Category Archives: CAR SHOWS

Paris 2014

Time for France again and have a look at the good the bad and the ugly. Let’s start with the latter: First car we encountered was the latest Citroen DS (or should we just say DS) concept: Must have been a contest of putting as much design per square inch as possible, oh horror! Unfortunately 4-door Smart suffered from the same proportional disease as Twingo, 2-door is a strange dog nosed contraption. Mercedes AMG GT looks great at first sight but after a while it just doesn’t look special enough: Still a lot better than their bread and butter cars though. Last but not least Volvo’s XC 90. They promised us dynamic looks, gave us a brick (although nice brick), quite sure it’ll sell.

Onto the good: Audi gave us the TT Sportback, what a taut looking car! Better than its 2-door sister. With that incredible interior I would have one!

141002_Paris 2014_Audi TT Sportback

 

We were a little bit less impressed with the new Lamborghini Asterion Concept. Hard to fit it in their state of the art, modernistic, technocratic product range. Does it try to be a Muira? Why go retro?

141002_Paris 2014_Lambo Asterion

 

Interesting design battle between Renault and Peugeot. One could say their going out of their way to be as different from each other as they can. Both have gone ever so slightly overboard though. Renault loosing itself in soapy, organic weakness. Peugeot got the ruler out and forgot to put radii on the edges! Both offer lots of interesting detail though, trying to be different might not be so bad.

141002_Paris 2014_Renault Eolab

 

141002_Paris 2014_Peugeot Quartz & Exalt

 

And then to my favorite! I thought he ‘normal’ XL 1 was already a terrific showpiece from a design, as well as technical point of view. The XL 1 Sport is bonkers: Such madness! That it has an Italian heart also helps as far as I’m concerned. Sportscar of the future!

141002_Paris 2014_VW XL 1 Sport

Supremacy, Status or Style

Lambo2

The Geneva motor show is most important European show. If you have a role of any kind in the car industry, this is where you should be. And this is where everybody is. From Marchione to Ghosn, van Acker to Donckerwolke, Shakira to Usher, Elkann to Muller, or from Jackie Stewart to Niki Lauda.

The first two days of the show have a different signature. Day 1, Tuesday, is dedicated to the press. Cameras everywhere, accompanied with celebs and industry moguls.  For me, this is when I pick up the news and enjoy the fact that I can go anywhere I want. Always welcomed with a smile.  Great coffee at Alfa Romeo.

The next day, still closed to the general public, is dedicated to the industry and important clients. This is when local dealers show up. When rich clients park their gulfstreams and offload their armcandy to see whether there are still some roubles to burn on supercars.  I love to observe how givers, takers and fakers interact.

 

Over the years I have seen this group change. New cultures entered.  New money looking for new means to communicate supremacy, status or style. This money is attracted by the heritage, design and fine technology of European automotive. Or the other way around: The uniqueness of European cars is the combination of heritage, design and quality. 

 And this is why I don’t understand Lamborghini’s choices.

 

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GENEVA 2013: RIK’s GOOD, BAD & UGLY

Ferrari LaFerrari

There’s no denying the fact that this was the ‘Star of the Show’ this year. Measured alone by the amount of people per square meter on the Ferrari stand and the paths around it: Totally packed all the time! Ferrari’s marketing machine got it right again: Throwing in their
heritage, competition history, state of the art technology and Manzoni (rather
than Pininfarina) design into a car that seems scarcely pretty but extremely
performance orientated. It’s a pity that all engineering work and test miles
that have been invested in the car will never pay off. Most of the planned 499
LaFerrari’s (sold out, with some 250 down payments on the waiting list, praying
madly for some bankruptcies) will be bought and stored in private collections,
never to see a circuit or even the open road……

