Held over 5 days in November, and taking place for the 13th time, location for the Show is the Dubai World Trade Centre, which turned out to be just 2 Metro stops from our hotel in the Financial District, so it was easy to get to. The 2015 event promised 18 global launches, 139 regional launches and 16 concepts, a reflection of the thriving car market in the UAE, which is likely to see annual sales of over 425,000 vehicles this year. There was unprecedented demand for stand space at the Show this year, with an influx exhibitors showing for the first time, resulting in 23% more allocated space than in 2013. The event is held in a series of interconnected halls, covering 80,000 square feet, with space not just for cars, but also motorcycles, light commercial vehicles, the tuning and aftermarket sectors. as well as the automotive finance and insurance industry. Once on site there was no need to go outside, as the halls are all connected together, which provides welcome relief from the heat of the day, though there were some outdoor attractions as well. We sampled one of them at the end of the day, by which time it was dark. That, of course, is because we spent a whole day at the Show, in time-honoured Forum tradition. What was different this time, though, is that we were able to use the credentials of TheMotor.net to get entry on Media Day. We arrived soon after opening, which meant that there was still some last minute construction work on some stands and there were plenty of cars under covers which were removed at pre-announced times during the day. It did also mean that there was access to all those stands which are so often off-limits to the general public, allowing us to sit in exotics such as as Ferrari, McLaren, Bentley and Rolls-Royce, something you just cannot do at Geneva, Paris, Los Angeles or any other Show I’ve attended.
Our Show visit was the first thing we did, having only arrived in the middle of the night before, so with a limited knowledge of which brands were available in the UAE, and no real evidence from the streets – something we would gain during the rest of the trip – it was fascinating to see a mix of cars that are available in Europe and a good number of those which are familiar to those who know the US car scene. Notable was the fact that there was a large area occupied by a number of Chinese brands, but we hardly saw any of their cars on the streets. Here, alphabetically, then, are the brands who chose to exhibit. There were a few absentees, of which Honda was the most notable, but also missing were Volvo, Renault, Citroen, Seat, Skoda and Subaru, all of whose cars we saw on the street (not in any great quantity apart from Renault).
Anyone who knows me will be familiar with the fact that this is one of my favourite brands, as I have been a delighted owner of a modern Scorpion for over 5 years. I was delighted to find a couple of cars on the side of the large FCA stand, one of which immediately grabbed my attention, as it was a Cordolo Red 595 Competizione looking awfully like the car that I took delivery of a couple of months ago. Closer inspection revealed that it lacked the SkyDome sunroof and the red leather Sabelt seats that I included in my specification, meaning that this was actually a standard spec car. It looked fantastic, and my esteemed colleagues did spot me looking longingly at it and took photos to prove the point!
Surprisingly, the other car was not a 695 Biposto, which I would have rather expected in this market, but one of the 695 Evoluzione cars built specifically for the track. I would have thought that this would have been a significant market for the Biposto, but in the following days, I never saw a single Abarth on the road, so perhaps the UAE market has not fallen for this car like the UK, or, for that matter, Japan.
The Alfa Romeo stand was separate from the majority of the other FCA brands, nestling in between Volkswagen and Lexus in a different Hall from Fiat, Abarth and the American part of the Group. It was an act of supreme restraint as we tried to follow a logical and systematic route through the Show not to deviate when I saw what was on the stand, as here was a car I wanted to inspect almost more than any other. I refer, of course, to the much-awaited new Giulia. Having seen one at Padua a couple of weeks ago, but which was not just locked but also roped off, the prospect of being able to get inside the duo here was tantalising in the least. Eventually we got to the stand, and I made a beeline for the white car, eager to get inside. Alfa have, to date, only shown the top of the range 510 bhp Quadrifoglio model, and it was two of these which were on show. The exterior boasts some carbon fibre additions, but they are subtly done. There is a splitter at the front which lowers as the car gathers speed, to increase down-force, a first on a saloon car, I am told. The bonnet is solely carbon fibre and the wings are made of aluminium, for weight saving reasons. Inside, the cabin looks and feels special. A nice simple design, it pays homage to Alfas of yore, with round and well recessed dials, but the Giulia features all the modern accoutrements that buyers of a car in this class and price will expect. I was pleased to discover that there is decent space in the rear seats, something that I had feared the rear wheel design could imperil, though it has to be admitted that the boot does not look as big as in its German rivals. The most common question that I kept hearing on the stand was “when can I get one” and the answer – frustratingly – is still “September 2016”. That’s a long way away. But all the omens suggests that it could be worth the wait.
The other two cars on the stand were 4C Competizione models. One was a regular Spider model, but the other was a special edition, La Furiosa, created as the result of a meeting between the “Mechanics of Emotions” and the Style Centre together with the Maestros of Garage Italia Customs. It is a unique model that combines the high level technical characteristics of this Alfa Romeo and the Tailor Made interventions of the Lapo Elkann team specialists. a customising firm started by Lapo Elkann. He is the eccentric brother of Fiat Chrysler chairman John Elkann, an heir to the Agnelli empire, and someone who has played a variety of roles in the company – including brand promotion and the creation of the Gucci edition Cinquecento. Alongside fashion house Italia Independent, Lapo founded Garage Italia Customs to apply his unique sense of style and that of his team to models like the Fiat 500, Jeep Renegade, and Maserati Ghibli. To make this particular example stand apart from an “ordinary” Alfa 4C, special toned-down painting characterises the external livery. The customisers cloaked it in a velvet matte-finish red, similar to the original show car. The black carbon fibre roof, which allows a half-view of the weave, gradually fades to “Accursio” red, the original opalescent tonality, with “Velvet Touch” finishing. The name of this colour was chosen to honour the new headquarters in Piazzale Accursio, Milan, which will be operative from Spring/Summer 2016. The technique used to obtain this result is exquisitely hand-done and only a few experts in the world would be able to duplicate it with such mastery and precision. This particular opaque opalescent red was entirely developed by the Style Centre of Garage Italia Customs, using the classic Alfa Romeo range of colours as a starting point. The gradient shading continues on the rear cover of the engine, giving the car’s silhouette powerful chromatic harmony. The same shading is found on the brake calipers, where the white Alfa Romeo writing stands out. For the carbon components which characterise the 4C – like the front lights units, the air vents and lateral mirrors – the Garage team has instead chosen an elegant candy red. It has been virtuously applied in order to leave the peculiar weave of this ultralight material in view, so giving the car a more uniform look. The wheels are trimmed in gold. The interior was also subject to something of a transformation. Leveraging a partnership with Alcantara, a Made in Italy emblem in the field of upholstery, the intent was to create something unique, with aesthetic and technical characteristics to give the La Furiosa’s cabin an unmatched and exclusive sensory atmosphere. The interior of the car was completely upholstered in red Alcantara: dashboard, centre console and door panels. A black perforated version of the famous Italian material characterises the central part of the seat covers, with contrasting backing and red sides. There is a two-coloured chromatic match again on the steering wheel, which is upholstered with contrasting seams. The manufacturing of the pillars is also very particular. A special toned-down Alcantara has been applied here. It was obtained through digital printing, resulting in the same gradient effect of the bodywork painting. The headliner is in black Alcantara.
Alvis may have ceased car production in 1967, but that was not the end of the company, as they simply chose to focus on producing other things, mostly military equipment. Even so, it was a bit of a surprise to find a stand here branded the “Alvis Car Company”, but these are from what is called the Continuation Series, and shows yet again that there is money in skilfully updating classic vehicles with modern restoration and preservation techniques Alvis is planning a run of 77 vehicles, using 1930s parts, and they are hoping that the Middle East will be a key market for the carsThere were four vehicles on display, all of them classics, and reflecting the marque values that epitomise this ever-so English brand. Perhaps the best known car was the most recent, a TD Convertible.
Joining it were three models from the 1930s, all impeccably presented. Perhaps the most sought after was the 4.3 litre L Lancefield Concealed Hood. Developed for the 1938 London Motor Show, 4.3 litre Alvis models are very sought after these days. Production of the modern one is limited to 25 and at a little over £300,000 or Dh1.6m. The other cars on the stand were an Alvis Speed 20 and a particularly elegant fastback TA Series.
Fresh from its public appearance in the latest James Bond movie, Spectre, was one of the DB10 cars that was created specifically and exclusively for the film. I can just imagine a wealthy prospect coming onto the stand and asking if he could have one, but the answer would be “no”, as there are no plans to sell the DB10 to the public, with just 10 units made. Celebrating 50 years of partnership between Aston Martin and the Bond films, the DB10 design was led by Aston Martin’s chief creative officer Marek Reichman, with the film’s director Mendes working closely with the team. The car was hand-built in-house by Aston’s design and engineering teams in Gaydon, and whilst it will not be sold to the public, Aston Martin have stated that “the DB10 gives a glimpse to the future design direction for the next generation of Aston Martins.”, which means that the forthcoming DB11, due next year, could well pick up on what is to be seen here Few technical details of the car have been released, but it has been announced that the DB10 features the company’s 6-speed manual transmission unit that is used on their V8-engined cars. The car’s chassis is based on a modified version of the VH Platform that underpins the V8 Vantage. However the DB10 has a longer wheelbase and is nearly as wide as the One-77. It is powered by the Vantage’s 4.7 litre V8 engine.
The Vulcan was one of the surprises of the 2015 Geneva Show, as its very existence had been kept well under wraps until show opening time. Development work has continued apace since then, so the car on show here now has an interior, unlike the Geneva car, and there were people getting the chance to sit in it. Designed for the track, in the same way as the Ferrari FXX and the McLaren P1 GTR are purpose-designed for racing, it is fully FIA compliant, but it is not (despite some commentators asserting otherwise) road legal. Unlike those other cars, though, customers will be able to keep the Vulcan where they want. One of the principles for this car which is designed 100% for the lucky owner who can afford it and who wants to have fun with it, is to make it as easy as possible, so Aston will look after and transport if required, but they will not insist. It has also been designed to make it easy to drive, with the ability to increase the power available, as your confidence grows. Be in no doubt that this is a technical tour de force, the most impressive thing, from a long list of things which make you go “wow” is the downforce that it generates at 200 mph – nearly 1300 kg, or the weight of the car! Built around a carbon fibre tub and featuring bespoke suspension, a full carbon fibre body and a progressive power programme for the engine to allow the driver to build up to the full 800 bhp generated by the most powerful version of the naturally aspirated 7.0 litre V12 engine, as they build up to finding out what 1300 kgs of down force feels like at 200mph, it sports an Xtrac gearbox with straight cut gears and a sequential change. The Vulcan promises incredible performance, with a sub 3.0 second 0-60mph time and is an engineering masterpiece. Work only started on the car in the summer of 2014, and a surprisingly small number of people have been involved in creating it, and it is still not quite finished yet. Once it is, it will be limited to just 24 examples worldwide, with the first deliveries expected before the end of 2015.
We spent a long time at the Geneva Show admiring the Lagonda Taraf, and this was another chance to have a good look at (and another sit in) a car which is destined to remain a very rare sighting, even though Aston have now decided to make it available buyers in Western Europe. Just 200 of these large saloons will be built, and each is likely to be fine-tuned to the tastes of the initial buyer. There are a lot of design details, which are quite subtle, but once pointed out to you then really impress, such as the curves and angles on the carbon-fibre body. The initial pictures of the car, first seen in the summer of 2014 may not have been that convincing, but in the flesh, this truly is a stunning car.
The stand also contained some more familiar models. The large Rapide S and Vanquish Volante were joined by a DB9 GT, the “last hurrah” version of a car which has been in production for over 10 years, and whilst visually it may not have changed that much, Aston will tell you that under the skin this car is very different to the one that they launched in 2004.
Audi had a big stand, as you might expect, but by timing our visit carefully to when the crowds were focused on the unveiling of models on the Mercedes stand that was across the corridor, it was easy to get not just a close up view of the cars, but also some decent photos. Star turn, of course was the new R8. First seen at Geneva, Audi’s supercar is just now hitting the showrooms, so there will be lots of coverage and on the road test drives to read in the coming weeks, for sure. For now, the R8 is only available in Coupe form, though a Spider is under development, and likely to be seen during 2016. The V8 option has been dropped, so the car is offered with the V10, in two states of tune, and only with an automatic gearbox. A careful evolution, styling-wise from the first generation car, a model which still pulls heads wherever it goes, the consensus seems to be that Audi have done a good job on the update both inside and out. I agree.
Whilst the R8 is an important halo model, it is the all new B9 generation of the A4 which is commercially far more significant. This is a car that Audi simply cannot afford to get wrong. When it was revealed at the end of June, the nay-sayers had a field day on remarking on how similar it looks to its predecessor as well as being visually little different from other Audi models in the range. Having now seen it in the metal, I can report that you will not need to stare at it for long to be sure you are look at the latest model rather than the one it replaces, although the looks are very definitely an evolution rather than a revolution. Given the mixed reaction to more radical, and sometimes rather gauche, styling changes among some of the Audi’s rivals, this may prove to have been exactly the right call. The web pundits are all very well, but it is the people who actually spend their own money on buying a car that really count. And if they are not impressed by the interior, then I really don’t know what they are looking for, as this version elevates the already very impressive mix of design and quality of materials to a new level. There are fewer buttons, so the central part of the dash has been simplified leaving a nice clean look. Space in the rear has been improved, too. By all accounts, the car drives well, even if some of the British press simply recycled the reports of every Audi they have driven moaning about the same things that they always go on about and which I struggle to agree with. I look forward to trying the car myself, which I surely will be doing soon.
