Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deutschland, Part 10

The major reason that I'd waited until this year to visit Germany was the Frankfurt Auto Show, which only occurs every other year. While you can read about all the cars that were unveiled there in plenty of places, I figured I'd share my own perspective with you on a few things.

First of all, it was a thrill to see all the cars from brands we don't have here, like the French trio of Renault, Citröen and Peugeot, and Fiat, whose cars we will soon be seeing on our shores. Sometimes you see a car that looks familiar, but with a badge that's not:

This Fiat is called the Sedici, and it's just a rebadged Suzuki SX4, which we do, in fact, have here.

This Seat Exeo is actually a reworked previous generation Audi A4. Seat is VW's Spanish brand, and it's seen by the parent company as a stepping stone to the Audi brand. A Skoda rep explained this to me, adding that his marque is seen as a lead-in to the VW badge. Things can be a bit more complicated on the Continent.

There were also lots of MAVs, or multi-activity vehicles. These cars are a wonder of packaging, and one of my favorites was the Toyota Verso, which essentially takes a Corolla-sized platform and jams seven people in it.

At this show, Ford unveiled the new Focus C-Max and Grand C-Max, and revealed that the latter would be coming to America. This could be the start of a big trend in the States.

I also really dug the Kia Venga. While only two rows, it's quite spacious, and would give the Honda Fit a run for its money. I also like the adorable styling, and I'm going to try to get Kia to bring it over here. It would help them sustain some of the great momentum their brand has gotten of late.

And how could I forget the VW Scirocco. This thing looks bad-ass, and as I posted earlier, VW had a hot R version on hand at the show. If only they'd bring it here.

BMW also had a beautiful 507 driving around the elevated track they'd built around their stand, so I got to enjoy the lovely sights and sounds of that classic.

Finally, I got to experience the European Ford lineup up close. I was not prepared for what I'd see and feel. Not only were the materials below the quality level I'd been expecting, but the ergonomics of some of the vehicles was deplorable. To lower a window in the Mondeo you have to contort your wrist into a very uncomfortable position, as you can see on the left side of the picture:

In addition, the interior panel gaps were huge. It's a shame, since I'd based my impressions of European Ford products on their stunning design.

With my press pass, I was a pig in shit at the show. They treat the press quite well at auto shows, and you eat like a king if you want. Plus I had plenty of free Internet with which to research the Nürburgring, where I was going the next day, and try to learn its corners. More on that soon...

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