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The Paris Auto Show 2014 just closed its doors on Sunday and was another tremendous success at over 1.2 million visitors. There is one more interview I will share with you very shortly, but until then here are my Top 20 highlights of the show outside of French manufacturers, covered separately. Completely subjective highlights based on design, new finds, stand layouts, and my overall experience there compared to the expectations I may have had before coming in.
My first highlight is the Lamborghini stand. Whether it be in Frankfurt, Geneva, Beijing or here in Paris, Lamborghini has brought a consistently prestigious flair into every Show I’ve had the privilege to attend. The Volkswagen-owned Italian marque comes up with new vehicles each time to ensure they make news, models look sexy, somewhat out-of-reach in a playful way and always ravishingly, glamourously and enticingly expensive. I can’t wait for the next Show.
Not a World Premiere but what a delightful vision indeed. The line “British Born, Italian tailored” fits this speedster concept that I would love to see produced to the tee. Every detail is spot on, including the rear lights in the shape of English flags and the Como Blue paint that screams “take me on a tour round Lake Como”. Ready when you are Superleggera.
3. Volkswagen XL Sport
I had not been a great fan of the VW XL1, another awkward-looking car sacrificing beautiful design for fuel efficiency. Now eating my words with this sublime XL Sport, with the added guts of placing a 1,199cc V-twin motorcycle engine used in the Ducati 1199 Superlegerra, a donation facilitated by the acquisition of Ducati by Volkswagen in 2012. I love how Volkswagen generates and advertises synergies between its stable of brands.
Although it was already present at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, I am not getting tired of the Maserati Alfieri Concept’s muzzle. Never had a white shark with a gaping mouth looked so good at an Auto Show.
Toyota reserved a surprisingly large section of its stand to its Personal Mobility Vehicle, the iRoad. A clear message here that the Japanese manufacturer wants us to take this new type of vehicle it came up with with the utmost seriousness. Noted.
Right in the middle of a controversial kill of the Chevrolet brand in Europe, General Motors is now putting all its energy into the Opel brand and sent a strong signal this year at the Paris Auto Show. Its stand was much larger than I expected, vibrant, pumping with music while managing a dark, cocktail bar look that conveyed a classy image contrasting with the current perception of the brand most European consumers have. Opel is back and wants you to know it.
One year ago at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the single Press rep at the minuscule Tesla stand confided in me with bright shiny eyes that the Model S had just topped the overall sales charts in Norway. This would end up happening a couple more times over the following 6 months. In Paris, small Tesla is becoming big with a full-scale stand that was more than holding its own against the industry’s traditional behemoths. Always heart-warming to see a brand jumping leaps and bounds towards mass success.
8. Jeep Renegade interior: a good mix of tradition and playfulness
9. Lexus NX interior: as convoluted as its silhouette
10. Only for the fans: Mini interior 11. Fresh but Chinese-flimsy: the Smart ForFour
I am particularly picky on car interiors, and the Paris Auto Show proved this once again. Only one new interior made me really happy: the Jeep Renegade’s. I liked the mix of tradition (“Since 1941”), typically-Jeep shapes, playful colour mix and down-to-earthness. I can see myself driving this little beauty for days on end through the Australian Outback…
When the first pictures of the Lexus NX popped up on the internet I thought it was all a joke. Just as my eye is slowly getting used to its bleedingly sharp angular silhouette, an overly convoluted, button-heavy interior is ruining everything…
I don’t mind the new Mini 5 door, but as for the standard Mini its dashboard looks unbelievably un-driverfriendly and actually unsafe to keep track of while driving.
Let’s finish on a particularly cringe-worthy experience all-round: the Smart ForFour. Here again exterior design is to me a massive improvement on the first generation. But why oh why do the doors sound like they will remain stuck in your hand if you slam them too hard, and everything on the dashboard, although very fresh-looking, feels like it could get broken off by a vigorous slap? We’re not in China, Smart.
Not a new concept once again but I am absolutely loving the retro-future design and dual colours. I want one. Now.
This was a very interesting find at the Show. Did you know that the Dongfeng mini pick-up was assembled under licence in Italy under the name Giotti Victoria Gladiator? More, that it is imported and commercialised in France by a company called MAM Strager (www.mamstrager.com), selling around 100 units per year mainly in semi-rural areas of the south half of France like Le Creusot? Now you do. It doesn’t appear in official stats likely because MAM Strager doesn’t have official connections with the AAA and CCFA which record new car sales in France…
The next highlights are below.