Shahzad’s 2013 Dubai Motor Show

The highlights and best bits of the best edition of DMS so far

By Shahzad Sheikh

Admittedly I love motor shows, I always have – what better place for a true petrolhead to totally immerse him/herself in the world of cars, and where else do you get to see all the latest metal together under one roof.

I was at the Dubai International Motor Show everyday apart from the last this year, and I give it its full name here not just out of formality, but respect, as it really has elevated itself to a truly international level.

This is the fourth edition of the show that I’ve been involved in, and I have to say that it was by far the most epic to date. Packed with genuine new cars, launches and concepts; whilst heaving with crowds and full of fun things to do, this was the best of the region’s greatest car show by a long shot.

But what really stood out? What were my favourite bits? Let’s take a virtual walk through the stands, starting with the Sheikh Saeed Hall.

Hennessey Venom GT

It was the first time that the Hennessey Venom GT was making an official appearance here at the Dubai show, although a few have already found owners here. It was a very small (barely) a stand for one of the world’s quickest cars, and the familiar Exige shape does look a little overstretched to fit in the colossal V8 power. Still wouldn’t say no to having a go though!

Devel 16

Next to it, on a large stand, was an oversized, and stupendously outrageous car. With ‘Made in Dubai’ emblazoned atop the brand’s name – Devel – this turned out to be one of the biggest stories of the show – and you can read all about it here.

Essentially this is the world’s most extraordinary car, looking like a cross between something from the Thunderbirds TV show and an early Batmobile, with a falcon beak-shaped front nose and claws for fenders.

Devel 16

It would have been easy to stand there in utter disbelief and mock as absurd claims of 5000bhp, 560kph and 0-100kph in 1.8 seconds. But for three things: firstly this is Dubai – we have the world’s tallest, biggest, and other ‘est’ things, so why not this; secondly, two people have apparently already put down deposits for the AED5m car; and thirdly – well, as silly as it is, you really secret wish it could be real, don’t you?

Be honest, if you’re a petrolhead, then this is the car you drew as a kid, and these are the numbers you wrote down on the side of that scrap of paper at the back of maths class as the teacher bellowed at you to pay attention or you’d never amount to anything – when really you knew one day you’d build the world’s fastest car.

It’s a car guy’s dream, and we all love to dream. So as much as we are tempted to be cynical about it, the big kid inside says go ahead, make a hypercar that will vaporise its rubber and incinerate the tarmac, as soon as you press the throttle for the first time, because melting its transmission, warping its bodywork and spectacularly combusting its 16-cylinder heart. Do it! And if you can make it work, for real, then give me a call. I’ll come a gleefully giggling to unleash the full force of the mighty falcon.

GTA Spano from Spania GTA

Oops, got carried away there. But here at MME, we love dreamers. Even dreamers from Spain, who brought along two examples of the confusingly badged GTA Spano from Spania GTA – huh? Well it’s another wannabe supercar. It’s looked finished and ready to go, but the styling didn’t necessarily turn me on I have to say.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Back down to earth, just opposite this stand was Hyundai, and whilst I did like the elegant style of the HCD-14 Concept, what really piqued my interest was the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. We like this quirky little hatchback, (read review) and have been asking why the Turbo isn’t sold here for some time. And now here it is, at just around AED80k. Looking forward to trying it out, could be the new hot hatch bargain.

Cadillac presented the new Escalade, one of three new full-size SUVs from the General, the other two being on the GMC and Chevrolet stands – we hope to bring you reviews of all of those soon.

I’ve have already had a quick drive in the all-new CTS saloon which is Caddy’s new BMW 5 Series rival, and I’ll bring you a review on that very soon too.

Of course on the Chevrolet stand there was plenty of great cars too look at, and I do really want to try the new Trax compact SUV, as well as the facelifted Camaros – the new fronts and backs having grown on me.

But the car I’m really desperate to sample is the one they’ve sold out for a year – the new Corvette Stingray. What a looker! This was without doubt one of the biggest draws of the show.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

I have to admit the new range of Lincolns do leave me a bit baffled since they’re all called MK… something or other, but they certainly looked good, and it would be useful to get some hands-on understanding of Ford’s premium brand.

Porsche fans were not to be disappointed with local debuts of the 911 Turbo and the hard core GT3. Hard core track-heads were allegedly seen prostrating themselves before the latter. We’re not sure we’re worthy either, but even so, I can’t wait to get my mitts on both of these beasts.

Porsche 911 GT3

Across the floor Lexus showed what could be the spiritual successor to the Supra – the LF-LC concept, a form of which is actually slated for production. Looks like a younger brother to the LFA, and if it drives anywhere near as well, it could prove Lexus’ 86-like halo car.

