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Season Opener…

September 12, 2005

As football season kicks off across the country, another sort of season is opening this week in Frankfurt.

That’s right, kids.  It’s auto show season, that blissful period between September and March when automakers roll out their new products and concepts of things to come.  For an auto enthusiast such as myself, it is an exciting time to be alive.

And moreso this year, as the vehicles debuting will be the ones arriving on lots just as I prepare to get a new car.  As I have stated previously, I traded the Xterra in with the expectation that the Mazda Protege5 would be something of a stopgap, a fuel-efficient placeholder to get me through until 2007, when the time comes for me to get the vehicle I really want.

At the time of the trade-in, I was convinced that vehicle would be one of the forthcoming four-door Jeep Wranglers.  Now, I am no longer certain.  After a few months with the Protege5, I’ve become a convert to the joys of driving a small, scrappy car.  It is a compliment to the little blue Mazda to say that I am now considering sticking with the diminutive theme when the time comes to move on.

After the break I have posted pictures of  handful of vehicles debuting this week in Frankfurt.  Some I just find interesting, and others I am genuinely interested in as possible successors to the Protege.

Congratulations, you are part of the 1% of readers who willingly chose to read my random automotive gushings.

Let’s get to it, then.

Ford_iosis_1

Ford Iosis

The stunning Iosis concept is intended to hint at new styling directions for Ford’s European products.  Which begs the question…why can’t it hint at a new styling direction for North American products?

Jeep_compass

Jeep Compass

If you follow the industry, you will no doubt know that the Compass shares its platform with the upcoming Dodge Caliber and next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer.  If you don’t follow the industry, all you need to know is that Jeep is building a car.  This is a major departure for the brand, but I think a necessary one, given the way gas prices are eating away at SUV sales.  And besides, if Jeep has to build a car, I think they are going about it the right way, giving it advanced all-wheel drive and rally aspirations.

Jeep_patriot

Jeep Patriot

Built off the same platform as the Compass, the Patriot is intended to give Jeep a presence in the compact SUV market (the Liberty is a bit too big).  Think of it as a Ford Escape with the looks of a Jeep Cherokee.  If anything, I find the Patriot more of an affront to the brand than the Compass.  At least the Compass makes no bones about what it is.  The Patriot, on the other hand, tries to look a part its not, much like a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

Mitsu_concept_sportback

Mitsubishi Concept Sportback

Hard to believe, but this sleek five-door is actually built off the same platform as the Compass and Patriot above.  Of course, it remains a concept, but it also provides a glimpse of the next generation Mitsubishi Lancer.  If that car can come close to this concept (product always has a way of watering things down), then it will be something no other Mitsubishi has ever been – a car I would consider buying.

Mini_traveller_1

Mini Traveller Concept

I like the current Minis…a lot.  I like the scrappiness, I like the spirit, I like how the drive.  But, due to their size (or lack thereof), I’ve never seriously considered owning one.  Yeah, the Mazda’s not much bigger, but it has four doors and a useable cargo area.  Things that you really need from time to time with four dogs and trips to the local home improvement warehouse.

I am sure I am not the only one who has wished that there was a Mini that was not so, well, mini.

The Traveller, it seems, is the answer to that wish.  One of four new Mini variants in the works, the Traveller rides on a longer wheelbase, allowing more backseat room and…gasp…a useable cargo area.  Almost as important, it shows that the Mini can be stretched and grown without looking stupid.

Suddenly, owning a Mini doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice of practicality.  I can only hope the five-door Estate looks so good.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2005 4:52 pm

    Hmm… I don’t know. I think the stretched Mini looks kind of dumb, but it’s all in the eye of the beholder of course. It looks like a Mini hearse to me. Better not get it in black. The Jeep Compass seems very interesting (had no clue Jeep was going this way). I’m a fan of the Suburau Outback and it reminds of those.

    I know nothing about cars, so excuse the (possible, completely unintentional) ignorance of my comments.

  2. September 12, 2005 10:56 pm

    I’m dang proud to be part of the 1% – my vote goes to the Compass. I’m with you on the downsizing – thanks to your advice, I have really enjoyed my Honda CRV…..and I love 27 MPG!

  3. September 13, 2005 1:44 pm

    Here’s another picture of the Mini Traveller that shows its proportions a bit better:

    http://automobilemag.com/auto_shows/frankfurt/0509_mini_clubman_04_900.jpg

  4. September 13, 2005 2:02 pm

    I’ll revise my opinion, now I think it looks like a teeny Dodge Magnum (which I don’t mean as a compliment).

  5. Tim permalink
    September 14, 2005 12:07 am

    Max things they are all “Big Car!” except for the green one, which is “Green Car!”

    Don’t know why you need to make it all complicated. Seems like he’s got it pretty much figured out.

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