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Wednesday 14th September 2011


FRANKFURT: THE GREATEST MOTOR SHOW ON EARTH?

Feast your peepers on the best the automotive industry has to offer...


Being awarded the soubriquet of 'gayest thing ever' was probably not what the design team of the Land Rover DC100 Sport expected as they buffed up their wares on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show.

Electric BMWs on parade
Electric BMWs on parade
As this unofficial accolade was delivered via the PH forum minutes after the car's unveiling, it was with trepidation that I joined the management of Land Rover for their celebratory dinner after press day last night. Fortunately, only half of them read PH, and it's the half that appears to have a sense of humour. For my part, I'm not entirely sure that a car can be 'gay' at all, but others will be more experienced in such matters. (And I once had a Jeep Wrangler as a daily driver for the best part of a year, so I'm not necessarily the best-equipped to judge.)

Buggy up, why don't you?
Buggy up, why don't you?
Still, for the sake of fair play if nothing else, Volkswagen should be introduced to the conversation at this point for their pair of concepts spun-off their new three-cylinder Up city car. One is called the Buggy Up (it looks like the result of three-way frolic between a golf cart, a beach buggy and a turkey baster) and is a teensy bit camp. The other is called the Up Azzura (try saying that pissed) and has an interior that looks like the imaginary taxi Jean Paul Gaultier might hail to take his fantasy blind date home from a dockside tavern in Naples. (But he'd probably use the DC100 Sport at a pinch.)

Taxi for Mr Gaultier...?
Taxi for Mr Gaultier...?
All of which I mention mainly to highlight a strange sense that there isn't much new to talk about here at the Frankfurt motor show. Strange, because not only were there a reported 89 new model premieres on press day yesterday, but some of them are pretty phenomenal newcomers. The next generation Porsche 911, the new Jaguar two-seater sports car, the Mercedes-Benz SLS roadster and SLK55, a Super Trofeo Gallardo and Sesto Elemento, BMW M5 and Audi S8, 458 Italia Spider and Maserati SUV are all part of a motor show bill that looks brilliant on paper, so what's the problem? Well, nothing, except that apart from the DC100 Sport, you've seen them all before.

Veyron - Cadbury's dairy milk edition
Veyron - Cadbury's dairy milk edition
Yes, the fear of being overlooked, misunderstood or (perish the thought) misrepresented is the reason the car industry reveals all its motor show suprises through the media days or weeks in advance nowadays, and the process seems to have hit a peak of efficiency at Frankfurt this year. It's a pity I think, because it means most journalists write their 'live from the show' reports in advance now too, with the result that all the coverage ends up looking a bit samey. Happily we've got the PH forums to give our own hackneyed efforts a lift, so you'll always be assured of some novelty here.

'Nah, our forums do all the real work...'
'Nah, our forums do all the real work...'
And in spite of the weird sense of deja-vu, it's hard not to be impressed by the Frankfurt show, which reveals a car industry in vigorous mood. The showground itself is massive, running to something like a dozen halls, and they're all packed to the rafters with shiny new metal.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz and the Volkswagen Group all have a huge hall each, where they do their best to outshine each other. This year BMW and Audi both have indoor test-tracks built around their exhibitions where visitors can queue up for a ride, or just stand and watch as the latest models whizz past. (The Audi hall looks especially impressive from the outside, but with 42 different models on show inside it felt oddly cramped - I can't imagine it being much fun on a busy show Saturday.)

The PH 'car of the show'. (What is it? Ed)
The PH 'car of the show'. (What is it? Ed)
It is good to see British firms making a strong showing too, with Jaguar's exciting new C-X16 headlining a world-class range of sporty executive models, and the current Land Rover line-up looking as desirable as ever.

Aston showed up with the thoroughly wonderful Zagato - it looks even better in the metal - and even Lotus looks like a company bursting with good ideas and desirable product. (In spite of their press conference being woefully attended, the bulk of the 'press corps' being half a mile away at the BMW conference which ended as the Lotus event began.)

So, in case you missed it yesterday, we've collated all the PH show coverage below:

Storm-troopers only need apply
Storm-troopers only need apply
New Porsche 911

Ferrari 458 Spider

Merc C63 AMG Coupe Black Series

Mercedes SLS Roadster

Honda Gives New NSX The Nod

Bentley Continental GTC

Mini Coupe

Maserati SUV

That one's easy - it's the Alfa 4C!
That one's easy - it's the Alfa 4C!
VW Beetle R Concept

Lotus Plays It Fast (And Safe?)

Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo

Mercedes SLK55 AMG

Aston Martin V12 Zagato

Alpina B6 Convertible

Audi R8 GT Spyder

Land Rover DC100 Sport

BMW i8

Lotus goes back to rallying - excellent
Lotus goes back to rallying - excellent
Alfa Romeo 4C

BMW M5 Gets Public Debut

Ford Fiesta ST Concept

Jaguar C-X16 Makes Show Debut

VW Heartens The Eco-Weary

Frankfurt: Audi S8 And Friends

*PH show pics by Brett Fraser (the good ones) and Chris-R

Audi stand cramped, but interesting
Audi stand cramped, but interesting

Darling, you shouldn't have. No, really...
Darling, you shouldn't have. No, really...
VW group courtesy car line-up
VW group courtesy car line-up
The 'Ups' on offer included this one
The 'Ups' on offer included this one
Electric cars are everywhere
Electric cars are everywhere
Mercedes making a statement
Mercedes making a statement
A good reason to miss Maser's SUV
A good reason to miss Maser's SUV
Said the Actros to the bishop?
Said the Actros to the bishop?
Even angels need a fag break...
Even angels need a fag break...
Author: Chris-R