The 2018 Paris auto show delivered a handful of surprises for American car enthusiasts, albeit l'addition attached to each was mostly weighty.
This year's most significant reveal for U.S. buyers certainly came from Mercedes-Benz—although which one is debatable. The new 2019 BMW 3-Series was the year's biggest newsmaker, but what didn't show was nearly as important.
Here's our list of surprises, in no particular order of importance:
2019 BMW 3-Series, 2018 Paris auto show
BMW has a lot to prove...
The 2019 BMW 3-Series finally landed after a long season of teases and testing, rumors and speculation. For buyers in the U.S., the 2019 M340i ditches its manual transmission for an 8-speed automatic and the newest 3er may not have an available manual transmission outside of the M3—if it even shows there.
The 3-Series doesn't offer any new groundbreaking tech or powertrains—at least not yet. "Purists" left the room a long time ago and switched to the 2-Series, so what's left is a tech-heavy sedan that may have an interesting plug-in powertrain due next year. If the rollout for the 5-Series taught us anything, it's that the 330e could very well be the new entry-level 3-Series.
2019 BMW Z4, 2018 Paris auto show
...and the Z4 has even more
The revived BMW Z4 showed in the flesh in Paris and attracted just as many eyeballs as the new 3-Series. The Z4 bowed weeks ago, but it was the first appearance in Europe for the two-seat roadster and its interior attracted far more eyeballs than the exterior.
The collaboration with Toyota had many wondering if BMW's powertain can save a somewhat compromised interior layout designed to serve two masters.
We know BMW's turbocharged inline-6 is strong, but is it tough enough to carry weighty expectations for that droptop?
2019 Lexus RC, 2018 Paris auto show
Small changes make a big difference...
The refreshed 2019 Lexus RC made its auto show debut in Paris. Despite just a small update to the coupe's exterior, it gets new life.
The revised headlights and taillights are now better integrated into the car's shape—the last version had detached always-on LEDs that looked like an afterthought—but the air of the car is now as a long-legged grand tourer.
Being a GT may have been a better mission for the RC anyway. Its fire-breathing V-8 in the RC-F was entertaining, but the coupe's weight and slow automatic transmission kept it from running with the C63 and M4.
2019 Porsche Macan, 2018 Paris auto show
...the Porsche Macan is proof, too
The revised 2019 Porsche Macan now more closely resembles the new Cayenne, inside and out. Along with the taillights that span the rear liftgate, the new Macan has Porsche's updated infotainment integrated into its redesigned dashboard.
The center console around the shifter is the same, though—no Cayenne parts to be found—but the Macan seems to better toe the company line and set the Taycan, which is coming soon.
2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG A35, 2018 Paris auto show
Wing, hear our prayers
Yes, we know that we'll get a Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan. No, we don't care.
The AMG A35 hatch that showed in Paris finally proved that a hatch with a wing doesn't automatically have to be annoying. The A-Class hot hatch is impressive in its subtlety—and performance. We have high hopes for its 302-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4, and higher hopes for the faster A45 due later.
Audi Sport R8 LMS, 2018 Paris auto show
The R8 GT won't play around
Audi Sport's customer race car program is a turn-key wonder.
It allows well-heeled buyers to walk in the door, sign the papers on a GT3-ready racer, and be backed up by all the engineering know-how and factory support that fills a three-story trophy case. All you need to give them is hundreds of thousands of dollars, fill the tank yourself, and show up on race day.
For this mean-looking thing that showed up in Paris, we'd pump our own unleaded, too.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class, 2018 Paris auto show
Mercedes-Benz had a big show...
Even a swarm of competitive automaker spies couldn't cover up the massive 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class crossover SUV.
Engineers crawled all over and measured every inch of the GLE's enormous 194-inch-long body to see what Benz's secret sauce for the newest SUV will be when it goes on sale next year. The GLE made its auto show debut in Paris, and we'll get a better look at it before the end of the year—hopefully without engineers attached.
There's a lot to look at, especially its interior infotainment that spans more than 24 diagonal inches from instruments to touchscreen.
2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC, 2018 Paris auto show
...but the EQC started it all
We got our best hands-on impressions of Mercedes-Benz's "Tesla fighter" and discovered the 400-hp crossover has been mislabeled.
It's not meant to take on Tesla as much as it's meant to redefine what we expect from the brand for the next decade.
If every electric car felt this complete and ready for prime time, we'd all be fans.
Peugeot E-Legend Concept, 2018 Paris auto show
Paris fashion week goes for cars, too
Retro two-doors hit the runway at the 2018 Paris auto show, and they were drool worthy.
The Peugeot e-Legend proved that autonomous cars need not be ugly...
Porsche Speedster Concept, 2018 Paris auto show
...the Porsche 911 Speedster coming next year is how a 70 year-old shape still puts the new kids to shame...
Ferrari Monza SP1
...and the Ferrari Monza SP1 is a $2 million accessory that makes any outfit look good.