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Tech, style and luxury SUVs to rule Frankfurt auto show

Detroit Free Press

DETROIT A flood of new cars and SUVs will debut at the Frankfurt, Germany, auto show this week. The vehicles will range from General Motor's Opel Astra think of it as next year's new Buick Verano to a megabuck Bentley and brand-changing models like the Alfa Romeo Giulia sport sedan and Jaguar's first SUV to core models like the Audi A4 and Mini Clubman.

Here's a look at some of what's new in Frankfurt, and on its way to the United States.

ALFA ROMEO

The Giulia sport sedan kicks off an Alfa Romeo new-model binge that's vital to the survival and success of Fiat Chrysler, which owns the sporty Italian brand. The Giulia sedan a sporty wagon will reputedly follow it has sleek Italian style, a new architecture that offers rear- or all-wheel-drive. A Ferrari-developed engine line is expected to include an astounding 510-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. Expect 0-60 mph times well below 4 seconds.

AUDI A4

The stylish A4 faces monstrous competition in cars like the BMW 3-series, Cadillac ATS and Mercedes C-class. It's key to Audi's goal of being the world's best-selling luxury brand. The new model is likely to offer a 2.0-liter diesel engine when its U.S. sales begin.

BENTLEY

If you think the super-rich don't have enough ways to spend their money, this is the auto show for you. Bentley will introduce the Bentayga, a $229,100 SUV with Bentley looks and a 600-horsepower 6.0-liter twelve-cylinder engine. At 202.4 inches, the Bentayga is 1.5 inch shorter than a GMC Yukon.

IHS Automotive principal analyst Ian Fletcher predicts adding an SUV will ring up around 3,000 sales a year, boosting total Bentley sales above 10,000 annually for the first time.

BMW

The lavish 7-series sedan and small X1 SUV will bolster the top and bottom of BMW's model line.

Visually, the 7-series represents an evolution of the current model. Technically, lightweight materials should be about 290 pounds lighter than the previous model, thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber. BMW will add a 326-horsepower plug-in hybrid called the 740e. A touch screen should simplify BMW's iDrive control system.

It also promises to deliver remote-control parking allowing the driver to stand outside and maneuver it into spaces so tight the doors won't open.

The X1 is roomier than the current model. U.S. sales begin this fall.

INFINITI

Nissan's luxury brand will unveil the first vehicle it developed with Mercedes-Benz, the Q30. The compact hatchback uses the same architecture as the Mercedes CLA and GLA. It goes on sale in the U.S next spring. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The QX30, an SUV version of the car, goes on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2016.

JAGUAR

Jag's first SUV, the oddly named F-Pace, aims to deliver a high seating position and field of vision without treading on sister-brand Land Rover's off-road franchise. The styling is consistent with Jag's car lineup. The F-Pace uses the same architecture as the Jag's XE compact sedan, which also arrives in U.S. dealerships in 2016.

MERCEDES-BENZ

Mercedes cranks up the luxury with its first S-class convertible since 1971. The sleek four-seater borrows from the styling of the lovely S-class coupe. Creature comforts include the Aircap system designed to protect passengers from the wind, heated armrests and vents to breathe heated air on the occupants' necks. The power soft top can open and close in less than 20 seconds at up to 37 mph.

The base S550 convertible has a twin-turbo 449-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8. The S63 4Matic AMG convertible adds all-wheel-drive and a 5.5-liter twin-turbo that produces 577 horsepower.

Mercedes is also introducing the new C-class coupe, including a 469-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 in the AMG C63 performance model.

NISSAN

A concept SUV coming from Nissan is one of the show's most intriguing debuts. It's rumored to prefigure a sporty SUV that will join or perhaps even replace the iconic Nissan Z sports car. European reports suggest it could use the same platform as the next generation of Nissan's quirky little Juke SUV.

OPEL

General Motors' European Opel brand will reveal the hatchback and station wagon versions of its popular Astra compact car. Expect a U.S.-built sedan version of the Astra in Buick showrooms next year as the new Verano.

Tech features will include a camera that reads road signs, automatic braking, lane-departure alert and assist, blind spot alert, and a new lightweight design for its ventilated, massaging seats.

The new Astra also shares its architecture with the Chevrolet Cruze that goes on sale in the U.S. early next year.



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