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 coupé 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.

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