After reading the title you are undoubtedly expecting to read about the upcoming cars at the 2018 Paris Motor Show and we’ll get to that. Firstly, let me tell you what you simply cannot expect there.

The 2018 Paris Motor Show won’t host any debuts or cars made by the following manufacturers:

  • Volkswagen,
  • Nissan,
  • Infiniti,
  • Ford,
  • Volvo,
  • Subaru,
  • Mazda,
  • Mitsubishi,
  • Opel and
  • Lamborghini

It’s not like the French dislike them, but all of these producers actually withdrew their participation at one of the biggest car events in the world. Now that we are over with the sad part, let’s get into the upbeat part of this article. You will learn how to appreciate the Motor Show in the City of Light like never before. Partly because this was actually the first Motor Show to ever be organized but also because this show has hosted so many important debuts that it’s frankly impossible to list or mention them all.

When Did the Paris Auto Show Start

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Paris is one of a few cities in the world that actually greatly contributed to the automotive industry development.

Although there were only two dozen cars on Paris roads back in 1884, some enthusiastic individuals did see the potential and organized an event of sorts.

According to some sources only two cars were exhibited, and they didn’t even make news. It was a fail of epic proportions. However, in the coming years, the French capital did hold some automotive related events, but the first one to be recognized as the “Le Salon de l’automobile du cycle et des sports” (International Automobile, Cycling and Sports Exhibition) was organized in 1898 and that under the watchful eye of Albert de Dion. He was one of the pioneers of the French automotive industry and the automotive industry as a whole having founded the automotive brand De Dion-Bouton in 1883. At the time, this was one of the largest car producers in the world. Steam powered cars, mind you.

Nevertheless, Albert de Dion managed to gather some cars and exhibit them under an improvised roof at the Tuilleries Gardens. Some even reported that de Dion asked producers to actually drive their cars from Versailles to the exhibition if they wanted to attend the show. It worked! Sort of. At the time no one was really sure that the car, as a means of propulsion, will ever become a big thing, so the event was more like a curiosity than an exhibition as we look at it today.

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At the turn of the millennium, the Paris Auto Show moved to a more appropriate setting at the Grand Palais. This was its home for 6 decades.

However, as years passed and technology improved, the exhibition in Paris became ever more important with debuts of the first left-hand drive car, the first car with independent suspension, the first car with an electric starter in Europe and the like. The growth of the show was abruptly stopped at the start of the First World War. As you may imagine, the automotive industry borrowed its capacity for the war effort and cars themselves became somewhat less important.

However, after WWI, the car industry changed significantly. The car became a necessity, a way of life and, with the mass production and production lines becoming the new norm, it replaced many of other conventional means of transportation. Although growing in size for the next twenty years, the Salon de l’automobile faced another stall in 1939 with the outbreak of WWII.

Again, car manufacturers started producing military vehicles and people who would otherwise drive or buy now unproduced cars were on the battlefields.

The Salon de l’automobile survived the biggest clash in human history and resumed its operations in 1946 with the 33rd edition. People eager to see just about anything that was not directly related to war rushed to the Paris Motor Show. In 1946, more than 800,000 people attended the Motor Show which almost transformed the show into a cultural movement. Yet, new cars weren’t exactly present until 1948. After all, the war effort stalled the development and the production of new cars. Fast forward to 1954 and 1 million people in attendance.

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It wasn’t until 1976 that the Paris Motor Show became a biennial manifestation being held in alternation with the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Where is the Paris Auto Show?

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Held at a special venue called Paris expo Porte de Versaille, the largest exhibition venue in all of France, the Mondial de l'Automobile became the largest motor show on earth attracting more than 1.25 million visitors, journalists and automotive professionals in 2016.

This is more than even the biggest automotive venues of Japan, Germany, or the U.S.

The structure of the Mondial de l’Automobile is not as uniform as, say of the Geneva Motor Show. There, for example, all exhibitions are focused in one exhibition center (large one though - as big as 155 basketball courtss). On the other hand, numerous halls of the Paris Motor Show give an opportunity to create rather unique exhibition stages where companies can directly communicate with the journalists, potential buyers, and industry professionals.

