Germany is famed for making great cars, and as one of the few places in the world where you can legally drive them flat-out on some of its public roads. So it is hardly surprising that it hosts one of the world’s greatest motor shows, on now in Frankfurt.
The Frankfurt show remains the hub of the motoring world’s focus right through to September 27, and after two days of foot-slogging the vast IAA showground’s 13 car-packed halls, here’s my selection of some of the best eye candy, and also some of the more down-to-earth models we will be driving in the next few years.
One of my favourite cars in the show is on the Porsche stand. From the German sports car manufacturer that won this year’s Le Mans 24-hours, here’s something rather different. The Porsche Mission E is a sinuous piece of sculpture on wheels, looking like a 911 gone molten. This fabulous concept car is mega quick (how about 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds, and 124 mph within 12 seconds?) It is also much more eco-friendly than most sports cars, as an all-electric car with a 300-plus miles range.
Frankfurt this year is heavy on bling, and we have already featured the monster motor that is the new Bentley Bentayga, a car with a name as unlovely as the rather brutal bulk of the car itself. Sorry, I’m not a fan, even though the cocktail bar in the boot of the show car is as exquisitely crafted as the rest of the lavish interior. I’m sure her Majesty will love hers. It should also go down well in the Gulf states.
For sheer over-the-top bling and visual extravaganza there is not much that beats the Mansory Continental GTC. Bentley-based, this eye-scorching black and orange two-tone beast has already been dubbed a ‘chrome pumpkin’. With a 1,000 bhp, this monster motor has a claimed top speed of 205 mph and is said to do 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds.
With a bit less bling and more millionaire elegance the Rolls-Royce Dawn is a very impressive motor. Its rear-hinged doors follow a trend that is very evident at Frankfurt, for greater ease of access into car interiors. At a more mainstream level, the Citroen Aircross concept car takes a similar approach, with its opposed-opening doors that make the entire sides of the car an open space.
Over on the Jaguar stand, the Jaguar F-Pace is one of the show cars everyone wants to see. It’s the company’s first SUV, and it’s instantly recognisable as a cat-faced Jag, albeit a rather more pumped-up looking one than we’ve been used to seeing. We now know its pricing starts from £34,170 for a rear-wheel-drive model with a four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine. The most blinged-up 4×4 version powers the price past £65,000.
The tide of SUVs rolls on, and one of the more affordable new mid-size models is debuted on the Kia stand. The new Kia Sportage has a bit more visual muscle than before and a fresh face with its evolving ‘tiger nose’ front grille and a much-improved cabin with lots of soft-touch fabrics.
Some of the other new mainstream models that especially caught my eye include the new generation Toyota Prius with a bit more styling flair than its predecessor. The Ford Ecosport now looks much more like the car it should have been from the start, rather than the awkwardly styled original with its dated-looking bootlid location for the spare wheel. An important newcomer from France is the new Renault Megane, with quite chic lines on a car that has a strong popular following. The Peugeot 308 GTI is a new hot hatch that I look forward to driving, and the home-bred MINI Clubman is now a much more practical design, with its silly previous door arrangement now rationalised into five-door mode.
It’s an impressive place, the Frankfurt Show, with some extraordinary stands. The big three German manufacturers all have halls to themselves, and Mercedes’ is the most impressive, like a cathedral of cars.
Pounding through a motor show is hot work. My iPhone app told me that I walked 10 miles around the show halls on the first press day, and big crowds of people generate a lot of heat. So my favourite place in the entire show is the fabulous little ice room that Audi has installed at the top of its huge, frenetic show stand. Bliss!