Mondial de l’Automobile – Paris Show – October 2008

A few comments about the Show itself, first. It’s held at the Parc des Expositions, which is right by a Metro station, near the end of Line 12, and the site actually straddles the Peripherique, so it’s easily accessible. Although the site is nothing like the size of that at Frankfurt, there are several halls, and walking both around them and between does represent an endurance challenge! I arrived before the show opened (10am), on a Friday, and had hoped that there would be a period of time before it filled up. Sadly, this was not really the case, and within 30 minutes, the halls were pretty busy. I had also hoped that it would empty out, and certainly by evening (the show is open til 10pm on weekdays), there would be few people around, making it easy to get to see and sit in everything. This hope also proved unfounded, and while there were notable numbers of people departing from mid afternoon, it was still very busy in the last half hour of the show! Some stands were worse than others. Oh, and this being France, there was, of course a “manifestation” during the day, with the GPT union parading around the place and leaving the most frightful mess of confetti and papers which some stand staff cleaned up more rapidly than others. They seemed to be protesting about “delocalisation”, which I would have thought is rather late, as much of this has already happened! A couple of other things that stood out: Unlike Frankfurt, where stand staff quickly changed to English, not once did I have a conversation in anything other than French during the day; of course, the range of food and drink available at a French event more than embarrasses British ones. With the strength of the Euro, none of it was particularly cheap, but I did enjoy various cups of coffee, sandwich, and a wonderful “tarte au citron” from my favourite such provider, “Paul”, who had stands scattered across the campus.

So, on to the cars, presented in alphabetical order:
Once again, Alfa had used the special metallic red finish for all its cars, with the exception of one car. That one was the spider version of the 8C Competizione, which was finished in pearlescent white. Along with its coupe sibiling and a MiTo presented in a special display, this was attracting the crowds, and favourable comments.
The MiTo’s were attracting plenty of attention. I was amused to note that they all sported a rear window sticker proclaiming that the car is a “finalist” for European Car of the Year 2009.
Lurking in a corner of the stand was the 1968 model Alfa 33, just one example of Alfa’s motoring heritage.
Tucked away around the back of the busiest area of the show, I was disappointed to find that the One-77 was nowhere to be seen. All that was on show – not that “all” should be seen as a perjorative term – were the familiar models in the current range:
This had to be the busiest stand of all. Even at 9:55pm, it was packed, and it was difficult to get see the main items of interest, let alone photograph them. The new S4, shown in both saloon and Avant versions was proving a huge draw, as, unsurprisingly was the RS6 saloon. Less of interest, it seemed, and also only represented by one model, on show was the new Q5.
The A1 Concept looked better in the metal than the pictures I had seen, and doubtless will undergo some “toning down” before it enters production.
Unable to capture pictures of the other S cars, I had to content myself with one of the S8.
As expected, this was an “entry by invitation” stand, and few people seemed to have the invitation. Most notable was the Arnage Final Series:
A couple of other models were on show, including the Continental GT
A huge stand, but one which made surprisingly poor use of all the space! Around the perimeter were a series of white painted vehicles. adorned with graphics citing various of the “Efficient Dynamics” features with which the cars were equipped.
Making its debut was the new 7 Series.
There was also a Concept version of a Hydrogen powered model, taking the idea first seen with the previous generation model into the new range.
No-one seemed to be terribly interested in the X6. Wonder why?
Not on BMW’s own stand, but elsewhere in the show was a concept vehicle from the past

Somewhat surprisingly, there was no Bugatti at the show.
Part of the large GM stand area, much was being made of the new CTS Wagon, which bore 2.9D badges on the back.
The CTS-V was also there, but seemed to attract little more than a passing glance. It did not attract my camera, either
After showing a concept version of the Camaro for a couple of years, finally the real deal could be presented.
Concept car for this show was the Orlando, a rather odd looking vehicle that is slated for production in 2009, to replace the Tacuma/Rezzo.
Also new was the Cruze, a mid-sized saloon, intended to take on from the Lacetti/Nubira in Europe and the Cobalt in America. It seemed to be gaining little attention.
On the “eco” part of the stand, the new Volt could be seen.
There were some Corvettes, too. There was the “entry level” car.
This is the one that has been attracting so much interest in the US. Over in Europe, I have to say that it was attracting not that much interest.

