Put a few thousand motoring journalists in a motor show hall and you’ll soon hear the whinging. One show may have too few real-world cars, or too many irrelevant supercars, another quite the reverse. Some shows are criticised for pandering too much to the environmental lobby, others for callously ignoring the state of our planet.
This is what makes Paris different. As I write I’ve been here eight hours and have so far not heard so much as a bleat let alone a full on moan from a single hack.The reason is not hard to see: this show, more than any other in my recall, is crammed full of cars that are both interesting and relevant: a real-world show for sure, but one that panders to our inner enthusiast.
There is no better example of this art than the hot hatch, and here three of the most important have been launched. The new RenaultSport Clio looks cutest but will need to convince that a turbo motor and flappy paddles are worthy replacements for the riotous old 2-litre engine and its six manual gears. The Peugeot 208 GTI has a simpler job which is just to prove it’s better to drive than it looks. And then there’s the new Golf GTI, as simple and elegant in shape as the best of its breed have always been.
If the show is lacking anything it’s walls dripping with brand new supercars – even the McLaren P1 concept will only reveal details of aerodynamics; those hoping to find out how much power it has, how that power is developed and just how fast it will lap the Nürburgring are likely to leave Paris disappointed. Ferrari showed just part of its new Enzo – the 70kg carbon monocell – while the likes of Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati and Bugatti pulled no new rabbits from their sleeves.
But no-one seems to be complaining. Paris seems to have captured the mood of the press corps perfectly. If it can do the same to the mood of the rather more important public who’ll flood these halls for the next fortnight, a much needed injection of confidence and positivity may yet be delivered to the beleaguered European car market.