Those of you that follow me on Twitter and Facebook will know that I’ve been in transit this week – but now I’m back on terra firma, it’s time to update you on what I’ve been up to.
A few weeks ago I shared with you some of my confessions as a car blogger. But there was another glaring omission from that list – I’ve never been to a motor show. A proper motor show.
So I had to put that right. And I decided to make my motor show debut at the mother of all motor shows – the massive, frenetic, exciting, feet blistering, sweat inducing, battery charge zapping, ‘tweettastic’ Frankfurt Motor Show.
The show opens at 8am on Tuesday morning but my plan to be banging on the door at 8am is left in ruins after a slow start that means I don’t rock up at the Messe until after 9. That would be number 1 on the rookie error list.
Second rookie error: I don’t expect the place to be so damn huge. I have heard other journalists say it’s big, wear comfortable shoes etc., etc. but of course I didn’t believe them. I was like “Yeah…whatever… sure….it’ll be grand…they’re probably exaggerating”. You could call it youthful optimism, eagerness, resilience…or just idiocy.
The night before, I’ve looked at the map of the venue that shows where all the manufacturers will be positioned and the start time of each press conference. I have a vague POA that goes a bit like this – get there at 8am, head over to Opel to get a good spot for the unveiling of the new Astra, then move on to the next one.
But because the place is so big you can’t really flit between one side of the site and the other on a whim. You kind of have to commit to one side for the first loop, and then after you’ve recharged on food, rested your feet for a while, charged up your phone and tweeted a bit, head to the other side for the second loop.
So the first debacle I face when I enter the Messe (late) was which side to commit to first. There are people practically running by me in both directions while I stand with my mouth open looking at the map. It’s 9.20am so the Opel presentation is nearly over so I head in the opposite direction towards the next scheduled presentation at Mercedes-Benz.
It turns out I’ve made the right decision. The Mercedes-Benz hall is absolutely BOPPING. It’s jammers, there’s people everywhere, climbing escalators to get a better look at the stage where the cars are about to be unveiled. I don’t know what to do but I can’t just stand there so I head up the escalator too. But the crowd around the railing looking down on the stage is three people deep. I can’t see any cars, just heads and selfie sticks. But I have an idea: I’ll tweet. If in doubt tweet it out. That’s one thing I’ve learnt in this business. Everyone loves a tweet even if it is just a picture of some heads.
The press conference starts and I listen through headphones provided with an English translation. I scan through Twitter to see what’s going on elsewhere in the show. Afterwards I join the melee below to get a closer look at some of the new cars. It’s all cameras, tripods, elbows, men in suits and jostling to get photos without too many randomers in them. And that kind of sums up the whole day.
I won’t bore you with all the details of everything I saw at the show because this is Friday and the news cycle moves so fast that you’ve seen and heard it all already, but here are a few of my personal highlights from the day:
1.Mercedes-Benz and the ‘Concept IAA’
Really, really glad I made it to the Mercedes-Benz bash first. For me it was the best exhibition space at the show. The Concept IAA was my favourite concept of the entire show. This is what concepts are meant to look like – the type of car you could just stand and look at, and then feel privileged for being in its company for just a few minutes.
2.Audi and their icy cold quattro room (and a few hot cars too)
On the way into the Audi hall, you passed through what I will call the ‘quattro room’ (or as Kevin McCloud would say ‘quattro space’) with ‘quattro’ etched into an ice wall and the whole ‘space’ a few degrees cooler than elsewhere. Very cool! (Pun intended) It was also great to see the new A4 in all its variants (saloon , S4 and Avant). The e-tron quattro sport concept was swamped with admirers, but looked awesome too.
The new Opel Astra and Renault Megane were just a stone’s throw away from each other at the show. Hatchbacks are not sexy, they’re not fast or even ground-breaking, but they are the cars normal people buy and these were two cars I was really excited to see at the show.
This was a real showstopper in royal blue with contrasting orange interior. Such presence. Magnificent!
5.Peugeot Fractal concept (moving)
I love the way Peugeot brings proper wacky concepts to shows. They’re not afraid to experiment and show us where they’re heading. The Exalt concept has been out and about at shows quite a bit lately, so it was interesting to see something different and more compact from Peugeot. The Fractal wears Peugeot’s ‘Coupe Franche’ colour scheme very well.
But the best bit was that by the time I stumbled over to the Peugeot stand on Tuesday afternoon, the Fractal concept was being retired to a different position on the stage so I got a bit of a thrill seeing it move. I’m a bit weird like that!!
Read Part 2 of my German adventure here.