There was much interest in the new Ford Raptor, being the latest version of the F-150 truck in the USA. However, our Raptor is built on the Ranger, and it is expensive. B. 1,699 of expense, and actually not for sale, being “available for customer bookings,” said the Blue Oval.
Is it the real deal? We will only know when they hit the streets or rough terrain. Much of the heralded equipment is not really new, such as a Watts linkage at the rear with trick coil over shocks, a skid plate and wait for it, a steering wheel with magnesium paddle shift (Wow) and an ‘on center’ mark (double wow). You also get a set of “aggressive” 17-inch alloy wheels (I presume they bark at you in the mornings – how I love PR-speak). The 2 liter twin turbo diesel engine at 157 kW is good on paper, delivering 500 Nm of torque and that is even better.
Then there was the Takano Cars with their E-Smart Porter. This is a sport hybrid EV truck which runs on six 12v lead-acid batteries. Very special lead acid batteries the young man told me and they cost 5,000 baht each. The distance it will travel before charging is around 100 km and the charging time is 8 hours, so don’t wait up. It also advertises that it has front and rear “breaks” and with six hulking great lead/acid batteries, it probably will. This bundle of technology will set you back 300-350,000 baht, the same young man told me as his Pretties were too busy posing.
Still on EV’s there was a well finished BYD (Build Your Dream?) on display, code name e6, running on 100 percent electric Lithium-Iron batteries. The charger is 3 phase and costs 130,000 baht, but will give the e6 its get up and go in 1.5 hours. The car isn’t cheap at 1.89 million baht.
One of the success stories locally has been the MG marque. Every day I will see at least 3 MG’s of the locally assembled SAIC/CP joint venture. Now they seem to have their act together with five models including SUV’s. The publicity blurb promotes the brand with “Passion Drives since 1924”. That is really stretching the (English) long bow.
There is no real link between Cecil Kimber and Morris Garages, which then became MG and SAIC’s current MG models. The new ZS has a more than passing resemblance to the Mazda range, and the other SUV, the GS is another big car clone but at 890,000 baht sits well in the price range. But is it an “MG”? For someone like me, steeped in MG history and having raced an MG for the factory, it is a step too far, but then all of life is change says my local monk.
Porsche was there with the latest model of the GT 2 RS, all 700 horsepower propelling the GT 2 RS to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. I didn’t ask the price.
MINI (BMW like you to use all caps to distinguish it from the original Mini) distinguishes itself from its forbears by being very large and very much not “mini”. The Issigonis car had two doors and a bootlid, whilst the BMW ones can have up to five doors and big wheels. Undoubtedly the new ones are better made, quicker, more agile and more comfortable – but the original concept has been totally lost.
Showing my plebian roots I just couldn’t warm to the Rolls-Royce. An imposing chariot for the rich and famous, totally impractical and best left at home as a monument for Jeeves to clean and polish.
Many in the press room were impressed with the FOMM (First One Mile Mobility) which is a very small EV with 4WD. “Funky” is how I would describe it with two doors and four seats, though legless midgets will be adequately carried. FOMM is 2.5 meters long and 1.2 meters wide, so it will fit very easily into some of Bangkok’s holes in the bitumen (the ones with Venezuelan music coming from them). Plans are afoot to produce this Japanese Micro car here. The price for the tiny city car is 664,000 baht, but there was a show only price of 599,000 baht. At that price you would have to be looking at a mainstream eco-car. Sorry.
Of course there were motorcycles, ancillaries and polishes, purveyors of 120 dB of noise, with Miss Rocket Sound going through well-choreographed poses for an army of clickers. I did pause for a minute but the thought of elbowing through the massed photographers was not palatable, so you don’t get a little soft ‘porn’, sorry.
The show organizers (Grand Prix International) arranged to take the western journalists to the new Speedpark adjacent to the Impact Challenger. This was an eye-opener with the application of today’s technology. First off, the karts are electric so you don’t come away covered in two stroke grime. Pedals are instantly adjustable. Power is adequate and the torque range being electric is from about zero revs.
Now here’s the technology application. If there is a track blockage the speed of your kart becomes very slow, adjusted from the pits. No safety car, this is more like the F1 Virtual Safety Car, but controlled by the pit wall, not the driver.
You also get an electronic TV display and an electronic rewards card for next time. Definitely well designed and run. I will go again next year when my bones will be 100 percent. Prior warning to the other journalists.