Some thoughts from the Motor Show
I began writing this part of the Automania column whilst
in the Novotel in the Impact Arena where the Bangkok International Motor
Show is held these days. This is the only one of the many “motor shows” that
I do not miss each year, being the only internationally certified and
ratified motor show in Thailand.
This year saw many of the luxury marques back in the
show. Principal amongst these was Rolls-Royce who had reserved several acres
of space for four of their premium offerings. Bumped into Thipvibha (Tippy)
Guna-Tilaka who was handling their marketing communications and who happily
opened the gate in the protective fence around the multi-million baht
Rolls-Royces (after all, these are not vehicles for the hoi-polloi, are
they). Many years ago, I remember being told by the owner of a Bentley that
parking it in town was the equivalent of “casting pearls before the swine!”
Oh, if only I had that sort of money, but even saving assiduously I have
left my run a little late to get the necessary 29 million baht together for
the drop-head coupe…
There were Lamborghini everywhere, especially in the
display areas with sound systems capable of blowing your ears off, and
earnest young gentlemen polishing said Lambo’s within an inch of their
lives, with the latest wonder polish made from genetically modified North
African dromedary droppings.
At the other end of the scale was the new eco-car from
Mitsubishi, called the Mirage. A compact little unit in much the same genre
as the Nissan March. Nissan has enjoyed 12 months of almost having the
eco-car marketplace to itself, but no more. Like all ‘cheapies’ you get what
you pay for (no disappearing bonnet figurines such as one gets with the R-R
in your garage), but I am sure the little Mirage will get into lots of other
garages. And they come in a rainbow of colors and at B. 380-546 will go out
the door like hot cakes.
M’Lord’s Rolls awaits.
On the Nissan stand they also had the new Almera, another
fresh offering competing against the Toyota Vios category, but is also in
the eco-car category and will be another Nissan to do well, I am sure.
If there was a color at the motor show this year, it was
white. Every manufacturer featured a white model (except R-R, where they
were all a respectful sombre shade, and Lambo, which seemed to have bought a
job lot of orange paint for their cars).
Of course, while white was the ‘in’ color, there were a
few startling examples in red, notable being an AMG Mercedes-Benz and a Ford
Ranger pick-up, completely ‘in your face’!
The General, with a fanfare of trumpets, revealed their
new Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV. A Colorado with a rear section and two
occasional seats behind to make it a true seven-seater. However, the
occupants of the extra seats should have short legs and well-padded behinds,
because seats were not, as far as I could see. Whilst GM, I am sure, will
claim there is no overlapping of models, the comparison between the
Trailblazer and the Captiva must be made. To me, the looks of the Captiva
are much more pleasant, and the jump seats look better too. The public will
vote on this at the sales desk. GM also showed a couple of ‘teaser’ models
of the Sonic which was released in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Aveo-sized, it will be an Aveo replacement.
Ford featured the new Territory SUV, complete with
corporate grille. This vehicle is made in Australia, reversing the trend for
cars to be built here and exported to Down-Under. An important vehicle for
the Australian motor industry, and it will be interesting to see how it
stacks up here compared to the Trailblazer/Fortuner/MU7/Pajero Sport SUVs.
One manufacturer to watch is Hyundai, producing an
alternative to the Toyota Camry and very well thought of overseas. The
Elantra on show had been voted the North American Car of the Year, and
Hyundai has been doing very well in the customer satisfaction stakes. You
will see many more on the roads this year.
MINI (BMW like us to use all caps, as opposed to the
original Alec Issigonis ‘Mini’) displayed the new MINI Roadster. People with
weak stomachs should not get too close to this car. Hideous is the only word
for it. And as far as the four door version is concerned, it is neither
small nor cute, and despite its gaudy stickers looks similar to a London
In your face red Ranger.
I have said this before, but Ssanyong sshould sshoot
their sstylist. Many models on the stand, and reluctantly I will say that
the Korando SUV is not as nauseating as the Actyon. The ‘Bentley’ style
grille is pleasant.
Mitsuoka were brave enough to again display their Jaguar
3.4 copy called the Viewt. But if you think that’s bad, take a look at the
Orochi. It even makes the MINI Roadster look half decent.
The Motor Show is running until April 8, so you do have a
couple of days to get up to the Challenger Hall at the Impact Arena. Worth
it even if it is just to wonder at the Mitsuoka! More on the show next week.
Do not remove the cover if you
have a weak stomach.