REVIEW | Much ado about Frankfurt
Brenwin Naidu reports on the highs and lows of the world's biggest motor show
For fans of all things wheeled, the Frankfurt Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung – automobile show if your Deutsche is rusty – should be attended at least once. And the window of opportunity could be closing, given the uncertainty facing the old tradition of grand car exhibitions.
At what is still regarded as the premier European motoring event, the blisters gained from miles of walking and the pounds earned from doughy pretzels are entirely worth it. TimesLIVE Motoring was present at the recent 2019 instalment of the prestigious event, casting eyes and leaving fingerprints upon some exciting unveilings, some of which are especially relevant to the South African market. Behold, as we present a selection of nine most memorable picks in alphabetic order.
The flavour at the Audi stand seemed to be one of high-performance, with a display of RS models all finished in red taking centre stage. A curious contrast to the electrification that featured prominently elsewhere – but the E-Tron, which is old news now, was also in attendance. Debuting was the RS6 Avant and its RS7 Sportback counterpart. This duo is powered by a 4.0-litre, V8 unit with two turbochargers, good for a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.6 seconds in both cases. Power is shoved to all four wheels, of course, via an eight-speed automatic.
We have to say it. BMW might have lost the plot with its commitment to emphasising its distinctive kidney grille hallmark. The Concept 4 is your glimpse of what the 4-Series will look like. Truly delectable from the rear and side angles – and seductive from the front, too, aside from the exaggerated nostrils which are frightening. Perhaps they will be toned down in production format, based on the (mostly negative) reception the styling cue received from attendees.
An interesting event was to be noted at the Hyundai stand. The brand has reached a point of maturity in the equity of its heritage, that a throwback to a past original could be met with the same reverence as one would give to similar European executions. Meet the 45: a nod to the 1974 Pony coupé concept. It is an angular beast and the name signifies 45 years since the birth of that original, but also denotes the 45-degree angles that make up the front and rear. It does not hint towards a future model, however, but is more of an indication of the styling direction Hyundai is moving toward.
Now, for the unanimous favourite from Land Rover. The revival of the legendary Defender was met with rapturous applause. And an unfortunate leak ahead of the official reveal (which, apparently was blamed on a local publication) did not suck any of the excitement out of proceedings. Expect it on home shores in 2020. Aesthetically, you will spot the obvious echoes from the past. But in real-world use, the carmaker is adamant that it stays true to the rough-and-tumble, hard-as-nails character forged by its predecessor. You might want to take that with a pinch of salt, looking at the extent to which that cabin is digitised. A price upwards of R830,300 is anticipated.
Never ones to miss out on a chance to boast about its pioneering achievements, the inventors of the motor car, Mercedes-Benz, showed us what the future of electrified luxury motoring could resemble. The Vision EQS is likely to be the S-Class you buy 10 years from now. Highlights of the concept include 24-inch wheels and a grille with 940 individual LEDs. Electric motors serve at the front and rear axles, with a purported driving range of 700km on full charge. Its 350kW and 760Nm output facilitates a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds. Oh, and the cabin features elements made from ocean-derived plastic waste.
Also, remarkably futuristic in appearance was the Lamborghini Sián, which is, ironically based on the aged underpinnings and powertrain of the Aventador. Still, not much disappointment could be levelled at the prospect of experiencing its mighty V12 (602kW and 720Nm), coupled with electric assistance to propel the aggressively shaped Italian missile “beyond” 350km/h. For off-the-wall theatrics, the Sant’Agata Bolognese manufacturer still delivers.
Its cousin within the Volkswagen Group, Porsche, will face an interesting task with the Taycan. It heralds a radical new chapter for the iconic brand – and they are quite invested in a battery-powered future. By 2022, more than €6bn would have been invested in electromobility. In the most potent Turbo S guise, the Taycan generates up to 540kW, with a claimed sprint time of 2.8 seconds and a driving range of 412km. The decision to use the famed “Turbo” moniker is pretty daft, however, it must be said. Elon Musk opined a similar thing on Twitter. But his disdain probably stems from fear.
One could argue that the most significant unveiling at Frankfurt this year was the Volkswagen ID.3 – huge ambitions rest on the electric hatchback. Its makers say that the chronology of successful model lines will read as following in the history books: Beetle, Golf and ID.3. Company representatives spoke about “democratising” electric mobility. Weird punctuation aside, you can all but guarantee it will be a hit. The entry-level car promises a range of 330km on a full charge. Its apparatus is good for 150kW and 310Nm.
Oh, and did we mention the rear-wheel drive!?