Russia is on track to become Europe’s biggest car market this year, and this week’s Moscow motor show proves it.
Sales in the country are expected to top three million units, easily outstripping Germany’s total, and with a population of 150m everyone reckons we’ve only just seen the start of Russia’s incredible car boom; sales will be nudging six million in a few years’ time.
The growth of the Moscow show is just as impressive. Several years ago it was a backwater event; now it’s major news and will get 1.5m visitors this time round, or three times the figure that visited the London show.
So car makers are piling in, none more so than Mazda, which had the star of this show in the Kamazai concept. It looks terrific, too – bold and dynamic. And if design boss Laurens van den Acker gets his way, it won’t look a million miles from this when it finally makes production in 2011 as the CX-5.
Van den Acker is quickly personifying Mazda’s new-found confidence. “We don’t want to make an SUV like everyone else’s,” he told me. “Let others do practicality, we’ll do desirability.”
Another Mazda high-up admitted that that the firm is even considering making a three-door version, just like the show car. You can see it fitting right in on the streets of Moscow - or London, for that matter.
In the meantime Mazda also took the opportunity to announce that the US-market CX-9 SUV is going to go on sale here straight away. It’s deemed too big for us in the UK (it only comes with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine anyway, and there’s no plans for a diesel) but that makes it just right for Russia.