Musing From The Motor Show

Posted: July 8, 2011 in Cars

Lamborghini Aventador

The Australian International Motor Show has returned to Melbourne this year. For those who don’t know there was a major outcry from motor vehicle manufacturers a few years back, complaining about the cost of attending both the Melbourne and then the Sydney Motor Show.

The solution was much the same as what was decided in many European countries. The site of the Motor Show would alternate between each of the cities. This results in more manufacturers attending the Motor Show and giving the punters the best bang for their buck.

I love the Motor Show. It brings the glitz and glamour of the car industry and puts it all on show. This was also the first year that I was granted media access which meant that I was able to enter before the general public. Unfortunately, my actual place of employment decided that I had to attend work that day and I turned up late, missing all the loud and flashy bits. This was unfortunate but on the flip side most of my fellow motoring hacks had left for the day giving me better access to the PR boffins, most of which had already doffed their formal frocks and were happy to talk in their more casual attire.

I will be going back to the Motor Show to have a more protracted look; this was more of a scouting mission. I ignored most of what can be considered the mundane and focused on collecting the available press information and checking out what the industry likes to call Concept Vehicles. Generally speaking there are two types of concept vehicle; those that work and those that don’t. Those that do work can probably be divided into two categories as well; those that will be built and those that definitely won’t. This is often a fine line.

So what impressed? Well, talking in the order that I visited each individual stands, Holden brought the Cruze Hatchback concept. This will be the hatch version of the car that I drove and reviewed just recently. It should be on sale in the last quarter of this year and is production ready. They also had a new Colorado show truck which looked big and chunky and I wish I knew more about 4 x 4 type vehicles so I could report on it better. It was red, if that helps.

Holden Cruze Hatch

BMW brought one car. One! It is their new BMW Vision concept which reportedly is a fully functional vehicle and has to be seen to be believed. Essentially it is a diesel hybrid and the technology will form the basis of their new i-range which for starters will contain the i3 and i8. Knowing BMW the i1, 5, 6 and 7 will follow shortly thereafter.

Nissan bought their updated GT-R and the new Leaf electric vehicle. All the work on the GT-R has been done under the skin so it looks the same as the old one. The Leaf has plug at the front where the engine would normally be and a solar panel on its roof. I will find out more about it but at the time I had other things on my mind.

Subaru’s concept offering the SV Concept appears to fit somewhere below the existing Forester and overall did nothing but confuse me as it’s not much smaller than the Forester. There were interesting things happening at Mazda as they bought their two new concepts, the Minagi and Shinari. The Minagi is a SUV which will probably become the basis for the CX-7 and CX-9. My thoughts on SUV’s are pretty well known and I didn’t waste any extra time on it. The Shinari is awesome. There is no doubt as few changes will be made and then it will be released as the RX-9, replacing the RX-8.

Toyota is displaying two new vehicles, the new Yaris, which is an impressive little thing and one of the few Toyotas that I would consider buying and the FT-86 concept. Now, I would like to spend some time talking about this car. It is supposed to be going into production and has possibly had the longest gestation period of any car. It has been around so long as a concept that it’s had three variations and is now into Series II, I’m starting to think that the ‘86’ in the title represents the year it was designed. It was developed in conjunction with Subaru, looks absolutely fantastic and shows that Toyota have the ability to build something other than whitegoods on wheels.

Toyota FT-86 II

Hyundai were still waiting on nine cars to be delivered and I skipped through there pretty quickly. One interesting point I did manage to glean from them is that the awful, awful Hyundai Getz is now defunct and probably means that we’ll soon see the i10 in Australia. Mitsubishi had some cars on display and I must say were a little underwhelming, they may or may not have the i-Miev on display. I really wasn’t paying attention and I apologise for that.

For some reason, in my opinion, Ford have ruined the Focus and proudly have the new Territory front and centre, the Mad Max concept vehicles commissioned by Top Gear Australia magazine are some exciting pieces of design and you get to vote for the winner.

Mercedes-Benz is showing the updated C63 AMG, SLK and CLS. The AMG SLS Gullwing is the highlight, it’s stunning, as is the mildly insane G-Wagen, although for different reasons. I may have then walked into Honda but I really can’t remember. What I do remember is walking into the middle row to see the absolute highlight of the entire show.

Lamborghini have chosen to grace Melbourne with the presence of their Murcielago replacement, the LP-700 Aventador, which probably means something in Italian. I fully spent about twenty minutes looking at this car from any number of angles and can say without a doubt that its side profile is its best side. There were cars either side of it and I can’t remember seeing them, so overwhelming was the Aventador, I think one was a Gallardo.

Porsche, bless ‘em, have put ‘Moby Dick’ on their stand. For the uninitiated Moby Dick is a truly legendary race car and just insane. The last version of the outgoing 997, the Carrera RS 4.0, has only just been announced in Germany and unfortunately did not make it to Australia; however, the new Cayman R did and sits alongside the Panamera, Cayenne and the latest iteration of the 911 Speedster. Strange things are still afoot at Volvo and not one ugly car is to be seen on their stand. The V60 plug-in hybrid is an extremely good looking station wagon and an advertised economy of 1.9L/100 km may be some kind of record. It is wonderfully appointed inside the cabin and if sold in Australia should shake things up in that particular price bracket.

Volvo V60 Hybrid

At this point things got a little weird, I got into an argument with the people at Jaguar who gave me some seeds, no really, seeds. For plants. They then tried to tell me that Jaguar have an eco model which made me upset. Jaguar aren’t about eco, they’re about shouty, flashy cars and British pride. They’ve done diesel in the past but it still had a level of performance that meant it could do 9 minute laps around the world famous Nurburgring circuit. I left Jaguar and walked over to sister company, Land Rover, to have a look at the Range Rover Evoque. It’s an SUV, reasonably handsome, well-priced and apparently sold-out until mid-November.

Kia gave me some Maracas and told me that I had missed Todd McKenney singing something about Rio. This pleased me greatly and with high spirits I walked across to Skoda. Everyone should consider Skoda if in the market for a new car. Volkswagen technology and build quality, good looks and practicality. Make sure you check the new Superb as it is really impressive and one that I want to go back for.

Volkswagen have relented and announced the Scirocco R will finally be sold in Australia next year. Built on the Golf platform it is a two-door coupe and one of the best looking cars on the planet. The Audi team were extremely busy and unfortunately no one seemed to have much time for me. I asked for the press pack to be told that they were all gone. When I asked if there were contact details to obtain one I may as well have asked for some Uranium. I had a quick look at the Audi R8 GT, one of my favourite cars in the world, and walked away. I’ll try again when I go back.

Overall, the whole show is impressive and if you’re looking at buying a new car any time soon is one of the best ways to look at a lot of vehicles really quickly. While you can’t take any for a test drive you can book a drive with your local dealer.

There are some disappointing omissions. Alfa Romeo and Ferrari have chosen not to attend which is unfortunate as Ferrari just released the FF ‘Shooting Brake’ prior to the show and I was hoping to catch a glimpse. Renault do not have a dedicated stand which means that the Magane Sport 250 was absent and that was upsetting as it is one of the best looking cars available today.

As I said above I will be going back to the Motor Show for a more in-depth look.

If you are unable to attend yourself and wish me to look at something for you please Twitter me at @Skoeman74. I am also available at email address I will try to answer any questions that you may have.

This article also appeared in The King’s Tribune and


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