ROUGHLY HALF OF ALL NEW CARS SOLD in Europe are powered by diesel engines, so it makes sense that compression ignition took center stage at the continent's biggest auto expo.

From tiny econo-cars to luxurious concepts, everyone spoke diesel at September's Frankfurt Motor Show.

First up, on the eve of the press days at Frankfurt, was a diminutive rear-engine B-car known as the Up! destined for Europe and emerging markets such as South America.

Volkswagen Group Chairman and CEO Martin Winterkorn said the concept, based on a unique platform dubbed NSF for New Small Family, proclaims the auto maker's commitment to fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles.

The Up! will be available with both diesel and gasoline engines and reach the market within two years. Plans for a North American rollout were unclear, but Ward's is told another concept based on the NSF platform could be introduced in November at the Los Angeles auto show.

German rival Adam Opel GmbH cast a spotlight at the show on its 1.3L CDTI Ecotec 4-cyl. turbodiesel, which already powers the Opel Astra, Corsa, Meriva and all-new Agila.

The 1.3L CDTI also rolled on to the Frankfurt stage in the Opel Flextreme concept, a plug-in electric vehicle that springs from GM's E-Flex architecture.

The diesel engine is not connected mechanically to the wheels but instead charges a lithium-ion battery pack, which powers an electric motor to propel the Flextreme up to 34 miles (55 km) in pure electric-drive mode.

The 1.3L CDTI also drives the new Corsa EcoFlex, which debuted with a diesel particulate filter. The Corsa EcoFlex will be available in Europe beginning in January.

In addition, as part of the EcoFlex program, Opel unveiled a Corsa Hybrid concept that combines the 1.3L CDTI with GM's belt-alternator-starter technology. Fuel economy is estimated at 63 mpg (3.7 L/100 km).

Mazda Motor Corp. unwrapped a new “bold and exquisite” styling direction for the second-generation Mazda6 sedan, which goes on sale in Europe in November. A slightly altered version of the new Mazda6 arrives in North America next summer.

A turbodiesel (Mazda's MZR-CD 2.0L, generating 138 hp and 243 lb.-ft. (330 Nm) of torque and two gasoline 4-cyl. engines (1.8L and 2.0L) power the Mazda6 in Europe.

A new gasoline 2.5L 4-cyl. will be available in the lineup, too.

The eighth-generation Audi A4 also arrives in European showrooms in November, motivated by a V-6 turbodiesel, two 4-cyl. turbodiesels or two gasoline engines.

All five mills bring direct injection technology, for improved fuel economy and emissions. The new A4 arrives in the U.S. in 2008.

Meanwhile, Audi's RS6 performance specifications drew a gasp from the throng of journalists at the show when an executive said the car is powered by a twin-turbo V-10.

Available only in the Avant body style, the RS6 arrives in Europe next year.

Chrysler LLC premiered the '09 Dodge Journey cross/utility vehicle, which also is on tap for the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November.

The 7-passenger Journey, which boasts a sporty design and minivan functionality, goes on sale in the U.S. in first-quarter 2008 and will reach international markets midway through next year.

For export markets, the Journey receives a fuel-efficient, 140-hp 2.0L turbodiesel mated to a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch Getrag GmbH-developed 6-speed automated manual.

In the U.S. and Canada, the Journey will offer a choice of a 173-hp 2.4L 4-cyl. or 186-hp 2.7L V-6, mated to a 4-speed automatic.

Likewise, the stretched Mini Clubman offers a rear-hinged second door on the passenger side, as well as a 110-hp 1.6L turbodiesel.

Two other gasoline 1.6L 4-cyls. will be available in Europe: a 175-hp turbocharged direct-injection mill and a normally aspirated 120-hp engine with BMW AG's Valvetronic variable valve timing.

Ford Motor Co. unveiled its Kuga cross/utility vehicle in near production form ahead of European sales launch in early 2008, powered by Ford's acclaimed 2.0L Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel.

The Kuga will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission, as well as intelligent 4-wheel drive.

Also on the diesel front, Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Automobile Co. says it hopes to deliver two self-developed common-rail diesel engines: a 1.6L and 1.9L.

But the Chinese auto maker's prospects in the European market appeared less than brilliant when it announced during the Frankfurt show it has delayed introduction of its BS4 and BS6 sedans because of poor performance in crash tests.

Brilliance engineers are changing 65 body parts in an effort to improve the cars' scores in the EuroNCAP crash test.

And a few Frankfurt vehicle introductions had nothing to do with diesel.

Jaguar Cars debuted the production version of its much-anticipated '09 Jaguar XF sedan, vowing the car “signals a new design and engineering direction” for the beleaguered auto maker.

Based on the CX-F concept shown at January's Detroit auto show, the flagship sedan boasts many “firsts,” including JaguarDrive Selector — an industry-exclusive rotary dial that allows gears to be chosen similar to the way stations are selected on a conventional radio.

The XF will be available with two engine choices — a 4.2L naturally aspirated V-8 that produces 300 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) of torque and a 4.2L supercharged V-8 that delivers 420 hp and 408 lb.-ft. (553 Nm) of torque.

The XF already is available for order in certain markets, Jaguar says. The first cars are slated for delivery in March.

with reporting by James M. Amend, Eric Mayne, Tom Murphy, Byron Pope and Christie Schweinsberg

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