LaFerrari

Alfa Romeo 4C

For true Alfisti this is important news: Their favourite brand isn’t dead yet! After seeing the 4C concept 2 years ago, first impression of the production car is that it has stayed remarkably close to design intent. Okay, a second look reveals a somewhat kit-carlike appearance (especially front bumper with chicken wire grilles), and those front lamp clusters are really not OK. It remains a pretty impressive package though; carbon fibre all over the place, including chassis, keeping the car below the tonne. A 240 bhp mid-engine should guarantee excellent dynamics. And all this at a fair price which means I will be able to afford one in about 4 years. Seeing the car on the Alfa stand left a few things to be desired. In the evening we saw one on the road, waiting to take off, between some Mito’s and Giulietta’s. It really showed how compact, low slung and roadhugging this little car is. It convinced me that I desperately need to have one! As opposed to the Ferrari, this is a car that can and will be enjoyed by driving enthusiasts……

Alfa Romeo 4C

Toyota i-Road

Innovation is the word that springs to mind, but not while looking at the static display
of this car. The concept comes alive when one sees it moving. That Toyota was
fully aware of that, was proven by the fact that the i-Road was showcased
driving around the stand to demonstrate its advanced nature. Front wheels that
move vertically to allow for leaning in the corners, steering and electric drive
on the single rear castor wheel ensure a turning circle of just 3 meters.
Steering on the rear wheels can only be done with the aid of computers to level
out its inherent instability. In that respect this car is way up there with
modern day fighter planes; made deliberately unstable to max out on agility.
Whether one wants to look at this vehicle as the bastard son of BMW’s C1  and Piaggio’s MP3, or as a minimalistic ‘car’ is beside the point. This is a new sort of (inner-city) mobility with minimal footprint and its own driving dynamics, it renders the Renault Twizzy totally ridiculous
and utterly redundant.

Toyota i-Road

VW XL1

A surprise to myself, not having been a big fan of VW’s earlier 1 liter prototypes, this
one actually makes a serious impression. This is a ‘green’ (or should we say ‘blue’) car that is really sexy. Sitting in it, this feeling is further enhanced. Only thing VW has to do is scale up to a more fundamental production number than the 250 cars they’re talking about. This shouldn’t die as a Marketing exercise.

VW XL1

Pininfarina Sergio Concept

The prize for prettiest (concept) car of the show was easily fetched by Pininfarina. Amazing how they can deliver this level of quality in these difficult times. For comparison one only has to glimpse right next door at Bertone’s struggle with the Aston Rapide Shooting Brake. The 1965 Dino concept, that was also on display on the Pininfarina stand, was totally endearing and shows how far concept cars have come these days.

Pininfarina Sergio

The not so good, the bad & the ugly

Lamborghini’s Venero looked like someone had thrown the content of an 80’s ‘Kamei’-catalogue
at an Aventador….from about a 100 yards. The McLaren F1 LM stole the show at the McLaren stand, although the new P1 was also present. VW’s e-Co-Motion Concept: How did this slip Walter’s attention? Spijker’s B6 Venator; or how to make the least out of a basically good package (Artega GT), BMW 3GT; Proportion mishap. People talked about ‘Alfa 4C’s croissant’ in a demeaning way. How did it end up on this cars front fender? MB CLA; what a limp rear end, Audi A3 e & g-Tron; WTF? And then Marchione’s latest mental alienation: Bringing all accessory-lines of Alfa/FIAT/Lancia under the Mopar brand, huh? Blasphemy for fans of Italian and US cars alike.

People

It was a terrific bonus to have been within a 50 cm distance of greatness such as Jacky Stewart and Niki Lauda, of course the feeling must have been mutual.
Furthermore it’s becoming painfully clear that the car industry hasn’t got its focus on us anymore. The aim is on the East, starting at the Russian border and stretching well into China. The visitors become more and more ‘colourful’ over the years. We see the rich and famous out of these area’s, showing off their wealth with clothes, jewelry, Cohiba’s, bodyguards, women and other accessories:
Exotic, to give it a positive qualification.

