Thursday, 31 July 2008

Favourite Motrshow Photos #1 Kia Kee


I wanted to do some posts about some of my favorte things at the motor show. The Kia Kee is definitly one of them; not only do I like the shape, which is an odd fusion of current Audi and mk1 Toyota Celica with Citroen BX c-pillars for good measure, but it is just the right size too. It looks neat, compact and quite unlike anything else on sale. Hopefully Kia will give it a great chassis, a good engine and a Kia-type price and warranty and not keep us waiting too long to put it in production.

Or maybe, like the lovely Lancia Fulvia concept of a few years ago, it will never reach full production. That would be a shame.
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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

British International Motor Show – oldies

It wasn’t just new cars at the motor show; there was the heritage pavilion, located outside and feeling a little like an afterthought. The choice of cars was superb but I think I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Next to the heritage pavilion was a display of AA vehicles through the ages. My eye was caught particularly by the Morris Ital van. There can’t be many Itals of any sort left so it is quite nice to see one that looks cared for and it certainly isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect to see at a show for new cars.

Inside, I noticed but didn’t photograph a fine looking Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing and a certain internet magazine had a scrappy-looking mk3 Austin Allegro as “the worst car ever” on their stand. Frankly I think there are many worse cars than the “All Aggro” and it just demonstrates a lack of imagination on the part of whoever chose it.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

British International Motor Show 2008

What a day that was! There were some important lessons learned like, you can’t catch the 6:44 train to London if you leave my house at 6:28. I’ve also discovered that ExCeL is a long trek from London Marylebone and that there are no ticket barriers on the Docklands Light Railway.

More important, I’ve seen just how much hard work goes on getting the news from the motor show to the printed page or web site. I like to think I made my own contribution to reporting the news.

The big news was probably Lotus new 2+2 mid-engined car. For some reason Lotus hired a load of actors/models to dress up in identical suits and blank masks that hid their features, something about not being another face in the crowd. Whatever the reason it was very bizarre, like something out of Dr Who or a 1960s B-movie.

Other important stuff included the new Vauxhall Insignia, it looks smart and will probably sell well but it does seem like just another car – sorry Vauxhall. At the opposite end of the hall Ford was showing off the new Fiesta. Again, I’m not sure the Fiesta is a great leap forward but at least Ford have resisted the temptation to make it larger and heavier than the old Fiesta which represents some kind of progress.

What I found most interesting was the way Ford, Jaguar, Mazda and Land Rover occupied one end of the hall while Vauxhall, Chevrolet, SAAB, Cadillac and Hummer occupied the opposite end. I wonder whether the layout at the Ford end was selected before Jaguar-Land Rover was sold off to Tata? I also thought Vauxhall had the more elaborate and impressive show stand, with a giant iridescent partition wall and more Insignia than you could shake a stick at. By comparison Ford’s stand looked a little sparse and empty – sorry Ford.

Personal favourites: It was nice to see the Lexus LF-A and I can’t wait to drive it (come on Lexus, you’ve kept us waiting for too long). I also fell for the Morgan Life Car concept and both Hyundai’s rwd coupĂ© and Kia’s Kee concept. In terms of cars you can actually buy, I found myself gazing fondly at the Chevrolet Epica – a firm favourite of a journalist friend. The trouble is there is so much to take in it all becomes a bit of a blur.

Is it worth going? That depends, if you’re a jaded and cynical motoring journo then you’ve probably seen it all before, read the press releases and forgotten half of it so there will be very little new stuff. If you want to see a variety of concept cars under one roof then it is a great place to go. There is also the opportunity to have a go in a Mazda or a Peugeot and to drift a Westfield. Children might be entertained by the characters from Disney-Pixar’s film Cars. And if you fancy a break from looking at cars there is a fine collection of motor boats and yachts moored outside.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Motor show ahead

The waiting is nearly over, tomorrow the British International Motor Show opens its doors to the press. What is more astonishing, for me at any rate, is the fact that I’ll be joining them.

I must admit I’m not usually the biggest fan of motor shows but press day should be a bit different. Plus there will be a fair few “firsts” at this show. I’m quite looking forward to having a closer look at the new Vauxhall Insignia and Ford’s latest Fiesta.

It even looks like I’ll have some work to do while I’m there. Don’t want to say too much but at least it should give the day a sense of purpose.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Writing is like…

Just a quick thought as I work to finish my latest news story. I’ve been pondering the writing process. It is rare for a story to spring, fully formed, from the keyboard. What you usually have are various key points either from the press release or other source material. Getting these parts to come together in a cohesive story is a lot like making pastry.

Bear with me if you’re unfamiliar with the process. You start with flour and fat together in a bowl and with your fingers start rubbing the flour into the fat. After a while you end up with flour-coated pieces of lard – it feels as though it will never become a pie. Keep going, however, and the mixture ends up resembling bread crumbs. Add water and suddenly the individual crumbs come together into a lump of pastry.

Somehow writing is the same – keep plugging away, re-hashing the facts and arranging the different key points and eventually something coherent emerges. I’m not sure how it happens (with words or food) but it is very satisfying when it does.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Another 4WS car to try

Just pouring over the details of the new BMW 7-series. As you would expect it comes with all the gadgets you could imagine. Without going into too many details it seems that one option will be Integral Active Steering, which provides up to 3-degrees of steering to the rear wheels. As you would expect the claim is of enhanced low-speed manoeuvrability with high-speed stability. Of course this is not the first time BMW offered four-wheel-steering – the 8-series, back in the early 1990s, was offered with rear axle kinematics which was a fancy term for 4WS.