The story at this year's Geneva auto show might just be what isn't going to be there.
Virtually every auto journalist expects to see the all-new C-Class on the Mercedes-Benz stand. But Stuttgart's big-selling mid-size sedan won't be showing at Geneva's Palexpo.
Instead, DaimlerChrysler AG is holding the C-Class for a show closer to its May launch, hoping to sell out the hefty remaining inventories of the current "C." Mercedes now is expected to debut the car at a small domestic German auto show in mid-April.
Without a new C-Class,SA seems poised to capture the lion's share of media attention with its new-found admiration for the sport/utility vehicle (SUV). The French automaker is following up last year's four-wheel-drive Scenic RX4 with the Koleos, a 4-seat, 4WD hybrid concept, which attempts to be an audacious marriage of sedan and sport-ute qualities.
The Koleos is in the tradition of's Avantime, which is being prepared for introduction in Europe this year, and eventually in the U.S. as an Infiniti.
"Koleos marks the will of Renault to invest in the sport/utility niche by reinventing the leisure vehicle," says a Renault spokesman. The Koleos is an adaptable car, which raises and lowers itself 10 cm. (4 ins.) depending on road conditions. Power is from a 30kW (40-hp) electric motor on the rear wheels and is stored in lithium-ion batteries. Front-wheel-drive comes from Renault's 16 valve 2L, 170-hp gasoline engine. In 4WD mode, both sources are used.
Motor Corp. also will use Geneva to show off its latest 4WD offerings. The Japanese automaker will introduce the Tribute SUV, first seen as the ACTIVEHICLE concept in Tokyo last year. Based on the same platform as the Escape, shown at the Detroit auto show this year, the Tribute has an automatic 4WD system. When it goes on sale in Europe later this year, the vehicle will come equipped with a 3L V6 or a 2L 4-cyl. engine.
Other vehicles set for Geneva debuts include the Alfa Romeo 156 sportwagon, Mitsubishi Shogun, Ferrari Modena 360 Spider, Opel Agila and Speedster, Rolls-Royce Park Ward, Audi A6 Allroad (Audi's first real run at competitors' SUVs), and's Maxima QX, Patrol GR, Almera and Almera Tino. Facelifted vehicles being unveiled include the 5-series with a new 220-hp 3L I-6 and the Galaxy.
Geneva always has its share of concept cars and this year will be no different. ItalDesign SpA is expected to unveil its second generation Structura. The vehicle's designers feel the public and much of the industry have missed the innovative concept introduced by the original Structura first shown at the 1998 Turin auto show. The key feature of the car was the degree of comfort, roominess and brightness granted by a tall limousine. If the message did not go through the first time it was probably due to the peculiar design and architecture of Structura. Now the company wants to deliver the same message but wrap it in more conventional styling, yet the revised Structura still is based on the Audi A8.
French coachbuilder Heuliez will be unveiling the latest development of its specialty - the convertible hard top - with an application to a3-series convertible.
Other concepts set to be introduced at the show include the Cadillac Imaj, Renault Z10,Safari Indica roadster, Bertone Voiture Urbaine and ESX3.