Highlight

True highlights happen when one doesn’t expect them. We found a small garage in a dark Geneva corner where a Dino and Muira spent some quality time together; Touched us deeply.

Elio de Toro

 

GENEVA REVIEW – THE FINAL CHAPTER

The Geneva car show marks the end of the winter and the beginning of spring, cosmopolitan and exciting, but above all always controversial and this year was no exception!

Now! normally when I bump into a friend or colleague at the Geneva show the first thing they usually say after greetings have been exchanged is “seen anything good?”, but this year was different. The first thing on most people’s lips was “have you seen the Bentley?” normally accompanied with a look of shock followed swiftly with one of disgust.

Yes! I had seen the Bentley, the night before in fact and yes! I too was shocked. I’m sad to report it was the biggest talking point of the show. Comments I heard ranged from the funny “Looks like a large London taxi” To just plain sad “It looks like a bad Chinese copy” But the question most people asked was “How did that get approved?” when you think how all other products from the VW Empire are so carefully considered. We may never know? The Show car was beautifully made and detailed and let’s hope that Bentley can get its act together and produce a stunning production version, as we know they are quite capable of. 

Geneva 2012a

This year I only had one day to soak in the Geneva atmosphere, flying in early from Münich and back on the last flight out of town. To see the show in a day is potentially possible due to it’s compact size, but I still had to plan my schedule carefully to see as much as possible.

A quick stop at the home stand to check out everything’s in place. Yes! It’s all there, the muscular RS4 and nuts A1 quattro sit proudly near the front and our new Audi A3 is proving so popular it’s difficult to get a close look. So! It’s off to Ferrari to see if I can catch a glimpse of the brand new 740 HP F12 Berlinetta instead. Having already seen photos, expectations were high and I wasn’t disappointed. With an aggressive front and heavily sculptured flanks, first impressions in the metal are that the F12 looks stunning, but! The proportions of the rear end in side view is a bit squashed and the rear-end graphics really do look like Sid! from Ice age! and although interesting, I’m not totally convinced by the claimed extra downforce stuff about the hole in the fender thing. 

Geneva 2012c

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FRANKFURT AFTERBURN

Two weeks to Geneva.

Eagerly anticipating the upcoming kickoff to the European motorshow circus, here's some uncategorized snapshots from my carfreax attic – to help kill your countdown time.

Dusted off, they seem a valid addition to Matt's earlier Frankfurt pages. Because, as always, it's a sheer impossibility to catch a motorshow in a few compositions – hell – it's even undoable to catch any single car in a single unit. Still, there's a few more squares that I think deserve a bit of extra attention of you lot.

So here we go.

Kxk 110915 IAA KIA GT

The KIA GT, an audacious big sports saloon in the German lion's den. It blew me away. Sure, it had been shown in teasers leading up to the show, but in the flesh… man, such presence! Fabulous stance. Great how the weight sat over those rear wheels (not very well photographed, sorry) – all power and speed. Loved it.

The golden James Bond interior and ditto outer trim, the tiny geometric details and almost graphical features – awesome. And beautiful detailing, from the generous use of A-surface carbon fibre (to underline the statement of performance, naturally) to that brilliant 'Cosmic Motors' inverted pitot tube. Maybe the rather traditionally soft and soapy front surfaces could've used a bit more of the overall, less traditional surface definition, but – hey – there's only one chance for a first impression.

And man – this was bull's eye!

Kxk 110915 IAA Renault Frendzy

I just can't help it, but somehow the new Renault family keeps reminding me of some of the heydays of American car styling – the mid to late eighties. I was sucking it up in those days, with clear goals of becoming a car designer myself – just a few years away from taking some serious training in that direction. The 1986 Corvette Indy, '88 Buick Wildcat, '89 Pontiac Stinger and California IROC Camaro – all examples of cars that represented clear styling benchmarks in those days. Soft, slippery-creamy curves and generous, full volumes. Perceived aerodynamics and long forgotten 'bio design'; if you ask me, these spirits are back with a vengeance in Guyancourt, from the voluptuous DeZir (which, admittedly, echoes shades of Ploué's 1990 Laguna showcar – which was clearly US-inspired however) via the beach buggy-like Captur to the IAA debuting, 'hollow cheeked' Frendzy.

