The international motor show is back. These flashy events took a natural back seat during Covid times, but judging by this week’s Munich motor show the good old days of carmakers trying to outdo each other have returned.
Munich’s isn’t quite the glamorous show-stopper we’re used to, though. The whole event is far smaller than the old-school whoppers of Frankfurt and Paris, while the manufacturer stands are more modest, less glitzy and more aware of giving out the right kind of sustainability message.
Smaller it may be, but Munich is playing host to some big reveals. They’re all electric, of course, but more importantly the debuts reflect a car industry that is now really starting to shrug off three years of shortages, bottlenecks and hiccups.
Here are the cars that took my eye.
Renault Scenic E-Tech
The Scenic has been rebooted for the 2020s, but not on a people-carrier a la original of 1996, but an in-vogue electric SUV. When it arrives next year it’ll sit above the Megane E-Tech hatchback, and will be Renault’s rival to the Volkswagen ID.4 and forthcoming Peugeot e-3008. It’s an interesting design and Renault is making a big deal of a fancy rear armrest that can store lots of things and has stands to rest tablet screens on. Two versions initially – a 60kWh battery model with a 167bhp electric motor and an 87kWh battery paired with a 217bhp motor, the latter giving up 385 miles of range.
BMW Neue Klasse
If you think BMW’s current crop of cars are a little on the fussy side, then you’ll love the Neue Klasse. It previews a whole new wave of BMW saloons and SUVs that feature simpler styling, next generation infotainment and advanced battery technology, not one particular model. But it’s pretty obvious the next 3 Series, which will be one of the first of this new generation of BMW EVs, will share quite a lot in common with this concept car.
Volkswagen ID GTI Concept
Volkswagen made a few eyebrows rise with its ID.2all concept when it revealed it in March, and now it’s given the car the GTI treatment. The German company has had a slight change of tack and now admitted that the current GTX badge isn’t the electric spiritual successor to GTI, but the famous nameplate has an electric future itself. This concept is essentially the Golf GTI of 2027, with a tuned up front-wheel drive platform and loads of classic GTI styling cues. Much like how I said when the ID.2all was revealed, it’s great to see a VW EV looking like a Volkswagen – something the recent ID range has shied away from.
Tesla Model 3
Unlike the other cars on this list which hint and reveal the next generation of electric cars, the new Model 3 is just an update. But the fact that it’s one of the world’s best-selling EVs and appeared a handful of times in the UK’s top-sellers chart last year, it’s an important car no matter how large or small you think the update is. The main styling change is at the front where there’s a new, smoother design that actually reduces drag allowing the Model 3 to eke out a little more range. It’s quite unusual to see the American brand at a European motor show, but Tesla didn’t make a big song and dance about the reveal of one of the most important cars at the show. Shame they painted their show car in a miserable shade of grey.
Chinese brands were out in force at Munich, but that won’t surprise you in the least. What did surprise me, however, was the number of brands I had never heard of. One such company is Seres – founded in 2016, it was originally known as SF Motors, and has a modest range of electric cars. Its company website says the Seres name consists ‘of five English letters which has reached perfect symmetry in word form’, and that the ‘S’ stands for Silicon Valley, ‘E’ represents electric vehicle and ‘R’ means range-extended. The designs of the cars on the stand were a little generic, but we’re sure to see more and more start-ups like Seres appearing in Europe over the next few years.
Vauxhall’s current designs have certainly put the British brand back on the map in recent times, but company is thinking of its next ‘design language’. The Experimental previews ‘Vauxhall 2.0’, apparently, and its all-electric future. It’s sort of an Astra coupe-SUV in size and design, and the relatively simple styling is exaggerated with a strong central crease, topped off with north, south east and west directional LED lights. It’s unlikely this concept car will spawn a specific model, but expect to see many of design cues on future Vauxhalls.
Where’s the Mini? BMW decided to take the car out of the show and instead place it in the centre of Munich to attract the general public. You can read more about it here.