The 2009 Melbourne Show was quite exciting in spite of the dark financial pressures world-wide.
Many significant new cars were on display, including the new Mazda 3 and VW Golf VI, which had been seen in Australia. BMW showed us the new Z4 Roadster and the glorious M1 Hommage Concept, and Lamborghini revealed its Gallardo Spyder. Locally, HSV bought the W427 showcar to Melbourne for the last time before its limited build run comes to an end. There were many hits and, encouragingly, fewer misses at the 2009 Melbourne Motor Show, which spells a more positive future for the industry that belies the current climate...
BMW M1 Homage Concept
Lovely concept from Germany does things with surfaces only BMW could get away with. It has subtleties that can only be appreciated when viewed in the metal. There is a beautiful depth to its tail lamps and a nice even glow along the whole light-strip. The headlights are hidden under a strong 'brow' and must be appreciated from a distance or lying on the road in front of the car. Odd placement of badges, however, has a tendency to distract the eye from the forms on the rear.
Mazda 3 Sedan
Mazda keeps kicking goals, and the latest 3 picks up where the previous 3 left off. Lines have been sharpened and the surfaces have been exaggerated, creating an exciting impression. Front end is beautiful, doing away with two grilles in favour of a single gaping Manga-esque smile.
Quirky French styling works when it's finished to a high quality. The Laguna has lines darting in all different directions, but it has been carried out with confidence and without apology. A sleek interior complements the exterior beautifully.
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
The Gallardo has been around for a while now, but the styling has proved substantial. The wedge form language has been around since the Countach and Lamborghini design can still be considered edgy (no pun intended) 35 years later.
Porsche 911 GT2
The traditional looking 911 is combined with some very contemporary forms in the bumpers and spoiler. Combined with a timeless Storm Trooper colour-scheme a modern Porsche could not look much more desirable. Coupled with a roll-cage-fitted interior and 5-point driver's seat belt, this car makes its intentions very clear.
Audi A3 Cabriolet
Audi hits back at BMW's 1-series Convertible with an equally taut small-car. It has a solid-looking body with a strong rising-toward-rear theme, whilst interior materials and finishes scream of quality.
There is something about the new Skoda that just doesn't do it for me. Whether it is the "Superb" name moulded into the headlamp or the seemingly pointless double-hinged tailgate (it can open like a sedan, or like a hatch). The perceived quality of the car seemed to be lacking, an abundance of flat chrome in the headlamps looked cheap and tacky. Overall the car looked like a poorly carried-out VW. A sharp undercut on the rear bumper looks weak and under-weighted for the size of the car.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
There is not much about this car to praise. It looks cheap, pinched and contrived and the colour did it no favours. There is no strength in the visual language; the front looks droopy, or stretched like a Hollywood socialite - somebody has grabbed it by the ears and yanked them backwards.
The overall proportions of this car are great, a shortened wheelbase gives it a more nimble look but the lights ruin it for me. I liked the edgy style of the 350Z but Nissan have softened the edges and as a result of this, as well as the front-end treatment, there is a distinct fishiness to the car.
A car does not become sporty by slapping bling on it and meating up slab surfaces. Cheap-looking chrome and badly-finished wheels pull the quality of this car below aftermarket body kits to a place no car should go. The badge is also very apologetic, which could be interpreted as shame but more likely simply a matter of poor design.
I never thought I would put this company on a "misses" list, but they are here for completely abandoning this year's show. We hope to see more of them in the future, especially from next year when Melbourne and Sydney will alternate the major Australian Motorshows in a similar fashion to Paris and Frankfurt.