The sheer size of Paris expo Porte de Versaille requires special transportation for the visitors in between the halls. In that regard, journalists, during their Press days, have a chance to take a shuttle from one hall to another. These aren’t your regular shuttles, mind you. I remember a few years back, when I was attending the Paris Motor Show I could take a Maybach shuttle. Also, I saw a Rolls-Royce Phantom shuttle there once. FYI, I did not take either at the time because Citroen had just launched the DS brand and the awesome-looking “mass production” DS4 was driving people from one place to another. I took it. Yes, I chose the DS4 instead of a freaking Maybach. I just had to know everything about it. And you know what? The DS4, loaded up with all the gizmos, was amazing (and smelled awesome too thanks to some fragrance concocted by Citroen).

Five Most Important Moments Of The Paris Motor Show. Ever!

Choosing the five most important moments of a monumental event such as the Paris Motor Show is extremely hard. Of course, de Dion actually organizing the first show should be one of them, but that goes without saying, so I will list five others.

1950

The whole world was licking its wounds from the destructive WW2, but the Parisians were enjoying cars. A lot. In 1950, the Paris Motor Show became such a big event, it was held in Porte de Versailles and the Grand Palais at the same time. It attracted huge audiences and exhibitors from all around the world. I think it is fair to say that the 37th Paris Motor Show (the one in 1950) was the tipping point for the auto show industry in the whole world. Interestingly enough, also in 1950, Chicago organized a Motor Show - the first one in the U.S. since WW2.

1957

I am including this one only due to the fact that the Japanese actually attended the show and showcased a car. Not just any car, though.

Remember, this was only a decade or so after the war, so tensions were still high all over the planet. Can you even imagine how the French felt? Nevertheless, the cosmopolitan nature of Paris prevailed and the Japanese car called the Prince Skyline wowed the crowds.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the great great grandfather of the Nissan Skyline. The Prince became Nissan and the name Skyline, which eventually gave birth to the most epic Nissan GT-R cars, was born in Paris (ok, it was shown in Tokyo a few months earlier, but this was its big christening). Eleven years after the introduction of the Prince Skyline at the Paris Motor Show, we had ourselves a GT-R.

1962

In 1962, after 6 decades of organizing the show at the Grand Palais, the Paris Motor Show moved to the Porte de Versaille in all of its entirety. Even the Army General, Charles De Gaulle, visited the show to support the Motor Show cause. However, for gearheads, another name stuck. The name of the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso Prototipo (#4053GT). A stunning Ferrari one-off with a V-12 that developed 240 horsepower.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te3exCRJOhs

1998

Finally, a centennial of the largest Motor Show in the world. France won the World Cup in football, and the Paris Motor Show celebrated its 100th anniversary. What a year to be French. Celebrating the show, organizers actually dedicated an entire exhibition hall to presenting all the important cars from the yesteryear and showcasing the ultimate in the technology of the time. Boy, 1998 was a fun year at the Paris Motor Show. At the Paris Motor Show centennial BMW showcased the M5, Renault unveiled the Clio V6, the Audi TT reached the production phase and the Bora (Jetta) showed its face. From the perspective of today, 1998 in Paris is a year when all the automotive world went modern.

2016

I did pick this one up for an unfortunate reason. The 2016 Paris Motor Show was a good one, but it lacked the presence of some of the automotive royalty - Ford, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Volvo. Sure, some did skip one or two shows before, but in 2016 the overall outlook of an auto show as an appealing event started to shift. These manufacturers’ decisions showcased that the basic idea of an auto show has to be changed. Two years later, even more manufacturers announced they will not be attending the show as they are focusing their marketing budgets elsewhere. It only goes to show that the Paris Motor Show will need to reinvent itself as the Detroit Motor Show is attempting to do by moving from January to June.

2018 Paris Motor Show Car Debuts

Aston Martin

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Interestingly enough, Aston Martin won’t have an official representative from Gaydon in Paris. Instead, a local Aston Martin dealer will get a stand and exhibit some of their most praised gear. Cars presented there will be the DB11, the V8 Vantage, and, crucially, the DBS Superleggera.

