Tim O'Brien | Oct 18, 2010

It’s a claim made by organisers at every motor show – “our best ever”. But the Australian International Motor Show that opened to the public at Sydney’s Darling Harbour late yesterday may just be this county’s best.

Now recognised as an ‘international show’ on the global motor show calendar, this joint venture effort between organisers FCAI and VACC has a higher standard of presentation and more launches and reveals than ever before seen in Australia.

“The model for this show (in alternating between Melbourne and Sydney) has been vindicated by the number of launches and the high level of commitment by manufacturers,” Show Director Russ Tyrie told TMR.

“In total, there are 44 new ‘reveals’ at this motor show; this compares with the twenty to twenty-five we would previously see at Melbourne or Sydney,” he said.

Ford’s stand, in particular, is stunning. This is its international stand; in the same style that sees duty at Detroit, Frankfurt and other international motor shows.

While some show goers may be disappointed to find that there are no “dreamtime” one-off stunners from our local manufactures – like Holden’s Coupe60 or its Efijy – the high standard of display throughout, and the sheer number of concepts, new models and very special vehicles on display, gives an international sense of quality and glamour to this year’s event.

Here, in Sydney, Ford Australia pulled the covers off its stove-hot Focus RS, FPV’s new GS and GT and, more importantly, the new Ranger.

With nearly 450 Ford Australia engineers involved in its design and development, and based on a new global compact ‘truck’ platform, the Ranger signifies Ford Australia’s key role in the development of rear-wheel-drive products under Ford’s global ‘One Ford’ strategy.

Bigger, wider, with a muscular front and clam-shell bonnet, its reveal was a global first.

Honda’s stand with its interactive ‘Dream Wall’ with facial recognition and emotion-sensing technology capable of reacting to facial expressions to trigger a series of animations, is simply astonishing.

Also on its stand is the Honda U3-X ‘personal mobility device’, the landmark new Insight (due for release shortly) and the all-new – and unique – HONDA CR-Z petrol-electric hybrid sports coupe.

The CR-Z sports hybrid is due in Honda showrooms mid-2011.

Mercedes has jaws dropping with its 358kW Pearl Orange C 63 AMG and the menacing ‘designo magno’ Night Black gull-wing SLS AMG.

Toyota, always a strong presence, has its exquisitely designed FT-86 G Sports Concept on display. Beautifully proportioned, simply gorgeous, the FT-86 is tentatively scheduled for an Australian launch mid-2012.

And Lexus has the world-first appearance of its CT 200h F Sport (with 1.8 litre VVT-i four-cylinder petrol engine and rear-mounted electric-drive motor/generator), the 'new' IS 350, and the remarkable LFA.

With just eight coming to Australia, and all now sold (at a price tag over $700,000), the motor show may be one of the few chances to savour the sculptured lines of this V10-powered supercar.

Mazda ‘dropped’ its new BT-50 “active lifestyle vehicle” onto its stand. While sharing the platform of the Ranger, the distinctively-styled BT-50 defines a new direction for the sports ute.

The standout on Volkswagen’s stand is its new Amarok – due for launch in the first quarter of 2011. In a country that loves its utes and crew-cabs, this car is certain to shake up the sector.

It shares display honours on Volkswagen’s stand with the 132kW, seven-speed DSG as standard, Polo GTI. Next door, sister company Skoda pulled the covers of its anticipated Yeti.

Arriving off the back of rampaging sales success in Europe, the cheeky but practical lines of the Yeti are sure to win hearts for the brand here.

Nissan has no less than five new models on display. Complementing the all-electric Leaf, new Micra and Patrol, it also took the covers off its ‘grunt-filled’ Topline 550 Nm V6 Diesel Navara and Pathfinder.

And Volvo, clearly set for bigger things, revealed its inspired and aggressively-priced new S60 range. Starting at just $51,950 for the potent T5 (with 177kW on tap), its appealing crisply modern lines are sure to generate renewed interest in the brand.

Suzuki, with the unveiling of its Kizashi Turbo concept, is using the Motor Show to gauge customer reaction to a hi-po Kizashi.

“We will closely monitor customer feedback on the concept car and welcome input at facebook.com/suzukiaustralia,” Suzuki Australian General Manager Tony Devers said.

There are a whole lot more to add into the mix: Range Rover’s stunning Evoque, Holden’s edgy Barina Spark and Walkinshaw WP Series II Supercar (fitted with an Edelbrock E Force supercharger), Audi’s quite beautiful A1, Subaru’s powered-up Forester S-Edition, and the surprising new Kia Optima and Cerato Hatch; these among a raft of other new models and concepts.

So, yes, a greatly improved Sydney event. Of course, whether the public agrees and responds with increased visitor numbers will be the test.

But, on the face of it, the 2010 Australian International Motor Show is perhaps Australia’s “best ever” motor show.

Tim O’Brien
Managing Editor

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