Launched earlier this year was the new Q7. A rare case of a car being smaller than its predecessor, the latest version of Audi’s largest SUV manes to look less bulky than its predecessor, which to my eyes at least is no bad thing. The interior is well up to Audi standards of design, quality of materials and fit and finish.
Also recent arrivals in the range are the third generation TT models. The Coupe was first seen a year ago, and it was then joined in 2015 by the Roadster. Again, a cautious evolution from the second generation car, with the latest Audi styling details successfully incorporated into their design, these models look good (to me, anyway).
There were no A1 models on the stand, even though the car is sold in Dubai. Smallest cars therefore were from the A3 range, and the two cars displayed were from the very top of that extensive range: an S3 Saloon and the very potent RS3 Sportback. The latter is familiar to Europeans, as the model went on sale in the Spring of 2015, but it was making its Middle Eastern debut. It is quite some car, with a turbocharged five-cylinder engine producing 362 bhp and 343lb/ft torque which perhaps makes it more of a a hyper hatch than just a hot one. The RS3 cracks the 0-100km/h benchmark in 4.3-seconds and can top 280km/h. Directing its power through all four wheels, the RS3 can vary power between front and rear and left and right for nimble and eager cornering agility, tremendous grip and tenacious traction.
Given the predominance of the sporting S and RS models on show, it was perhaps a surprise that it was an A7 and not the S or RS7 that represented the distinctive large executive hatch model. This model has remained something of a low volume car, which is a shame, as it looks good (far better than the 5 Series GT, which is its only real hatchback rival).
There were two of Audi’s largest saloon models here: an S8 and the long wheelbase A8L seen with the rare to European eyes 6.0 litre W12 petrol engine.
Completing the display were the familiar Q3 and Q5 SUVs.
Star of the Bentley stand was a car that the Middle Eastern market has long been clamouring for, the Bentayga. I asked the sales associate I spoke with how many orders he already had, and he said that people had started putting down deposits for this vehicle even before it was confirmed that Bentley would even build it. He is expecting that it will quickly become the marque’s best seller. You can what you like about the looks – and many people have said that they really don’t like them – but you cannot argue with the quality of the execution. There are lots of very impressive design touches and neat detailing, just as you would expect for a machine that will cost the thick end of £160,000 even before you start to raid the extensive options list. If you do, one of the things you will find list is a very neat fitted set of cocktail cabinets in the boot, as shown on the stand car here. The Bentayga is based on the VW Group’s MLB Plus platform, like the new Audi Q7, and is in fact only slightly different in footprint to the Ingolstadt product. However, under the bonnet of this machine, there is the familiar 6.0-litre W12 engine. Coupled with the full-time all-wheel drive, the Bentayga can do the 0-100 km/h in about 4 seconds and fittingly stakes its claim to being the fastest SUV on earth.
The stand also contained examples of the established models. Bentley has made subtle upgrades to all of them during the course of the year, and with an array of different versions using the long running W12 6 litre and 4.0 V8 engine, telling preciesly which variant you are looking at is not always easy, unless there is a sign to advise. So the Mulsanne here is one of the Speed models, the GTC is a V8 and there was also a Continental G and a Flying Spur.
When I saw this duo of cars, they looked as if they ought to be familiar, but I struggled to place them. It turns out that whilst they have retro styling themes, they are in fact new, and are the product of a Russian company. Bilenkin Classic Cars. This is their first model, the Vintage, which they plan to produced in small quantities. With a focus on design, both of the interior and exterior, there is a definite retro style to the result, and the idea is that the production cars will offer high levels of personalisation and individualisation. The Vintage is based on the chassis of an E92 model BMW 3-Series, and as such, can be supplied with all the engines offered by BMW, even before starting to work on tuning the car, something which it is expected that many buyers will want to do, and indeed Bilenkin Classic Cars have plenty of experience in tuning and modifying classic luxury limousines such asthe Soviet GAZ-12 “ZIM” GAZ-13 “Chaika” and GAZ-21 Volga. A lot of energy has been focused on the interior design of the car, with the result being hand made of polymers, the upholstery supplied by Russian studio CARDI, and the car features a special crystal ball on the gearlever created by Steklolux. The price for this will vary between €130,000 and €250,000 euros.
Star turn on the BMW stand was the new 7 Series model which is just going on sale. With arch rival’s S Class Mercedes firmly in their sights, BMW will hoping that the sixth generation of car to bear the 7 Series label is the one finally to topple the Stuttgart product. I don’t think it will, and all the press reviews to date have suggested that although it is a good car, and a worthwhile improvement on the F01/02 series models, it is still not quite there. It’s certainly had the bling styling touches added to it, with superfluous chrome in places that don’t need it, and that may well appeal to some buyers in some markets. There are a range of engines available, and whilst Europeans will largely buy the 730d version, it was the 750i petrol model that starred here.
One car that has been selling well, with orders out-stripping the rate at which BMW have proved able to build it, is the 4 Gran Coupe. BMW’s answer to the Audi A5 Sportback, this car has proved that there is a significant demand for a car that is that bit different. and with the 3 Series now so ubiquitous, people are happy to pay a premium to get something that is not quite so common.
Also from the 4 series range were the latest M4 Coupe and Convertible models. Excellent cars, no doubt, the latest M3 and M4 seem to have disappointed the critical and rather fickle press just a little bit, who were clearly expecting something that bit more raw and exciting.
One BMW I got the chance to drive earlier in the year, which turned out to be very impressive indeed was the 650i Gran Coupe. A large saloon based on a Coupe, that was based on a saloon (the 7 Series), this model is far more visually appealing to me than the 7, and unless you really needed the extra inches of space in the 7, would be my choice for a large BMW saloon.
There are currently five different X model SUVs in the range, and more to come, All were shown here. Newest is the second generation X1, which has moved over to front wheel drive sharing its platform with the 2 Series Active Tourer and the MINI. Coupled with less gawky looks and a much improved interior, this one is likely to sell in even greater volume than the far from unsuccessful but really not very good first generation car did.
Also on show were the X3 and X4 duo and the even larger X5 and X6 pair.
There was no sign of the little i3, which is hardly a surprise, but the other electric BMW, the i8 supercar was on show. The striking looks of this car mean that it has really caught the public’s imagination, perhaps even despite the clever technology which underpins it.
BOND CARS – SPECTRE
A special display behind the Jaguar Land Rover stand contained three of the cars from that marque which feature in the latest Bond movie, Spectre. These were well-used examples of the Land-Rover Defender and Range Rover and the droolsome Jaguar C-X75, which everyone is still hoping will find a slot in Jaguar’s production schedules.
I was expecting to see far more stands like this, but it turned out that all of those names who take high end, mostly German, cars and modify them in ways that many of us find to be of questionable taste and restraint, Brabus was the only one here. They had a number of vehicles on show.
Making its debut was the Brabus Rocket 900 Desert Gold Edition, an extreme gold painted S-Class that, as the name suggests has had something of a power upgrade. Said by its creator to be an homage to the Orient, where Brabus maintains a company branch and a prestigious Brabus Flagship Store in Dubai, this exclusive high-performance luxury liner is immediately recognizable not only due to its extraordinary “Desert Gold” special paintwork, a colour specially created for the car, but also thanks to its Brabus carbon aerodynamic-enhancement components and shiny black Brabus Monoblock F “Platinum Edition” 21-inch wheels with gold pin striping. Some of the aerodynamic changes are required to help the Brabus at the the extremely high speeds the Brabus Rocket 900 “Desert Gold” so effortlessly attains. To minimise lift on the front and rear axle as well as to bring them into an optimal balance, the Brabus designers developed a bodywork conversion with sporty and elegant styling. The naked carbon components with high-gloss coating lend the luxury sedan a dynamic visual upgrade and a sporty contrast to the gold paint finish. In addition, they also optimise aerodynamic efficiency. The Brabus front spoiler lip and the attachments for the front bumper give the four-door car a more thrilling appearance. What is more: Thanks to their shape optimised in the wind tunnel, these components also reduce lift on the front axle, which at high speeds contributes to further improved handling stability. The front bumpers are upgraded visually with a Brabus design element made from naked carbon. The integrated Brabus logo is illuminated and the lights are activated with the keyless-entry remote or by pulling on a door handle. Brabus carbon covers for the exterior mirrors represent a further sporty upgrade. The Brabus rear spoiler lip and a diffuser made from naked carbon round off the Brabus aerodynamic-enhancement concept. Tailor-made cutouts in the diffuser provide the perfect backdrop for the dual designer tailpipe tips of the Brabus sports exhaust system. The tips are also painted a glossy black to match the overall concept. The changes continue inside, where some 300 parts in the interior are painted the same shade of gold, and there is a fine leather interior finished in a combination of gold and black leather. With utmost love of detail, the Brabus upholsterers transformed especially soft and breathable black and gold Mastik leather into a Brabus fine leather interior in a class of its own. The embroidered “900” logo on the head restraints provides an indication of what engine is under the hood in the interior as well. Gold-coloured seams and piping add subtle accents. The interior elements such as switches and bezels also received an elaborate custom gold-coloured coating. The headliner of the sedan is made from deep black Alcantara. The Brabus Rocket 900 “Desert Gold” can be upgraded further with a state-of-the-art multimedia system by customer request. The “normal” S65 on which this car is based, sports a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 pumping out 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, and that would have been enough for most. But Brabus is there to satisfy those for whom too much is never enough, and so it revealed the Rocket 900 at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, raising the S65’s output to 887 hp and 1,106 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel the four-door car from rest to 200 km/h (124 mph) in just 9.1 seconds. The top speed is in excess of 350 km/h (217 mph). The 12-cylinder engine of the S65 is revised in every detail in the Brabus engine shop, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art machine park. The installation of a custom Brabus billet crankshaft with longer stroke in concert with a larger cylinder bore, matching forged pistons and precision-balanced custom billet connecting rods increases the displacement from 5.5 to 6.3 litres. Modifications to the engine peripherals also play a large role in the enormous power output. The two production turbos are replaced with turbochargers that have a larger compressor unit and a larger turbine as well as modified exhaust manifolds. Down pipes with a diameter of 80 millimetres are also included in the conversion, as is a stainless-steel Brabus high-performance exhaust system with free-flow metal catalysts and actively controlled butterfly valve. Just as crucial is a perfect air supply of the engine. To this end, theBrabus engine specialists developed the Brabus 900 intake module, which draws its air through an air duct in the hood directly from the radiator grille. The new intake manifold includes a special air filter box with larger cross-section and special filters as well as “Gold Heat Reflection” sheathing for lowering the temperature. Precisely programmed mapping for injection and ignition coordinate the perfect interaction of the high-performance components. The result is not only maximum power, but also compliance with the strict limits set by the current EURO VI emissions standards. Technology partner MOTUL supplies the high-tech lubricants for the entire powertrain. The extensive work performed on the engine results in the Brabus Rocket 900 6.3 V12 twin-turbo engine delivering unrivalled performance figures: the peak power of 662 kW / 900 hp (887 bhp) is produced at a low 5,500 rpm. Even more massive is the peak torque of 1,500 Nm (1,106 lb-ft) at 4,200 rpm. In the car, this figure is limited electronically to 1,200 Nm (884 lb-ft). Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system couldn’t handle all the twist from the stock S65, so power is transmitted to the rear wheels alone, by a seven-speed automatic transmission adapted to the tremendous power output and a Brabus high-performance limited-slip differential with a locking rate of 40 percent. The transmission can also be shifted manually with the Brabus Race aluminium paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The performance of the Brabus Rocket 900 “Desert Gold” is on the level of full-blooded top-class sports cars. From rest, the luxury sedan sprints to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.7 seconds. The sprint to 200 km/h (124 mph) takes a measly 9.1 seconds. Top speed is in excess of 350 km/h (217 mph). A subtle or thrilling exhaust note accompanies this unique driving experience. The Brabus sports exhaust system with actively controlled butterfly valve enables the owner to actively manage the sound at the touch of a button on the steering wheel. It lets the driver choose between driving the luxury sedan in a subtle and quiet “Coming Home” mode and enjoying a markedly powerful twelve-cylinder sound.
It was not the only model on display, as there were plenty of other Mercedes based creations here. These ranged from the enormous Maybach-based 900 to the Brabus adaptation of the GLE Coupe, the 800, a couple of G Wagen models, an 850 and a 600, and a C Class. In each case, the numeric descriptor tells you the power output of the uprated engine.
At the back of the stand, but not cars you would easily miss owing to their size and colouring, were a Startech adapted Range Rover which had become a sort of open-backed pick-up, perfect for those shooting trips out into the desert and a Bentley Continental GTC with a very bold choice of interior colour.
