I want to start with a quote. Jeremy Clarkson complained in 1996 that the London Moto Show lacked attention of the world's leading car manufacturers. It was an event of a secondary importance:
“So, if a car manufacturer has spent all year developing a new concept to wow the crowds at an exhibition, it goes to Japan, leaving London with the mainstream stuff, the kind of cars that are parked in your street anyway. [The] notable debutantes [in London] include the MGF, the Renault Megane, the really rather nice Fiat Bravo and, of course, the fascinating and interesting Vauxhall Vectra which, in case you can’t find it, is the one that looks pretty much the same as a Cavalier. However, pretty well all the one-off concept cars will be in Tokyo.”
Jeremy is wrong. Utterly wrong! He has never been to the Warsaw Moto Show. London bursts with the innovations and high technologies. Tokyo soars over the sky-limit with its concepts!
Speaking of Tokyo, by the way. The 2017 moto show there takes place alongside with the one in Warsaw. Comparing these two events is like putting up Gargantua against Thumbelina in a food consumption competition. Honda presented its Sports EV retro-styled concept, which shines in rays of the public affection all over the world. Mazda unveiled its sexy-looking Kai and Vision coupé, propelled by the new petrol-saviour Skyactive-X engine. Suzuki arrived with the e-Survivor, equally good for Mars exploration and driving in Florida after the Irma's visit. Nissan presented the electric nismo-Leaf and the electric Imx crossover. Toyota exploded with the TJ-cruiser, GR HV Sports, and a bunch of other juicy-and-bright concepts. Then there were Subaru, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu, Lexus, Yamaha, and many-many others.
Warsaw could boast with nothing similar. Just look at the list of premières! I bet, none of them is a brand new. None was crafted specially for Warsaw.
To make things worse, the majority of Japanese manufacturers did not even show up!
However, let me moderate my scepticism and try looking at the event in a more sober way. No news sometimes means good news, isn't it?
The Warsaw Moto Show jammed the southern suburbs of Poland's capital on 27-29 October 2017. Five huge halls with dozens of smaller sections accommodated the event. The visitors could attend exhibitions of the luxury, retro, racing, and “daily drive” vehicles, as well as hang out in the specialized boxes for camperers, motorbikers, tuners, detailers, video-gamers, car-auditioners, coffee-drinkers, and others. There was also a helicopter in the centre.
Speaking of the number of halls, I was, actually, mislead at the entrance. The guiding arrows under the ceiling made me think that there would be three of them. Then, wandering along, I counted four. Finally, being already at home, I looked at the programme to discover five halls.
Agreed, the ability to count has never been my strongest point.
The first impression of the event which stroke me right away: I was lost! The overabundance of music, lights, roars, fumes, crowds, and rush slammed my senses. A brochure with the programme which I took at the very entrance became useless: I could not concentrate enough to put letters together. It took me a couple of rounds to understand how everything works and where to go. Having experienced this “lostness,” I am almost sure that the first interaction of any other individual with any other moto show in any other part of the world will end up in the same feel.
The second impression was the number of posh and glamorous visitors. Specifically women. Bright makeup, tight push-ups, leather skirts, and high hills. Once again: these were ordinary visitors, not hostesses or presenters! They also generated thousands of selfies everywhere! If I was in their shoes – literally – I would never attend such a kind of event in such an outfit. It would simply become too painful to wander around at a certain moment! But maybe I do not understand something... The epitome of poshness was a TV presenter, a blond lady worn in a black leather jacket, who was obstinately putting her sumptuous breasts together to make an appropriate appearance on the camera.
The third impression was the randomized detonations of the exhaust noises. I did not expect the moto show to be that loud! Engines were roaring here and there. The more powerful engine – the better it was heard. My “favorite irritant” was the Brabus upgraded the Mercedes-Benz G-series. It seemed to have a V12 which roared for around of 10 minutes. And then a Lamborgini Huracan answered from another hall. And then there were fumes. And a headache.
After a couple of senseless rounds my senses returned into their operational condition. That was the time for noting the observations down. The absence of the brand “new” machinery was only one of them.
Contemporary cars are HUGE even if they are small. For instance, the Renault Clio RS. Mates, you are sitting in a concealed cocoon. You can not feel the car as you see no ending to the bonnet from the driver's position. Moreover, the rare edge of the bonnet is located higher than the dashboard, just below your jaw. Being a masterpiece of engineering, the Renault Clio RS is an embodiment of hyperbolized exterior, botoxed interior, and glamorous utility.
By the way, speaking of the glamorous utility. The Mercedes-Benz presented a shed-sized vehicle, painted in a military earth brown with the led blue illuminated chassis. This looked like a muscular-love-making-camper capable of getting you to any depths and peaks you want him to. Don't know, maybe that was an expected effect... don't know.