Staging yet another European show appearance was this range. They were kept locked, which was probably a good way to avoid too many rude remarks. The Coupe, the BC3, does not look too bad:
The BS2 hatch was first unveiled earlier this year:
The BS4, an upper medium sized saloon, intended to compete with, I suppose, the Passat and Santana, and Chinese built Roewe 75
Top of the range, the BS6
Another set of Chinese offerings. The Martin Motors CEO, an unshamed and poor copy of the X5 was prominent.
Something rather different were these:
This rather amusing vehicle, the Xiao Ya, was slated for production in 2009/2010. An electric car and intended to be cheap, the display vehicle looked primitive in all respects, and really would only have any chance of selling where someone wants a car to replace their bicycle!
Among a sea of familiar products, mostly still with horrid interiors formed from low quality plastic and lots of hard edges, the ZEO Concept vehicle stood out as something different, even though this has now been presented at shows for a couple of years.
A large stand, as you would expect, with much variety among the cars to see. Heritage was not forgotten, with this special version of the 2CV, as an Hermes edition, in honour of the 60th anniversary of “la deauche”..
Reminding us of a much loved version of that car, the Charleston, is the C3 Pluriel Charleston. Not quite as convincing, I have to say!
Among the production cars, there is a mild facelift to the C4, along with new engines.
Completely new is the C3 Picasso. The cars on the stand were finished in a variety of non-standard looking colour schemes, and various accessories, suggesting that Citroen will promote this a lifestyle car and will try to promote the image that comes with it. Good Luck to them!
It was the concept cars that were attracting all the interest, though. Not perhaps the C-Cactus, which has been seen many times before, but these: The Hypnos
The GT
A marque transformed in the past couple of years by Renault, who decided to invest massively, these cars are sold in some markets as Renault. Being launched for the French market, even though it has been on sale in Eastern Europe for a couple of years is the Logan MCV, a practical and utilitarian estate car.
Known for producing small, and slightly zany cars, so the first of their vehicles that I saw, the Materia, seems to fit in quite well.
In Japan, they have a far wider range of tiny MPVs than we ever see in Europe, and this is one, the Tanto Custom, which within its very compact dimensions, appeared to pack a lot of space for people and things..

Another “by invitation” stand, though there always seemed to be plenty of unlikely looking people who had made their way on to have a closer inspection. There were 2 examples of the new California: one in red, at the back of the stand, and one in light blue which those who were crowded around the guard rails (like me) could see.
The other cars in the range were also present, including my favourite, the 599GTB
The huge representation of the 500 was pressed into service once again.
The majority of cars on the stand were painted in white, and looked very impressive.
Show newcomer is the Qubo, a small utility vehicle based on the Fiorino van.
The exception to the white paint finish was to be seen in the couple of 500 Diesel cars.
There was a separate stand area for Abarth, but this was constantly busy whenever I went to it, so there are no pictures of the Punto or 500
Although Ford sells well in France, this was not the huge stand that you would expect to find in other markets. The new Ka was where all the attention was focused (sorry!), with numerous models on show, several of which were “personalised”.
There were a few new Fiestas, too, but these seemed to be presented as if the model was already very familiar.
The Focus, by contrast, barely had a presence, except for the striking Focus RS

first saw these rather gawky cars at the Geneva Show, earlier in the year. Equipped with a 600 bhp engine, the claimed performance figures are rapid indeed, but I am not sure I could live with the rather DIY-style body styling. The interior is a mixture of milled metal and cheap glass-fibre. No thanks!

A large stand but in the “also rans” hall, shared with other notables like Ssangyong and Lada!. Another showing for the concept CR-Z.
Alongside it was the Insight
And the FCX-Clarity
Newest production offering is the latest Jazz, which, seen in the metal, is easy to distinguish from the outgoing model, even though the overall appearance is so similar.

Most interest here was on the H-X Concept
A large stand, to reflect the breadth of the range now offered by this Korean manufacturer. Show debut was for the i20, a neat looking supermini, which will doubtless build on the success already enjoyed by the outgoing Getz.
A further newcomer was the ix55, a European-ised version of the Veracruz which has been on sale in the US for a couple of years
The large Genesis saloon was on show, too, and it really does look like a slightly different Lexus.
Getting ready for a European launch of this marque, there were examples of the 4 cars that will initially be included in the range. Newest is the FX37, a replacement for the FX35 that I drove last month

A small stand, on to which free access was not possible. Nothing new, and so my camera battery had a rest.

Part of the Chrysler stand, there was an example of each of the current range. The interior quality has not got any better, on any of them.
The Renegade Concept car made a further appearance.
he production version of the Soul was the big news here, with several examples on show. Starting prices in France were quoted at 14.500 Euros, which would make this quite an appealing proposition. My impression was that this car is far more desirable than Peugeot’s forthcoming 3008 (qv).
Kia now has quite an extensive range of cars, and they had a big stand on which to show them all off. Like just about everyone else, the eco theme was much in evidence, as the Cee’d shows.
Not all their cars yet have mainstream appeal, though, as this Opirus shows. A new model is scheduled for sometime in 2009, and it is a certain bet that it will be far more competitive (and attractive).
Tucked away in one of the minor halls was this, the X-Bow
Most of the cars presented here said that they were not sold in France. Quite why they go to the expense of a show stand, therefore, intrigues me. There was the Priora, a facelifted version of the old slab-sided 110/111/112 range (which was sold in much of Europe). Quality inside is still dismal – vying with the Chinese for “worst in show” awards, with a particularly appalling feel to the gearchange.
The Kalina is a more recent effort, but, again, the interior quality is so miserable that you wonder why they actually left the cars unlocked. Fortunately, no-one came and asked me what I thought, as I just might have told them!
Something of a diversion was this:

