There’s no doubting the star of this year’s Moscow motor show: step forward the strikingly designed and intelligently engineered Mazda 6. Company employees relish the freedom Mazda’s relatively small size offers, and the bold design lines and innovative weight-saving, efficiency improvements and engine technology are all results of this philosophy. If it drives as well as they say, and hits the mooted entry-level £20,000 target price, it’ll be a sure-fire hit.
Land Rover Freelander
There had been some muttering that the Land Rover Freelander was the forgotten ‘baby’ of the company’s range, shoved aside for the new favourite child, the Range Rover Evoque. Not a bit of it, according to company executives in Moscow, who talked up the facelifted Freelander’s much-improved interior and stressed the capabilities that set it apart from anything else in the range.
Audi’s design department may be saving its more creative work for all-new models rather than refreshes of existing ones, but there’s no doubting that the technical department was putting in some overtime ahead of the Audi R8 facelift. Highlights include a new seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission and the addition of a more focused V10 Plus model.
Jaguar XJ and XF AWD
The all-wheel drive versions of the XF and XJ won’t be sold in the UK — the climate is simply too mild to mean there’s any prospect of significant sales. But that didn’t stop us marveling at the cutaway of the technology on display on the Jaguar stand – not least because insiders revealed the ‘model’ was in fact taken from a development prototype car that had run thousands of miles in testing.
Bentley Continental GT Speed
Yes, Goodwood Festival of Speed visitors had already seen the fastest-ever production Bentley go up the hill in the hands of the likes of Derek Bell and Juha Kankkunen, but this was the first time the hardcore 205mph coupé had been seen at a motor show. Even standing still, the headline figures of 616bhp and 0-60mph in 4.0sec turned heads.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Aviator Edition
Another one that has been seen before – in this case at the exclusive Pebble Beach event in California – but still stunning nonetheless. In total, 35 of these special editions will be built. They will receive bespoke styling touches inspired by the Supermarine S6B that competed in the Scnider Trophy air race held near Rolls’ factory between 1931 and 1933.
Lexus LS saloon
The luxury firm’s flagship has been given an overhaul, including sharper styling, new technology and the addition of a more focused F Sport version. It’s the latter that took pride of place on the show stand, as Lexus tips a nod to a growing realization that buyers of such cars are increasingly image conscious.
Subaru Forester TS
Okay, it’s only on sale in Japan and Russia, but who wouldn’t pang after a Subaru Forester that’s had the attentions of the firm’s STi performance brand turned to it? The ramped-up body certainly stands out from the crowd, but it’s the tuned suspension and 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine that produces 259bhp and 256lb ft that really grab the attention.
Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works GP
After a six-year hiatus, 2012 sees the return of a stripped-out and faster limited-run Mini flagship with the GP moniker. With around 230bhp from an uprated version of the standard 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the Cooper S, expect a 0-60mph time of around six seconds and a 150mph top speed. Like the previous Works GP, production will be limited to 2000 units and every car will be finished in Thunder Metallic Grey
It has eight wheels and looks like it could drive through buildings. It is also, we were told, allowed on public roads in parts of Russia. Sadly, they didn’t want to tell us more, although you could surmise that the Wamah's buyers aren’t going to be the sort of people who want everyone knowing the technical details of their new vehicle.