Well, the biggest European car fair of the year (or is it the biggest worldwide?) at Frankfurt is more than halfway through so I thought some impressions could be of interest to some of you.
My motto was checking out interesting novelties from cheap to unaffordable, and largely ignore the ordinary.
E-cars where there in masses, we checked out a few from small to big.
We started at the 1983 Youngtimer car exhibition on the upper floor of hall 3 and then went to nearby Chinese manufacturer Changan which had a sizable stand separated from others. Clear to see, China still has a long way to go, the cars styling was mediocre to bad, the interiors nastily cheap looking and cheaply made.
Then we went down to VW which has the biggest stand. The Cross Up is a nice little car, and I liked the new Beetle convertible and the long E-car prototype. The 300 hp Golf R I thought was too much like a standard car inside. The brandnew Golf Sportsvan is rather boring. Most cars were white. I had hoped this trend would end soon. I didnt bother for other models much, just too much bread-and-butter or wellknown stuff. We checked out the new estate cars of Seat and Skoda and found the Spanish-German offer better. Then we went to Bentley where we got a thorough tour of the stand and the new Flying Spur in particular. The inside is great as always but the exterior of this 200k car didnt convince me to empty my bank accounts.
Then we went to the Bundeswehr stand in hall 4. And were surprised that it was the most interesting thing we experienced on the fair. We sat in an armoured, fully computerized patrol truck, and the sergeant explaining it to us told us about his experiences in Afghanistan. Incredible stuff, crazy and mind-blowing.
Next was a ten minute walk over to the BMW hall, no.11, where we went to Rolls-Royce first. This was the most interesting visit as far as cars concerned, we were shown all 5 cars there, and four of them were special edition cars which would buy you a nice house. The new Wraith is truly stunning. Absolute 5 star-wow. We spent half an hour in the private section of the stand, were served some drinks and studied what niceties (multi-) millionaires can order - a dream.
Then we walked a few meters over to Mini opposite of of RR. I still like the Mini and its clubman version, and still hate its interior. Love the personalisation program though which gets more and more comprehensive. Then BMW itself which of course occupy the largest part of this hall. I was too crowdy there to look at everything so we concentrated on the new I3, which is intersting, but ugly. It has a unique interior as well, which has some nice ideas but feels cluttered and offers an odd mix of materials. The new 4-series Coupe was invisble behind a wall of humans, so the only other car I sat in was the 6-series Gran Coupe, imho BMWs current beauty queen. This big and long car though is surprisingly tight inside. The X5 is completely new, but I dont bother for SUVs and what I saw was its just like the old one, boring to me.
Next we went to Cadillac in hall 9. The Elmiraj prototype is one of the most beautiful cars of the fair, no doubt. I like the new CTS, but only its exterior. The inside isnt a match to the German competition or Jaguar, it just has no personality and too much of the generic Japanese big Sedans. Then we passed some stands I cant really remember with brands I dont care much for like Nissan, Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota and the like. The Lexus SUV study is absolutely crazy, its truly hideous, but has some interesting details. Mazda was the most interesting of the Japanese, all cars metallic red, and the new Mazda3 is a really, really nice compact car everyone should check out who is out to look for a car in the Golf/Auris-class. Ford presented the S-Max idea which would easily making the most beautiful van if mass-produced close to its lines. The also show the "Vignale" luxury line which looks very noble and tasteful indeed. I wonder what Mondeo buyer would go for it though.
In Hall 8 the Renault stand has a nice and playful design, and the new Captur is quite a looker, unlike most of the rest of the Renaults that is. Opel´s "Monza" is an awesome study, and the Opel brand clearly on the way up.
Slowly running out of time we rushed to the Italian hall 6. Straight to Alfa Romeo, which had nothing new as I knew before. The 4C is stunning, sure, and its on sale finally, but we have seen it since 2011. Otherwise they keep their mouth shut and talk about a big bang in 2015. Disappointing and very surprising, they didnt let me sit in the 4C, contrary to Maserati nearby which appointed me to a testdrive with the new Ghibli, even after I said I am not really shopping for it. I am not too excited about the design of that car though, the current Maserati style is not really my cup of tea. I didnt look much at Ferrari and didnt bother to try to enter the stand. Like 2011 Ferrari has about the most arrogant atmosphere I must say though I love the brand. Lancia´s stand was stylish and pretty, but the atmosphere there was like on a funeral when all the guest are gone. The big Lancia Thema, new in 2011 and not more than a beefed-up Chrysler 300, is worth to sit in as otherwise you would never now who is doing the most beautiful interior design in the upper middle class. We passed by Fiat, Jeep.
In hall 5 we first payed a short visit to Volvo which have a fantastic Coupe on display which sadly wont be built, as "no one is buying sporty Volvos", as the girls there told us. Its a styling experiment to test details which will be found on future Volvos. Lets hope so, as this prototype is one of the highlights of the 2013 IAA. Then over to Jaguar. The SUV prototype is quite a looker for its class, but the Range Rover and Discovery are standing aside of it and you ask yourself where´s the point of a Jag SUV? Then we passed by the ugly Infinitis. Aston Martin had a fantastic lineup to show, stunning cars topped with interesting colours. I love Astons especially since I got the opportunity to drive a Vantage V12 this summer for a whole day. Lack of time made us rush. Last stop was Tesla. I love the S, but found the pretty big electric sedan pretty lacking headroom. A nice girl explained the car to us and demonstrated us the big center console screen operation. And she gave me a testdrive ticket despite making clear it wont fit my wallet. I am really excited about that testdrive and will certainly write about it here.
To add, we couldnt make it to Mercedes due to lack of time, and ignored Audi due to the long queue waiting outside in the rain.