Not surprisingly, there were big crowds around this stand, all eager for a look at the Estoque.
The main stand did also feature examples of both Murcielago and Gallardo.
Separately, there was a stand marked “automobili Lamborghini”, with this on it.
And here’s one I found outside:
The Delta had pride of place on the stand. I’ve seen a few on the roads now, and the styling has yet to appeal to me. Part of the problem is the grille with its very heavy looking vertical strakes, which have now been inflicted on the other models in the range.
Lancia were proudly claiming the “prize” for largest sales growth in France in third quarter 2008, but as this is from a very low base, it was perhaps not that hard. Top seller remains the Ypsilon, presented in some new, and slightly questionable finishes.
An example of each of the current range was on display. There was, however, nothing new to see.
New production car was the rather ungainly IS Convertible
Hinting at a new RX model was this, the stealth-black finished LF-H Concept
A four car stand, with all the focus on the new Evora. Not that they were letting anyone get that close to get a really good look.
The current production trio of Elise, Exige and Europa were also on the stand.
Such a contrast from a few years ago, the crowds around this stand were among the biggest. The GranTurismo still attracts attention, a year after its launch.
This was the first showing for the facelifted Quattroporte S.
Just one car, a 62S Laundalette.
Pride of place went to the Kiyora Concept car.
Not a very big stand, and with far too many people on it. The emphasis here was “Blue”, with the BlueTec and Blue Emissions technologies to the fore. This S400 was billed as a concept, incorporating all the various ideas which have been released and under development.
The newest production model is the GLK. There were a couple among the crowds, but the best view was to be had of the one mounted up high.
Completely new concept car is the “Fascination”. This is supposed to have various elements of the next generation “E” Class in both front and back styling. Hmm.
The very first stand that I came to, and already it was crowded, and that is how it stayed all day. Newest item was the Concept Mini Crossover. I could not help feel that the back, from some angles, looked like a slightly truncated Seat Toledo, and the grille rather like the MO-Series Morris Oxford. Once I had had this thought, I could never see it in quite the same light again!
Surprise newcomer here was the facelifted Colt. The new car – and it is claimed that very little is shared with the outgoing model – has been altered to look more like the Lancer. I am far from convinced that this is a Good Thing.
Even more visually clumsy is the Lancer Sportback, which is so awkward that it appears I took no pictures of it. I did photograph the evidence of the marque’s continued emphasis on extreme endurance rallying
Most of the interest, of course, centred around the GT-R, which had its own, restricted access area.
Newest Nissan model is the Pixo, a badge-engineered version of the new Alto.
Wackiest car on the stand was this, the Nuvu concept.
Among the other production cars, most were familiar, with just the Qashqai +2 to provide evidence of recent developments.

Opel should worry about the prospects for their latest new offering, the Insignia, in France, as it seemed to be attracting almost no interest. This was the first showing for the Estate version (OK, the Sport Tourer) if you insist. Two things surprised me about this: the tailgate is unbelievably heavy (which is why the show car had a motor to close it, operated from the key), and that for such a big car, the load area is surprisingly small. It looks quite good, though.
A massive stand, as you would expect, with lots of examples of the current volume sellers, none of which interested me at all. The biggest crowds were around the RC HyMotion 4 Concept, of course, and so they should be, as this is a bold and interesting machine.
Less bad than I feared was the Prologue, which we are told will be sold as the 3008 next year.
Peugeot’s motor sport pedigree was represented, as usual, by the 908 and the le Mans car
Only new production car was the 308CC, and there were several of these around the stand. As the car looks so much like the outgoing 307CC, no-one seemed to have noticed it was new.
Known for making sports car reminiscent of the Porsche 356, there was a full range of different vehicles from this specialist manufacturer on display. They all had different names, none of which I was familiar with. This one is called the Cevennes.