The Cadillac stand housed what was probably the only truly significant production car making its world debut. Following the new naming scheme that Cadillac will be phasing in across their range as products get replaced, this was the first chance to see the
XT5, a replacement for the SRX crossover. If you wanted to hear all about it, then periodically, one of the stand representatives, complete with a very nasal American accent, was gushing forth PR speak to anyone who wanted to listen, in the way that Americans do at their Auto Shows. The fact that no-one else does this, and that in this case, absolutely no-one seemed to be listening to her, did not seem to act as any sort of discouragement. She had her script, she’d learned it off by heart, and she was going to recite it. I waited until she was out of the way before making my inspection. The XT5 certainly seems like a decent enough product when you sit in it, but the acid test will be what it is like to drive. I was somewhat disappointed with its predecessor, so let’s hope that this one is more compelling.
There were three of the V models that have had the American press wetting themselves with excitement, asserting that these cars are better than the M and AMG models against which they are positioned in the marketplace. More measured European journalists have concluded that whilst they are blisteringly fast, and less crude than previous efforts, they are not the class slam dunk winner that the Americans would have you believe. I need to try them for myself to see what I think. On show were saloon and coupe versions of the ATS-V and the latest CTS-V. The ATS-V is aimed at the BMW M3 and M4, and its twin turbo 3.6 litre engine spits out 464 bhp and 445 lb/ft of torque, which is considerably more than the German cars. It is heavier, though, but even so, claimed performance figures suggest that it is the Cadillacs which are faster, with a 0 – 60 time of 3.9 seconds. The case for the ATS-V looks rather weaker inside, with a combination of cheap feeling materials, dated instruments and the cursed CUE touch-sensitive control system. There’s not much space in the back of the Coupe and rear visibility is next to non-existent thanks to the slope of the rear window. It would be a brave European who bought one of these, even though on the road the cars are better than just blisteringly fast.
It is a similar story with the larger CTS-V. This one packs a supercharged V8 under the bonnet, which puts out a stonking 640 bhp, which gives the car a claimed 0 – 60 time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of around 200 mph. Other upgrades include a stiffer suspension, wider front and rear tracks, recalibrated steering, substantial Brembo brakes and bespoke Michelin tyres. An eight speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox channels drive to the rear while an electronically controlled limited-slip differential distributes torque between the wheels. At £75,000, though, it is far from cheap, and UK buyers will have to put up with left hand drive
Cadillac showed the CT6 earlier in the year, as a new top of the range rear wheel drive saloon that will aim to recreate the notion that American can build really good executive cars, something that successive generations of De Villes, DTS and the current XTS have not quite achieved. It is a good looking car, but again, the interior is clearly designed for American tastes, and will not appeal to those who like the European way of doing things.
Final Cadillac on show was the latest Escalade. Refreshed just under two years ago, there is a surprisingly large market for big, brash SUVs like this, and if that is the sort of vehicle that you seek, there are actually none better than this one. It eats its main US rival, the Lincoln Navigator for breakfast, as I found out when I sampled the Lincoln earlier in the year.
One of many Chinese brands that were gathered together in the same part of the show, Chery is at least a brand that I have heard of, but if shown pictures of their cars, I confess that not only would I struggle to tell you which brand they were from, but what the models were. There appeared to be two model names used, Tiggo 5 and Arrizo 7, but these were then both applied to a range of cars which visually at least had little to do with each other. It really is hard to get excited about these cars, I am sad to report, but they are included for completeness.
GM may have decided to pull the Chevrolet brand in Europe, to concentrate on Opel or in the UK’s case, Vauxhall, but in the Middle East, they have hedged their bets and both brands and hence both ranges are offered. The Chevrolet models seen here are, with one exception the ones that are sold to American buyers, whether they are truly American Chevrolets or the Korean-sourced ones. That exception is the Captiva, a 7 seater SUV that was sold in Europe, and which found a certain amount of favour as a decent and relatively affordable spacious machine. It certainly found more appeal than the European Antara that was adapted for sale in America with Captiva badges applied to it. It’s now quite an old design, though, so it will be interesting to see what its destiny is. It certainly had a less than prominent position on the stand here, tucked away at the back and to one side.
Star of the Chevrolet stand, mounted on a plinth in the middle of the display was the new Camaro. Visually not unlike the big-selling outgoing car, this one is slightly smaller than its predecessor. Based on the same Alpha platform that underpins the Cadillac ATS, the clear objective is to make sure that the new Camaro is better to drive and able to keep up the battle against the Ford Mustang, a car which its predecessor outsold for most of its life.
It’s been a busy year for Chevrolet, with 5 completely new models launched in the US market. One of them is the new Spark. This is one of the Korean-sourced cars which has been offered to Europeans as the Vauxhall Viva and Opel Karl. It was received in European markets with muted enthusiasm, with noise levels being the biggest complaint. I have to hope it is better than the old Spark, as I tested one of those a while back, ad found it not just noisy, but painfully slow (the automatic gearbox sapped what little power there was), as well as cheap-feeling inside. On paper, this one promises to be better, though the looks are a bit more generic than they were before.
Cruze is a critical model in the GM portfolio, offered in around 120 countries, and with annual global sales that are not far short of the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. GM are currently embarked on replacing the first generation car, and it would seem that there will be more differences in the models available around the world than there were first time round. Asia saw a new model last year whereas America got a modest facelift to tide them over until the all new car was ready, which is about now. The car shown here looked slightly different around the rear end from the old car and had a different interior, but was, I assume, still a first generation car.
The Impala is Chevrolet’s largest regular saloon. Launched in 2013, it stunned everyone who sampled it, as its predecessor was renowned for being a rental car staple with roominess and low price and not a lot else on its side, whereas this one hit just about every spot going. The US’ Consumer Reports – not always known for coming with a point of view that the car enthusiast would agree with – gave it a top billing and a score of 99 on its debut.
Making a first appearance in Dubai were 2016 versions of some larger Chevrolets: the Tahoe is a massive 5 seater SUV and the Silverado is its close relative, sold in truck guise, and one of the biggest selling vehicles in America.
Final Chevrolet on the stand was the most exciting: a C7 generation Corvette in top spec in very rapid Z06 guise.
There were three Chrysler models at one side of the large FCA Group stand. Two of them were the mid-sized 200C cars and the final one was a top of the range 300C in SRT trim. Those who have not looked closely at a Chrysler in recent times would be quite amazed at the transformation that has been wrought in recent years. Once afflicted with truly cheap and nasty interiors, these latest cars are well finished inside and my experience is that they drive well, too.
I was a little surprised to see that David Brown had a stand here, as this is a very small British company with limited resources and visibility. Their product, the David Brown Speedback, is a modern take on the classic Aston Martin DB5 and is a limited edition Grand Tourer which combines classic styling with contemporary performance and technology. It made its debut in Monaco in April 2014, and the initial feedback expressed by many, me included, was that the styling did not seem quite to work, and that if the car’s eponymous founder (no relation of the original David Brown who owned Aston Martin in the 1950s through to the 1970s) thought that even 100 people would want to part with £600,000 for this pastiche car, then he was far more optimistic than me. However, those early pictures probably did it no favours, as now I have had the chance to see the car several times in the open as opposed to the studio, and especially when you see the sumptuously produced interior, the chances of finding those buyers seemed rather greater. Based on the underpinnings of a modern Jaguar XK, the styling does remind you of the iconic DB5, but it is sufficiently different to persuade you that it is a design all of its own, and it looks good from most angles. The interior really does look and feel special, befitting the price tag. Indeed, the whole vehicle is reminiscent of Britain’s coachbuilding heritage. Using an acclaimed and proven British rolling chassis and drivetrain, each bespoke lightweight aluminium panel of the body is hand-beaten over highly accurate machine-milled bucks and rolled over an English wheel, before being bonded and riveted to the hard parts of the rolling chassis. The interior of the car comprises the finest British materials including English wood veneers and Scottish leather. There is an unexpected party trick is at the back of the car where as well as a large conventional tailgate, there is a small drop down flap, which once lowered then allows you to flip up a small rear-facing seat, which would be just perfect for an a day at the races or some other outdoor occasion. £600,000 is an awful lot of money, but I am now far more convinced that selling the planned 100 units may not be that hard after all.
Another Chinese brand, with a variety of models on show, most of which show clear evidence of where they found styling inspiration.
Stablemate to the Chryslers already shown in this report, the FCA strategy is to separate the Dodge brand further apart than used to be the case. Whilst the large Charger saloon, seen here in a couple of different trim levels – R/T and the more potent SRT – may share its underpinnings with the Chrysler 300, you would never guess by looking at them. The Chrysler is being positioned very much as a luxury car, whilst the Dodge is aimed at the more sporting sector of the market. I drove an entry level SE model a few weeks ago, and was very favourably impressed, as this is now a very good car indeed. Give it more power, as these Hemi-engined V8 cars have – and you could imagine it would be a lot of fun.
The Challenger is based on the same platform as the Charger and 300C. Aimed at recreating some of the magic of the Muscle Car era and competing against the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger has had the advantage and disadvantage of size. the former means that there really is space for four adults and plenty of luggage, something which you cannot do in the Ford or the Chevrolet, but a disadvantage as it makes the car less agile on the road. To prove that this is perception rather than reality, Dodge have put the 707 bhp Hellcat version on sale, showing that the car can be a true modern muscle car.
The Durango shared much under the skin with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it offers more space inside, with the option of 7 seats for those who have more people to convey.
Finally car on the stand was a Viper. For a while, there was an attempt to create a new brand, the SRT, but that has been canned and the car is now a Dodge SRT/10, though everyone still refers to it as a Viper. Rumours circulated a few weeks ago that suggest that the model will be deleted from the range in 2017 and not replaced. That will be a sad day.
It is not uncommon for the local Police force to have a display at an Auto Show, as it is their chance to engage with the motoring public in a more friendly locale than the places where they usually interact – motoring offences or accidents. What made the display here different were the cars. Dubai Police have a supercar fleet, and picture of the cars circulate on the internet from time to time, so it was no surprise to see that the four cars on their stand were not the sort of machine you might typically think of as police machines: a Bentley Continental GT, a Nissan GT-R, a BMW i8 and a Porsche Panamera
This was a brand I’d not come across before, though one look at the car on the stand gave me a clue as to what Equus Automotive is all about. An American company, that was founded in the State of Georgia in 2009, and now based in the Detroit area, having initially done work with Panoz, they now specialise in taking a classic muscle car from the 1960s and early 1970s and performing an update, not unlike what Singer is doing to classic Porsche 911s and Jensen International are doing with the Interceptor R. The result here is the Equus Bass 770, which was officially launched at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Under the full aluminium silhouette of a 1960s fastback Mustang you will find a supercharged 6.2-litre LS9 V8 engine from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which develops 640bhp and 605lb ft of torque. This is a lot more than Steve McQueen ever experienced in Bullitt. According to its makers, this big engine allows the Bass 770 to get from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds – that’s Ferrari 458 Spider fast – and max out at the double ton. It’s not just big power either. It’s fitted with carbon ceramic brakes, a magnetic suspension system with adjustable shock absorbers and a double clutch gearbox. Equus have tinkered with the classic Mustang design slightly, with a slightly grumpy-looking face and the classic ‘Stang badge has been italicised – most definitely for legal reasons. Even so, it still has that hardcore, muscle car look and the beating V8 to go with it. Inside it’s got all the mod cons: USB connectivity, sat nav and ISO fix so you can scare your kids. Like the Singer, this all comes at a price In the UK, the launch price was said to be around £156,000. And that was only for the basic one, with the prospect of paying more to have a designer customise your car to whatever spec you desire. Equus were using this show to launch the production car, just 15 of which will be made, and the price is now US$500,000.
We arrived in the show through an entrance right by the Ferrari stand, to discover we were just in time for their grand unveiling of a car that was covered up.
It would have been really cool if it had been the new F12 TdF, but it turned out to be the new 488 Spider, which was launched to the assembled crowd by an enthusiastic duo of Italians. Once the crowds had dissipated, we were able to get a better look, and then later in the day, to get onto the stand and to sit in all the cars. I have to say that the interior of this car, and the similar 488 GTB is just fabulous. Ferrari interiors had been getting a bit fussy looking with lots of unusual controls that would take some familiarisation, but this one is nice and uncluttered, and beautifully finished.
Alongside it was the 488 GTB, a model that was launched at Geneva back in March, and which hit the dealers, streets and circuits of the world a few weeks ago. I think it looks fabulous especially in classic Ferrari red and with a gorgeous tan interior.
That was the paint and trim selection for the F12 Berlinetta model on the stand as well. I got the chance to sit inside this one as well, and it just felt so “right”. Easy to get in, comfortable once installed, and with none of the idiosyncracies evident that used to bedevil supercars, this really did feel like the car that – speed limits permitting – you could drive very fast for a very long way with every mile enjoyed.
Final Ferrari model on the stand was the California, the heavily revamped version of the “entry level” model that looks that bit less bulky around the edges.
There were 4 different Fiat models on display, most of them new. The only that was not, was the 500X, a model which was only introduced to the world earlier in the year. Sharing a platform with the Jeep Renegade which was also on the stand, this family sized crossover vehicle is gaining sales momentum around Europe. Spared the rather gawky looks of its 500L half-brother, it is neatly styled, has an interesting interior and is very practical, so it deserves to do well.
