10 things you should definitely try at the Frankfurt Motor Show

If you are not going to Frankfurt to buy a new car, this is the list you actually need! 

1y ago

The IAA just opened its gates to the public a few days ago, so it is time to share my favourite spots of the exhibition. All of these programs are about impressing visitors with refreshing experiences beyond the 5 minutes seat probe that visitors usually get at the trade shows.

For this list, I tried to look beyond the obvious. Yet it is also true that for the first time, some major exhibitors did not showcase the actual cars of their current model year. Given this phenomenon, the fun experience might play an even more prominent role in the IAA. Therefore, to get the best out of the visit (well anything actually), I recommend paying a visit on a less crowded weekday.

10. Coffee at Polestar

Volvo has been a traditional source of great coffee at car shows. Unfortunately, the swedes decided to withdraw from the Autumn car shows, and only attend Geneva (but also Brussels and Essen). This year they put one foot in Frankfurt, with a new mobile office for Polestar in the Agora.

It is not bigger than the mobile motorhome of Jaguar (and the Brits also prepped an actual stage in Hall 11), but Polestar revived the Volvo tradition of serving good coffee.

9. Step into oblivion at Mercedes

Merc has gathered many awards for its stage, that is more like a king-size exhibition building all for the Stuttgart brand. This year’s show is not my personal favourite, but I have to give them, it did not lack originality.

One interesting element was a glass cage hanging out of the top gallery of the building, allowing the best visual access to what awaits the visitors. I can tell you in advance, it is not for the acrophobic.

8. Take a virtual tour in the interior of the Porsche Taycan

The focus at the Porsche stage is on the brand’s first all-electric sports car, the Taycan Turbo. With the Taycan, Porsche promises to redefine the brand. Yet I am still puzzled about where the guys from Stuttgart managed to put a turbo on an electric car. : )

IAA is probably the closest most of us will get to a Taycan, but those who can sacrifice a bit (about 95% of the car) to get any kind of Taycan experience, can take a seat in virtual cockpits to see the functioning of Porsche’s first fully digital dashboard.

7. Children’s corner at Porsche for the inner child in us

Porsche hid quite well its current model line-up in an attic, while the focus is on the future (and the electric Taycan, see point 8).

Those who still take on a pilgrimage to the petrolhead present will be rewarded with a children’s corner with a Carrera race track and a few simulators.

Unbeknownst even to the most avid fans, there is a private collection of the Porsche family in Salzburg with an astonishingly fun museum with the most child-friendly offering for children between 9 months and 99 years of age. This corner was a delightful surprise and shows that the seriously sporty brand has still a lot in common with the playful side of the Porsche heritage.

6. I trust Ford blindly with a sixth place

Ford’s small but quite original stage featured a tunnel to simulate the speed of electric cars. I think…

The show started nicely with registration and interactive elements, but the queue to the main attraction lasted pretty long even on the press day.

5. Animations and classics in Heritage Hall

The Heritage hall is already an exciting trip down memory lane with dream cars of the past 100 years.

Hall 4 proved to be an ultimate car spotting experience. Yet from one could hear the great mood streaming from the halls where singers, animations and German beer will bring you to another millennium.

4. Virtua’ surfin’ at Merc'

This also seemed a lot of fun, I believe the pictures will speak for themselves.

3. Try pick-ups and your luck with liability insurance at the off-road track

This is something I always wanted to do but never had the time. In the past ten years, the IAA usually offered visitors a ride at an artificial off-road simulation, with a set of test cars to put their off-road abilities to the test.

It is a truly weird experience to drive on these superstructures, with one or two wheels in the air. The only reason for not giving gold is the rather long queues for the occasion that prevented me from actually trying it this time.

2. Enjoy a cinematic light show with the very black BMW

Behind its main stage in Hall 11, BMW presented a one-off X6 show car with a new nanotech paint finish.

The X6 is showcased in a dark room decorated by grills made of lights of various colours. The flickering lightshow aims to highlight its unique very black, I mean Vantablack painting.

The exterior colour is called Vantablack VBx2 nanostructure coating, that is hailed as the "world's blackest black". This material was initially developed for aerospace applications to suppress stray light from the sun during observation of celestial bodies in faraway galaxies. The surface structure made up of tiny carbon nanotubes absorbs the light striking its surface.

This means the three-dimensionality of the show car is perceived significantly reduced. The result is a fascinating contrast between the black surfaces and design highlights such as the illuminated BMW kidney grille, the prominent twin headlights and rear lights.

1. Virtual hunt for the new Land Rover Defender

This is a super fun, provided, one has the patience to queue for a while. Behind the Land Rover cars, famous adventurer and ex British Special Forces Bear Grylls invites IAA visitors for a virtual helicopter ride. The aim of the game is to photograph the new Land Rover Defender in dangerous locations.

Given the additional safety measures (two handles by the seat and a strap to an obligatory vest), the virtual simulation will only bear severe dangers to our lunch. Apart from that, the ride is incredibly realistic. Slight tilts of the seat enhanced by the ventilated air make a truly realistic experience, that will make you get a tight grip on the two handles.

Virtually trapped to a helicopters external seat, the player will hunt for photos that best capture the capabilities of the car. The results of the players are recorded and scored in a ranking on a screen before the VR experience.

For the dizzy ones, JLR still sports the impressive holographic virtual projectors that seem like libraries from the future.

Now that my list is complete, let's inject a bit of democracy into the article:

All the IAA related articles are listed in this digital shortcut article:


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Comments (11)

  • When I went to a show in Miami a few years ago, they had a race game that used a real Dodge Challenger! Another thing they had was you could make your own sent using car smells like NOS, Leather, and Gasoline for example. Too bad they don’t make those as actual cologne though, they would make a fortune!

      1 year ago
    • I saw something very similar in Paris in 2016. It was a simulator built into a GT86: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBe0ny_Rwy0

        1 year ago
    • But sometimes a simple model is enough, like the half of an LMP1 Toyota race car that shows you that even getting out of the car is a challenge of us average guys... :)

        1 year ago
  • What is your favorite thing to do at modern auto shows? @tribe

      1 year ago
  • Well in Japan they won't even let you in the car.

      1 year ago
    • Not every car is accessible, even for accredited journalists. But e.g. in IAA 2017 there was a huge line of journalists and camera crew technicians by the Ferrari stage, and I passed on it completely. While in Brussels it was fine (for...

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        1 year ago
  • I’m always taking photos so finding pretty cars to photograph is a must

      1 year ago
    • You will definitely fill your camera's storage there...

        1 year ago
  • Did you go for a ride in the Raptor?

      1 year ago
    • I wish, but the place is huge. One day is simply not enough to see and try everything.

        1 year ago