I was quite surprised to learn that Aston Martin won’t be attending the show in its full capacity, but the DBS Superleggera and people that know all about it will be there. After all, the new Aston Martin flagship that debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed does take the Aston Martin ideology to a whole new level finally giving the company a weapon to tackle the likes of the Ferrari 812 Superfast.
The Super Luxury GT has a clear sporty side as it is lighter compared with the DB11. More powerful too. Plus, Aston Martin tricked it out with a new suspension setup, for better aerodynamics and some unique design cues. This is an Aston Martin unlike any other. It’s the best production ready Aston Martin ever and the 2018 Paris Motor Show will have it.

Read our full review on the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

Audi A1

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This is the second most astounding small car to be showcased at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The first one, at least for me, is the last one on this list, so read on. Nevertheless, the Audi A1 showcases the evolutionary step the smallest Audi has taken so far. It inherited the main character traits and basic layout from the previous gen car, but the new car is just that - all-new. Basing it on top of the new modular chassis, Audi immediately offered a number of versions - even one with the S-line trim - and a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine good for 197 horsepower. I mean, that sounds “hot-hatchy” enough for a car like the A1. The Audi A1 has already proven it’s quite an admirable supermini, with clear intentions to become the best in the world. Considering its premium character, one can only expect it to make a proper show at the 2018 Paris Motor Show along with its recently unveiled high riding brother the Audi Q3. It’s the next one on the list.

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi A1.

Audi Q3

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Keeping in line with the sophisticated, yet alluring form of before, Audi went a bit adventuristic with the new Q3. It is slightly more flamboyant with its oddly shaped front lights and obviously bigger front grille. Despite the obvious styling changes inside out, the Audi Q3 grew in size quite considerably. Audi added 3.8 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and it added a bit of Audi Q8 flamboyance into the mix as well. The car is available with a choice of one diesel engine, or three versions of gasoline engines with power ranging from 150 horsepower to 230 horsepower. If everything goes as expected, the Audi Q3 is one of four Audi debuts at the 2018 Paris Motor Show with the A1, the Q8, and the A6 Allroad being the other three.

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi Q3.

Audi Q8

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Although revealed online a few months ago, the Audi Q8 will make its auto show debut at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. This is an all new car for Audi and its aim is to compete with the likes of big BMW and Mercedes coupe-inspired SAVs. In that regard, Audi crammed all the imaginable tech into it. Most of the tech was inherited from the likes of the new Cayenne and the new Bentayga. This is an awesome interpretation of the high-end SAV and a car that actually created a new design language for Audi.

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi Q8.

Audi A6 Allroad

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The A6 Allroad Audi is still under the wraps, but some sources suggest it will appear at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. As is the case with the previous generations of the A6 Allroad, the new one will, most likely, feature body claddings to differentiate it from the rest of the lineup. Also, the car will gain an offroad focused suspension, a more advanced Quattro AWD and possibly the best in terms of luxury. Now, gasoline and diesel engines are a certainty. For me though, possible installation of a 3.0-liter TDI diesel with 286 horsepower would be a perfect fit for the A6 Allroad. Nothing more, nothing less.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Audi A6 Allroad.

BMW 3 Series

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Produced since 2011, the BMW 3 Series is long overdue for a proper update. We will see the 2019 BMW 3 Series at the 2018 Paris Motor Show and this fact alone is making this car possibly the most important debut of the show. Codenamed the G20, the new BMW 3 Series probably comes as a hybrid, uses some sort of carbon-core as found on the higher end models and will lose some of its heft. BMW has been looking to reinvent its styling for a decade now, and the main tipping point was that trademark kidney grille. With the latest 8 Series BMW did try to reinvent the grille by not making the kidney out of one piece. I am inclined to believe that the new 3 Series will have it too. While some do expect major departure from the current styling, that isn’t going to happen. The BMW 3 Series will remain faithful to its historic styling cues.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 3 Series.