Fiat desperately need some more models to sell in quantity, of course, as they cannot survive on the success of the 500 alone, even if that car is selling in greater volume now than ever, which is an incredible performance for an 8 year old design. The Series 4 refreshed model was making its regional debut here, so this was a chance to see the subtle changes to the front (OK), the new rear light clusters (not so sure) and the interior with the new touch sensitive uConnect system screen (very welcome).
Brand new was the Tipo, a conventional four door saloon that has been designed for Southern European markets where it will replace the Linea. A five door hatchback model for those markets which prefer this format is coming, and on the evidence of this model, the car could do well, as it is likely to be positioned significantly below the Focus/Astra/Golf cars whose size if matches. The interior quality looked well up to par, and it is roomy. I do hope that this car can regain some of the C-Segment sales success that Fiat used to enjoy with cars such as the last Tipo, and the Strada/Ritmo and 128.
Also new was Fiat’s first foray into the mid-size pickup truck market, the Fullback. It’s not an entirely new product, though, as it is closely related to the Triton pickup (also known as the L200) that Mitsubishi builds in Thailand for markets in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Riding on a 118″ wheelbase, it measures 208″ long, 71″ wide and 70″ tall. These are identical measurements to the Mitsubishi, and are broadly similar dimensions to other mid-sized pickups, such as the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon. It is an important segment in Europe, with sales there totalling 675,000 units in 2014 representing 23% of total sales in the Light Commercial Vehicle segment. With a name that is apparently derived from the cornerstone position in rugby and American football, the Fullback, offered with a standard double body cab, can carry up to 2,300 pounds, and is powered by a 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine available in either 150- or 180 hp states of tune, and mated to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission and standard four wheel drive. It will be sold in two trim levels by Fiat Professional in markets across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, where it will compete against the likes of the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, and Volkswagen Amarok, but is unlikely to reach the US. Sales do not start until the Autumn of 2016.
Star of the Ford stand was the GT Concept. This was the first time I had seen it in a colour other than blue, and the red paint that it now bears suits it very well. As if the GT was not interesting enough, we got to the stand just as Ken Block was finishing his visit there, complete with a significant crowd. Celebrating the Ford GT40 sensational all-podium 1966 24-Hours of Le Mans victory 50th anniversary, the 2016 GT features a 600BHP+ mid-engine version of Ford’s acclaimed 3.5-litre direct injection twin-turbo V6 Ecoboost engine. Based on race-proven engine architecture, the GT is built on stiff lightweight carbon-fibre and aluminium construction. A post-retro design paying homage to its iconic ancestor, it features up-swinging doors, curved windshield and advanced active aero aids, while radical air tunnels direct airflow along a narrow fuselage-like cockpit.
You can’t buy the GT yet, but you can get your hands on another very fast Ford, the Mustang seen here in GT350 Shelby guise, which was making its Middle Eastern debut.
The rest of the Ford had a decidedly American feel to it, with a trio of SUVs, the latest Edge, Explorer and Expedition
Even more American were the Pick-Ups, with a a couple of the US market favourite., the F150 as well as the slightly smaller Ranger. There was another F150 on show outside the halls.
Originating from elsewhere in Ford’s One World, were a car which we in Europe can buy (though few people have, for entirely understandable reasons!), the EcoSport to one that we are likely to become more familiar with. Called the Figo, the rumours suggest that this will also be the next generation Ka. Unless the interior is upgraded somewhat, I suspect that it will fail even to hit the sales volumes of the current Ka, itself something of a market disappointment compared to the first model.
GMC offers a range of SUV and Pickup vehicles, each of which is closely related to an equivalent Chevrolet. Examples of some of the models from the range were on show here, with the mid-sized Terrain, the larger Yukon and the massive Sierra pickup.
Another marque that I had not heard of before. This one turned out to be German, despite the name which might lead to you to guess elsewhere, and the car made its world debut at the recent Frankfurt IAA Show in September. Its maker says that the Halcón SuperSport “Falcarto” presents a vibrant alternative to the classic supersport car. Two and a half years of devoted development – starting with the idea, design and creation of the prototype have been invested for the premier presentation of the “Falcarto” – which stands for refinement par excellence and for a class that is rare: with an exclusive limited edition of 15 cars, each “Falcarto” will be handcrafted in Germany as an individual and customised order. Based on a Nissan 370Z, the Falcarto has a centrally located V6 3.7 litre twin-turbo front-mid-engine constructed out of aluminium with steel cylinder liners and high-strength H-Beam design rods which puts out between 420 and over 600bhp depending on spec. The use of a technology in which the variable valve and valve range are constantly adjusted, enables instant and powerful response qualities, providing an optimal torque band. The thermally optimised exhaust manifolds are made of cast iron and the rear exhaust system is of stainless steel with crosswise arranged mufflers for optimal weight distribution. The interior, including the instrument panel, is elegantly lined with high-quality, carefully selected leather. The distinct design pattern on the Halcón seats can be found again on the door panels and the leg room area. A cutting-edge hi-fi / navigation / infotainment system with superior high-end sound quality, including an automatic Bluetooth connection to mobile phones offers the best for entertainment and communication. Additional fittings include an adjustable multifunction steering wheel, electrically controlled and heated side mirrors, power windows as well as ergonomic and electrically adjustable Recaro sport seats in Halcón custom design. In addition, the car is equipped with a central locking system with a “Keyless Go” remote exclusively created for Halcón SuperSport. Just 15 cars will be built at the price is quoted as €170,000.
Such is the pace of development at Korean giant Hyundai that barely a show goes by without there being something new to see. The two cars with star billing on the large central plinth were the latest generation Elantra, which has already been seen in its native Korean guise (as the Avante) and a small crossover, the Creta, which has been around for a little while.
Parked in a row to one side of the main plinth were Hyundai’s larger SUV models, with the two version of the Santa Fe, in 5 and longer 7 seater versions joined by the new Tucson.
Celebrating a first birthday were the larger saloon models in the range Sonata and Genesis, both of which became generally available this time last year. The former was shown in both Turbo and Hybrid guises, whilst the latter was in a full-fat 5 litre V8 top of the range version.
Hyundai’s more sporting cars were represented by the unusual Veloster Turbo with its asymmetric door configuration and the larger Genesis Coupe
A reminder of the brand’s motorsport activities came from the display of both an i20 WRC Car and a Veloster racer
Infiniti had a platform display area on which they showed a couple of Concept Cars, the Inspiration and the Q60 Concept Coupe, both of which have been seen several times before. But it was the background – a constantly changing montage of all sorts of graphics, that provided the real interest and the opportunity for a range of photos that did not give away the fact that you might have been completely stationary to take them.
Commercially far more significant was the new Q30, a premium hatch that shares much under the skin with the Mercedes A Class, and which goes on sale shortly. Little different from the concept version that did the show rounds a year ago, this is a neat enough looking car, which will be offered with a choice of 1.5 and 2.1 litre diesels and 1.6 and 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engines and optional four wheel drive and a dual-clutch automatic transmission, but it sounds like it is not quite special enough to beat the established rivals in this sector, and in Europe at least, the lack of dealers is going to prove as much an impediment to success as its rather ambitious pricing.
There was one example of each of the other models in the range. In saloon terms, that means the slightly disappointing Q50 that has failed to capture the enthusiasm that its G37 predecessor did, and the larger Q70
There were all four SUVs here. The QX50 has just had a wheelbase stretch, to create more space in the back, and it was joined by the familiar QX60, QX70 and the gargantuan QX80.
Taking centre stage on the Jaguar stand was the F-Pace, a long-awaited Crossover vehicle that will go on sale in Spring 2016. With snouty bold mesh grille, squinting headlights and bulging bonnet similar to Jaguar’s elegant saloons and rear lights inspired by the F-Type sports car, the F-Pace seamlessly translates the British brand’s character into crossover SUV form for the first time. Expected to be a big seller in the region, the F-Pace is built on light and stiff aluminium architecture and powered by Jaguar’s growling, consistently muscular and progressively urgent supercharged 3-litre V6 engine in 335 or 375 bhp. Driving all four wheels, it should prove agile and sure-footed when launched.
There was plenty of other new metal on the stand. The XE went on sale earlier in 2015., and is starting to become a reasonably common sight on British roads.
Parked up alongside it was the new XF. When you see XE and XF together like this, the differences are more obvious, but if you just see one of either model, being sure what you are looking at will require a trained eye. The interior of the XE is nice, but that on the new XF is a league ahead again, especially in the upper spec models such as this one.
Completing the range of saloon cars is the XJ, and this was recently subjected to a mid-life facelift. There are some very minor cosmetic changes, with most of the visible alterations being the incorporation of the latest technology for things such as the infotainment system, though there have also been mechanical updates.
Final car on the stand was the F Type Coupe in Bloodhound SSC support car guise
Showing that FCA is serious about expanding its global reach, Jeep rolled in to the Show with three modified off-roaders, each fitted with a number styling “enhancements” and a variety of Mopar accessories. One was based on the Cherokee, and the other two were wrought from the Wrangler. It was the Cherokee that was getting the lion’s share of attention. Called the Jeep Cherokee KrawLer, it is based on the Trailhawk version, and it was created to tackle the toughest driving conditions by enhancing the vehicle’s rock crawling capabilities when navigating the harshest off-road obstacles. The KrawLer’s ride is raised for extreme off-road use with Mopar equipment including special suspension, BF Goodrich KM2 255/80/17 off-road tyres, wider bumpers, skid plates and rock rails. The Cherokee KrawLer also sports a special, military-inspired matte-green body colour accented with matching green interiors made of Pelle Frau and quartz grey exterior details. Powered by a 272 hp 3.2-litre V6 Pentastar engine linked to an automatic nine-speed transmission, the KrawLer also features Jeep Active Drive Lock four-wheel drive with low range and rear differential lock. The name KrawLer emphasises the KL code by which the current Cherokee is known. Available in Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels, Jeep Cherokee is offered in the Middle East with a choice of two powertrains – the 3.2-litre V6 Pentastar and 2.4-litre MultiAir Tigershark engines, both of which are paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Cherokee delivers a unique combination of legendary Jeep 4×4 capability, superior on-road ride and handling, cutting-edge, revolutionary design, world-class craftsmanship, innovative technology, new levels of efficiency, entertainment and comfort plus five-star safety features that project the Jeep brand into the future, boasting contemporary design, a nine-speed automatic transmission and two advanced engines, class-leading capability from three innovative 4×4 systems, more than 70 safety features, and a host of segment exclusive technology features.
Also on show is the world’s most capable and recognised vehicle – Jeep Wrangler, which offers levels of capability off-road, combined with on-road dynamics, fuel efficiency and interior comfort that make it the perfect vehicle for fun daily driving, weekend desert-running or extreme off-roading. The award-winning Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission available in the Wrangler line-up in the Middle East mean that the latest generation of Wrangler offers improved on-road performance and even more off-road prowess. Available in 2 and 4 door models (with room for five adults, the Wrangler Unlimited remains the only four-door 4×4 open-air vehicle on the market) and boasting an untouchable combination of efficient design, open-air freedom, significant towing capability, improved on-road driveability, and unique 4×4 systems, Wrangler maintains its position as the benchmark off-road vehicle and the ultimate vehicle for any driving adventure. Shown here were a pair of modified Wranglers. One was the Sahara Sun Runner, which featured an exclusive matte yellow colour as well as a host of Mopar accessories including bumpers with a double tow hook on the front, 4″ suspension lift kit and half doors. It featured LED lights fitted between the A-pillar and windscreen to complete the look. The Sun Runner was fitted with a skid plate and Mopar multi-spokes 17″ wheels; the tubular rock rails complete the upfit as both a functional and style enhancing feature. The Wrangler Dark Side, meanwhile, was based on a two-door Rubicon and featured a special custom Mopar interior plus 37″ tyres, off-road bumpers, winch, flat fender flares, performance hood, half doors, lift kit, light bar and many other Mopar extras that further enhance the Rubicon’s legendary off-road capability and further add to its rugged look.
Alongside those, Jeep showcased the smaller Renegade for the first time in the Middle East. The latest addition to the Jeep family, the all-new Renegade further expands the brand’s vehicle line-up and sees it entering the growing compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) segment, but staying 100% true to the adventurous lifestyle and 4×4 capability the Jeep brand is known for. Renegade delivers best-in-class off-road capability, open-air freedom and convenience, with a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission that contributes to outstanding on-road and off-road driving dynamics, fuel-efficient engine, world-class refinement and a host of innovative safety and advanced technology offerings. The result is an efficient vehicle created to attract youthful and adventurous customers around the world to the Jeep brand. Boasting a sophisticated Omaha Orange paint job and black interiors, the Renegade displayed on the stand was the Trailhawk model, a vehicle that delivers Jeep all-terrain capability thanks to its special off-road equipment that includes Jeep Active Drive Low all-wheel drive system and Jeep Selec-Terrain with exclusive Rock mode.
