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Highlights of Paris show

So, what did I see that I like in Paris? The star car, for me, has to be the McLaren P1.

The eternal city is a perpetual snarl, with parking slots as rare as South Sydney premierships and one piece of road - the giant roundabout at the Arch d'Triumph - where all car insurance is automatically void.

The Smart ForTwo could have been invented just for Paris, and not just because it's the four-wheeled equivalent of a handbag.

But Paris is also the city of lights and the lights are shining this week on the Mondial de L'Automobile - Paris motor show to you and me - and an astounding lineup of dream machines and showroom bait.

Europe is really struggling and the show is one way for carmakers to talk about their future plans and dreams, while trying to ignore for a few days the reality of a sales slide that's topped 10 per cent through most of this year.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by a motoring menu that's top heavy with cordon bleu cars, but there is also a lot of meat-and-spuds stuff that will be relevant to Australia over the next few years.

So, what did I see that I like in Paris? The star car, for me, has to be the McLaren P1. Anyone who knows a bit about motorsport will know that P1 is shorthand for position one, not just another silly jumble of numbers and letters like the company's current MP4-12C.

The P1 is designed and developed to be best-of-the-best in the supercar world with the promise of a 340km/h top speed, ultimate luxury, and looks to shut down any Ferrari.

McLaren turned the supercar business upside-down in the 1980s with its landmark F1, with cars still selling for more than $1.5 million second hand, and everything points to the P1 repeating the dose.

Then there is the Jaguar F-Type. It's far more affordable, at least for people who can afford at least $200,000, with great looks and the promise of performance to match a Porsche.

The F proves that Jaguar is finally back to its best - did I mention the millions from India that have funded the turnaround? - with a car that's also coming next month to Sydney. On the concept car front, the home teams at Paris always go all-out for something special.

For 2012, the Peugeot Onyx is the head-turning supermodel. It looks great and makes all sorts of promises on the performance angle. But, like so many chic concepts in the past from Peugeot and Renault, it has about as much chance of reaching the road as finding a parking spot in Paris. Then we come to the real stuff at Paris, and two cars stand out from the crowd.

First is the Volkswagen Golf, the car called the Mark 7. It's a total overhaul of the Volkswagen group's global flagship, which has to do the heavy lifting as it aims to overtake Toyota and General Motors in the next five years to become the world's leading carmaker.

The Golf looks sharp and refined, much more than just the tizzie and a facelift for the current car, and I'm driving it next week to see if it delivers on the promises.

Then there is the Hyundai i30 three-door hatch. It's a good looking car that would be a huge hit in Australia, if only Hyundai would get serious - as Renault plans, with the chic new Clio that's also unveiled in Paris - about taking cars from Europe and not just relying on the low-cost supply line to home base in Korea.