Along with a further example of the new Ferrari California, there was this, the Bollore:
A difficult stand to see, let alone access. All I can offer are these 2 pictures:
Probably the largest show stand area, as you would expect from la Regie. Four show newcomers were presented:
Megane 5 door
Megane Coupe
Laguna Coupe
Kangoo Be Bop
The Megane hatches and coupes were attracting a lot of attention, of course. I have to say that I am somewhat underwhelmed. This really does look and feel like a scaled down Laguna. Perfectly acceptable, and rather inoffensive, but no better than that. For some real interest, what you need is one of these:
A full range of Renault Sport cars was on show, from the Twingo RS133 to the outgoing Megane R26R. All were being mobbed by young French enthusiasts (who seemed to constitute the majority of the show-go-ers anyway!).
There were a couple of concept vehicles, too. The Ondelios:
The Z.E (for Zero Emissions).
As if to show that there is nothing really new around, there was a Dauphine from the “Histoire et Collection”, which was battery powered. Bet all those batteries in the nose of the car changed the handling characteristics more than somewhat

Three cars on show, here. A long wheelbase Phantom which eluded my camera, and the Coupe and Drophead, which did not.
Yet another outing for the 9.4X Bio-power concept. Rumour has it that Saab will actually build this for sale in 2009, but then we’ve been hearing that for about as long as we have been hearing that the coming year will see a replacement for the 9.5!
New sighting was the 9.X Air Concept, which looked rather good. I hope Saab build this, and quickly. It would attract a lot of interest in a once great marque.
As well making Land-Rover clones, this Spanish manufacturer is still producing lightly modified version of the old Suzuki Vitara

The new Exeo had a prominent position on a turntable.
A wide range of the latest Ibiza SC and 5 door models were shown, with a show debut for the Ecomotive and FR versions.
One of the “surprises” was the facelift to the Octavia, with new front lights the most obvious visual difference.
Celebrating 10 years of production, there was nothing much of interest to see on their own stand, but in one of the other halls, I did find this Brabus

Tucked away in a corner was the maker of those oddly-styled devices that we all like to laugh at.
Except now they have something which actually looks OK. Billed as a concept, the C200 is likely to enter production soon.
Celebrating 50 years of making cars, with a display of their first model, the 360.
Otherwise, the big news was wider fitment of the much praised 2.0 diesel engine, illustrated here in a Forester.
Subaru’s rallying pedigree was presented with one of the latest Impreza cars.
At the very bottom of the range, there is the Justy, which is now simply a clone of the Daihatsu Sirion (and Toyota Boon, as sold in Japan).

Launch of the Alto, an even smaller car than the Splash was the major interest on this stand. Interior trim quality is somewhat better than we have seen on such cheap cars before, but it is still very clear from the level and quality of trim how the price is kept so low.
Nothing else new, apart from a Fuel Cell version of the familiar SX4
A couple of examples of this innovative, and rather costly sports car.
Suspect I upset the stand staff here, as several of them asked if I liked their lovely new Avensis, and I told them all the same: the interior is indeed rather nice, but the exterior is just hideous. This car really does get one of my wooden spoons for styling. The estate is marginally less bad than the saloon, but neither are what you would call attractive.
Elsewhere, the UrbanCruiser was on show. I could not help feel that this is a more distinctive family-sized offering than the rather lacklustre Auris.

This French manufacturer had a prominent stand just inside Hall 5, and had various interesting ideas to show.
Not sure that “Fetish” is the best choice of name, but that’s what this was called.
A relatively small stand, and very busy, especially around the XC60. Much play was being made of the Drive-e technology, with its low emissions ratings. Sadly, no pictures from this make, either.
A massive stand, with particular emphasis on the new Golf, numerous examples of which were on show. This certainly does feel like a premium car when sitting inside it. It will be interesting to see what it is like on the road.
A lone example of the new GTi was on show. It would seem that some of the cars depicted by the press have been removed.Surprisingly, there was only one Scirocco, and the family resemblance between that and the Golf is now very clear to see. It was attracting plenty of interest, and mostly favourable comment.
France is known for inflicting some absolutely terrible “micro cars” on to the world, not all of which they keep for themselves these days. Big play is made of the fact that these can be driven without a licence, which is a rather scary thought. I was amused to note how what had once been strictly utilitarian vehicles are now trying to mimic the styling and model trends of real cars:
Ligier is one of the best known for these wheeled horrors

Aixam is the other principal perpetrator.
There were a few other examples from lesser known marques, too.
An odd device, intended to illustrate the capabilities of its producer. Hmm.
As well as proudly displaying the Tigra (which they build for GM), and an electric version of the latest Agila (called the “Will”), there was this, the Pondicherry:
Was there an overall Car of the Show? To be honest, probably not. Nice though many of the newcomers were, there was nothing that really grabbed my attention. Maybe that’s why the “Car of the Year” contest feels harder to call this year than it has been for a long time. That said, it was well worth the trip. As Paris has been bathed in autumn sunshine, I’ve had ample opportunity to catch up on some tourist sight-seeing things, too. Shame that no other Forummers were able to join in. 2010, perhaps?
2010-01-03 17:11:06

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