up at La Sarthe on race day.

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Sticking with the motorsport theme, Skoda had a surprise in store, displaying the new Fabia R5 Combi with which it celebrates the firm’s rally success. Powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the R5 Combi sits atop 18in alloy wheels, features a large rear spoiler, a wide central exhaust, and a five-speed sequential transmission. Don’t let the day-glow yellow livery fool you though: in the flesh, the R5 looks seriously impressive…

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…as does the Sin R1 GT4, the track-going version of the British-company’s supercar – designed in Bulgaria of all places – that’s competed on the European GT4 scene this season. At the base of the GT is a Chevrolet 6.2-litre V8 – plucked from the Corvette Stingray – that produces 444bhp (350bhp in the GT4 model) and is capable of 0-100kph in 3.5 seconds. Said V8 is mated to six-speed manual transmission that drives the rear wheels. An FIA-approved roll-cage, a homologated tubular spaceframe chassis, a racing fuel tank and adjustable double wishbones suspension equates to a 1100kg kerb weight, while the whole package rides atop 19in alloys. Consider the $165,000 price tag before digging out the chequebook.

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Categories: Road


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