Also on the stand was the top of the range Grand Cherokee, the most awarded SUV ever. The stand car was the top of the range model in terms of performance, the 6.4-litre HEMI V8 powered Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, which delivers 468 hp and 624 Nm of torque. Its breath-taking performance includes acceleration from 0-100 km/h in just 5 seconds, top speed of 257 km/h and braking distance from 100 to 0 km/h in only 35 metres. The Grand Cherokee SRT comes with an assertive and attractive sports appearance, and features a host of desirable equipment befitting of the SRT badge. Unique exterior and interior styling cues enhance the car’s distinct, high-performance image and set it apart from other sporting SUVs. The Grand Cherokee is available in the Middle East region in five models: Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT®, Jeep Grand Cherokee – delivers unprecedented driving range, a choice of leading powertrain options (Pentastar 3.6-litre V6, 5.7-litre HEMI V8 and 6.4-litre HEMI V8), standard eight-speed automatic transmission, legendary benchmark capability, world-class craftsmanship, premium on-road driving dynamics plus a host of advanced user-friendly technology and safety features.
Kia had a vast stand, needed to show off the extensive range of cars that this Korean brand offers. Star of the group was the new Optima, which featured on a large plinth across the middle of the back of the stand. At first glance, this one does not look that different from the much lauded Schreyer styled model of 2010, but keep looking and you will see that there are differences, especially with a third side window, in the C pillar. European sales of the outgoing car have been somewhat limited thanks to the fact that the car was only available with a less than competitive 1.7 litre diesel engine, but in petrol-favouring markets, the car has done well. There is no reason to suppose that the new one will not do at least as well, if not better.
Earlier this year we saw a new third generation Sorento, a car which received plenty of praise not just for its looks, but also for most of the other attributes form spaciousness to the way it drives. Top models are over £40k now, which sounds like quite a lot for what was once a budget Korean brand, but the reality is that this is no longer in that category, and is now a mature maker of very capable products.
Nowhere, perhaps, is the rate of change more evident than when you compare the large MiniVan, known as Carnival in Middle Eastern markets, and Sedona to US buyers. The old one was spacious, but felt a bit cheap and crude, whereas the version which debuted a year ago, and seen here, has a really very impressive feel to its interior, and far less awkward styling than some of its Japanese rivals.
Next up for modernisation will be the smaller Sportage. A new version was premiered a couple of months ago, but it was not shown here, where the version that has been on sale since 2010 was the one exhibited.
As Kia seeks to become a seen as a credible player of quality cars, they have extended the range upwards, and the two cars that illustrate this were both on show here: the Cadenza is a very large saloon which is a sort of modern day Omega or Scorpio in concept, and the Quoris (known as the K900 in the US) is a luxury executive car that competes against the likes of the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon and even E Class Mercedes and 5 Series BMWs. Both are neatly styled, and have well put together interiors, but neither has achieved anything other than modest sales success in the US, proving how hard it is to break into these sectors, regardless of the worthiness of your product.
I was a little surprised to see this one, as to my eyes it looked like the Borrego, a large SUV which had been offered in the US a while back, but was deleted. Clearly it is still alive in other markets, where it bears the name Mohave
More familiar to European eyes were a series of models from the lower end of the range: Picanto, Rio, Soul and Carens.
The one that would not be, though, would be the C-Segment competitor, the Cerato. This is the same car that is marketed to Americans as the Forte, and is offered in traditional saloon as well as 5 door hatch format, in preference to the European designed and made Cee’d which we get.
Making its debut in the UAE market was Kenbo, the flagship brand of BAIC Yinxiang. Kenbo has a range of value-priced SUV and MPVs with the S6 model spearheading the charge as they seek to increase their sales penetration in more markets around the world. Believe it or not, Kenbo vehicles are based on the technology platform of Sweden’s now defunct SAAB, and they also leverage the technology and manufacturing capabilities of the BAIC Group, one of the top five vehicle manufacturers in China. Kenbo is a young brand, but already features in the top five best selling SUVs in the home Chinese market. They will become available in the UAE in the first half of 2016.
The Lamborghini stand was adjacent to close rivals, Ferrari, which is not something you find out at many other shows. Newcomer here was the Huracan Spider, which was first shown officially at the Frankfurt Show back in September, but which was making its debut in the Middle East. For now, it is only offered in AWD form, like the Coupe, with the rear wheel drive model being held back for a launch at the Los Angeles Show.
Also on show were a Huracan Coupe. and Aventador Coupe and Spider
Launched here was the new Range Rover SV Autobiography, the most luxurious (and expensive) Range Rover yet. A clear statement of readiness to compete in the emerging ultra-luxury SUV segment comprising the Bentley Bentayga and upcoming Rolls Royce SUV, the original luxury off-road gets ever plusher with this version, courtesy of JLR’s special vehicle operations. With high quality dual tone paint, higher grades of leather and trim, a long list of standard features which include upgraded seating and audio units, the option of the long wheelbase for more space in the back, and reclining seats with footrests, the SV Autobiography also features an upgraded 542 bhp supercharged 5 litre V8. Effortlessly muscular, extensively capable off-road and serenely comfortable on-road, the Range Rover is also built on stiff lightweight aluminium architecture. A huge panoramic sun roof is standard, as are powered rear window blinds and a wood finish for the slide out boot flor. Much of the switchgear is made from knurled-finish aluminium and the exterior features a graphite finish on the grille and other trim parts. Rear seat entertainment comes from a pair of 10″ screens and headphones. the main sound system is a 1700W Meridian Signature Reference unit with speakers embedded in the front seat backs. There are just two rear seats, and a substantial centre console, which stores a pair of fold-out aluminium tray tables and has a refrigerated locker that can take two tall glasses and a small bottle. The rear seats are electrically heated and adjustable, with a massage function, and in the long wheelbase version have extendable calf supports. It is expected that around 1000 units a year will be made, of which 120 are ear-marked for the UK, at a price of £165,000.
The stand also contained representative examples of the rest of the range, with a Range -Rover Sport SVR joined by the Evoque and the new Discovery Sport
Outdoors, the Land Rover Experience had been set up to give interested parties a demo of some of the incredible capabilities that these vehicles boast over difficult terrain, be that the steepest of hills, or very uneven surfaces. The set of obstacles that had been set up were rather less extreme than you sometimes find. Sadly, we left it too late to experience it for ourselves.
The Lexus range is very popular in the Gulf States, so perhaps it was no surprise that, with an extensive array of different models, there was a large stand here on which they were displayed. Lexus have said that – and the evidence is there to back up their promise – that they intend to produce distinctive, and in some cases even controversial designs, in an effort to try to increase their appeal, noting that this will not be a strategy which results in universal appeal to everyone, but one which should at least attract attention from those who want something different. The clearest evidence to date of this came when they launched the NX range of Crossovers in 2014. Whilst there are people who like it, there are lots who find the large number of creases and surfaces and awkward angles to be visually just too challenging. Couple this with mediocre dynamics (a particularly poor ride being the worst attribute) and high prices and it is no wonder that it has only enjoyed modest success in Europe.
The same design philosophy has now been applied to the larger RX, a new version of which was making an appearance here. There’s certainly no mistaking this one for its predecessor, with the side rear window treatment being particularly distinctive. this is Lexus’ best selling model in many European markets, so they will find out soon enough whether the new controversial design language pays off or not.
Staying with the SUVs, whilst the RX is the largest one seen in Europe, there are two bigger models offered in those markets that buy the very largest of vehicles. These are the GX and LX, both of which are based on Toyota LandCruiser products, with Lexus-like upgrades to the trim.
Lexus launched a rival to the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63 earlier this year, the RC-F. Once again, the looks will polarise opinion, with many finding it too in your face and to be trying too hard, but some will like it. Dynamically, it does not realy rival the Germans, it has been reported, despite the excellence of the 5 litre engine. The example at the show was suspended up high, and with its bright orange paintwork, it was hard to miss it.
The regular four door saloon ranges were well represented, with the IS, ES, GS and executive LS600h all to be seen here. The GS has just gained an F model in the range, a ferocious sports saloon aimed at the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG, this car has a traditional large capacity V8, of 5 litre capacity under the bonnet, with no turbo or electric assist motor in sight. That means that there is 464 bhp and 391 lb/ft of torque available. Drive is to the rear wheels only. It is quite a heavy beast, though, so performance, whilst impressive, with a 0 – 60 tike of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 167 mph is not quite up there with the German thunder-saloons, and at £68,995, it is not particularly cheap, even if it is nicely finished inside, . Will it truly rival the Germans on road, track and for showroom appeal? In Europe, extremely unlikely, and indeed sales projections are realistically modest, but elsewhere in the world, it may find more takers.
Lincoln has been struggling for a good few years, now, with a variety of models, using some bizarre and less than logical naming convention that no-one can really fathom, all finding only limited appeal in the market. With all the prestige brands that Ford bought in the 1990s and early 2000s sold off, this is now the Luxury marque for Ford, and so there is a new impetus to try to make something of a marque with a proud history that goes back nearly 100 years ago. Showcasing a new direction that Lincoln intents to take was a concept car which dusted off the Continental name – somewhat to Bentley’s chagrin. According to its maker, it combines the elegant and emotive with an athletic demeanour, and with some changes from the car you see here, this Lincoln Continental Concept flagship is expected to catapult the American brand back firmly to the premium luxury segment as a 2017 model. With snouty but recessed grille, smatterings of chrome, huge alloys, low profile roof, muscular haunches and slanted low-slung boot, it features faint flavours of Maserati Quattroporte V and Pininfarina’s Fiat 130 Coupe and Rolls Royce Camargue in its C-pillar slant. Spacious inside, its cabin is swathed with lush blue leather and suede and features highly ergonomic seats. I rather liked it.
Joining the Continental concept car on the stand were the two latest production models, the MKC and MKX. At first glance, these two looked to be the same car, but stare at them for longer, and you will realise that they are different. The MKC is based on the Ford Escape, and is the smaller of the duo, whereas the MKX is a second generation model that shares its underpinnings with the latest Ford Edge.
There were two Lotus models on a stand shared with a number of the low volume British sports cars, an Evora 400 and the latest Exige S V6
Centrepiece here was the Alfieri Concept, a stunning car that was first seen in 2014 as part of the marque’s centenary celebrations. Taking inspiration from one of the most elegant cars of all time, the Maserati A6 GCS-53 that was designed by Pininfarina, the Alfieri, named after the most prominent of the five Maserati brothers who founded the company, the car is based on the GranTurismo MC Stradale chassis with a 240mm shorter wheelbase. Propulsion comes from Maserati’s 4.7 litre V8, which generates 460 bhp at 7000 rpm and 520 Nm at 4750 rpm. Thanks to a special exhaust layout, this car makes an incredible sound – apparently, I’ve not yet had the pleasure myself – an attribute now expected of a Maserati. The six speed electro-actuated MC Shift gearbox is mounted at the rear of the car, for optimum weight distribution. The wheels, 21″ at the rear and 20″ at the front, are forged from single aluminium elements, and they feature integrated decorative spokes reminiscent of classic spoke wheels of the 1950s. The Alfieri is a 2 + 2, and the cabin has been designed to reflect simplicity and minimalism. The dashboard boasts a two tone design built around a central TFT screen. Rather than using analogue instrument dials, the panel features TFT displays inspired by modern photographic camera menus in the way that they indicate km/h and engine rpm. The numbers rotate around the clocks rather than the other way around. Rumours are that Maserati will build something not unlike this car in a couple of years time, as a replacement for the current GranTurismo. There are plenty of people, me among them who hope that they build it as is.
There was a certain irony to the sight of this car, one of the new ND Series MX5 models, as it was the first car we saw parked up outside one of the main exhibition halls.
What was the irony? Because hours later when we got to the Mazda stand the MX5 was covered up, awaiting a grand reveal at 4pm, when we were clearly supposed to be amazed at the sight of something which… well, which enthusiasts have been salivating over ever since it was revealed globally back in July 2014.
There was a second car under covers, which we correctly guessed to be a CX-3. This car has had mixed reviews, with the Americans loving it, but those fickle testers at Autocar giving it a surprisingly poor review. I’ve not driven one yet, but as a static object, it goes pretty much straight to the top of its class, as it looks good both outside and in and is decently practical.
Top of the class is probably where all the more familiar Mazda models that were also on show should be, too. The 2 was refreshed earlier this year, with a much improved interior correcting the one slightly weak point of its pert little predecessor. It was seen here in Sedan guise, showing us how much better it looks than the goofy Scion adaptation which has given the Americans the iA with an truly gopping front end.
I am also a fan of the 3 and the 6 and both of these were on show, along with the other two crossovers of the range, the CX-5 and soon to be replaced CX-9
There were four cars on the McLaren stand, with examples from each of the recently announced three model tiers – the Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series – in the region together for the first time, and showing how far McLaren has come since launching their road car division in 2011.
