Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles opened its doors to the world on 2nd October for the Mondial de l’Automobile 2018. We’ll have to wait for the statistics but mutterings of absent brands and a quieter show overall were cast aside at the very least by the home brands who were out in force with plenty to show:
A huge presence and an utterly packed-to-the-rafters press conference were clear signs of Renault’s aims for the show. The EZ Ultimo concept ‘Robo-Vehicle’ was revealed; an autonomous, luxury, capsule-like design using only the finest materials inside and out for privacy-seeking connoisseurs. All this contrasted very sweetly with one or two stars from the brand’s 120-year history being celebrated at the show, including this really rather lovely Renault 5.
Kia was cementing its mainstream presence in the European market with the reveal of the new and very sleek Proceed. To my mind rightly described as a shooting brake rather than the more prosaic ‘estate’. The right stance, balanced proportions and genuine desirability are all present and correct. This was complemented by the launch of the Niro EV, a neatly-styled entrant to the burgeoning EV market. Full marks to Kia for the simplest and most impressive of stunts to prove the Niro’s 485km range; simply place the car 485km away (in the Auvergne region of France) and then have someone drive it to the show to meet up with its twin on the stand already. I’m sold!
I mentioned in my preview that Skoda’s Kodiaq RS would be a very intriguing prospect. It seems that many, many members of the motoring press felt the same way. I’m sure this one will be amongst the very best-driving of the latest crop of SUVs if previous experience of Skoda’s skill in setting cars up is anything to go by.
Global reveal of the small executive benchmark BMW 3-Series (G20) was for me the production car of the show. Very solid effort from Munich, beautifully resolved. No-one needs any more than a 320d in their life do they? Do they? Okay, perhaps a 330d then…
Immediately opposite BMW in Hall 4 is Jaguar. A chance to see the new i-Pace in the flesh but arguably the bigger story is the XJ-50, built to celebrate 50 years of the XJ model line and sharing a stand with the one that started it all; the Series One XJ6, launched at the very same show in 1968. Eight generations of Jaguar XJ made the trip from Jaguar HQ to the show but it was just these two models, at either end of the car’s timeline that made the cut for the show display.
A competitor to the i-Pace and Mercedes Benz’s new EQ electric vehicle, on the Audi stand it was the first chance to see the new E-Tron in Europe. Typically solid Audi design and technically convincing, this will surely become an increasingly common sight on our roads in the near future.
Great to see the all-new Suzuki Jimny too, up-to-the-minute and yet reassuringly familiar at the same time, this looks to be a very capable vehicle to carry on the tradition of its predecessors.
Finally and for me the highlight of the entire event, the Peugeot e-Legende. An autonomous coupe with stunning petrol blue velvet interior, boasting driving controls and instrument panel that slip smoothly into the bulkhead when driving autonomously. This was, to be honest, most striking not for its undeniable technology offer and vision of the future but for its pure, stop-me-in-my-tracks beauty and utterly triumphant Frenchness. Fabuleux les gars!
Forget the naysayers ladies and gentlemen, this is a strong show. Absolutely worth the trip!