Our stars from the forthcoming British International Motor Show
18 July 2008

Four big new car launches will dominate the London motor show next week – but there’s plenty of other stuff that’s worth looking at.The new Vauxhall Insignia is the biggest launch of the event, with the Mondeo-fighting family saloon set to dramatically improve on the outgoing Vectra. We’ve already had a sneak preview of Vauxhall’s new family motor and we know that its interior has the class-leading Mondeo beaten. The big question is how it will be received by the public at the show.Perhaps an even more readily anticipated London launch is the Ford Focus RS – without doubt the most exciting attainable performance car we’ll see this year. Team RS engineers were still working on the scorching Focus at the Nurburgring just weeks before its debut. We’ll find out just how close they’ve got the ST’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine to 300bhp. Elsewhere, Honda will deliver yet another aerodynamic, low emissions concept car – the Honda OSM. That stands for Open Study Model and it’s the fourth small hybrid power concept car Honda has built in two years. Lotus will also release its ‘Project Eagle’, the car the Norfolk sports maker hopes can propel it to the big time. Lotus sources claim this will be a genuine Porsche Cayman rival, and its real name will be announced at the London show. There are plenty more British offerings too, including a limited edition, very plush Range Rover Autobiography. Plus IFR Automotive will launch the ambitious sounding Aspid – a two-seater that promises Bugatti Veyron rivalling performance. And UK-based Lightning Cars will be there showing its electric sports car for the first time. If you’re visiting Excel then, away from the array of driving experiences, concerts and motorboats in the dock outside, there’ll be plenty to find out from the cars on display. Have a look at the exposed welding on the Ferrari 430 Scuderia - it’s weight saving taken to extremes. Or open the powered tailgate on Citroen’s C5 Tourer, which is programmable so you can set it stop at any height you want. Squeeze yourself and three mates into the Toyota iQ to see how well that innovative seating system works. And while you’re at Toyota’s stand try to find the fuel filler cap on the mental Aygo Crazy (Hint: it’s where the engine used to be). Turn on the lights and open the glovebox in the Jaguar XF - both are operated by touch sensitive switches. Then wander over to Mercedes and moan about their decision not to make the GLK in right hand drive. You could go and badger Hyundai about importing its Genesis coupe too – if enough people ask, they’ll do it. Also why not run a quality control test on the Cadillac CTS’s cabin? You might be surprised by how well-appointed the interior is. Then go and peer into the Koenigsegg’s cockpit and remind yourself its costs £415,000…Plenty to do then, and if you can’t make it to Excel next week remember we’ll be bringing live coverage, analysis, blogs and videos from the show floor on Tuesday.

Our Verdict

Ford Focus 2011-2014

Can the Ford Focus capture the hearts and minds of hatchback buyers, or have its traditional rivals managed to perfect the formula?

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Will Powell

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19 July 2008

I can't wait - this is going to be even bigger than 2006 - and quite a bit bigger. And it's only days away! Shame on BMW, Audi, Volkswagen & Skoda for not turning up (and the others)! All I can say is that they're seriously missing out - look at the performance BMW put on in 2006 with their stand!!! They're making a mistake, and missing out. I'm going to enjoy the show immensely this year. And I think the stands will be a lot braver, too.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

20 July 2008

What a waste of time. The only significant event is the next Vectra (I preferred that name - Insignia sound like a cheap aftershave from Wilkinsons)

I am sure it will all be very glittery and all that but the thought of trolling around there all day then facing the trek out of our beloved capital, and I know that area well, is about as appealing as a dinner party with Ken Livingstone.

As to the big German (inc Skoda in reality) brands not turning up, well says it all doesn't it? The motorshow attending car enthusiast already knows there are wiser and wider choices out there. The badge-is-all buying sheep will be ticking the 'order now' boxes on their company car scheme sites anyway, so why bother with all that waxing and shipping of the same old metal?

Like the English football team - this is another enigma that needs scrapping quietly and with dignity.

I actually have a BRILLIANT idea. Why don't the manufacturers club together and hire a cross channel ferry. Set up the huge car decks as a car show and travel it around the country so all can see, it could even go over to europe and exhibit there in a big circuit?

21 July 2008

[quote The Apprentice]I actually have a BRILLIANT idea. Why don't the manufacturers club together and hire a cross channel ferry. Set up the huge car decks as a car show and travel it around the country so all can see, it could even go over to europe and exhibit there in a big circuit?[/quote] That idea actually comes under the category of "pisspoor'. Ferries are the skankiest, pikiest, most lower class method of transport than anyone could be associated with. Overpriced moving car parks which stink. The only remaining form of transport which considers formica amongst its principal construction materials and which counts a greasy "full English" as its best possible dish. A car show on a ferry with vomit. BRILLIANT. Now, if you had mentioned the word "Cunard" then you would have been talking.

21 July 2008

Personally I’m going on Wednesday and I can’t wait. The 2006 show was brilliant, not just for the cars on show but for all the experiences. Driving an MX-5 and RX-8 round a (tiny) track, having a ride round the off-road demo course, and the taster test drives around the arena (I had a go in an Astra Twin-Top, Civic, Saab 93 & Prius). This time I’m going to make a bee-line for the Mazda challenge again, and the Westfield drift experience. Great chance to get up close to some new cars too, even if they have been seen at other motor shows before it’ll still be the first time I’m seeing them. Funny how different manufacturers have different attitudes though. I was given a very stern look for opening the door on an £80,000 Aston Martin and told very firmly not to get in, but I was allowed to play around all I liked in a £250,000 Bentley, fiddling with all the switches and raising and lowering the roof.The motor theatre was a little disappointing – watching a bunch of cars doughnuting and drifting is only interesting for so long, but other than that I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I’m really looking forward to this one.

21 July 2008

I'm going on Thursday, and I, too, cannot wait. I've been attending Motor Shows since 1996 - and I've been to every one since. 2006 was a great show, even if the Motor Theatre was a little odd, (Honda's looks better this year) and the stands were overall quite small (apart from Ford, MINI and BMW). However, this year looks a lot bigger - with Peugeot pulling out what looks to be a particularly ambitious stand. Ford are going even bigger with theirs, too, and there are more and more new cars of which many in the UK will have their first chance to see, including me. I really, really cannot wait. The atmosphere of Motor Shows is unbeatable! Can't wait.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

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