Representing the Super Series was a unique take on the 650S Spider, produced specifically for the Middle Eastern market. called the 650S Spider Al Sahara 79. This Spider was outfitted by McLaren Special Operations, the division of the company responsible for bespoke craftsmanship – and it will be available exclusively for Middle East customers. The Middle East boasts one of the highest levels of MSO customisation globally, with more than 25 percent of all models bound for the region containing an element of bespoke content. This ranges from unique colours, stitching, leathers and aerodynamic upgrades. Design consultations with owners in the Middle East highlighted a desire to see special editions unique to the region resulting in the bespoke project design team at MSO researching regional and local trends, cultures and tastes. It is said that the uniquely formulated paint scheme and bespoke specification of the Al Sahara 79 have been inspired by the styles, cultures and landscape of the region, and contribute to the name of the latest MSO model. ‘Al Sahara’ translates from the Arabic for desert, and the crisp pearlescent white gold paintwork has a subtle shimmer, inspired by the golden sands which form such a distinctive part of the Middle Eastern landscape. This unique paint finish is achieved through the addition of 24 carat gold particles. The precious metal, associated with opulence and luxury throughout the region has an atomic number of 79. Contrasting detailing on the exterior of the 650S Spider Al Sahara 79 includes a retractable hard top and lightweight forged alloy wheels finished in gloss black. Carbon fibre is used for the side intakes, front splitter and rear diffuser, while aggressive, full-length carbon fibre MSO-branded Side Blades provide a more purposeful and sculpted appearance. A fully custom-zoned interior features black and Almond White leather upholstered electrically-adjustable sports seats with contrasting stitching, with the Al Sahara 79 paint scheme carried through to the steering wheel, centre console and door panels around the heating and ventilation controls. A dark golden finish has been applied to all switchgear and heating vents. Power comes from the multi-award-winning mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine seen in the 650S Coupe and 650S Spider, producing 650S PS (641bhp) at 7,250rpm and 678NM (500lb ft) of torque. Performance and economy figures remain unchanged, with zero to 62mph (100km/h) reached in 3.0 seconds, and a top speed of 204 mph (329km/h), while achieving 24.2mpg (EU combined) cycle and CO2 emissions of 275g/km. . Someone will surely take the 650S Al Sahara 79 home at the end of the show, priced at 1,456,308 Emirati Dirham – equivalent to nearly $400,000 at current exchange rates.
An important addition to the McLaren range, the 570S Coupé is the first model in the recently launched Sports Series, and introduces McLaren design, engineering and performance to the sports car market. The vehicle on display was finished in Ventura Orange with a focus on sport through carbon fibre exterior upgrades, sports exhaust, by McLaren Sport Design interior and carbon fibre interior pack. Pricing for the Sports Series starts from 650,000 AED, with deliveries set to commence in the region from next month.
Displayed on a plinth, was a unique example of the most powerful McLaren, the 916PS (903bhp) McLaren P1. Commissioned by a Middle Eastern customer, the bespoke model featured significant MSO content and was finished in white with subtle McLaren Orange detailing to highlight key design characteristics across the aerodynamically-optimised bodywork. Customisation continued in the cabin through a blend of raw carbon and contrasting black and orange Alcantara.
Final model on the stand was one of the 675 LT models first revealed at the 2015 Geneva Show. Commanding a significant price premium over the regular 650S cars, the 675LT sits in the “Super” part of the range (P1s are in the “Ultimate” collection). Those who thought that the 675LT might look little different from the “regular” 650S, with a simple elongation of the rear end have underestimated the engineers at Woking, as the 675LT has a style and appearance all of its own, with lots of different detailing to distinguish it from the standard car, with carbon fibre wings and twin circular titanium exhaust pipes exposed at the rear deck to improve cooling, sitting above a new bumper and diffuser both made from carbon fibre. At the front there is a larger carbon fibre splitter and new front bumper design, aimed at improving cooling and downforce. Designed to be far more track focused than the 650S, it contains many elements aimed at improving handling and performance. The biggest difference to the way it feels is apparently down to 100kg reduction in weight, but it does also contain a significantly modified 666 bhp version of the 650S’ twin turbo 3.8 litre V8. 50% of engine parts are new, including the turbos, camshafts and connecting rods, along with detailed revisions to the cylinder heads and manifolds. As a consequence, the 0-60 time is reduced to 2.9 seconds, 0.1 seconds less than the 650S, though the top speed is slightly reduced due to the extra drag of the aerodynamic pack. 500 examples will be built, and they all sold out within weeks, to the surprise of no-one, as this is a very impressive machine indeed.
There have been a lot of new products from the Three Pointed Star in the past few months, and so it is perhaps no surprise that we arrived on this stand to find a number of cars still covered up, awaiting the official Middle Eastern unveiling. That came in the middle of the day, after which time we could have a good look at cars which we had correctly identified from their silhouette. Longest, by some margin was the Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman. The Maybach name has been brought back by Mercedes after more than three years and in its 50th year since the original Pullman limousine was first rolled out, the top end of this iconic 6.1m stretch sedan – fit for heads of states – is fully armoured for a $1m price tag. The non-armoured ones though come at about half the price. The eye-catching bit is the stunning fully leathered face-to-face seating. Truly, the rear passenger cabin was a magnificent place in which to stretch out. Those up front get a rather less comfortable deal, as there is a fixed bulkhead behind the front seats, so as you move the seat backwards, it becomes more upright.
Whilst the Maybach may have been the longest Mercedes on show, it was the newcomer alongside it which was the tallest: the G500 4 x 4 squared, to give it is official title. Everything about this vehicle is monstrous, even the colour. This is like a G Wagen on stilts, and my biggest problem with it was how to get in and out. There is only a small running board, and for someone with my leg length, it is too high off the ground, so I had to open the door, and then sort of pull myself in a bit like you get out of the swimming pool – which is hardly dignified. Getting out was no easier – you have to jump! The G500 4 x 4 squared is based off the 6x 5 model, with one axle removed, and a newly developed variable chassis installed under the series production G Class body. There’s a twin turbo V8 powerplant which generates 420 bhp, a set of 22″ 325/55 R 22 wheels, carbon fibre body parts and trim from the Exclusive Edition of the regular G Wagen. Twin tailpipes help to make this machine sound more like a sports car than an off-roader, offering sounds that range from a soft mumbling around town through sonorous humming on a light throttle to emphatic booming when accelerating hard. As the pipes are on the side of the vehicle, there is actually better off-road capabilities as there are no rear silencers to restrict the angle of departure. This version has a much wider track than the regular G Wagen, and with adjustable damping also part of the spec, the 4 x 4 squared has very different handling characteristics more akin to a sports car, so it is claimed, but with permanent all wheel drive, an off-road reduction in the transfer case and three differentials lockable whilst on the move, this machine has some pretty impressive off-road credentials as well, allowing it to traverse sand dunes, rocky terrain and to ford deep water.
Third car in the line across the back of the stand that was covered up until grand unveiling was the open topped S63 AMG Cabrio. I had seen one of these in the metal a few weeks earlier at Padua, so had formed an opinion based on what the car really looks like as opposed to how it appears in carefully staged studio and publicity shots. Building a large convertible and keeping it looking elegant is not an easy trick to pull off, and Mercedes seem to be struggling with the elegant word in any of their recent designs, most of which are far too fussy, and in some cases downright brash. This effort is not bad, and with few real rivals at its price point, the car could do well.
Earlier this year, the American built ML Series mutated into the GLE, as part of Mercedes’ new naming schema, and at the same time, a GLE Coupe model was added to the range, as a clear and direct response to the enormous success of the vulgar BMW X6. If anything the GLE Coupe, especially in AMG guise, is even more brash and vulgar than the BMW, but that is probably a Good Thing for buyers of this type of car, even if it alienates me all the more.
Final car included in the back row was an S63 AMG Coupe, top model in the line up of Coupe models that Mercedes introduced a year ago. From some angles, this is one of the better looking Mercedes in the current range, and indeed not a bad looking car by any standards, but as I moved around it, I realised that the styling is not universally cohesive, with some awkwardness especially around the front end. There’s no denying the levels of luxury and feeling of quality inside it, even if it not that roomy for such a large car, and by all accounts it drives very well indeed.
There were plenty of other cars on this very large stand, illustrating just how vast a range of models Mercedes now offers. Representing the bottom end of the range, and the front wheel drive cars were an A200 and a GLA250. I cannot get excited about either of these, finding the GLA to be particularly bulky and awkward looking.
Far better is the C Class. That was represented by some high end models, with the much praised Mercedes-AMG C63, as we are now supposed to call it, joined by the C450 AMG Line, a model which the European tax regime will keep as a rare sighting, but which apparently measures up very well to the BMW 340i (as we now know it).
This was one of the first shows where you can see the new Coupe version of the W205-based C Class. I had not appreciated from the pictures just how droopy the rear end is. I prefer BMW’s 3 to its 4 largely thanks to the rather awkward looks of the latter, and I now see the C Class the same way. The model displayed as the top of the range AMG C63 and no doubt it will be thrilling to drive, but it is a shame that Mercedes’ gauche styling strikes yet again.
More established models were represented by an E320 Convertible, a CLS400 and one of the S Class executive saloons seen here in S500e plug-in hybrid format.
A line of Mercedes’ SUV vehicles gave us an example of the new GLC – far less boxy looking than its predecessor, but now strangely anonymous, looking like a slightly bloated C Class Estate – along with a GL63 AMG and a G63 AMG
Open topped sports cars were covered by an SLK200 and an SL500. Both ranges are scheduled for a facelift in the coming months, and in the case of the smaller model, a new name.
The part of the stand facing into the central corridor of the hall contained the most sporting models of the lot, the well-received AMG GT-S and Mercedes’ successful Formula 1 racing car.
Making their debut in Dubai was the reborn MG, which was also referred to repeatedly as Morris Garages, going back in history to the origins of this once proud marque back in the 1920s. A more extensive range of models is offered to Gulf State buyers than we see in the UK. The small 3 hatchback and larger 6 model are joined here by the 350 saloon and the C-Segment 5. The latter will be coming to Europe in the near future. The interiors of these cars – a very weak point on the early Chinese MGs – have been improved significantly, to the point where they are more than acceptable. The cars scored early on for peppy performance, so the remaining sales obstacle would seem to be market nervousness manifest in severe levels of depreciation. Look beyond that, and you could be buying something (cheap) that is actually pretty decent.
There’s no doubting some of the capabilities of the models, as we got to find out when we visited the outdoor display. MG had set up an off-road type course with a hill with a gradient of 45%, and the instructor strapped us all in to an MG GS the new Crossover vehicle, and following an explanation of the electronic aids that would make the demo possible, he showed how the hill-holder worked, climbed the very steep gradient, and then let the electronics bring us back down in a nicely controlled way. It was most impressive.
By the standards of some Shows, MINI had quite a small and restrained stand. It was also far from busy, which is quite a contrast from most other Shows of recent memory. Positioned at the front, and the car which is the newest to the MINI range is the new generation Clubman. A much bigger car than the one it replaces, this model has been moved up the price points quite a bit as well. Looking very similar to the concept version which was shown a year ago, I actually find this to be best looking model in the range (not difficult given the awkwardness of the regular Hatch!).
That unfortunately styled Hatch was represented by the 5 door model which was launched a year ago, and which in this guise looks even more gawky than the three door. Whilst the extra space generated by the longer wheelbase is welcome, access to the rear is not good, as the extra doors are particularly short. If you like MINIs and need a bit of extra practicality, then you will probably love this, but if not, well. this is not the car for you (or me!).
The stand also contained a Countryman and the good, but extremely pricey 3 door Cooper JCW
Mitsubishi sales have been increasing in many markets of the world, which is a surprise when you realise how limited a range of product the Japanese marque currently offers. Almost all of that success is down to the Outlander, and more specifically the PHEV plug-in hybrid version of the large SUV, which Mitsubishi offer for a very competitive price. It’s just had a facelift, with a new “Dynamic Shield” front end, which brings LED DRLs, a 3D grille and new bumpers, all said to foreshadow the look of forthcoming Mitsubishi SUVs and aimed at making it look a little more distinctive, though I am not convinced that this is actually an improvement.
Also on the stand were representatives of the rest of the range: the smaller ASX, larger Pajero and the long running Lancer. We may scoff at the last of these, noting that is is an elderly design, long since left behind by all its competitors, but the reality is that it is still selling strongly in some markets. Dubai is one of them, where the model regularly features in the top 10 best seller list.
I was under the impression that production of the Moke – the fun car based on the classic Issigonis Mini – had ceased in 1993. Indeed it had, but as with a lot of iconic and timeless designs, that is not the end of the story., A new company, Moke International, was formed in 2012, and following redesign of a number of over 160 components, the open-air fun machine is back in production, with distribution currently to markets in the Caribbean, the Seychelles and the UAE, which is why there were two of these cars on show, looking very similar of the BMC produced ones which date all the way back to 1964. Production resumed earlier this year, and the new models have a new 1 litre engine developing 50 bhp and the choice of a 5 speed manual or automatic gearbox.
There were a couple of the latest Morgan models on the stand with Lotus and Noble. As well as the long-running Roadster, this was a chance to see the new Aero 8 that made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Show but which has not yet gone on sale.