BMW 8 Series

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Audi has a flagship SAV and BMW is going to bring its flagship Coupe to the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The new 8 Series theoretically replaces the 6 Series coupe in the BMW lineup, but realistically, it is a whole new car with a different approach to the coupe ethos of BMW vehicles. First of all, it is a sports car rather than just a GT. Even the first one introduced - the M850i - is a 500+ horsepower monster capable of serious performance.
In Paris BMW will probably reveal more versions of the new 8 Series next to the already known for the M850i and the 840d. The main goal of the 8 Series is to reinvent the overall “Ultimate Driving Machine” ideology. There can hardly be a better car to do this.

Well, save for a proper small, large scale sports car . Like the new Z4.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 8 Series.

BMW Z4

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Yup, BMW will bring the new Z4. It will be a convertible, or a roadster if you like. Aside from finally bringing a proper replacement to the Z4 of old, the BMW Z4 assemblage will take place in Austria on the same production line used for the new Toyota Supra. It’s already been confirmed that both cars will share a majority of the parts, but they will be different in some crucial aspects - like their driving character and personality. I expect to see the Z4 with a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo engine for more than 330 horsepower. It is the same engine to appear in the Toyota Supra, mind you. The Z4 is a convertible with its soft top probably quick enough to get down in 10 seconds up to speeds of 30 mph or so.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW Z4.

BMW X5

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Final BMW novelty in Paris will be the new X5 - a car we have seen a lot of since the introduction a few months ago. As is the case with the 8 Series, which brought evolution to smaller BMW cars, the X5 does much the same for the SUVs and crossovers within the lineup. It pioneered a one piece double kidney grille and introduced us to a number of other exterior styling cues we never actually associated with BMW. It will most certainly be one of the stars of the show.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X5.

DS3 Crossback

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Trying to cash in on the SUV/CUV craze, DS will reveal a new car - the DS3 Crossback. Sized similarly to the new Nissan Juke, the DS3 Crossback rides on an all new PSA platform formed exclusively for small city cars. As a small crossover, the DS3 Crossback is expected to bring a number of noveltis, most important of which will be its all-electric version. Apparently, it will feature a 114 horsepower electric motor and enough batteries for 250+ miles of range. We will know a lot more closer to the launch of the DS3 Crossback at the 2018 Paris Motor Show.

Kia Proceed Shooting Brake

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The Kia ProCeed was one of the all-time favorite cheap cars in Europe. It looked cool, was equipped rather nice and people (mostly the youth) could buy it for cheap. Yet, it was a three door hatch - a dying breed in the world of today. So, in an attempt to keep the rather well developed brand name alive and spice it up for the new gen of customers (probably people who drove the original three-door, but not with kids), Kia will reveal the Proceed Shooting Brake. It is a sort of a stylish wagon which will gain a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine similar to the one in the i30 N. Not that powerful I presume, though. Of course, apart from the top notch power under the bonnet, the Proceed Shooting Brake should gain a number of other engines including smaller diesel engines and a smaller turbocharged petrol engine. I would not be surprised if Kia landed a small N/A engine in the Shooting Brake as well. At least for some developing markets.

Mercedes-AMG A35

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Sure, the Mercedes-AMG A45 is the most extreme A-Class one could possibly imagine, but the A35 should be plenty good too. Instead of 400 horsepower (which is expected for the next A45), the new AMG A35 will have a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 335 horsepower. I am curious to see any other changes Mercedes may do to differ it from the top notch car and from the usual “civil” versions. Taking into account AMG’s recent habit of making “semi” AMG cars such as their 53 range, the A35 is an expected adjunct to the smallest of the bunch.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG A35

Mercedes-Benz B-class

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The B-class was always the most perfect dull car one can imagine. It is a family friendly hatch, slightly larger compared with the A-Class. The new one will be much the same and Mercedes may introduce it at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. Expect to see styling similar to the A-class, much the same interior and the same engines as well. Although I did say it is a dull car I also implied it is a perfect one. I can’t wait to see what Mercedes-Benz concocted for it this time around. Imagine an AMG B45 4Matic. Boy would that be cool. At least as a concept.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-class

