36th Bangkok International Motor Show

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With the usual pomp and ceremony, the 36th annual Bangkok International Motor Show was thrown open to the public last week. This is the internationally accredited motor show for Thailand, and is the opportunity for the manufacturers to show off their latest models – both automotive and pulchritude. It is also a tribute to Dr Prachin Eamlumnow, who had the foresight 36 years ago to promote the event in Thailand.

With so many vehicles on display, attending a motor show is quite an exhausting experience, and you walk miles!

MG3MG3

Both Rolls-Royce and Bentley were at the show, with the RR looking quite ponderous (and presumptuous), in comparison with Bentley. Speaking with Australian journalist Chris Nixon who was up for the show and who has driven both of these recently, he was of the opinion that RR was the better car, with every part of the vehicle just reeking of ‘class’, but agreed that the Bentley looks better. This is of academic interest only as they are both well out of my price range.

A relative newcomer is MG, a joint venture by the Thai CP Group and SAIC in China (the owner of the nameplate these days). With an assembly plant from Hemaraj, the industrial estates specialists, the MG6 was introduced to the Thai public at the motor show last year, but this year the MG3 was revealed.

The catchy slogan for the MG marque was “Passion Drives since 1924” and indeed the first MG, built by Cecil Kimber was in that year. It is, however, a great leap of faith to connect today’s MG brand with Mr. Kimber’s!

I found the MG3 in red and white was quite fetching, but in yellow a disaster! However, the price is very appealing, starting at 479,000 THB. The MG3 also comes as a Hatchback and a cross-over called the Xcross. To spice the MG3 up a little, you can order a roof wrap including a Scottish kilt. “Hoots Mun!”

The four year / 120,000 km warranty with 24 hour roadside assistance will make prospective purchasers think hard, and even though there are 25 authorized dealers, a mobile service scheme is coming which will attend to routine servicing at the owner’s work or home.

It is the norm at motor shows that there is a bevy of beauties on the stand to attract passers by. Quite frankly, I find the endless line-up of “pretties” an unwelcome distraction. You can see more in Pattaya at the roadside in Soi Half Dozen, and what’s more, you can touch them as well, if that is your preference. However, I should mention that Hyundai had the breast display (oops, I meant to write “best”) with their four pretties selected by having at least 450 cc implants.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo.Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

The Hyundai range is actually well worthwhile looking at. The Elantra Sport with 150 BHP and Tucson models with 184 BHP are very attractive, but for me, the ‘star’ of the Hyundai stand were the two Velosters, with two doors on the passenger’s side and one on the driver’s side. A sports car on one side and a sedan on the other! However, the Velosters look good from any angle, any side. The standard Veloster has the 130 BHP engine while the turbo version has the 186 BHP engine and 265Nm of torque. Neither are fire-breathers, but look like rather interesting city cars.

Next week I will be mentioning some of the highlights of the 36th show, but here are a few thoughts from Press Day. While some manufacturers had no real “new” cars, they are still not using the exhibition space to their advantage. Some results were weird, with Isuzu unable to find anything new in their stable, so came up with a lurid puke green iridescent pick-up. What were they thinking? (Were they thinking?)

There was one very large display stand populated with teddy bears. Yes, teddy bears, complete with a tree house. I was unable to fathom just what the teddy bears picnic had to do with the vehicles on display, other than one teddy telling me they were “modify”.

One vehicle that is looking very good is the Honda HRV, a sort of cross-over SUV vehicle. A five seater, as opposed to the larger Honda models, it is a most attractive car. Honda makes much of the hidden door handles for the rear doors, looks good, but this was done decades ago by Alfa Romeo on the 156 models, but is still a very elegant way to place the door handles. Honda state that all passenger seats have been designed to be wider to “provide greater comfort and match various lifestyles”. Does this mean that the Thai posterior is getting bigger?

The HRV has a 1.8 liter engine developing 141 BHP and 172 Nm of torque getting to the wheels via CVT (continuously variable transmission). The full lexicon of electronic features is offered, including ABS with electronic brake distribution, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, rear view camera and six airbags.

The HRV is priced from 890,000 THB which makes it excellent value for money.

More next week.