Then there comes the Kia Stinger. The eye-catching, powerful, and comparatively affordable vehicle! A fairly big exhibition section was sacrificed to accomodate it. But as I got inside... you can not drive the Stinger without sensors and cameras. It is even more “detached” from your feelings than the Clio RS. The windscreen is very small, the pillars are very massive, the driver's position is very low. A presumably spacious car lacks the space inside. Then there comes a plastic steering wheel which should never be put in front of that luxurious console. Seems like the Kia took it from the Rio, made it look sporty, and plunged into the Stinger. WV Arteon is more balanced and integral in this regard. It looks more “rational” inside and uses better quality materials. The best, however, is Alfa Romeo Julia. Yes, I agree, it plays in a different weight league, but it still feels incomparably more spacious with a much better driver's position.
The same as London in 1996, Warsaw had its Megane in 2017. The Megane RS, to be honest. I liked its curves! The super-sexy elder sister to the Clio RS. It patiently stood under fabric waiting for the glorious moment of its introduction to Poland. My “problem” with the Megane RS was that its pictures and specifications had been circulating in the internet for a month already. The car had its world's première on 12 September 2017 in Frankfurt. And yes, it felt even more "hyperbolized" than the little Clio.
Having explored the stuffing of a couple of vehicles, I reinforced my belief that the leather seats are evil. I'm not speaking here from the perspective of an animal lover. Actually, I'm neutral on the issue. Leather makes my back sweaty, even if it is perforated. And it smells! Specifically, when I got into the new 3-series BMW, the dreadful memories of my childhood popped up in my consciousness. Thank you for this trauma, dear interior designers of the Lada Riva.
No more leather seats! No more vomit feel! Never!
My favorite of the Warsaw Moto Show was the Seat Leon Cupra. Spacious, stylish, and with alcantara sport-seats. No hyper-inflated body-lines, no botoxed consoles. I liked the neat design of gauges, the shape of armrest, and the swiftness of gearbox. The driver's position was also fine. Even better that in its twin-brother, the Golf Type R. Visibility to the front and back were the same as I have in my Mazda. The Leon was my car! Positively impressed, I signed myself up for a test-drive.
Japanese manufacturers were underrepresented. That was a disappointment. I wanted to see and explore the new post-lift Mazda 3, the CX-3, and MX-5 RF. The newest Honda Civic has also always been on a list of my interests. Another disappointment came from Audi, Lexus, and Infinity. Every time I approached their stands, all cars were locked. Imagine the situation: crowds of gappers, a fair number of chatty hostesses, but no one gets inside of the vehicles. An odd marketing strategy...
The problem with the “modesty” of the Warsaw Moto Show, which is the biggest for the whole Central Europe, resides in fact that Poland produces no cars. Above all in this. The local automotive culture is a culture of consumerism, not creation. With the death of the FSO, Polish engineering thought is either forfeited, or consumed by German, American, or Italian giants. These are Opels, Fiats, Lacias, and VW's which are being screwed in Poland. Yes, you may mention the Arrinera Hussarya and a new electric Syrena Nixi, but these are drops in the ocean. The presentation of the first, actually, took place near the Ministry of Development of Poland on a drizzly day of 30 November 2016. Probably, the world's best place and time to present a racing car with a super-car ambition.
Economics matters, mates! Nothing personal, but the forces of supply and demand. If Poland produces nothing (or very little), if the public expectation is comparatively low, if only selected visitors can assess the full complexity of the high-tech concepts, then why should a manufacturer bring anything wow-ish to Warsaw? None will appreciate this, especially the competition. Then we have the limited purchase power parity of the middle-class society, which usually prefers VW Passat 1.9 TDI to Jaguar XE V6 Supercharged. And this is not only the case with Warsaw. The Kyiv Moto Show, actually, provides another good example. Boredom. Kudos to the car enthusiast Dzhazovskyi who managed to fetch from under the table the all-new Himera-Q concept on 17-18 June 2017.
The Warsaw Moto Show will continue to be on the outskirts of the world's moto shows up to the point when the local automotive culture changes. Manufacturers should acquire more appreciation to visitors, who, in their turn, should overgrow the self-imposed limitations of local gaperism. Visitors should have a bigger appreciation to the technology, not to the semi-naked instagram selfies on the foreground of Maserati Ghibli. Then, do not forget of the proficiency of journalists who cover the auto-motive events! Finally, here comes the state which is to make a proper environment for the manufacturers to gain revenues, employ locals, develop national car-brands, and boost the overall automotive culture.
The wow-ish and one-time-crafted concept car is appreciated by those who can appreciate a concept car. Simple receipt for a success.
To end up on a hight note, mates, I truly enjoyed the Warsaw Moto Show 2017! The absence of new concepts was compensated by the diversity of luxurious and daily vehicles. It took me a couple of hours and two big cups of coffee to explore everything! And I'm not sure I explored everything, actually. The magnitude of the automotive business is mesmerizingly breathtaking!
P.S. Sorry, I did not take pictures of things I did not like. For instance, the stance section, the drift section, the posh racing section, the music thing, the super-monster-trucks, or the massage chairs and spa.
P.P.S. Arriving to the moto show was one thing, driving away was another. These were ones of the most dreadful traffic jams I have ever experienced in my life!
P.P.PS. Matt Parsons can be reached here: www.behance.net/Matthew_Parsons_SA