Mercedes-Benz GLE

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Along with the X5, visitors at this year’s Paris Motor Show can expect to see an all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE. Paris is a perfect venue for a clash of two of the most popular SUVs in this premium class. The BMW X5 already came out, but we are yet to see the GLE. Considering its previous generation (called the M-class and the ML), we are in for a treat. The new GLE may become the slipperiest SUV out there, with drag value lowered to 0.3 Cd. Apart from the regular GLE, we can expect the new GLE Coupe sometime in the future. The first GLE Coupe is an ostentatious piece of real estate. Personally, I think it is an overkill in the design department, so maybe the new one will be, at least, decent. We can even expect newer four cylinder engines offered for it.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes-Benz EQ C

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The EQ C will be sized similarly to the GLC. It will be only slightly larger, but will feature different technology compared to the GLC. Built on top of the new Electric Vehicle Architecture, this will be the first car of the Mercedes-Benz push into electric cars. Some even say it will compete with the Model X, but I think it’s a closer competitor to the I-Pace. Although, I have to admit, all three of these seem to have found a unique niche of the market. While the details about it are still sparse and I am not even sure if Mercedes-Benz will bring it to the Paris Motor Show, the EQ C would be one of the most interesting cars if it were to actually appear in France in its production form. We saw concept versions a few years ago.

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz EQ C

Peugeot 508 SW

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Trying to create a stylish sedan with some premium quality to it, Peugeot shortened the 508 SW compared with the previous generation. The new car sits lower too and sports a sophisticated styling evoking dynamism, progression and activity. It is quite a neat design packed with the best that the PSA Group can offer in terms of technology. Ok, it is the same car as the 508 Sedan, but with a slightly bigger boot (530 liters) and focused on a slightly different market niche. Interestingly enough, the SW version of the 508 will take up to 65 percent of all 508 sales. It is that popular among buyers.

Read our full review on the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW.

Porsche Macan FL

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Don’t expect radical changes here. After all, the Macan sells like hot cakes and Porsche isn’t crazy to change it all that much. Last month we did learn that the facelifted Macan will gain some improvements when it comes to its infotainment system, it will inherit the 911 steering wheel and an awesome light strip at the back. It is much the same light segment as on the new Cayenne. More importantly however, this strip will land on the next Porsche 911. The Macan is like a prophet for the 911 and you should pay attention to it. Buy it too, because it’s probably awesome.

Read our full review on the 2019 Porsche Macan.

Renault Concept Cars

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Note: 2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy pictured here.

Renault has been really coy on details about its cars at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. Of course, the 2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy is a certainty to appear there, but we do expect Renault to make some kind of a bang with a cool concept car. Heck, the Renault Clio is ready to be replaced. I am eager to see if the company has enough courage to unveil it without any previous announcements. Wouldn’t you like to see that? Nevertheless, apart from the hyperhatch, Renault will definitely surprise us with something else.

Skoda Kodiaq vRS

2019 Skoda Kodiaq vRS
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Fast SUVs are all the rage. Audi sells a lot of them, Seat started an all new brand Cupra releasing an SUV Cupra Ateca and now Skoda joined in on the party with the Kodiaq vRS. However, instead of getting that “i-can-power-it-all” 2.0-liter, TSI, the Škoda Kodiaq vRS will get an awesome 2.0-liter biturbo biTDI with 237 horsepower. Considering that the successful Fabia RS from 18 years ago had a TDI and was quite awesome, I believe the new Kodiaq vRS will be equally stunning.
Apart from the Kodiaq vRS, I wouldn’t be surprised if Skoda unveiled some sort of a concept car, or even an SUV.

Read our full review on the 2019 Skoda Kodiaq vRS.

Suzuki Jimny

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Finally, this is definitely my favorite car to see at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The new Suzuki Jimny stirred the automotive world in the right way and finally showed us all that the old-school fun car can still exist. It is a small off-roader with tiny engines, an advanced all-wheel drive and cute modernistic interior you can only love. I simply need to drive this car.

Read our full review on the 2019 Suzuki Jimny

Conclusion

Despite manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Nissan, Infiniti, Ford, Volvo, Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Opel, and Lamborghini actually leaving the show this year, the fact is that true gearheads will have plenty to enjoy. Not only have BMW, Mercedes and Audi outdone themselves with the novelties they bring, but even the French did a thing or two to make the 2018 Paris Motor Show unforgettable.

Further reading

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