From the tiny Volkswagen Lupo to the lavish Mercedes S-Class to the racy but still-unnamed Maserati coupe, 1998's Mondial de l'Automobile promises something in virtually every segment, with a few concept cars thrown in-between.
Volkswagen AG hopes to continue its winning streak with its new smaller sedan, set to be unveiled at the show. Replacing the Vento in Europe, the new Bora will continue to be called the Jetta in North America. The car, named after a powerful Adriatic wind, will hit dealerships on both sides of the Atlantic late this year.
VW's upscale Audi line will show its first entry in the sports car segment. Given rave reviews during early sightings, the TT coupe is set to rival the Porsche Boxster. Equipped with more horsepower than the Porsche, the car is expected to be a hit when it goes on sale in Germany for 23% less than its Porsche rival.
BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz also plan to unveil new vehicles at the show. The Z3 Coupe and S-Class will have their public launches during the week.
But it's not just the Germans who plan to steal the show. The Italians hope to grab some of the limelight. Maserati SpA's first new car since the '70s will boast a new platform, suspension, body design and high quality not seen from the Trident in many years.
Much of the improvement is thanks to Ferrari, whose takeover of the company last year means Maserati quality may now match German, British and Japanese competitors. The coupe goes on sale in mainland Europe and Japan in October. A cabriolet is set to follow in 2001 or 2002 when the famous marque is set to return to U.S. shores.
From Maserati's cousin from Turin, the new Alfa Romeo 166, which replaces the 164, will make its first public debut at the show. Hoping to continue the success of last year's 156, the 166 is longer and wider then its predecessor. Alfa hopes to sell about 60,000 of the sedans each year.
Also expected to make an appearance at the show are the new Saab 9-5 station wagon, VW Lupo, Ford Focus in five body styles, Peugeot 206, Renault Megane Break, Suzuki Jimny 4x4, Land Rover Discovery, Renault Twingo, SEAT Toledo, production-ready Toyota Yaris, European Accord and Mitsubishi io, which is set to be built in Italy by Industrie Pininfarina SpA. Renault and Citroen also are expected to unveil several concept cars at the show.