The Moscow motor show is neither the biggest nor the best motor show on the nine-month international circuit, but at the show this year there was the sense that it was the start of something major.

While the show still lacks more attention-grabbing world debuts to steal more headlines, all the talk was of the Russian car market soon becoming Europe’s largest for unit sales. Perhaps when this number one position is secured by Russia, the belief will be installed into more manufacturers to launch more major new models at Moscow, securing its position as a 'Grade A' show in the process.

At its last running in 2010, you could count the new products on a couple of fingers, but the launches were much more plentiful in 2012 and a vote of confidence in the show’s growing importance. You can enjoy all of the pictures of the major launches in our Moscow motor show picture gallery.

The stylish and innovative new Mazda 6 (CO2 emissions of 105g/km from a car of this size is quite extraordinary) was the major star, and Jaguar’s new all-wheel drive XF and XJ models, the subtly revised Land Rover Freelander and the facelifted Audi R8 joined it in supporting roles.

Of equal interest to Russian showgoers were likely to be several new compact saloons designed specifically to cope with their notorious roads – the Chevrolet Cobalt, UK-engineered Nissan Almera and Peugeot 408 among them – and potent new off-roaders – including the Mercedes GL63 AMG and Subaru Forester TS – that are commonplace on the roads of Moscow and St Petersburg.

One notable absence from the Moscow show was concept cars, the country’s number one brand Lada being the only manufacturer to display a visionary new product with its X Ray crossover.

But Russian showgoers are still likely to go home feeling they got their money’s worth, with no major absences from the major manufacturers packed into four halls and a fifth hall with the kind of aftermarket products one could only really find in Russia.

Indeed, Moscow is already one of the best-attended motor shows by the public with more than one million visitors on the public days. And it's a 'quality' public as far as the manufacturers are concerned: research shows there are more public visitors at Moscow using the show to actively choose their next new car purchase than at any other major international motor show.

If the rapid growth expansions for the Russian car market are accurate, then by the time the Moscow car expo returns in 2014 its importance is sure to have increased rapidly.