Apart from the powerful new chrome-outlined DRG, the interior is probably the Frendzy's most interesting aspect. Unexpected color and trim combinations: beachcomber-found bleached wood, aluminium and checkerboard knittings are mixed with biomorphous LED-backed protrusions and a childishly joyful communication panel. Let's hope the spirits remain unfiltered in the next Kangoo.

Kxk 110915 IAA Ford Evos

My first car was a Ford Capri. There you have it.

So with anything new coming from the Ford studios, which can only be loosely interpreted as the next reincarnation of that European ponycar, you get my attention. The same went for the Evos, which was presented in Frankfurt. Indeed, with a fair few styling cues which would befit an Aston Martin well (…), you can't go very wrong. Seeing is believing, and seeing through the bizarre, over-the-top door mechanisms, I can see it happening with this baby.

Sciroccos beware.

Having said that, it's of course still great to view these crazy over-the-top door kinematics – as there's enough (boring) pre-production statements around on most motorshows. Radiant red metalflake paint with a hard yellow flop and four transformer doors. Dreamcar stuff. Me like!

Kxk 110915 IAA Volvo You

The Volvo You. Gotta see it in the flesh. An impressive and bulky exterior hides a cool and consistently 'Swedish' interior. Whites, woods, (aluminium and leather, of course) – and the typical transparent 'nordic ice cube' touch; this time in the steering wheel spokes. Nice and consistent.

The exterior has the most presence from the front. As with the concept Universe, the overwhelming Ford Interceptor springs to mind. Somehow, I have the feeling there's still work to do here. Although I do like the bold approach, (being a clear break with today's Volvos; a similar approach was followed with the Horbury generation), the slim, almost 'Jaguarish' fastback stern does not convince as a counterbalance to the heavy bow. Which in turn is -really- a very literal interpretation of that iconic P444. Hmm…

Kxk 110915 IAA Land Rover DC100

And last but not least – the Land Rover DC100 twins. Opinions were mixed on these larger than life Tonka toys. Whatever the final verdict by the TATA board of directors – these babies are bold, boxy (like they ought to be) and definitely brave. Because – think about it – how on earth are you going to replace an icon like the original Defender?

Jeep still builds the Wrangler. Should Land Rover stick to their old, clunky gun as well?

These brothers are definitely butch. Stylish Swiss army knives. They're undoubtedly rugged and consistently styled, without going into the car-toonish. Simplified but not overly so. And – this is where the credit's due – not just a simple score by doing a retro version of the old hog. An achievement in itself – as there is a thin line between the icon and the caricature. Take away the brash bling and decor – and it's job done.

- Geert.

FRANKFURT PART ONE

110915-IAAF-Frankfurt-01

Frankfurt once again. My third show this year. After Geneva and Shanghai the big home run in Germany. One wonders if you really have to travel all the way up to F-Furt for the real deal. We have been teased and pleased way ahead with tantalizing pictures, slide shows and print media. It turns out to be a very long day, most of the hours go down in the book as traveling time. To cut it short: a first step at the show around lunch time, 360 minutes left and counting.

110915-IAAF-Frankfurt-02

Too little time for a 360 look around. Let's cope with it and walk the floors, sniffing up the ambiance. We came with the whole team, but soon we are scattered around the halls. I end up with two colleagues with a different view on cars. Sharing views, teaming up with others, jumping from one car into the other. Macro micro. 

