If you are thinking of going up to Bangkok to see the 32nd International Motor Show this weekend, don’t go. It finished on April 6. However, I have some notes on the cars and printed some in last week’s Automania column, and here are some more…
Let’s get the “pretties” out of the way first. Unfortunately these have become an integral part of motor shows (not just here). Every stand has half a dozen young women decked out in some ridiculous costume, some with even more ridiculous hats.
The ‘Retro’ Wiesmann MF5
Learning specifications parrot fashion, you get a brief description of the car, from someone who wouldn’t know a camshaft from a carburetor. A complete waste of time and money, in my book. If I want to take photos of some girl’s legs I can do that easily on Walking Street and that’s just the start of the relationship! No, let’s have an engineer on the stand, able to speak with authority on the vehicles. Wiesmann, for example, had a multi-lingual engineer, able to discuss the concept behind the cars and the mechanical specifications. Such a refreshing change.
Probably the most noteworthy vehicle was the new Honda eco-car which impressed me with the room inside. Even with the driver’s seat racked right back, there was still knee-room for an adult expat in the rear. The interior was simple, but easy to understand. Rotary knobs/dials are so much better than repetitively pushing electronic buttons (and let’s not get into the dreadful BMW iDrive). It is up against the Nissan March, and is marginally more expensive, but many people will like the corporate “Honda” face, rather than the Nissan’s ‘bubble car’ look, last seen on the Mazda 131 of around 15 years ago.
While on the eco-cars, Mitsubishi displayed their Concept Global Small vehicle, the one on display being the concept car previously displayed in Geneva. Despite looking very similar to the Ford Festiva, this is an interesting vehicle, but unfortunately will not be available in any numbers until 2012. It will be produced locally at the Nissan Laem Chabang facility.
Every year I have to mention Wuling. Cheap and from China, but you can have a new one in your driveway for peanuts. There was a new, funky, electric car from Wuling as well and priced at 280,000 baht. A bit like a tarted up golf cart, but a very inexpensive way to show you are a ‘greenie’ at heart.
Lexus has really lost the plot. The new CT 200H can only be described as ugly. The rear is pure Nissan Tiida, which would never win a beauty contest, and the front plain. For a ‘brand’ that was supposed to be the showcase of Toyota’s excellence, it is now failing miserably. Toyota has lost the ‘exclusivity’ it has tried to produce with the Lexus name and it has descended into being a rebodied Toyota, I am afraid.
One of the smoothest looking cars at the show was the VW Scirocco. About 2.6 million baht is the only drawback, but it is a much nicer car (and cheaper) than the BMW 1 Series or any of the Mini variants, but more expensive than the Volvo C30 at 1.9 million.
The other Chinese brand was Chery, who showed a mid-sized cross-over for around 850,000 baht, which looked to be well engineered and not too ‘plasticky’ in the interior. The Chery QQ appeared to have had a face-lift, but remains the inexpensive four door cheapy made from discarded soft drink cans.
Porsche had a 911 Carrera S on their stand, yours for 15.6 million baht. I am totally unable to justify the price, but having owned a 911 and raced a couple of Carrera’s I would shell out for one, if I had the readies, which I don’t. Also on the Porsche stand was the Panamera, which still looks like a fat pig, even though it is a well engineered Porsche with four doors.
Concept Global Small