The Frankfurt motor show is upon us again. Thoughts?
The official IAA image is frightening, isn’t it?
It seems like only about six months since the last one closed and, dear, oh, dear, here is another one. I went to Autocropley to have a gander at their list of launches and unveilingments. I can’t say much of it tickled my fancy. The Audi A7 is top of the list for alphabetical reasons and, if it is anything like the new A8, it’ll be a bit much on a too small plate.
The A7 is one of the nicest looking cars in production and the new A7 is not going down that path – as with all launches of replacement models and many new ones, the dial is being turned up to 11, especially in the grille department. The A8’s could be from an articulated truck apart from the quite astonishing amount of brightwork. The first A8 set a standard Audi have failed to
re-attain in that class, making it something of a real benchmark in design history.
Lexus have a facelift of a car so confusing (above) that the facelift is impossible to detect.
The pre-production Bentley Continental GT shows some promise, if the test photos are anything to go by – I hope the new car has more of a special aura to it than the current one which is simply a lot of width with a Bentley badge glued on.
Chery and Borgward, both Chinese, have some offerings. Chery have plopped into the CUV sector, which makes sense as they are still so very now (and I can’t see that changing, ever). Borgward have put out a photo hinting at some manner of sportscar and for that I am thankful. Something must be in the water in Bremen. Which reminds me, where are Qoros? The image of the Borgward is quite interesting – how will the rest of the car live up to the very simple shapes promised? And will the interior be as unadorned?
Notably absent from this litany of cars is Fiat. Nothing facelifted and no obscure images of suggestions of exciting things. The firm’s condition puts me in mind of the Rootes group in the 1960s and early 70s. Stagnant is the word that leaps to the forefront of my consciousness. The 500 has been on sale for ages – is it possibly going to become a Renault 4/2CV for our times? After all, it is pretty much what a lot of people need and only requires new paints and trim to keep it relevant to its customer base. It’s the car equivalent of a pair of jeans.
Volvo is another name keeping a low profile. That said, their two most recent cars are remarkable design statements and are enough for us to be going along with. I saw an S90 on the road recently – it has a very imposing and solid look (far superior to anything from Benz, Audi and BMW) but the 0.9 litre three cylinder two-stroke engine is something of an unforced error, especially for the American market where a V6 would be the very least I would expect (and that goes for Lincoln too, with their daft turbo fours). Perhaps Volvo are taking a break. Isn’t the V40 due for replacement soon?
Taking the biggest prize for the most ill-conceived idea is Smart’s Case concept: a roofless two-seater which is supposed to be autonomous. The semantics of sportscars (open-top ones) is about freedom. Autonomous cars are the very antithesis of this. I consider a train more liberating than any autonomous car. Quite why Smart think an autonomous car might ever be an open-topped roadster is beyond me. They should be like pods, in my view, small train carriages with less room and rubbery wheels.
Presumably Suzuki, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Rolls Royce among others will have some surprises which have not been spoiled already. As it is, the roll call speaks of a very ordinary kind of show, about as interesting as a trip to a Toyota showroom on a rainy day.
[The IAA home page asks if a car can have a conscious mind. Perhaps the question might be can AI be installed in a motor vehicle? And, in principle, there is no reason why an independent AI system could not be fitted to a car so it becomes a person. Do we want our cars to be persons? Eventually we might have AI in our electric toothbrushes. The IAA question is half-interesting in a “what-if-soup-could-dance?” kind of way. It doesn’t really relate to people’s ordinary view of cars which as either a) appliance or b) status symbol. Driventowrite is one of the few places you will find people who choose option “c”.]