Friday, November 10, 2006

Singapore Motorshow 2006

The subject of automobiles never fails to fascinate and excite me. It always brings back a certain passion, the stirrings of an unique ardor. Hence, the first thing I did yesterday upon returning home from Compass Point was to grab the debut copy of Rev, the magazine produced by Life! Motoring. Just the front page was enough to tingle me with delight.

The biennial Singapore Motorshow 2006, held on levels three, four and six of the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, is the region's premier automobile event is in its eighth year running (so reads the official website).

This perfect opportunity allowed me to discover beyond the usual boring commercial models that are available on the roads for all to see. We demand something extraordinary. Thankfully, the vehicles on exhibition were fresh, hopeful, promising and reflect on the fast growing automobile industry we have.

I shall not attempt another duplicate of Rev, but let me offer my personal insight and thoughts on some of the new models hitting our roads in the near future.

Kia Carens: This new mid-sized MPV is nothing like the first generation. It’s better looking, more practical, more spacious, and it competes with the likes of the Toyota Wish. As with any Kia, value for money is its selling point, and a strong one that is. Do not shun away just because it’s a Kia, because Kia these days have improved tremendously to reach the standard of Toyota and Honda, or well, almost. With its unique rear design, it’s not difficult to know that you’re behind a wonderful Carens.

Hyundai Avante: This vehicle attempts to disrupt the winning popularity of the Corolla Altis. Design wise, you cannot mistake its sensuous flowing curves, and the shorter front grille with menacing headlamps contributes to its road presence. The cabin is tastefully laid out with a back blue lighting. Cool. Cabin insulation is great too. Come on, we’ve seen enough of the Altis on the road, so the Avante is a pleasant welcome to the mid-sized sedan market.

Subaru B9 Tribeca: The first thing that struck me was its uncanny resemblance to the Porsche Cayenne, especially the shape of the headlights. The Tribeca is a head-turner, and the front grille is distinctively Subaru. However, the side has underpinnings of a Nissan Murano. Subaru is playing it safe here, in my opinion, because it does not seek to redefine the definition of an SUV. But who cares? Subarus are popular, and they are known to be fast.

Mazda CX-7: Hey, we have yet another SUV! This time round it’s an offering by Mazda. Again, design is impeccable, but I dare say better than the Tribeca. The CX-7 surely looks fierce and strong. The high and thick wheel arches helps to create a sense of masculinity. Indubitably, it’s a men’s only monster.

Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Hard Top: Our favourite Mazda roadster now has a hard roof which is the world’s fastest retractable one taking just a mere 12 seconds. Nevertheless, there’s something about the MX-5’s design which I just don’t particularly like. Perhaps it is the low slung body. But then again, that’s what a roadster looks like.

Ford C-Max: I would like to think that this big MPV is the successor of the Galaxy. It has large windows, but the design is nothing fantastic. Handling is good, but styling scores low. I would say that this is another model to saturate the already saturated MPV market.

Dodge, the American brand, also has some pretty odd models coming in, like the Nitro for example. I think overall, we are seeing the diversification of the automobile industry as we welcome more brands other than our faithful Japanese ones. More cheap made-in-China cars are flowing in too, like the Geely CK and the Chery QQ. Korean brands are catching up really quick, and in the next few years, it will pose a serious threat to established Japanese brands like Toyota. Chevrolet and Fiat are starting to expand their range of models here too.

So let’s deviate from the Japanese makes, shall we?

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