Ferrari was a sea of red as you’d expect, but Maserati was stealing the show by letting people onto the stand and claw all over the all-new Ghibli which saw jaws dropping at its price – for the right reasons.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

AED280k will get you into a Maserati! Yeah, sure, it’s competitive with the likes of the BMW 5 series, but the chance to own a mythical Maserati, the sexiest cars on the planet, is now within wider reach. Very eager to try this and see if it’s thrilling as the old Quattroporte. The promise is definitely there.

Maserati Ghibli

Volkswagen brought the Cross Blue concept over, which makes perfect sense, because this is a precursor to a big full-size SUV from VW aimed at America and which, like the North American Passat, will then make its way here.

Volkswagen Cross Blue

It looked smart, but the real star of the stand was tucked away at the back – a gorgeous thing called Lola – no, I’m not referring to a showgirl, but an old VW camper van converted into a mobile DJ booth. Very nice indeed.

Volkswagen Camper Van Bus converted to DJ Booth Lola

Over at Bentley they were wooing the local audiences by evocatively calling a special edition Mulsanne the ‘Shaheen’ associated as it is with the predatory Falcon. There was also the Flying Spur, and I’ll be bringing you a review of that very soon.

The Aston Martin stand was notable for two things, and neither of them were the launch of the Vanquish Volante, the V12 Vantage S or even the CC100 Speedster concept.

No, I’m referring to the fact that they had the showgirls with the longest legs, and a delightful classic DB6 sitting at the back of the stand to showcase the classic maintenance service they’ve now introduced in the UAE.

Aston Martin DB6

Over at McLaren they had a proper supercar and another real star of the show, the amazing P1. It’s amazing how different it actually looks from the MP4-12C models. I never drove the original Macca F1, but it would be something to sample the magnificence of this machine.

Lamborghini showcased an Aventador Roadster alongside the coupe, a simple stand, but then those cars speak for themselves. Have driven the coupe, I would love a go in the Roadster, if only Lamborghini would let me have their press cars!

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster

On the first day the Jaguar Land Rover stand displayed the actual Range Rover Sport that completed the Empty Quarter Crossing in record time, complete with dirt, along with the C-X17 SUV concept from Jaguar, which was particularly important to gauge opinion in this key market.

Bizarrely, these disappeared, not to be seen again, leaving only the Project 7 F-Type racer concept. Though the crowds were understandably focussed around the Range Rover and new Range Rover Sport.

Infiniti launched the Q50, which is effectively the new G saloon, although the two-door G was also on the stand confusingly.

At the side was the most beautiful car from the brand though, the voluptuous but scissor-sharp Emerg-E Concept. It’s very striking looking sportcar and I like it even more knowing that it’s a Lotus Evora underneath! Why can’t they build this?!

Infiniti Emerg-E Concept

Opposite that was a supercar that supposedly is actually being built – the Arab world’s first supercar, the W Motors Lycan Hypersport, now with a starring role in the next Fast & Furious movie according to the makers.

W Motors Lycan Hypersport

 

It’s certainly a very striking and good-looking car in the metal, a futuristic cross between a Lamborghini and a Transformer. Production will be here in the UAE, so good luck to them. When do we get a go?

W Motors Lycan Hypersport

Audi presented the new RS7 which I’ve already driven, and found really impressive for outright grip and performance, as well as a tasty looking RS6 Avant and also the S3, which could be something of a surprise sports saloon hit – 280bhp from its 2.0 TFSI engine giving a 0-100 time of 5 seconds priced at AED147,500. Definitely want to give that a try, as well as the Avant, especially as the RS4 Avant was highly entertaining.

Over at Mercedes they brought along the S-Class Coupe Concept, which is nice but I’d seen it at its debut in Frankfurt, and the cartoony six-wheel G-wagon, which is truly OTT.

Mercedes S-Class Coupe Concept

Wouldn’t mind a go in it though, especially as we weren’t invited to the press launch in the desert. But then I have boycotted Mercedes test cars unless they deliver them as I refuse to go to Jebel Ali to pick them up!

Flanked by the Rolls-Royce and Mini stands, the BMW stand had plenty to showcase, including an X4 Concept, the new 435i Coupe, the M6 Gran Coupe – both of which are very handsome and I’m very keen to get my hands on, as well the new X5, which I tested in Canada. For some reason they even had a 3 series Granturismo, which I really hope no one ever buys.

But the stand also hosted another show star – the super intelligent i8 supercar, this the production model just introduced in Frankfurt. Apparently two have already been sold here. It looks sensational and we’re hoping to get behind the wheel of this intriguing machine soon!

