1998 in motoring

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1998 in motoring includes developments in the automotive industry that occurred throughout the year 1998 by various automobile manufacturers, grouped by country. The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles.

United Kingdom[edit]

The fourth generation Vauxhall Astra went on sale in May, with a new design as well as a range of updated and new engines. Lotus Cars was employed to tune the new Astra's chassis. The entry-level engine was a 1.6 8-valve unit carried over from the previous Astra. There were also 16-valve units with 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 litres, as well as 1.7 and 2.0 diesels. Three- and five-door hatchbacks were available, along with the five-door estate car and four-door saloon car. There were coupe and cabriolet versions planned for later launch.

Ford produced the winner of this year's European Car of the Year award with its Focus - a newly designed range of family hatchbacks, saloons and estatest to succeed the Escort. But the Escort remained on sale for another two years. Power came from 16-valve 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 Zetec petrol engines as well as a 1.8 turbo-diesel.

Jaguar launched a smaller, lower priced model - the S-Type. Designed as a competitor for the likes of the BMW 5 Series, the S Type was a traditionally styled four-door saloon with a design similar to the 1960s saloons. It was powered by 3.0 V6, 3.2 V8 and 4.0 V8 engines.

Rover ceased production of the 600 and 800 Series production for the launch of a new car, the Rover 75 four-door saloon.

Germany[edit]

Audi re-entered the coupe market with its TT 2+2 coupe and two-seater roadster. It had a similar look to the show car which debuted in 1994 as a concept vehicle. Quattro four-wheel drive came as standard on all models. The turbocharged 1.8 20-valve entry-level engine produced 180 bhp to propel the car to well over 130 mph, while the twin-turbo 225 bhp version could reach 150 mph. The car shared its running gear with the Škoda Octavia.

Volkswagen launched a new version of its Volkswagen Beetle. The original 1937 version was continued in Mexico, prior to the launch of the new Golf-based version. It wa powered by 2.0 petrol and 1.9 turbo-diesel engines. UK sales were planned for 1999, though right-hand drive versions were not due until 2000. The engine range was expected to be widened in the future, as well as open top versions being added.

Volkswagen launched a saloon version of its fourth generation Golf. The Volkswagen Bora was a four-door saloon, visually similar to the slightly larger Passat. UK sales began in March 1999, with 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 four-cylinder and 2.3 V5 petrol engines available as well as a 1.9 turbo-diesel.

Mercedes-Benz launched a new S Class.

France[edit]

Peugeot ceased 205 production after several years of gradually phasing out its supermini which was launched in 1983. Its successor, the 206, was one of the largest cars in its sector, with 1.1, 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines and a 1.9 diesel engine.

Renault launched a redesign of its 1990 Clio, in 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6 petrol units as well as a 1.9 diesel, with two higher performance versions planned. The renaultsport Clio 172 hatchback had a 2.0 engine with 172 bhp and a top speed of around 140 mph. The mid-engined renaultsport Clio V6 was powered by a 3.0 V6 engine and had a top speed of 155 mph. Both cars were not expected before 2000.

Italy[edit]

Alfa Romeo 164 production ceased after 11 years. Its successor was the 166 saloon.

See also[edit]