Paris Motor Show 2014: Tres Chic

The Paris Motor Show isn't held in the French capital by accident. Oh no. This event is as vibrant as the city itself and the 2014 edition was loaded with delicacies, from the ever-present Lamborghini girls to the fashion-addicted Citroen stand.
Silent night

It all started with... silence. Yes, the moment when Lamborghini's Asterion climbed the VW Media Night stage without making a sound left everybody speechless. The Raging Bull has thus shown it can build a plug-in hybrid, but this doesn't necessarily mean it will. Remember the Estoque four-door concept? It still hasn't seen the light of day and it probably never will.

While the Volkswagen Group was coloring its auto world dominance speeches with the most varied of premieres and concepts on the Paris floor, Mercedes-Benz had some plans of its own. These happened to include the Piscine Molitor, an ex-swimming pool turned into a hotel. This location was as fancy as they get, so those who chose Mercedes' event over that held by the VW Group brands enjoyed the experience.

By the way, if you ever find yourself in need of mobile data while in Paris, do not turn to Orange. Seriously, don't. The way they handle customers should be prohibited by law.

Back at the Paris Motor Show, I was greeted by BMW, which, together with MINI, had their own hall. They started the show and I have one though above all else - I wasn't exactly a fan of the first X6's styling, but this new one has a much more chiseled design and I'm eager to see it on the street.

As for Mercedes-Benz, their own booth was less extravagant than I expected. Perhaps they let the C 63 AMG and the Mercedes-AMG GT speak for themselves. The latter is more flamboyant in real life than it appears in the photos. As I suspected, the rivalry with the Porsche 911 is pure fantasy. While the rear-engined machine tries to play things casual, the Merc is all bold. The 911 spells practicality, while the GT made me think about other kind of pleasures with its low driving position. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

The new smarts(S) may be small, but there was a whole army of them trying to take over Paris. The machines were assisted by heavy infantry - the smart stand had the most talkative assistants, with many boys and girls aiming to teach everybody around about the ways of the new city cars.

The Germans put on quite a show

The Germans played things unconventionally on all fronts this year. Audi, for instance, demonstrated it is well aware of all the robotic culture people associate the brand with. As a result, there was a human dressed as a robot dancing around their premieres. What premieres? Well, the TT Sportback Concept is nothing short of stunning - this thing is like enjoying the night life and having dinner with your toddler at the same time. Let's just hope the path to production keeps the compromise balance on the positive side.

As for the TTS Roadster, Ingolstadt brags this is "masculine". I'm not here to argue about this, but I did enjoy the trolling (read: the car was driven by a woman).

On your way to the Volkswagen booth, you could enjoy some all-German... crêpes
. Once you got past the sea of Passats (in the top trims, the interior reaches Audi-like refinement), you were greeted by actual robots. Basically, a group of talking iPads on motorized sticks inquired about one's experience at the press conferences.

My time there was excellent, except for one little detail. All the executives (Audi included) chose to address us in German. Yes, English translation was provided, but I wonder how it would've been like if Carlos Ghosn had introduced the new Espace in French.

The French affair

After all, Renault-Nissan's CEO did have plenty to brag about. I haven't stuffed the Espace with children or driven it, but I couldn't help notice one thing. Renault's three-dimensional stand must've held about ten of these MPVs and yet each one was assaulted by people for hours and hours after the launch.

Renault had some humor of its own, turning the Dacia logos on the chests of its hostesses into smiley faces - just when I though the Romanian budget brand had had enough logo changes...

Returning to the "Girls" chapter, Rolls-Royce delivered an exquisite experience. Then again, so did Citroen, whose feminine presences were as elegant as their entire presence at the event. With the C4 Cactus, for instance, they've basically brought the chic attitude from the streets of Paris to the show's carpets. Oh and the cabin of the DS Divine Concept is like a trip to Persia.

One Brit that didn't seem to do all that well was Jaguar. Perhaps I was disturbed by all the shiny lights at the event, but the cabin of the XE doesn't seem premium enough for the job.

The Range Rover Sport SVR, on the other hand, is as manic as you'd expect. I'm not sure about such bolstered seats on an Rangie, but I can already feel this will be a supercharged brute on the road. Useful? Not at all, but truly entertaining.

Speaking of SUVs, perhaps I would have spent some extra time with Volvo's new XC90 had the Swedes brought more than one car. I won't say anything else on this topic.

The Italians

As always, the Italians had their hearts racing. Ferrari chopped the roof off the 458 Speciale and the press conference for the Aperta had the loudest sounds of the event. The quickest open-top Prancing Horse around is just as exclusive as the LaFerrari (500 pieces). If they could just remove that "Engine of the Year Award" plaque from the cabin, everything would be perfect. Limited edition Ferraris don't need that. Oh and the "Limited Edition" badges could be smaller.

Right across the hall, the Fiat 500X drew quite a crowd. We love to see Fiat finally take full advantage of the cute 500. Interestingly enough, there was an air of business talk about the launch, despite the "extrovert" and "extravagant" labels attached to the funky little car.

If you have the time, pay uncle Paris a visit. If you don't, rebuild you schedule and include this, the show is worth every one of your precious hours.

Who knows, perhaps you'll be part of the lucky audience who affords to buy one of the 1000 units of the Mulsanne Speed. Bentley is confident it will sell their hot rod in such numbers every year. What's that? Of course you need one, who wouldn't like to have 1,100 Nm of torque lying around the house?

PS: you can read everything about the event accessing our Paris Motor Show 2014 live coverage. Tons of pretty pictures inside!
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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