The Paris Motor Show 2012, one of the biggest automobile shows in the world, has been thrown open to the public after two days of press previews.

Nearly 270 auto makers from 23 countries are participating in the two-week extravaganza, where big brands such as Lamborghini and Maserati sit alongside more practical vehicles from Kia and Hyundai.

The European car industry which has endured an 18-year slump, is pinning its hopes on no-frills cars at the show. However, premium brands such as BMW, Daimler AG and Audi are increasingly looking to the growing markets of Asia and South America.

"The greatest challenges will surely be the markets in southern Europe," said Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen's chief executive, in Paris.

"Markets such as Russia, China, India, the US or South America are all growing markets."

Limp sales figures aside, the event's top attractions include the Jaguar F-Type, the McLaren P1, and concept vehicles from Volkswagen and Porsche.

McLaren's new supercar is expected to cost $240,000 (£148,506). The McLaren P1 is expected to join the MP4-12C and 12C Spider roadcars in 2013.

The Paris Motor Show is open to the public from 29 September to 14 October, and organisers hope to attract more than the record 1,263,467 visitors who attended in 2010.

Scroll through the pictures for a glimpse of the latest offerings from the world's leading auto makers at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile.