Food for thought in Paris09 October 2018 | Ian Henry
So many big names were absent from this year’s Paris motor show that the long-term future of these events must soon be called into question. Nissan, Volvo, Opel, Ford and Fiat in particular were notable no-shows. Audi and Skoda had a presence, but the Volkswagen brand was perhaps the biggest absentee. The giant Hall 2 was largely sectioned off with part of it allocated to the pressroom (serving much worse coffee than normal by the way). Fewer vehicle companies may be understandable given the costs and, in general for those VMs not coming, limited or no new product to show (although Ford could have used Paris to show its new Focus). But there were also far fewer journalists than normal, my rubric being the much-reduced queues for sustenance at lunchtime whether in the restaurants or on the stands of those companies providing food and drink. Kudos for Lexus for the excellent sushi and SEAT for an impressive array of Iberian hams to accompany the launch of the rather angular Tarraco.
Angularity seemed to be a theme of some of the new vehicles launched in Paris, although not in any negative sense to my eyes. I very much like the look of both the Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC, two electric SUVs pitched head-to-head with Jaguar’s I-PACE. I am sure both German companies’ vehicles (and the I-PACE) will be great successes, capturing as they do the zeitgeist for crossovers and electric vehicles in one.
Another vehicle destined to be a success is surely the DS3 Crossback. The market for B-segment crossovers has mushroomed in recent years, with vehicles like the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur seemingly omnipresent. So why, when launching the first vehicle made on its CMP platform did PSA allocate the DS3 Crossback a corner of its vast stand, behind huge dividing panels, making it difficult to find and see?
Other highlights were the new Audi A1 (continuing the angular design theme) which is the second Audi to be made in Spain, replacing the Q3 which is now made in Hungary; BMW’s Z4 looks rather stylish and will soon be the first BMW to be made in Slovenia in a new Magna factory, where it will be made alongside the Toyota Supra; and winning top prize for the “most-like a G-Wagen” award is the new Suzuki Jimny. Personally, I have always loved the venerable G-Wagen, not least because Mercedes were kind enough many years ago to let me drive one on their off-road course when I worked on the worldwide market planning for their first M-class. The G-Wagen continues to this day but Suzuki has done a fine job in building a mini version this iconic vehicle.
And finally, where would a motor show be without a celebrity helping to launch a new car or brand? Paris was no different, with David Beckham there to help Vietnam’s first car company Vinfast with its market launch. Vinfast’s vehicles looked rather impressive to these eyes and no doubt Monsieur Beckham sprinkled a little stardust. Whether that will be enough for the new entrant to make its mark is another question.