Dominating the Nissan stand was the latest Patrol. A gargantuan SUV, this vehicle is very popular, being seen everywhere on the roads of Dubai, as we were to find out during the rest of our stay, and indeed, the Patrol features in the Top 5 of the Best Sellers list in this market. On show here was a new Patrol called the Desert Edition, noteworthy for two reasons: it’s only available to customers in this region and it was extensively developed by none other than Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the famed Middle East motorsports personality and founder of the world-famous Desert Challenge. He has made sure its standard equipment levels are sufficient to cope with some serious dune bashing, and its suspension has been carefully tuned to suit the unique terrain.
Given the above, it is perhaps no surprise to find that there is also a Nismo version of the Patrol, and there was one of these on a display plinth along with a far better known Nismo model, a GT-R Nismo and a 370Z
The rest of the stand comprised the range offered to local buyers which is an amalgam of the models offered to European and that available to the Americans. Dubai motorists can buy a Micra, and we saw quite a few out on the street, but there was not one on this stand. The range then looks like the American Nissan product family, with the Versa, Sentra, Altima and Maxima sedans all on show. The last of these was the all new model that made its debut in America earlier in the year, and which looks very unlike its predecessor.
Crossovers were represented by the Juke, the X-Trail – and it did bear this badging rather the Rogue moniker it wears in the US – and the US market-style Pathfinder
Nissan had a large display and hospitality area outside the halls, and there was another example of the Patrol on show there.
Created in 2009, Onyx specialise in upgrading high end models such as Land/Range-Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche and Mercedes, and there were a number of examples of their handiwork on a small stand. Not, if I am honest to my taste at all.
As already noted, GM offer Opel products as well as Chevrolet here. When we got to the stand, quite late in the day, there was a cover over one car, which we correctly guessed was concealing the brand new Astra. This was actually the first chance I have had to sit in one, and I was quite impressed. It is still recognisably a GM product, but the quality is now up with the best, and there has been something of a simplification of the number of buttons over its predecessor, which is welcome. There is decent space inside it, too. From a static inspection, it looks like it could well be the better prospect than the dread rival Focus, though i believe the Ford may still score on the road (as long as it is not saddled with its lamentable auto gearbox).
It will take a while to roll out the complete new Astra range, as was the case last time round, so the three door GTC model lives on for a while now, and there was one of these allowing for an easy comparison of the two generations.
The Mokka has been quite a success for GM, taking sales from the competition. as well as plenty of those which previously had gone to the Meriva Accordingly. there was no sign of the latter.
The new Corsa, revealed in late 2014 was one of the disappointments of the year. Despite what was claimed by its maker, this was clearly a heavy revamp of the old model, and the styling became more awkward as a consequence. It would seem (I’ve not driven it yet, so cannot comment from experience) that whilst better to drive, it is no class leader on the road, either. A regular model was shown here along withy the top of the range OPC, the name used by Opel where Vauxhall brand cars VXR.
The most expensive car of the show was – perhaps surprisingly – to be found on this stand. It is a Panoz Esperante GTR-1. Priced at $1.75m or roughly Dh6.5m, this stunning 600-plus horsepower beast was originally built more than two decades ago. The GTR-1 has a carbon fibre and nomex honeycomb composite body combines the looks of an UFO, an armoured tank and even a batmobile. Only one such car has ever been built.
Joining the GTR-1 was a “regular” Panoz Esperante. When I first saw one of these rare cars, at the Palos Verde Concours event in September 2014, I did some research on this little known marque, which nears repeating here. Panoz is an American manufacturer of sports cars, founded in 1989 as Panoz Auto Development by Dan Panoz, son of pharmaceutical and motorsport mogul Don Panoz. The company is located in Braselton, Georgia. The first road car from the company was the Roadster, which was launched in 1992. Panoz had purchased the rights to a frame designed by Frank Costin used in a defunct Irish sportscar called the TMC Costin and so they Freeman Thomas design a new body for the car they wanted to build Aluminium body panels were produced by Superform USA, resulting in bodywork both light and strong. Ford Mustang running gear, engine, and transmission were used, as was a solid rear axle and independent front suspension. A seven man crew built the first ten cars, and other workers were added later to the production team. The Costin chassis was never put under a production car, instead the early Roadsters featured a TIG welded stainless steel tubing frame, and extensive use of CNC machined and stamped parts. The Roadster had no top or tonneau cover, and no provision or intention of having either. No automatic transmission was offered, only the manual 5-speed. A small heater core delivered warmth to the windshield for defrosting, since the US DOT requirements mandated it. There was no radio, no heater, no air conditioner, and further more no place to install any of those. Some Roadsters were fitted with a custom engraved plate atop the intake manifold with the owner’s name and the Panoz logo. A few cars were built to a factory specification, but most were custom ordered by the individual buyers. There were a number of changes that took place over the course of production, but in general the cars were quite similar. Roadster production continued to 1995. Two prototypes were built, and a further 44 cars were manufactured and sold to the public. The Roadster was succeeded by the AIV Roadster in 1997. AIV stood for Aluminium Intensive Vehicle, and this was the first American built car to be so. It was strikingly similar to the Plymouth Prowler first sold several years later. The new 4.6 litre engine produced 305 bhp and 300 lb/ft torque. Combined with the lighter chassis this increased the car’s power-to-weight ratio significantly. With the weight savings, an air conditioner was installed with little overall weight or performance change. The last year the AIV Roadster was made was 1999, when 10 were modified with special paint, supercharged, and signed to create the Signature Edition 2000 Panoz AIV Roadster. Total production of the AIV consisted of 6 prototypes and a further 176 production models sold to the public. Some cars built in 1999 were not sold until 2000. Replacement for the AIV was the Esperante Launched in 2000, there have been several different versions of the Esperante: base, GT, GTLM, GTS, and the JRD (an aftermarket upgrade brand similar to Roush Mustangs). Each model has different specifications. The GTLM, for example, uses a supercharger to boost power from 305 bhp to 420 bhp, raising performance from 0-62 mph in 5 seconds to 4 seconds. The GTS on the other hand is built as a driver’s class spec car, to SCCA standards, with harness, roll cage, side bars, etc. Additionally, it is 600 lb lighter than the base Esperante, has a steel 5.8 litre V8 racing engine that produces 385 bhp, and is made of easily replaceable panels to facilitate small impact race repair. It can do 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, go up to a top speed of 182 mph, and achieve 0.98 g of lateral grip.
Star of the Peugeot stand was the new 308 GTi, Peugeot’s long-awaited and elegant Ford Focus ST- and Volkswagen GTI-rivalling hot hatch. It is available with a choice of 247 or 266 bhp high efficiency 1.6-litre turbocharged engines. With claimed best-in-class power-to-weight and 243lb/ft torque throughout 1,900-5,000rpm, 0-100km/h acceleration is dispatched in 6.2-seconds in 247BHP guise and six-seconds by the 266 bhp version. Driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, the 270bhp version additionally features a Torsen limited-slip differential for added agility. Initial reports suggest that this is a very serious contender in the class, that the odd driving position arising from the low-set dinner-plate steering wheel will not be for everyone.
Peugeot launched a range of GT-Line models earlier in the year, and there were examples of three models in this guise, a 208, 308 and 508.
There were also examples of the 208, 308, 508 in less sporting trim guise
The 301 is a C-Segment saloon produced by Peugeot for sale in those markets which favour saloons over hatchbacks, and to a lower price point than applies for the 308 hatch. It is popular in places like North Africa, Turkey and some southern European countries. It as been on sale for a couple of years but this is the first chance I have had to look at one. The cost saving is not particularly evident from a quick inspection, so this could be worth a look for those in the market for a car of this size.
As well as the versatile 3008, Peugeot were showing the Partner model.
It was quite late in the day before we got to the Porsche stand, and I did want to get there before the doors of the Show were opened to the general public at 6pm. We made it, but only just, and although most of the media had gone, with the rest of the show being temporarily quiet, the stand was quite busy. The car I most wanted to see was the recently updated 911, with its new turbo engine. Clearly I could only get a static impression (hopefully driving one will come once Hertz get some on fleet), but on the evidence of what I saw, this is a typically thorough and worthwhile update., Certainly the visual tweaks are good, with the new rear light clusters being nearer than what went before.
There were plenty of other cars on the stand, with the SUVs – the biggest sellers in the range – occupying centre stage. A Cayenne GTS and e-Hybrid model was joined by the smaller Macan Turbo.
There were a couple of examples of the large Panamera executive saloon, too, a 4 Edition and a GTS
Final Porsche on the stand was one of the le Mans 919 Spyder cars.
Two examples of the Fiat-Chrysler Automotive truck range were on show here, massive RAM 1500 machines, rivals to the Ford F150 and Chevrolet Silverado which were also on show at this event.
Rolls-Royce pulled the wraps off two new special editions at the 2015 Dubai International Motor Show. The Phantom Coupe Tiger and Ghost Golf Edition, as they are named, were joined by the local debut of the new Dawn and the Wraith “Inspired by Music”.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe Tiger is a flashy version of the luxury cruiser with a new two-tone paint job (Burnt Orange and Arizona Sun), highlighted by the Tiger motif twin coachline. The cabin is covered in Tan and Seashell leather with Tiger motif headrests and Moccasser Ebony Veneers, Moccasin Lambswool floor mats and bespoke Tiger Phantom Coupe treadplates.
The second “special” is based on the Ghost and called the “Golf Edition”. Like the Coupe, it also features a two-tone paint job with Brooklands Green and Desert Dune colours. According to the British automaker, it was made to bring in mind the Arabian Desert sands and took more than two years to be completed in Goodwood, England, by a team of craftspeople.
The bespoke Wraith “Inspired by Music”, which was launched earlier this year, made its debut in the local market. It was joined by the Dawn, which the company claims is the “sexiest model Rolls-Royce ever built”. The luxury convertible is powered by a 6.6-litre V12 twin-turbo engine with 563hp and has a fabric roof, which can be operated in just over 20 seconds at a cruising speed of up to 50 km/h (31 mph).
After years of offering cars not just with odd names, but also some rather peculiar styling, Korean brand Ssangyong is undergoing something of a transformation with their latest products. First of these to hit the market was the Korando and this was joined this summer by the smaller Tivoli. Both are now perfectly acceptable products, offered at relatively low prices.
The Ssangyong that I had not seen before, as it is not – for understandable reasons – offered in Europe, was this, the Chairman. Every Korean maker has long been making cars like this. for domestic consumption only, and whilst the latest versions of the Hyundai Equus and Kia Quoris are now being exported, this pseudo S Class Mercedes like Ssangyong is not yet well known outside its home market. And looking at it, it is not hard to see why. Awkward to look at, and rather old-fashioned gawdy inside, I suspect that the car is also dynamically miles off the standards of Mercedes, BMW or Audi. A curiosity, therefore.
Where do I begin? Let’s start with the good bit. Toyota’s GT-86 may not be selling in anything like the quantities that it deserves or indeed which were expected, but that cannot detract from the fact that it is by all accounts and excellent car. There were a couple of racing spec models on one corner of the stand.
Next car we came across was the Mirai, the innovative hydrogen powered Toyota that has just entered very limited production. Whilst the technology that sits in this car is undeniably impressive, there is no getting over the looks, which are… well, let’s be honest, just bizarre. Or if you prefer, sure-fire winner of the “Ugliest car of 2014”. With a very high price, of £66,00 and limited refuelling stations available, just 7 in the UK at present, this car is going to remain a very rare sight.
Sadly, that will probably not be the case for this, the fourth generation Prius. I have to say that this is even more hideous in the metal than it is in the launch pictures. There is not a single good line on it, and it looks just truly awful from every single angle. there has been an outpouring of condemnation online, too, suggesting that unlike some controversially styled cars which have some fans as well as some detractors, this one is really going to struggle to gain acceptance. The interior is more like what we have seen before, though the use of a lot of white plastic on the show car was also particularly unpleasant. The Prius has always been a roomy car, and this one is no exception. It is based on the new TGNA platform which Toyota will be using on a number of new products, and this endows the car with a more rigid structure and will offer greater levels of safety I am not even sure why the car was here, as the Prius is not sold in the Dubai market.
After these two visual horrors, everything else was going to seem quite normal. Dubai gets a different Yaris from the European market now, with the new Yaris Go that was shown in Asia in 2014 now sold in this market. It was joined by the Corolla and Camry which are particularly familiar to those who know the US market, though the Corolla has had a facelift which has not yet reached American market cars.
Final Toyotas on show were examples of the large LandCruiser.
Occupying a prominent part of the display was the Beetle, especially in Cabrio guise, and I later found out that the reason for this was that this Show marked the local launch for a model which has been available in other markets for a couple of years. UAE market models are offered with the 2 litre Turbo TSI engine which puts out 210 bhp and 280 Nm, given the car a 0 – 100 kmh time of 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h. The car is only offered with a six speed DSG dual clutch gear box. Three trim levels will be available: SE, SEL and Exclusive.
