Paris Auto Show 2010 Highlights

From concept cars to hybrids, a look at the most innovative and interesting of this year’s models.

While American car shows tend to be big on pickup trucks and SUVs, the Paris Auto Show, which ran October 2–17, emphasizes elegance and style, with a focus on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The big number on everyone’s mind wasn’t top speed or horsepower but carbon dioxide emissions, as European manufacturers strive to meet stringent environmental standards.

That’s not to say the vehicles on display were all about boring practicality. Concept designs from Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Porsche and others offered a peek at the future of driving, while a bevy of new models revealed what’s in store for the coming year. Just as intriguing was the opportunity to view cars from companies like Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat, Lotus, Alfa Romeo and Renault that never reach American shores. At the height of urban chic, meanwhile, were electric versions of the scooters so common on Parisian streets.

The show’s eight exhibit halls at the Porte de Versailles, along the city’s southern edge, were rightfully focused on the new. But one hall was devoted to the past, offering a museum-quality display of 44 classic vehicles that was not to be missed.