Friday, September 23, 2011

2011 #IAA Frankfurt Motor Show

This motor show post is a bit late, I know. But I contracted an acute, yet popular, form of what some of my colleagues called the "Messe flu". What is that, I hear you ask. Well it's the flu or cold symptoms and discomfort one seems to experience shortly after returning from the motor show at the Frankfurt Messe (exhibition centre).

My abiding memory of the motor show this time around was that it was exceedingly hot. No, it's not just because the cars on show were funky and interesting. No, it's because that exhibition hall doesn't seem to have quite gotten the air conditioning thing quite right. It was blisteringly hot on the stands (I heard some talk that the VW stand was even worse than Hall 8). Imagine standing in sauna-like conditions with a suit and tie from 07:00 until 20:00 for three days...



It's a little wonder that I haven't fallen so ill from this heat and then cold outside that I can no longer type. Actually, it was a bit like that for most of last week after I came back to Brussels... That's why I'm only writing it up now.

My always personal must-see was Ferrari, of course. Nothing too spectacular there to be honest. The big reveal was the Ferrari 458 Italia Spider. The awesome V8 replacement of the F430 can now be found in topless form. It's a spectacular car, don't get me wrong, but a video leaked online about three days before the motor show Press Days began shot at a special unveiling event at Maranello. It showed the car in all its glory, with the electronic roof opening... Bit of a PR gaff?

My next highlight, or what I thought would have been a highlight, was the Audi stand. Moving away from the traditional notion of building a stand inside the confines of an exhibition centre, the German marque decided to build their own hall outside in the open-air area between halls. Early pictures showed an amazingly futuristic and modern looking building, looking very German, but quite pleasant. The highlight on the design shots? A test track built into the stand itself.

It all turned a bit like a badly prepared souffl├ę when I finally made my way out to the stand, as in flat. The track was so short, they were driving at walking pace. You can barely hear the engine when you are next to the cars. The drivers were forced to go up ridiculously steed and sharp-angled hills as well as the mirroring drops. It didn't work for me... The stand part, where they had cars, was even worse. Because of the track, and the limited space, the cars were cramped in there. I was there on Press Day 2 and I couldn't even move around. I don't even want to imagine Public Days.
The "Audi Ring" as they called it


Aston Martin showcased their V12 Zagato. It really looks spectacular, but the impact for me was a bit low as I saw it race at the 24 Hours of N├╝rburgring just a few months ago. I was stationed in the same garage as Dr Bez's team actually. It's definitely worth a stop by. The amazing, and I've said this many times on this blog, One-77 is also there, but in brown. In any case, that car looks so amazing, it could be in puke green and I'll still fall in love with it. Still, I prefer the light gold/brown version I was ogling over at Goodwood Festival of Speed not so long ago.

Gorgeous Aston Martin One-77

What really did make a big impact on me was when I visited the VW stand. The stand itself is so-so to be honest. They had several funky versions of the new Up! available which was quite nice. I still remember reading about the concept in a Top Gear magazine from ages ago. If I recall correctly, they were talking about the revolutionary concept for such a small car, blah, blah. Then the Toyota iQ came out and knocked the Up! out of the water.

Anyways, my colleague wanted to check out the new Beetle - a car I've never particularly enjoyed looking at. The Beetle always reminds me of the KDF-Wagen, a World War II relic from the Nazi "Strength Through Joy" programme. Nothing changed in the post-war Beetle... Still, we had a look and when I got in, the first thing I noticed was the Fender badging on the door-sill tweeters.

A nice VW hostess knocked on the door and asked if we would like to try out their new sound system. "Why not," we thought. That was a good move. The € 650 optional extra includes two mid-/subs and tweeters in the front door and a pretty decently sized sub in the trunk. The sound was amazing. Their demo CD included various genres from classical to soft rock and upwards in terms of pure volume.

We turned the system to its full volume for most of the time and none of the speakers showed any hint of distortion. The sound was spectacularly clear, and it easily drowned out the general buzzing hum of the over-crowded VW stand outside the car. It was spectacular. I also think it's quite a good value for money option. Worth having a look and listen for sure!

Righto, that's my twenty cents from the 2011 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show. I'll do my best to put up a piece on the Toyota and Lexus offering once I have a moment. But you can take a look at what we had to offer at http://blog.toyota.eu/ already is you're impatient.

PS. The American-made Maserati SUV was hideous. Have a look yourself. I'm not going to waste more than this amount of space to even bother talking about it!

Really ugly Maserati Kubang - gonna go bang when you switch it on and smash your head on the dash when realising what a horrible mistake you've just made!

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