The tranquil, verdant setting of Battersea Park plays host to the revived London Motor Show for the second year in a row this weekend, with some of the latest and greatest metal and carbon represented largely through local and national dealer networks, in the Battersea Evolution building.
While not on the scale of Geneva, Shanghai or Frankfurt, there were some debutants revealed on media day yesterday, chief among which was the new MG XS. For MG’s spiritual home, the small SUV has been renamed from ‘ZS’ – as it was called when it first appeared in Shanghai – likely because the UK has already seen that name on an MG hatchback and saloon in the past. We were told the new letters stand for ‘eXtra [value]’ and ‘SUV’ respectively, a name which some may argue took roughly as much (or as little) thought to devise as the design… although we’re at least reassured that 19-inch diamond-cut alloys will be available as an option to add some flair.
Making a very low-key UK debut was the new Alpine A110, sat quietly in the back corner of the main building’s “Luxury Pavilion” in a flattering metallic white. It would’ve been nice to see a freshly re-launched brand push their pretty little sports car more confidently in a country whose customers tend not to switch brands very often. One wonders how many would-be Porsche 718 Cayman buyers will actually cross the motor show floor to give the similarly-priced, equally four-cylinder French machine a look…
Along with historic brand Alpine coming back, there was a trend for modernising icons of the past this year. Stratstone brought one of Jaguar’s newly recreated E-Type Lightweights, Morgan lined up their EV3 among the traditional roadsters, David Brown Automotive officially debuted their Mini Remastered (think downsized Singer 911 in approach) and Mazda dealer T.W. White & Sons showed an MX-5 based Mitsuoka Roadster with wire-look alloy wheels, complete with faux knock-off centre caps. Sadly, these were custom ordered; Mitsuoka would do well to offer them officially as they suit the theme of this wantonly quirky retro machine.
The more affluent visitors might also appreciate the 20-inch wheels of similar inspiration on the divisive David Brown Speedback, which it also turns out can be had with a rear-facing dickie seat on the boot shelf (see gallery). For that much money, why not? Fans of divisive styling will also appreciate the presence of modifiers Liberty Walk and Kahn Design, as well as vinyl wrappers Yiannmize. The rest of us can enjoy a palette cleanser by exiting stage left to see a row of classic Mercedes-Benzes and Jaguars displayed outside by Chelsea Cars.
Finally, visitors to the show can learn about crash-avoidance systems, tyre safety and, intriguingly to us, a new VR design system from Seymourpowell which hopes to link together each stage of the design process by letting everyone involved see the car in 3D from an early stage, by hosting designs in online sessions to present and edit them in real time.
The London Motor Show runs until Sunday, with special guests each day, and tickets cost £17 for anyone over 11 years old.