The Peugeot stand at the Paris Auto Show was dedicated to SUVs.
The Paris Auto Show 2016 is over: it just closed its doors on Sunday with a disappointing total attendance – down 14% on 2014 to 1.072.697 – but a lot more new launches than two years ago and faultless wifi access all throughout the Show. Before we go into the last set of interviews covering the stunning DS Experience I had the privilege to enjoy at the Show, here are 10 takeouts in no particular order nor importance. A shamelessly subjective selection of elements that have grabbed my attention during the Press Conferences and while wandering the aisles.
1. Peugeot finally jumps head first into the SUV world
There was one word on the lips of all Peugeot officials at the Show: SUV. And it’s about time. Just as the world craze for this type of vehicle is getting more screamingly loud every day, Peugeot unveiled both the 3008 and the 5008 at the Show, instantly forming a solid all-terrain-looking family along with the facelifted 2008. Exterior design and interior materials are in frank progress compared to the first generations of both nameplates but there are still a few nitty gritty frustrations such as a decidedly cheap adjustment metal bar under each seat.
2. Toyota comes with a new personality
Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, was bubbly, warm and funny during the entire Toyota Press Conference, successively unveiling the new Yaris WRC, Toyota’s Microsoft partnership win WRC, introducing Tommi Makinen, the head of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC, describing the brand’s progress in the autonomous driving field – a subject rarely touched before by Toyota in official communication – and talking up the much-awaited C-HR crossover, already available to order in Europe. All of this in the space of 15 minutes in a speech that was impeccably timed, tuned and delivered. Who said Toyota was beige?
3. Maybach shines with the Vision 6 Concept
Although not its first appearance – it was unveiled last August at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 did stop me in my tracks. It is a bewitching mix of Jessica Rabbit, a 1930 vaporous period car and an incredibly futuristic panther about to pounce. I want one.
4. Skoda punches above its weight with the Kodiaq
Skoda has stepped up one more notch with the Kodiaq, whose interior happily bears the comparison with any Volkswagen. Two thumbs up once again for the Czech brand now rightly aiming at a U.S. market launch. All mass market brands should be worried, very worried indeed.
5. Opel morphs into a green brand with the Ampera e
Impossible not to notice the jungle-looking Opel stand at the Paris Auto Show, proudly pushing the 500km+ autonomy per charge of the Ampera e. Also new is the Mokka X.
6. Volkswagen keeps a low profile with the ID
A year ago in Frankfurt Volkswagen was shining bright. Since, it has been hit by – and is still reeling from – a now infamous emissions scandal. In Paris, VW kept a low profile with no new model unveiled and opted to look into the (far away) future with the electric ID Concept, which won’t hit the road before 2020. Disappointing.
7. Kia gets more European with the Rio
Kia is targeting 500.000 annual sales in Europe by 2018 and is counting on the all-new Rio to get there. It’s an attractive package that should hit the mark but the staged and awkward mock-interview Press Conference introducing it didn’t help one bit.
8. Open doors at Tesla
Last April at the Beijing Auto Show, access to the new Tesla Model X was restricted to “actual owners” even during the Press Days. In Paris, it was open doors at the Tesla stand and the Model X could be explored in all its splendour. Impressive.
9. Mitsubishi drives on the confronting design road
No one told Mitsubishi that their design direction is confronting to say the least, so they continue on that dangerous road with the GT PHEV Concept, while mentioning in passing that the Outlander was the best-selling PHEV in Europe both over the FY2015 and so far in 2016.
10. The Fiat Tipo’s console has a touch screen
Random fact? Not so. Starting at 12.900€, the Tipo isn’t a low-cost car per se but almost, and competes with the likes of the Citroen C-Elysée. And when the screen on the 65.000€ Mercedes C-Class Coupe can only be controlled with a paddle near the arm rest, requiring your eyes to leave the road for dangerous seconds, the Fiat Tipo boasts a touch screen. Granted, Chinese cars half this price also do have touch screens, but in Europe it’s a rarity. Well done Fiat.