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Citron C3 Pluriel Latte
No hydraulic, retractable hardtops for Citron. Instead, the roof rails and sliding cloth top of this nifty four-seater can be removed entirely, providing open-air motoring on the cheap-just like its spiritual predecessor, the 2CV.
Saab 9-3 Convertible BioPower Hybrid
Pure ethanol (E100) from lumbering waste is a standard fuel option in Sweden, so mating Saab´s 260-hp BioPower turbocharged 2.0-liter four with parent GM´s two-mode hybrid just made sense. The outcome is a gray-silver AWD car that´s also the first hybrid convertible, the first hybrid without fossil-fuel emissions-and one of the sexiest on the floor.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Power Hard Top
Retractable tops are all the rage in Europe. Mazda´s steals no trunk space, operates in just 12 seconds (the world´s quickest), and adds only 80 pounds. The car´s jinba ittai (â€fun to driveâ€) character is unaltered, and despite a rear-deck redesign, you´ll have to look hard to notice.
Connaught Type D GT Syracuse
A $100,000+ V10 coupe? Sure (yawn). But a tiny two-liter, supercharged 300-hp V10, in a 1700-pounder that does 0-60 in less than five seconds? Dang! And that´s just for starters: Next year´s hybrid version forgoes heavy batteries for lightweight super-capacitors, plus cylinder deactivation, to give a claimed 35 mpg.
Ford Focus FFV
A cringe-worthy bioethanol rap song highlighted Ford´s push into ethanol fuel. Its flex-fuel 1.8-liter Focus produces under 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer when crop-CO2 absorption is accounted for-less than a gasoline hybrid. Back off, though: This is the second-generation Focus launched in 2004, for Europeans only.
Lotus’s customers wanted luxury, and the new Europa delivers. It still performs (0 to 100 mph in 13.6 seconds) via the standard recipe-a small, powerful (190-hp) engine in a light (2,200-lb) car-but adds such un-Lotus-like features as air-conditioning and satellite navigation. We’ll see this one in the States.
Manufacturers seemingly never tire of â€women´s carsâ€: Citroen showed a version of its smallest car, the C1, in â€passion pinkâ€. Faces of â€beautiful, mystical creaturesâ€ airbrushed on the doors reinforce the girly theme, as do heart-shaped tailpipes, a bigger sun-visor mirror for makeup, and pink and black upholstery. No, we´re not making this up.
Cadillac BLS TurboDiesel
The first-ever Cadillac sold only outside the US (it´s based on the Saab 9-3), the BLS offers a 1.9-liter 148-hp turbodiesel engine that gets 39 mpg. Half the cars sold in Europe are diesels, so this is a mainstream luxury sedan there. Don´t mention the disastrous DeVille diesels of the eighties, please!
Tinier than a Mini Cooper, the 10-foot-long Trixx concept is strikingly clever-and its Flex-Fix scheme for mounting bicycle carriers is used in Opel’s new Corsa. Other innovations include an inflatable rear seat, electric sliding doors and a radiator above (not in front of) its 1.3-liter diesel engine.
The Freelander (LR2 to Americans) is the first-ever SUV with a transverse six-cylinder engine, for steeper hill approach angles. Land-Rover´s big news: It will start charging UK customers $150 to $300 to offset their vehicle´s CO2 emissions, sending the cash to ClimateCare, which invests in carbon elimination or reduction schemes.
NICE Mega City
The acronym stands for “No Internal Combustion Engine,” and this electric two-seater-one of many in Europe-allows drivers to escape London’s central-city congestion charge of $14 per day. A tiny 4kW motor manages 40 mph, with up to 50 miles of range from its eight six-volt lead-acid batteries.
Yes, it´s a “car”-the first tilting three-wheeler sold. Computer-controlled hydraulics distribute steering between the front wheel and the banking angle (up to 45 degrees) of the single-seat cabin and front wheel. Result: motorcycle-like handling, top speed of 115 mph and 37 mpg from a 68-hp turbocharged 660cc four.
Morgan Aero 8
After 70 years of building 4/4s, Morgan horrified traditionalists with its hot new Aero 8 supercar. The 330-hp BMW V8 engine rockets from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 160 mph and matching aerodynamics. No wood-framed body, though: this car´s structure is all-alloy.
Peugeot 207 GT HDi
Diesels are everywhere in Europe-even in the â€hot hatchâ€ category. These three- and five-door GTs aren´t Ferrari-quick: Their 110-hp, 1.6-liter diesel generates 177 lb-ft of torque, taking them from 0 to 60 in 10.1 seconds. Prices start at a hefty $26,500, but at 49 mpg, they sure are thrifty with fuel.