2 October 2008

Singapore Motorshow 2008


The obligatory F1 car display of the moment

You're still reeling from the excitement of the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix and you want to reminisce the adrenalin rush as the smell of burning rubber tickle your nose. You are reminded of the Singapore Motorshow 2008 exhibition that is happening till the end of this week.

Here's my advice:
Save the trip and carry on reading. What you will see here is just about everything you will see there.

I was at the press preview of the bi-annual exhibition to sift out the exciting stuff like concept cars that may never ever hit the roads. But all they had on exhibition were cars that will be available by the end of this year. Many continental car manufacturers were missing along with the very apparent absence of industry giant, Toyota.

Subaru Exiga

The Subaru Exiga

We started off at the Subaru Booth for a presentation of their pride and joy of their automobile research, the new MPV, the Exiga, a cleverly designed 7-seater with a spacious interior that lets the driver and passengers maintain connection with each other. An exceptionally large sunroof gives a great panoramic view for all passengers to experience the joy of a road trip. Next, we were treated to a performance by The Dey, followed by a photo taking session.


Performance by The Dey

Amidst the incessant snapping, the group was herded over to Honda's booth. Michelle Chia's presence at the Japanese manufacturer's booth was probably one of the very few highlights of this outing. She was there to grace the launch of the new generation Honda City, a 1.5 litre car that can perform better than certain 1.6 litre class cars.

Michelle Chia with the Honda City

Michelle Chia with the updated Honda City

Before I could even catch a proper glimpse of the other cars by Honda, we were herded over to the next booth hosted by Isuzu which had many large trucks and buses on display. What was exciting here was the manufacturer's adoption of cleaner fuels like biodiesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) in their vehicles as well as their research in collision avoidance technologies to contribute to safer roads for pedestrians and motorists alike.


A CNG Isuzu truck

Next, we were herded over to Polygon and Rodalink's booth to see some really high end bicycles on display. Personally, bicycles are much, much cooler than cars. And probably the coolest thing on display there was this limited edition Ferrari bicycle by Colnago that is listed at over $16,000.


The limited edition Ferrari bicycle by Colnago, only 199 pieces available worldwide

Moving on, we were led to the Nissan booth to be introduced to an updated Murano as well as their iconic GT-R and 350Z Roadster.

The updated Nissan Murano

The updated Nissan Murano

Nissan GT-R, models not included

The Nissan GT-R, models not included

Nissan 350Z Roadster

The Nissan 350Z Roadster

We were then treated to a quick tour at the Nissan Technology Square to catch a glimpse of cutting edge technologies like "Scratch Shield," a coating that protects against small scratches, and the Around View Monitor, which makes it awfully easy for motorists to park their cars.


Demonstrating the "Scratch Shield"


Presenting the Around View Monitor

We were also introduced to Nissan's concept vehicle, PIVO2. Unfortunately, only a model of the vehicle is on display.


The PIVO2 model

The last stop of the press tour was the SQuba car by Rinspeed which is the only working concept vehicle that is on display at this exhibition.

SQuba by Rinspeed

The SQuba by Rinspeed

Inspired by the 1977 James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, Rinspeed founder and CEO, Frank M. Rinderknecht created an updated version of the submarine car. True to the original modeled after the Lotus Esprit, the SQuba is modeled after the Lotus Elise. On top of that, it is a zero emission vehicle as it runs on electricity.

SQuba by Rinspeed

The SQuba in action

Being a concept car, I was curious if the technologies developed for the vehicle will be improved upon to make it even more viable for the roads and waters. According to the creator, Frank M. Rinderknecht, it is unlikely that the technologies developed will be improved upon for the SQuba itself as it is a novelty vehicle. However, the technologies have been adopted and improved upon in other vehicles by other manufacturers.

Frank M. Rinderknecht explains the SQuba

Frank M. Rinderknecht explains the SQuba

With the press tour over, we were treated to a stunt car show by Russ and Paul Swift, a father and son team of stunt drivers specially flown in for the event. Driving in the way they do is undoubtedly a skill. Children and adults alike should never try these stunts they do without proper training. You stand to ruin your car, not to mention risking your own life. The duo manoeuvred their cars with plenty of skidding (or drifting) as they sped around in the confines of the loading bay of Suntec City and showing the audience how they would speed park their cars if they were in a rush...

They also invited members of the audience to take a ride in the cars as they demonstrated how they would drive a car with punctured tires on one side...


As it turns out, these stunts put so much stress on the cars that they had to be replaced after every stunt. Some sounded as if the engines broke down, others seemed to have the tires busted.

Russ Swift abandoning a Subaru

Russ abandons a car as the mechanics race over to fix the problem

The opportunity was given to the audience to take a ride in the cars and I was lucky enough to be picked. Being the last stunt of the display, I sort of got the best ride of the show, which was the donut spin.


Paul and me in the car, moments before the insanity

As soon as I buckled up, Paul floored the accelerator and the speed pressed me into the seat. His handling of the car was confident and sure as he swerved coolly to the left and right before breaking into what was seemingly and endless medley of spinning around the premises. The dizzy spinning sensation kicked in the moment I took my eyes off the direction the car was heading. The smell of burning rubber from all the stress and friction on the tires seemed to make the spinning faster. Of course, I was then dumb enough to do this as the world spun around...

Yes, that's me clicking away in the side view mirror. No, I don't recommend anybody equaling such stupidity.

As quickly as the ride started, the car stopped. My head was still spinning and Paul had already stepped out of the car to wave at the audience. It took a while before the sensations settled before I got out of the car. But suffice to say, the spin in the car was awesome!

With the stunt driving coming to an end, the father and son team were greeted by the Subaru race queens...

Russ and Paul with the Subaru race queens

Those lucky blokes...

Anyway, check out the rest of the exhibits here: http://kormmandos.multiply.com/photos/album/226/Singapore_Motorshow_2008

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