Started the second day with a close look at Renault’s display. All the recent concepts were there, including the newest Frendzy. It’s a brilliant vision of a future family MPV/delivery van with internal chalk board and external electronic advertising display screen. Biggest production car news (relatively speaking) is the facelifted Twingo shown in base, Gordini and tough-looking new RS versions. Apart from the pimply extra driving lamps, it’s a huge improvement. Can’t say the same for the facelifted Koleos, which looks sadly like Samsung were asked to restyle it for KDM. Where is the new face, as so amply demonstrated on Renault’s last five concepts and the newest Twingo? Missed opportunity.
Suzuki Swift Sport. Hmm… Fussy fog lamp surrounds and wheels don’t fill the arches at all. Not much new at Mazda, apart from the CX-5 compact SUV. Much more upmarket interior feel with great-looking switchgear. Generic exterior looks a bit like a taller version of the previous Mazda3 despite new Kodo design language. However, priced right, it could prove surprisingly successful in SA.
Kia Rio and Picanto both shown in 3-door form in very high spec and both aregreat examples of the massive leap Kia has made in interior quality and style. But best of all is the GT concept. As huge and imposing as the pics suggest with a mix of Aston and Jaguar design cues plus loads of original details like the bronze-hued seats and pillar trims. Joint star of the show with JLR’s two heritage-redefining concepts and VW’s Up.
Audi’s spectacular space ship of an outdoor stand was packed with new S models – S6, S7 and S8, plus a concept proposal for a new A2 that sadly looks less avant garde than the original. Think taller A1 five door with neon lighting strips down the flanks. Their two Urban concept odditiesalso didn’t cut the mustard for me, with seriously over-sized Auto Union racer grilles that seem a triumph of marketing over design. Renault’s Twizy is smarter in both ways. Saving grace for me was parked outside in the form of last year’s Sport quattro concept standing proudly alongside the original quattro. Bliss. Build it please.
VW Up is an intriguing product. It’s the kind of car they should have been building all along with way more personality than Lupo etc. It’s also a marvel of packaging. Klaus Bischoff VW design chief was keen to point out it leads the segment on cabin room. The boot seems bigger than rivals too, but it’s the quality that will have rivals worried. VW showed a few concept Up models too, most of which Klaus confirmed would see production in some form soon. The four door Cross Up, (yes really) the electric eUp and the more sporting Up GT. Also on show was an orange beach Buggy complete with hose down, waterproof interior and and a crazy yacht-inspired open concept by Giugiaro. Talk is we may yet see the Up in SA, but sourced out of India at a more competitive price.