GENEVA - The brightest stars debuting at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show March 9-19 are two new roadsters from Fiat Auto SpA and the Rover Group, and the production versions of the new Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG minivans.
The Ford Galaxy/VW Sharan minivans come from the companies' AutoEuropa joint venture in Portugal. Capacity will be 180,000 units annually, despite fears within the European industry that the niche faces serious overcapacity. The minivans will battle a flood of competitors from Peugeot SA, Fiat SpA, Chrysler Corp., Renault SA and Mercedes-Benz AG.
While Ford and VW stake out the practical territory with the minivans, Rover and Fiat lay claim to the romance of small roadsters.
Fiat's Punto-based Barchetta goes on sale in Italy this month. Prices should run from $18,000 to $22,000. The curvaceous styling, with an arching crease along the flanks, is the work of Fiat designer Andreas Zapatinas, who left BMW only a year ago. The dramatic styling masks the Barchetta's humble origins as a Punto-platform derivative.
Rover's new midengine MGF is arguably the most technically advanced sportster built to date. It incorporates a Hydragas suspension, a mid-mounted 1.8L all-alloy K-series engine and electric power steering. Two variants of the 16-valve powerplant will be, offered: a 130-hp version and a new variable-timing 150-hp model.
Alfa Romeo hopes to shift attention from its withdrawal from the U.S. market with a much-needed facelift of its 155 sedan. The car boasts twin-spark 4- and 5-cyl. engines. Designers reworked the interior with upgraded trim and equipment, and added flared wheel arches to the exterior lines.
Designer and coach-builder Bertone SpA will show a concept car based on a short-wheel-base version of Lancia's new 5-cyl. Kappa sedan. Company officials say they hope the car will generate enough interest to justify a small production run.
BMW will use the Geneva show to launch the 3 series station-wagon and the new 2.8L I-6 powered 328 sedan.
VW will introduce 4-wheel-drive Syncro versions of its Golf hatchback and Variant station wagon featuring the company's benchmark VR6 and new TDI diesel.
Renault SA will bring its Laguna station wagon and Laguna RT 2.0S sedan. The RT 2.0S is the first Renault to use AB Volvo's 4-cyl. 2L engine.
The only significant new vehicle expected from a Japanese manufacturer is the Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Carisma, the product of MMC's Dutch NedCar joint venture with Volvo. Volvo's version of the shared car, likely to be called the 600 series, bows later in the year.
The Korean auto industry is attractively represented by Daewoo's 2+2 concept car. ItalDesign used Daewoo mechanicals, including a 230-hp V-6, for the coupe.