Of more interest were the array of Golf models on show, The one I had not seen before was the GTi ClubSport, which looked good and is endowed with a nicely presented interior. The Clubsport is differentiated from existing seventh-generation Golf GTi models through a series of styling upgrades which are claimed to provide it with true downforce, both on the front and rear axle, at speeds above 75mph for the first time. Included is a unique front bumper featuring a large central air duct with a honeycomb insert, additional trapezoidal ducts used to cool the front brakes, high-gloss black blades low down on the outer edges for added downforce, so-called air curtains to smooth airflow around the edges and a splitter element down low. The upgrades up front are accompanied by high-gloss black door mirror housings and a black graphic along the lower edge of the doors in homage to the look of the original 1976 Golf GTi. At the rear, Volkswagen’s design team has provided the new car with a new twin-vane spoiler mounted atop the tailgate, together with vertical vanes along the outer edges of the rear window, a heavily restyled bumper with an integrated diffuser and larger-diameter chromed tailpipes. The Golf GTI Clubsport is powered by a reworked version of the Volkswagen Group’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder EA888 petrol engine, as used by existing versions of the Golf GTi. But while the standard Golf GTi gets 217bhp, or 227bhp in Performance guise, the Clubsport offers up 261bhp between 5350 and 6600rpm. That’s not the end of the story, though. An overboost function temporarily raises turbocharger boost pressure from 1.9bar to 2.1bar for up to 10 seconds on kickdown, increasing overall power output to 287bhp – albeit only for a maximum 10 seconds. That’s just 8bhp less than the Golf R. All this does not come cheap, though, as in the UK it is likely to cost around £29,000 when it goes on sale in early 2016. Only limited numbers will be built.
Joining it were the regular GTi, the very-well regarded R, the innovative GTE and a regular five door hatch model.
The Scirocco underwent a mild facelift earlier in the year, and when you compare new with old, the differences are obvious, but seen in isolation, this R model looks very much like the model that has been on sale for a few years now.
Reflecting the mix of European and American model ranges evident throughout the Show, there were examples of the Jetta and the US model Passat on show, the latter showing the subtle upgrades made to the model for the 2016 model year.
For those who seek something larger, there was a Touareg and a couple of examples of the versatile MultiVan.
X DUBAI RALLY TEAM
Just two cars featured on this stand, and neither need any introduction: a Bugatti Veyron and a McLaren P1
Making its global debut at the Show was the W Motors Fenyr Supersport. With dramatic looks not unlike the well-known Lamborghini Aventador, this 900bhp hypercar is said to be capable of reaching a top speed in excess of 248mph and accelerating from 0-62mph in “less than 2.7sec”, remarkable figures due in part thanks to the model’s lightweight construction, a consequence of a carbonfibre body and a tubular aluminium chassis, and delivered by a custom-made mid-mounted twin-turbo 4.0-litre flat six engine developed by RUF. The manufacturer’s ‘”from 900bhp and 885lb ft” claim for the outputs in standard form suggest that a more powerful variant may even be on the cards. This would follow the progression of the opulent £2.25million Lykan, with a more extreme variant appearing later in the production cycle. The Fenyr will likely be put together in W Motors’ Dubai factory, which is due to begin production of W Motors’ cars in January, although the small Arab car maker collaborated with Magna Steyr for the construction of the hypercar. There is no word yet on pricing for the Fenyr, although production is capped at 25 units per year.
W Motors’ second hypercar will be built alongside two £100,000-plus SUV models, which are currently in development and due to be released in 2017. One SUV will focus on off-road ability, while the other is being designed with the aim of claiming the title of world’s fastest SUV, in competition with the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. All three models are understood to be part of CEO of W Motors Ralph Debbas’s ambitious plans for the company to produce 200 units annually. Debbas quoted a starting point of 35 cars per year upon the opening of the new Dubai-based plant.
There were all sort of other things to attract our attention on some of the smaller stands.
This miniature Ferrari 250 California Spider looked very like a similar red one which I had seen at Salon Privé a few weeks earlier, and the same stand had a novel pool table with the appearance of a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro.
This is an Arrows Formula 1 car from around 2002.
This customised Rolls-Royce Wraith was on the stand in Hall 3.
Vredestein tyres had a Mercedes S63 AMG Coupe on their stand
This was a locally produced conversion of a GMC Yukon, made for hunting trips to the desert.
Alongside it was a stand which included a modified Corvette ZO6
Other cars in the far end of Hall7 included a Jaguar F Type Coupe and a Tuk Tuk.
At one end of Hall 7, there were quite a number of Motor Bikes, ranging from brand new Ducati and MV Augusta machines to a display of older Bikes.
MOTORING NOSTALGIA DISPLAY
An added bonus to the show was a fantastic display of classic cars from four decades, to be found in the Za’Abeel Hall. Sourced from a number of local collections, many were being seen in public for the first time. I was expecting there to be may 20 or 30 cars to see, but there were far more than that. Indeed, so extensive was the display that if you had come just to see this Hall, I don’t think you would have felt particularly short-changed, as there were nearly 100 beautiful machines on show! Some can usually be seen in Museums in the area, such as the Al Ain Classic Car Museum, the Sharjah Classic Car Museum, and Tomini Classics, with others belonging to HH Sheikh Hasher Bin Juma al Maktoum, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Jean Mora Ismail Al Dorabi, the Sharjah Classic Car Club and NSV – Victor Harris.
1950 Studebaker Champion
1951 Riley RMC Roadster
1956 Mercedes 300 SL – based on the legendary Gullwing racing cars, this was the fastest car on the planet at the time of its launch in 1954. The Gullwing doors were a necessity forced on the designers as there were vital chassis components in the door sills and conventional doors would not have allowed space for the driver and passenger to enter the car. 1400 of these models were made between 1954 and 1957, before the car was replaced by the open-topped version.
1957 Jaguar Mark VIII
1957 Ford Thunderbird – influenced by the Space Race of the 1950s, the Thunderbird was revealed at the 1954 Detroit Show, and it has been rated as a collector’s car ever since that time, with many considering the two seater 1955 – 1957 Thunderbird to be one of the nest looking cars not just to bear the Thunderbird name, but of all marques. It is also one of the most recognised cars of the period, following numerous appearances in shows, movies and print advertisements.
1958 Fiat-Abarth 750 Zagato
1959 Cadillac Eldorado
1960 Aston Martin DB4 Series 2 – introduced in 1958, the DB4 really put Aston Martin on the map of international car manufacturers of hand-made super-sports GT cars. 1100 DB4s were made between 1958 and 1963 when the car was superceded by the DB5.
1960 Chevrolet Impala
1961 Jaguar E Type – needing little introduction, this is one of the very early cars known as the “flat floor”, owing to the fact that the chassis of the first production models had a flat chassis. This makes the car particularly desirable for collectors these days, no surprise given the cars combination of looks and performance, which are as appealing now as they were when the car stunned the world following its launch at the 1961 Geneva Show.
1962 Mercury Comet
1964 Ford Thunderbird
1965 Chevrolet Corvette
1966 Jaguar E Type Series I 4.2 – the second E Type on show, this is a later car, with the enlarged 4.2 XK Series engine under the bonnet.
1966 Lamborghini 350GT – the result of a disagreement between Ferruccio Lamborghini and Enzo Ferrari which led to Lamborghini to deciding to create his own cars which would be “perfect”, the 350GT was the first model that he produced. And this is the very first of 131 350GT cars produced. It was an immediate success, as it was quiet at speed, beautifully finished and with a top speed of 158 mph and a 0 – 60 time of 6.8 seconds, an explosive performer.
1967 Ford Mustang
1968 Toyota 2000 GT – the first Japanese supercar, the Toyota was clearly influenced by the Jaguar E type that pre-dated it by 5 years. Produced in limited numbers, this front engined rear wheel drive two seater hardtop Coupe was designed in collaboration with Yamaha, and it is no exaggeration to say that it revolutionised the automotive world’s view of Japan. The car played a starring role in the 1967 Bond film “You Only Live Twice”. These days it is seen as very collectible and on the rare occasions one comes up for sale, commands a high price.
1968 Mercedes 280SL
1968 Aston Martin DB6 – the successor to the DB5, this car was an evolution of the series that started in 1958 with the DB4. Options such as air conditioning and an automatic gearbox were firsts for the firm, and key changes were the higher roof line to increase back seat comfort and a rear spoiler to give better higher speed stability.
1968 Jaguar E Type Series 2
1968 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
1968 Porsche 912 x 2
1973 Datsun 1800 SSS – not particularly well known in Europe, where a handful of these cars were sold, the 510 Seires Datsuns have a huge cult following in America and Australia, as this car not only helped to establish the Datsun brand in those countries, but it was a well-regarded sports saloon. First introduced in 1967, the early cars had 1300 and 1600c overhead cam engines, and they handled nicely, but Yutaka Katayama, the President of Datsun USA longer for a sportier version to realise the car’s full potential, and the result was the SS and the SSS models which are the ones which are so sought after today. Peter Brock and BRE built a legend out of racing the 510, with racing driver John Morton scoring back-to-back SCCAA Trans-Am Championship titles in 1971 and 1972. This particular car has been extensively modified and is powered by a 509 hp turbocharged Nissan engine.
1973 Lamborghini Espada
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight – needing no introduction to 911 fans and considered to be one finest and sportiest cars of all time, this is probably the most collectible of all the classic 911s. This car was previously owned by the former Vice President of the Porsche Owners Club of Spain, the 2.7 RS was built for homologation for FIA racing.
1973 Buick Riviera
1975 Pontiac Grand Prix
1975 BMW 2002
1976 Lamborghini Countach LP4000 – designed by Bertone, the Countach stunned the world when it was first seen in 1971, as a low, wedge shaped supercar that instantly made all other supercars seem old-fashioned. Purists will tell you that the early production cars like this one are the most desirable, before the purity of lines were changed by larger bumpers, side skirts and spoilers.
1976 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale – the first car that was purpose-designed for rallying, the Stratos was an evolution of a concept that was shown in 1970. Styled by Bertone, it paved the way for wedge shapes and angular styling which are still popular today. The Stradale was the road going version produced to homologate the car for rallying, at which the Stratos excelled, winning the World Rally Championship in 1975, 1976 and 1977.
1976 Toyota Celica 2000 GT
1976 Mercedes 450 SLC
1977 Chevrolet Corvette
1977 Mercedes 600 Pullman – first revealed at the 1963 Frankfurt Show, the 600 was the result of 8 years research and development, with no restrictions on budget, aimed at producing the best car in the world. It received Mercedes’ first V8 engine, rated at 250 bhp, which allowed the car to each a speed of 125 mph, an impressive figure in the day. The car was extremely expensive, though, so only 2677 were built over a production life of nearly 17 years. Many of the customers were Heads of State and other celebrities, including Pope Paul VI, Prince Ranier of Monaco, President Ceaucescu of Roumania. John Lennon, George Harrison and Elvis Presley, as well as just about African Dictator you can think of.
1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham
1979 Stutz IVPorte – perhaps the least familiar car in the whole display, this was a brave attempt to resurrect a once loved American marque which had perished in the 1930s, like so many others. The first of these IVPorte models was purchased by Elvis Presley, and he later bought three more of them. They were popular with other celebrities, too, with other owners including Frank Sinatra, Lucile Ball, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rodgers, Larry Holmes, Evil Knievel, Willie Mays, Mohammed Ali and the King of Saudi Arabia. This car has a 350 cubic inch V8 developing a rather feeble 160 hp, coupled with a three speed automatic transmission, rear seats embroidered with the Great Seal of Gabon (the President of Gabon once owner the car) and 24k gold pated accessories.
1979 Corvette Concept
1979 Pontiac Firebird TransAm – a popular car in the 1970s, thanks to its powerful engine (by the standards of the day!), strong performance and bold styling, the car seen here is a special edition Trans Am with a 400 cubic inch (6.6 litre) V8 rated at 230 bhp, and a four speed manual gearbox. Upgraded WS6 performance suspension and 8″ turbine-style alloy wheels gave it good handling and all round discs meant that it stopped well. The car became famous after starring the Burt Reynolds movie “Smokey and the Bandit”
1980 Range Rover
1985 Aston Martin Volante – continuing Aston Martin’s tradition of hand-built and well-engineered cars, the Volante was added to the Aston range in 1979, as part of the evolution of a model which started out as the DBS in 1967. The car gained even more fame following its appearance in the Bond film “The Living Daylights” starring Timothy Dalton.
1985 VW Beetle
This classic Model A Ford was not part of the display, but featured on a stand just outside the Motoring Nostalgia area.
There were a number of classic cars displayed in the interconnecting hallways. These ranged from a second example of the legendary Mercedes 300SL Gullwing to a late 1970s Buick Electra Sedan, and a 1955 Dodge Coronet 2 door Sedan.
This was an excellent day out. Whilst the Show may have been short of genuinely new metal – though having missed the Frankfurt Show in September, there were a number of cars that had been released in the last few months which I had not previously seen in the flesh – but that did not mean that there was little to interest us. Far from it. The chance to see a lot of cars, and to figure out the tastes of the local market, along with the opportunity to sit in far more of them than is usually the case at one of the larger Shows, more than compensated for that lack of the truly new. The Motoring Nostalgia display added further interest. We all agreed that it was worth the trip to Dubai just for the Show itself, and that was before we got the other experiences – some of which will feature in separate reports here. So good was it all, that there is already discussion about a 2017 trip.