The stars at Frankfurt Motor Show
At a time when the global automotive industry is witnessing uncertain times, what with the deepening Euro zone crisis, a still sluggish US economy and to top it all a China that has at last begun to look out of breath, the who’s who of the industry congregated at Frankfurt in the world’s biggest automotive extravaganza. The sole aim of the expo was a singular one: to showcase the best that one had to help dwarf the clouds of a recession and promise a better future. As many as 89 superlative cars were showcased either as production ready models or as concepts that gave consumers a peek at what future would look like.
It is not an easy task to narrow that list down to single digits. But I am using my own discretion to present 7 of them that to me were really head turners or would make an impact that would be long standing.
The Italian firm is almost 100 years old, but its Indian presence is merely 4 month long. It is known worldwide for its styling (not surprisingly since its belongs to the house of Fiat), dynamism and character. Kubang will be its first SUV and is already eagerly awaited. If they can do a job even half as good as what they do with their convertibles and sportscars, the Germans would be running for cover.
Skoda Mission L
The Czech carmaker’s turn to make use of the Volkswagen Vento platform and make an entry level sedan for the emerging markets. Globally this car may have a nominal presence, and even in Frankfurt it was tucked in neatly into one corner in a way that was easy to miss. It is still a concept car but one that does not look like one. Infact if the panoramic roof is discounted, it looks almost ready for production. The reason why I have put this car into the list is that it will be globally launched in India and hence is of very high relevance to us. It would come with all the engine options that Vento has, but at a price lower than the former. And in India, you would not have to wait that long either. Bring it on.
Europe’s largest carmaker Volkswagen’s biggest bet yet. Ironical as it may sound, it is their smallest car till date but that only goes to show which way the world is headed. As such, though this is still a European car, there will be a derivative of it that will make its way into India, pretty soon. It is still very small and I had problems getting into the rear seat of the 5-door concept version that they had. But they have the option to expand the wheelbase and make it more comfortable and without doubt they will do it. What makes the UP even more interesting is that there could be two and not one versions of it in India. The other one developed by Skoda. Now that the VW Suzuki tie up looking as good as over, VW would do better to take Maruti head on in India and UP is one way to do it. Expect it to come to India by 2013.
Land Rover Defender
To many, a Land Rover is the first word in off roaders. To the rest, it is the last word. While the world awaits the cheapest and smallest land rover ever– the Evoque, at Frankfurt, the British SUV giant managed to surprise all enthusiasts all over again. Defender is one of their oldest products (1948), but one look at it and you would be hard pressed to spot any wrinkles. It is loaded with gadgets as well and a hybrid and plug in versions are also part of the promise. For all the SUV lovers, this car is reason enough to start saving money, all over again.
Jaguar CX 16
Ever since, erstwhile owners Ford decided to club Jaguar and Land Rover together, the former has been the lesser mortal. In a world that now shuns extravaganze and values practicality and economy more, Jaguar found itself out of place and out of sync. Under Tata Motors though, times have changed and Jaguar has found new confidence. Sales are growing again and R&D is back in the reckoning. An apt result is the CX 16 concept, Jaguar’s attempt at belling the cat that goes by a name of a certain Porsche 911. Purists may call this ridiculous, but if anybody can or hope to, it is a Jag. Unbelievably good looking (you may spot glimpses of Aston Martin in it) and with features that would make a Maybach owner think twice, this Jag is ready to roar. And sprint as well.
There arent enough adjectives left in the English dictionary to describe a Ferrari anymore, so I would not even attempt it. The sweeping lines, humongous wheels, and vast bonnet look astonishing. Under the bodywork sits a 4.5-litre V8 engine that propels this hard-core racer from 0-100km/h in about 3.4 seconds. Faster than a Boeing?
The Ferrari 458 Spider has some extra touches to complement its performance. It has a fully-retractable aluminium hardtop roof, for example. This is a world first for a mid- rear-engined two-seater. But the biggest draw of all, the prancing horse at the front.
Lamborghini Elemento Sesto
Ahh, this car left me speechless. And now wordless. A lambo is a lambo is a lambo is a lambo. Period. Drool over it.