Moving across to the main halls 1-8, and we kick off with the sprawling stand of the Chrysler group hosting a wide spectrum of cars from the climb-any-mountain Wrangler, to the pulverising Viper and back to the adorable little Fiat 500.

Jeep Roundtable Viper

 

The stars here were manifold, including the exquisite Alfa Romeo 4C and the aforementioned beastly SRT Viper, both of which I’d dearly love to get behind the wheels of.

Jeep Roundtable 4C

The all-new Cherokee has proved controversial with its futuristic styling, but I have to admit I like its sleek looks, particularly in Trail Hawk guise, and by all accounts it will do the business too when it comes to off-roading.

Jeep Roundtable Cherokee

Over at the other end the little Fiat 500 is being joined by a larger sibling, the 500L, and a racier edition in the form of an Abarth – now that should be a hoot to steer. Been waiting to try that car for some time, it comes here first quarter of 2014.

Jeep Roundtable Fiat 500L

Ford obviously had a massive stand, and the Fusion looked like a serious contender for the crown that I believe the Chevrolet Impala currently wears, whilst the little Indian-made Ecosport seemed to be a very enticing new entry-level compact-SUV-like ride.

Both are interesting cars that I await to review, although the car that really had me helplessly salivating on the stand, was the one I probably won’t get a blat in – the Shelby Mustang. Sigh.

The Great Wall stand only attracted attention from its placement opposite the Kia (where, incidentally, the Optima Turbo quietly snuck onto the stand with 272bhp at AED110k – does it now have the punch to go with the sports saloon looks? Would love to find out).

But back to Great Wall and possibly one of the most ridiculous cars at the show, a stretched limousine from the Chinese car marker based on some kind of budget-priced SUV powered by a 2.4 with a manual gearbox. The AED250k price was even more ludicrous.

Next up one of the most popular stands at the whole Dubai show by a long shot, and something of a surprise – the Dubai Police stand! It showcased their newest additions to the fleet – The Audi R8, Nissan GT-R and some Merc SL.

There was also a Brabus G-Wagon elsewhere in the exhibition halls. It was a great PR initiative, with the real life police officers happily chatting and posing for pictures with show visitors for hours on end. Nice one!

Dubai Police Nissan GT-R

The Toyota stand showcased the new Corolla, which understandably was the main point of interest for a lot of people, but for enthusiasts the GT-86 Open concept was an eye-catcher, and apparently the likelihood of production is not as remote as we’d been led to believe, so watch this space.

Also present was the Emirates Drift Team’s updated contender for the UAE Drift Championship – good luck to our friend Ahmed Alamri for this season!

Toyota Emirates Drift Team

Nissan was drawing the crowds with the facelifted Patrol and a rather eye-catching gold painted GT-R signed by Usain Bolt on the bonnet – we looked on with some concern at one point as a show cleaner appeared to be earnestly trying to wipe off the scrawl, perhaps having perceived it as an act of vandalism!

Usain Bolt Nissan GT-R

We really weren’t expecting anything new on the Honda stand, and indeed there wasn’t, but we’re grateful we stopped by because it had a surprise visit from motorsports royalty. A replica of the 1965 Honda F1 car that won the Mexican GP driven by Ritchie Ginther.

1965 Ritchie Ginther Honda F1 racer

Its reason for being there was to mark Honda’s return to F1 next year with the new smaller capacity 1.5-litre engines, which is what this has. But it delightful to behold and if you missed it, get down to the Honda showroom in Festival City in Dubai, where it’s putting in a short stint on display right now!

1965 Ritchie Ginther Honda F1 racer

Finally we get to the Opel stand, where the Cascada convertible stole some limelight, although the new AED110 Corsa OPC 1.6 Turbo with 189bhp, did look like a tasty little treat. Should be fun to chuck around too.

Opel Corsa OPC

That’s it for the main manufacturers, the last hall was full of smaller exhibitors and Chinese car makers with copycat cars on their stands including this Humvee look-a-alike. It certainly appeared rough and tough enough, though it had a manual transmission.

Dongfeng Mengshi High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, Warrior

This is actually the Dongfeng Mengshi High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, the Warrior,  and out of all the Chinese cars I saw at the show, this is the only one I’d actually like to have a go in!

Brabus G Wagon 6x6

Brabus was also in this hall and whilst it too had a humongous version of the G-wagon 6×6 on the stand, which was a crowd-please, the real beauty was on the other side in the form of this superbly restored classic Mercedes convertible – a service that Brabus now provides.

Brabus restored Mercedes

So now it’s your turn. Tell us below what your favourite bits of the show were and why!

2 responses to “Shahzad’s 2013 Dubai Motor Show”

  1. Kamil says:

    I’ll take the blue Aventador!

  2. Navneet says:

    McLaren P1

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