For as long as I can remember, the Porsche stand has been in the same spot. The bad thing is that it’s the first stand you see after entering the Sydney Exhibition Centre. Nothing else ever seems to stack up against the latest from Stuttgart.
The newly updated 911 range was there in several variants. The new look headlights look better and more substantial than the previous incarnation. The ‘normal’ 911 now looks very similar to the turbo - I suppose not such a bad thing really - that’s what I like about Porsche - not as overtly SUPERCAR as others (Ferrari et al.)
Also on hand was the stonking GT2 model (in grey) and a nice GT3-R on display. A light blue 356 convertible was also sitting out the back next to a ‘bright’ yellow 986 Boxster.
Next up, Subaru. The flat-four company from Japan was conveniently located next door to their German counterparts, Porsche. On display was the recently updated ‘02 Impreza range, the new B4 (in a gold/black metalic colour!), the AU spec Impreza STi and Possum Bournes new WRC car. They also had a WRC engine on display in a glass pyramid case.
Peugeot: Sydney was used to launch a rash of new models. The 307, 206CC and a preview of the 607 luxo-barge. I didn’t really spend too much time on the Peugeot stand - I’ll wait for the rumored 133kw GTi model before having a closer look.
Main attraction at the Nissan stand was the Z-car concept, to be known as the 350Z in production trim. Looked OK in the flesh, if a little larger than I had expected it to be. I was thinking more along the lines of a small sports car - not a car that at least seemed as big as the old 300ZX. They also had their new model X-Trail soft-roader on display. Also had a yellow 200SX Silvia on the stand.
The Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen Edition was standing proud at the entrance to the Mitsubishi stand while the Magna Ralliart was parked up the back of the stand. They also had a modified bright green Magna on large chromed wheels - not sure exactly what is was - but it looked pretty damn ugly. Funny that everyone was crawling all over the ‘green-thing’ when the production(?) Ralliart Magna was sitting next to it. Oh Well.
Also had a rally-raid Pajero Evolution - however not the concept car released at the Frankfurt show as I thought they would have but a real, current model Evolution. Perhaps they sent the concept home in time for the Tokyo Motorshow?? The Lancer Evolution VII was also conspicuous by its absence.
Would have liked to have seen the BMW M3 CSL - but alas it was not there. Recently shown in Frankfurt the bavarian-bad-boy was not shipped over for Sydney. Maybe next year. Did manage to have a good look at the new 3-series compact range - one red-coloured compact has so many ‘BMW Individual’ options loaded into the interior that it looked ridiculous. The same model in a more sedate Blue with the regular interior looked a lot better.
BMW also had a mean looking new 4.6is X5 in black, the unusual new 7-series and the updated E46 3-series range. Hiding in their motorcycle range was the innovative C1 - not sure if they are going to release it here - but it looked good none the less.
Tucked into a cosy corner of the BMW stand was the lairy MINI (to use the correct capitalisation) stand. They had 3 Cooper examples in Blue, Silver/Black and a Union Jack-roofed red model.
I did what any rabid-MINI fan would do by fighting through the crowds on the packed stand to get close enough to have a sit behind the wheel of the silver/black car. While I was impressed with the packaging of the car, I thought that the interior lacked some finishing. Parts I thought were metal in photos of the car were indeed cheap silvery/grey plastic and the central speedo was replaced by a ENORMOUS rev-counter while the small speedo was sitting up behind the steering boss. I suggest that there will be a huge industry for transferring the two around, as they should rightly be.
The seats were comfy, the gear knob solid and tactile - but the plastic parts did put me off getting one a little. Others seemed impressed - one lady standing next to us asked the guy on the stand if she could put down a deposit then and there for one… I’ll save my judgement until a test drive - or perhaps the release of the Cooper S.
Mercedes-Benz had a pristine 300SL ‘Gullwing’ on hand for the local launch of their new SL range. The green model I had spotted last week was there along with a few other examples. I like the look of the SL. Also on show: updated ML-class, new S600 (nice!), new stretched A-class and new C-class models. I was dissappointed at the lack of AMG models on show - the only example I coud find was a sole SLK32. Looked pretty impressive though. I would like the same engine in a C-class wagon thanks.
We spent quite while on the Volvo stand. Before you start laughing - please listen to my explaination. I like cars. I like cars to be not only good looking but functional as well. To me, now don’t get me wrong, the Volvo V70 T5 seemed to have everything I need. From the outside it may not be the most glamorous thing on the road. Volvo may not have the prestige of a Merc nor the presence of a BMW but belive me - this could be a good thing™. I like to be anonymous.
If I had the choice between a badge-less, black Brabus Merc and a yellow F360 Spider - I know what I would take. I would drive a V70 to stay inconspicuous in traffic. Lurking beneath the bonnet is enough power to get me out of trouble should I need it. Inside was leather seating; an in-built GSM phone with integrated controls on the dash and steering wheel; pop-up sat-nav screen with steering mounted controls; rear seat air-con vents; built-in child booster seat - never know when you might need it!; automatic climate control etc etc. Fully loaded. No other car that I saw at the motorshow - the S600 might have had all and more, but as if I could ever afford it - had all the goods wrapped up in one.
The Ford stand was next up. I had a good look at the StreetKa concept - the bastard child of a Ka and an Audi TT. Looked ok in concept form - would like to see how it translates into production, which Ford are now saying will indeed happen. The ‘T’ series cars have been revamped again - I hope this time they get it right and make a decent car to take on HSV’s dominace in the .AU-performance sedan sector. I liked the look of the new TS50 but hated the cheap stick-on ‘TS50’ graphic on the sills of the car. Yuk. Over the back of the stand was a hideious yellow with black tinted headlamps (just like Marios VK commie - sick mate!) Mustang. Worst car of show.
Die hard General fans were all over Holdens’ new Monaro. The final production version is not that much different to the original ‘98 concept car, save for a new grill and unique tail light lenses. Initial deliveries of the new Monaro are said to occuring before Christmas so they should be on the roads before we know it. You can buy a Monaro in CV6 or CV8 specs - that is automatic gearbox, supercharged V6 CV6 or 6-speed manual LS1 V8 in the CV8 . Apart from the Monaro range and the ute and boat hing in the HSV corner I didn’t really see that much else on the Holden stand - I just had a quick look at the many Monaros on the stand - then walked away to avoid hoards of Holden fans…
Toyota used the Sydney show to reveal the new model Corolla lineup - only the examples present were way up on an elevated stand - too far away to have adecent peek at, let alone a drive. I think the jury is still out on the styling, especially the mainstream hatchback model that seems to have borrowed more than a bit of the styling of the current Audi A3. Not sure about the details of the new Corollas except that they may be offering a wagon variant for the first time in Australia. Also on show was a hybrid powered Tarago (Japanese-model Estima) and most of the current range.
Toyotas luxury badge, Lexus, showed its latest SC430 and ES300 models. SC430 looks like a land yacht - and probably drived like one - but to its credit was decked out in everything from a 9-speaker stereo, DVD navigation system and more. Fully loaded.
Normal stuff from Ferrari. A yellow F360 Spider, a light blue F360, a red F550 and a red F550 Barchetta. Of more interest was an F50 GT1 that was sitting on the Shannons Auctions stand. Only 3 produced.