Ford Motor Co. prepares to launch its latest-generation Fiesta subcompact. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is ready to roll out its Infiniti luxury brand in Western Europe. And Audi AG is getting on the wagon, literally.

These are a few of the highlights expected at this month's Geneva Motor Show, always one of the most closely watched auto expos on the continent.

The importance of the Fiesta to Ford's product portfolio cannot be overestimated. Ford lacks a B-car in the U.S. and must have been encouraged by the positive feedback the Verve concept got at the recent Detroit auto show.

The Verve serves as the basis for the production Fiesta, which Ford considers its global B-car, set to go on sale in Europe this fall. Versions of the car — in 3- and 5-door body styles — will launch in Asia and the Americas between 2008 and 2010.

The new Fiesta will feature a choice of five powertrains, including a new Duratec 1.6L gasoline engine with variable valve timing, as well as 1.25L and 1.4L gasoline engines and 1.4L and 1.6L common-rail diesel powerplants.

Elsewhere in the Ford corporate family, Volvo Cars unveils its upcoming XC60 cross/utility vehicle.

The XC60 takes aim at the “small premium utility” segment. The first units go on sale in Europe in the fall, with the U.S. rollout scheduled for first-quarter 2009.

In the U.S., the XC60 will be powered by a 281-hp turbocharged 6-cyl. engine.

Volvo says the global sales target is 50,000 units a year.

Nissan debuts its new Infiniti FX cross/utility vehicle in Geneva as the luxury brand prepares to woo buyers in Europe for the first time. Infiniti also will sell the G sedan and coupe and EX small CUV, all sporting V-6s.

Audi AG continues the rollout of its new A4 lineup with the launch of the Avant wagon. Powerplants available at launch include the 265-hp 3.2L FSI V-6 and 160-hp 1.8L TFSI gasoline engines and 240-hp 3.0L TDI diesel. A new 170-hp 2.0L TDI diesel will be added into the mix at a later date.

Mercedes-Benz debuts AMG variants of the new '09 SL roadster. The SL63, on sale later this year, is the last vehicle in Mercedes' lineup to receive the in-house performance unit's own 6.2L DOHC V-8. Rated at 518 hp, it is the most powerful of the V-8 AMG vehicles.

Harnessing the power, with the goal of providing a more intimate driving experience, is a revised version of the auto maker's 7-speed automatic transmission.

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