110915-IAAF-Frankfurt-03

My personal highlight? The eclectic mix of impressions. A spectrum between urban and super sport. Normally one needs an aspirin after a long day at the Frankfurt fair, check marking the "to see list". We have a good alternative. Let's throw it away and go for a spontaneous beer! Carfreax Bavaria meets CFX NL, shortly after joined by our guy from CFX China. This is what it is all about!

More to come soon.

- Matt.

110915-IAAF-Frankfurt-04

Geneva Review – The Final Chapter

Geneva was the scene and Green was the theme. Everybody was talking Lightweight and Hybrids. Everything presented in an explosion of Orange, Carbon and White and if you didn’t have an i-pad somewhere on your stand you just weren’t hip! Who would have imagined this several years ago? But it wasn’t all just tree hugging! Lamborghini, Ferrari, Zonda and Porsche were all there in force with new beasts.

Geneva 2011-A Websizez

This is what makes Geneva so special the variety of cars on show, from the crazy to the boring, small manufacturers fight with the big dog’s to get your attention. But the best part? Apart from the girls of course, is that it’s all so accessible, all in one large hall, yes your feet still hurt at the end of day, but it’s worth it.

Geneva B websizez

High points for me this year; The VW Bulli, the hippies favourite re-invented, an MPV you’d actually want to buy? The Bertone B99, nicely proportioned and surfaced coupe, inspired by the Seventies XJ. The Lamborghini Aventador, sharp suited V12 with a full Carbon chassis, the things dreams are made of. 

GenevaD Websizez 

The Ferrari FF, über cool shooting break with four-wheel drive! The Range Rover Evoque, Bold, the TT of the SUV’s? (The rear window is the size of an A4 piece of paper, honestly!) The Porsche 918 RSR, first shown in Detroit, I’m still Lovin’ it! and finally Renault, who always manage to produce influential showcars.

GenevaC Websizez

Unexpected High point? Taking a break to get some fresh air outside behind the Lamborghini stand, I discover the highly polished corporate limos waiting to whisk away their VIP’s. Lines of shiny A8’s, Bentley’s, Panamera’s and the odd SLS contrast starkly against the industrial exhibition hall and a wall of blue containers, fantastic photo opportunities.

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GENEVA REVIEW – PART 20

Kxk Lambo Aventador 2 GJS
 
Fighting spirit

One can't help but wonder which picador Maranello could still have up its sleeve, in order to turn the design tide from Sant' Agata Bolognese (the toreadors from Zuffenhausen, as we all know, have counted their blessings and joined the bull protection front). Will Ferrari's more traditional approach to style be able to counter the sheer and overwhelming power of the likes of this latest raging bull from Ferruccio's stables, the marvellous Aventador?

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GENEVA REVIEW- PART 19

110301-Geneva-Showtime-01

Show time!

Why are we blocking our agendas way ahead of March? Why do we anticipate the Geneva show each and every year with such thrills? Yes, it is the real start of the season, the location and settings are perfect , a turbo charged compact overview of the automotive sector. Most of all we come back for show time!

110301-Geneva-Showtime-02

Walking the floor, skimming the surface, digging for details, scanning the atmosphere, watching the theatre. Big names of the industry are here and so are old friends and colleagues. Geneva is on fire.

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GENEVA REVIEW – PART 6

Kxk Renault R-space GJS
Check, mate!

Cool and self-conscious, yet soft and sensuous, a far cry fron the box this segment used to materialise – the next gen Renault MPV only sports boxiness in its 3D-pixelated lounge and its multi-coloured checkered sunroof. The lozenge stands proud in Renault's new family face and a generous bow wave disappears into fast flanks, with true speed boat feel. Mmmmmm…

Although the disrupted interior theme does not really convince in the flesh, the message is clear: this car is meant to break the mould. Renault has invented the MPV -at least in Europe- and it is clearly determined to stay ahead of the curve with this curvaceous beaut'.

La France: douze points.

- Geert.