Impressions from the Paris Car Show – Palais 4 – VW Group and Japanese manufacturers
Pavillon 4 hosts the brands of the Volkswagen Group and Toyota, with a pinch of Honda. Visitors are greeted by an art exhibition of a French photographer, that you will probably skip when you see the shows awaiting the visitors.
The Porsche stage – a birthday present worthy to the brand
The realm of Porsche is one of my favourite stages in Paris. It may not be the largest in terms of net surface, but it has been filled with lots of content and even more style. Even before entering the Palais, you might recognise the Le Mans category winner 911, parked in front of the building. The lady explaining the car also pointed out that it is in such an original condition, that even the original dirt is laminated onto the car, and will be conserved in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
The livery pays homage to one of the greatest practical jokes in racing history, when the Porsche factory team painted their car pink, to better resemble the animal most spectators compared it to (for those in doubt, this animal wasn’t a cheetah).
Motorsport is a key component of the car companies aspirations, but the stage was dedicated primarily to the 70th birthday of the sports car manufacturer. Those who visit the private collection/museum of the Porsche family a Salzburg, will recall that the name Porsche had a considerable reputation long before.
There were, of course, current production models, but the stage featured two major thematic timelines. Honestly, the line of super cars from the first 959 to today’s modern super car 918, do steal the show from any other car.
I also liked the idea of resenting the new Speedster Concept with its famous predecessors. I sometimes bump into these strange versions in museums and private collections.
Audi – innovation without revolution
The Audi stage by the Porsche was pleasing to the eye and impressed the mind. The design was a bit more conservative this time, than the colour-changing flickering cubes, of 2016. The design resembled more to the stage at the Essen Techno Classica, apart from the vintage cars, of course.
The main attraction is the Audi E-Tron (an electrified Q8-ish SUV), but they also showcased a concept car (practically an R8 E-Tron “Breadvan”) that was not a premier car however, visitors at Pebble Peach could already have a peek in the US.
In the right corner, Audi hid a Le Mans racing version of the R8 sports car, which gives a glimpse of the R8’s facelifted design.
Skoda – self-confidence and creativity
Skoda has furnished one of the best booths this year, showcasing something in almost every area. Don’t expect the flamboyant flair of the German members of the family, but instead, the Czech company brought something nice and positive to fill the light and natural stage.
They unveiled a nimble station wagon as a concept car with a pair of well-dressed teenagers instead of the usual models. Instead of a VR simulator they set up a game with real bicycles, to illustrate Skoda’s engagement in bicycle racing.
Skoda also showcased its factory Rally race car. I almost forgot, Seat was also there with a premier, but they just got a corner in a bar besides the Palais.
Toyota and Lexus – still strong on all fronts
In the past few years, the Toyota Motor Corporation has shown maximum effort in all the European car shows could visit. Their home in the 2016 Paris Car Show was probably their best yet, but they also show strong presence in Brussels and Frankfurt, not only in terms of size but also with regard to style, creativity, and interactive elements.
In 2016 and 2016, they offered a seat in an LMP1 cut in half (careful, it’s a trap! You won’t be able to crawl out) or a simulator integrated into a real FT86.
This year’s show is also quite lovely, offering important and exciting new models unveiled in Paris. The Toyota sports department has brought a (still not finalised) Supra race car and the LMP1 racing car finally winning the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race, and of course a few arcade simulators to get a more immersive experience.
Toyota also brought the new Rav4 and unveiled the European Corolla, that reclaimed his name, as well as the new Camry.
The Lexus conjured its entire European offering to Paris, with a few important premieres such as the new ES, the longtime best seller of the brand that finally made its way to Europe or the facelifted RC Coupé.
At first, I was really impressed by the ES, but then I realized that I was sitting in an LS …:)
After that, the actual ES interior could not hit me that hard, but I still liked some details like the little horns I had already spotted in the LC.
It’s a tiny detail, but for those who owned a Japanese car from the late 80s will love it.
Honda – when optimism wins over experience.
Honda’s central decorative element is the new collaboration with one of F1’s most competent non-factory team Red Bull. The small stage also features a few more attractions.
In Honda’s place, I would at least wait for the Melbourne race before I build a serious promotional campaign on this cooperation. I did miss some of the fancy road cars. Two years ago, it was for the first time I could sit in the new NSX.