Four incredible cars that stole the limelight at the Paris Auto Show

Retro-infused fun, futuristic thinking and all-electric propulsion were the highlights of Europe's biggest motor show for 2018 – although there was still room for some good-old-fashioned excitement (and impracticality).

While many car makers decided to shun the Paris show, others revealed the cars set to shift the four-wheeled world into top gear as it heads towards an electric, self-driving future.

Peugeot E-Legend concept

There's a touch of 1970s fun in the Peugeot E-Legend concept, and not just because it was inspired by the 504 coupe.

Peer inside and there's a bold aqua hue across the soft-feel velvet trim that lines the doors and seats. It's loveably retro and indicative of Peugeot's nod to its past, one set to inspire its future, albeit in a muscled-up way.

The E-Legend's design showcases some of the themes Peugeot is considering for its future models.

Visual appeal

Beneath the angular skin is an electric motor driven by batteries claimed to propel it 600km between charges.

There are also electric motors delivering 340kW/800Nm, enough to launch the elegant two-door to 100km/h in less than four seconds. Very un-French indeed.

That tech infusion continues inside. There are 16 digital screens, including the windscreen, one that comes into play if the steering wheel is retracted for autonomous driving. Those screens can not only be used for infotainment, but also tailoring the look of the car, with different digital materials being displayed depending on the drive mode selected.

Renault EZ-Ultimo

A trio of EZ models – EZ-Go, EZ-Ultimo and EZ-Pro – were all about peering way off into the future.

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In reality, they were probably too Avatar or Blade Runner to be taken seriously, although they did give an idea of how plenty of dreaming could shape our roads in decades (or longer) to come.

The EZ-Ultimo was the most interesting, its Haussmannian-inspired interior reminiscent of classic French buildings.

Five star finish

Wood, leather and marble are joined by velvet lining the bucket chair in what is a lounge room-like space.

It's all top-end Parisian hotel, the two-tone exterior defined by its low-slung stance and diamond-shaped mirror-like windows. And don't worry about driving. Renault describes the EZ-Pro as a "robo vehicle", its autonomous tech ensuring you'll be able to relax the kilometres away.

The only problem? The EZ-Pro is no chance of hitting production. And its OTT execution is unlikely to shape anything other than some active imaginations.

But, hey, motor shows are often about dreaming.

BMW 3-Series

Sales have been going backwards – blame it on the SUV boom – but BMW still ranks the humble 3-Series as its most important model.

Little wonder: the 3-Series is a crucial car for BMW, one that defines the brand and has done for 40 years.

Recent iterations have fallen flat, but BMW is adamant the seventh generation – which arrives in Australian dealerships in 2019 – has nailed the brief. Indeed, it was the most important new arrival at Paris 2018.

Dream big

Design-wise it gets a bigger body – in part to meet more stringent safety regulations – as well as a more distinctive look. The grille is bolder and headlights more distinctive, with angular slashes out of their lower edges, aligning with a pronounced bulge in the more animated front bumper.

But it's inside where the 3-Series steps up most. There's an all-new layout, complete with a fully digital instrument cluster and new centre console, as well as new switchgear and a more contemporary look than recent BMWs.

BMW has also fitted the new Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is like an advanced voice recognition system linked to not only infotainment and communication functions, but also various parts of the car. You can create an in-cabin mood, for example, by letting the car know you're tired. Or check oil levels in a few short words.

Porsche 911 Speedster

The 911 Speedster has a little bit of racing, lashings of heritage and a fiery track-focused engine that create a ballistic personality as something of a celebration send-off to the current range (it's due for a major update in 2019, the 991 generation making way for the 992).

But no roof and a petrol filler plonked in the middle of the carbon fibre bonnet, where some may struggle to reach it. There's also no sound system and no air-conditioning, although those wanting to lash out can add them for more cash.

Welcome to the crazy world of collectible sports cars.

Appreciating style

The bit that will appeal to people most about the heavily modified 911 Cabriolet is that just 1948 will be made, a nod to the arrival of the original Porsche 356 way back in 1948.

That exclusivity – which will limit Australian deliveries to around 10 or 15 – is a huge part of the appeal for a car that borrows carbon fibre components from the GT3 as well as the GT3's screaming 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine.

As for the price, Porsche isn't saying for now, but don't expect much change from half a million bucks.

The good news? Given the sales performance of rare Porsches in recent years, there's a chance your investment could appreciate.

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