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.
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’!
M’Lord’s Rolls awaits.
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.
In your face red Ranger.
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 taxi.
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.