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Paris: Sports cars

Chevrolet Camaro, Mazda MX-5 and Saab 9-X Air

While the Paris Motor Show is full of small cars, electric vehicles and hybrid technology, it's refreshing to see some interesting and attractive sports cars on show.

While its intentions may be massively unfashionable right now, the Chevrolet Camaro SS is certainly a loveable car. And Chevy has taken the wise step of officially bringing it to the UK and Europe. There’ll definitely be at least 1000 left-hand drive cars, thanks to Single Vehicle Approval rules. And they’ll be the range-topping V8 SS, which uses the 6.2-litre V8 that’s in both the Vauxhall VXR8 and the Corvette C6. The Camaro sits on the same platform as the big Vauxhall, too – so a right-hand-drive version is viable should the market demand it. Prices could kick off around £30k, making the whole package very appealing – credit crunch or not.

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The Mazda MX-5 has received a mid-life update, and will go on sale next year, neatly coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the roadster. It has evolved a lot since the 1989 Mk1, and now offers drivers the option of a traditional soft-top or the RC roadster coupe, complete with folding metal roof. Changes to the 2009 car are minimal. There’re mild visual tweaks that aim to echo the RX-8 coupe, while the rev-limiter is raised by 500rpm to 7500, in order to increase driving fun (or 'Jinba Ittai') - the whole point of an MX-5, according to Mazda. This has been achieved by introducing a forged crankshaft, fully floating pistons and newly designed valve springs. Suspension has also been sharpened up a tad, while Europe now gets the option of a six-speed auto 'Activematic' transmission.

Saab's 9-X Air gets its world debut, too. It uses a 1.4-litre turbo, which delivers a handy mix of performance (197bhp and 0-62 in 8.1sec) and economy (107g/km of carbon emissions) when ran on E85 biofuel, a mix of 85 per cent bioethanol, 15 per cent petrol. That's not the only trick up its sleeve - the roof is fairly nifty, sliding away rather than folding to increase practicality, decrease weight and make the 9-X look unlike the raft of bulky coupe cabriolets that seem to have taken over of late. Whether that's kept for a production version remains to be seen, but Saab could use a car like this right now. Fingers crossed.

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