Goodbye Frankfurt, hello Munich.
This year’s IAA Mobility – also known as the Munich motor show – served as a launchpad for a number of brand-shaping electric cars.
From the Volkswagen ID. GTI to the BMW Neue Klasse – with a healthy serving of new metal from Cupra, Mercedes-Benz, and even Tesla thrown in – it’s clear the traditional motor show hasn’t quite died off just yet.
Here are the cars that caught the CarExpert team’s eye from the show.
As someone who was in Munich this week, I first want to point out how disappointing the show was. Compared to what Frankfurt was in the past, the Munich mobility show was basically a trade show with OEMs like Mercedes-Benz mustering just two cars at the show itself – and BMW not having a much bigger display either.
The problem was the event itself is no longer a show for the media or the world, it was a show for the people of Munich with multiple locations throughout the city. Also, the emphasis on having technology players heavily presented seemed like a wannabe CES without any of the wow factor.
Overall, if you asked me to rate the show, I would give it 2/10… at best.
Now as to the best car from the show, the BMW Neue Klasse vision was certainly up there in terms of daring, new-age designs, but the choices were pretty damn limited. It was either that, the new Cupra, or the electric GTI, and they are all worthy of a mention.
Nonetheless, the most interesting thing I saw was the updated Tesla Model 3, which was hiding behind a rope with a very annoying Tesla employee standing right in front of it and refusing to move. I have seen dealer lots that have been presented better. It may as well have been left in a car park.
However, the reason it was interesting probably tells you everything you need to know about the show as a whole, but it was mainly because it was one of the very few cars that was new and real rather than a concept of what is to come.
Shame it still doesn’t have a head-up display, but I am looking forward to seeing the less-ugly Model 3s on the road soon.
To finish, if I had to hear one more German car executive tell us just how much they care about sustainability, I might’ve thrown up. Please just stop, we get that you have to do it, we get that the regulations are forcing your hand, but the insincerity of trying to make it sound like you personally care and all your customers are desperately asking for ‘zero emission mobility’ is hard to stomach.
I have never heard so many buzzwords and unnecessary woke-ism in my life.
Unlike resident Tesla-lover Alborz, who chose the Model 3 as his pick of the show, my pick was the Cupra DarkRebel.
If you discount the fact Cupra calls itself a fledgling startup (it does it with a straight face, as a startup with the backing of one of the world’s biggest car companies and a litany of platforms to pick from), it’s setting and running with a brand image that brings a much younger buyer into the fold.
Its research suggests its buyers are significantly younger than a typical Volkswagen buyer, and as a result it needs to spawn products off group platforms that exude that young vibe.
The DarkRebel does that. We discovered it will be likely based on the upcoming Porsche Boxster/Cayman platform and that it’ll be priced well under €100,000. While it obviously won’t look exactly like the concept, Cupra has a habit of releasing production cars that look damn close. So let’s hope it can pull through and make it happen.
I do agree with Alborz “Model 3” Fallah though on one thing – this was a weird show. Typically we’d be used to doing 20,000 steps a day at a motor show going between stands for interviews and getting content, but it’s a different vibe now.
Show cars are pulled from the floor after the media day and placed in Munich’s city centre. It was actually a great setup in the sense that you could walk through the city and stumble across a giant Mercedes-Benz or Volkswagen stand and explore at leisure. It’s almost comical to think they used to charge punters to visit a motor show.
But the show itself is just a trade show and a bit of a yawn fest. So joke’s on the protesters that submerged car parts in the lake in protest out front of the show halls – because nobody was actually there to see it.
I love a hot hatch, and Volkswagen knows more about making a good one than most.
It’s time for a reset of the GTI badge, though. Once upon a time it stood for the pinnacle of affordable performance in the Volkswagen line-up, but in 2023 it lives in the shadow of the R and GTX monikers.
The ID. GTI represents a chance to start again. Based on the ID.2all concept, the GTI will hit production in 2027.
When it does, it could be the car to revive the GTI name as one that represents affordable, enjoyable cars for the everyman to drive every day.
I wasn’t on the show floor, but the short list of cars in this story is disappointing. One production car, and three electric concepts – one of which isn’t due for four years, and one of which doesn’t have a launch date at all.
I’m going with the Cupra DarkRebel.
This is the new dark side to Cupra and I am here from it.
It’s out of the box and very low to the ground which are two things I normally run away from, but I’m quite enjoying it this time around.
The infotainment system is what I think I like most. It has the option to have three modes depending on your mood.
There is a performance race mode that can track lap times and real-time track position, a mode that displays futuristic graphics and a 3D customisable avatar, and my favourite – a mode that lets you interact with Cupra’s Metaverse!
I’m very excited to see a form of this go into production.
The Vision Neue Klasse concept is a promising sign for BMW’s design language.
It boasts crisp lines, an airy greenhouse, and attractive detailing, and you’d scarcely think this was from the same company that brought us the iX and XM.
I’m genuinely surprised many observers have still criticised the Vision Neue Klasse, even as so many have praised it – something that couldn’t be said for, say, the XM Label Red.
High beltlines, fussy creasing and oversized BMW grilles are so often pilloried, but this neat sedan has none of those.
It sure seems like BMW design boss Domagoj Dukec is smarting from criticism of the gauche iX and XM, arguing Chris Bangle also earned the ire of the public with models like the E60 5 Series which have ended up ageing quite well.
I still don’t think those BMWs will age as well as Bangle’s models, but Dukec has begun to redeem himself as design boss by signing off on the Vision Neue Klasse concept. Let’s hope the production version is little changed, and that more BMWs follow this direction.
Surprise surprise… Wongy chose the Volkswagen.
The ID. GTI is more than just a design study, it’s a commitment from Volkswagen that its electric future should stay true to the fun and attainable roots that made its hot hatches cult heroes.
I was already thoroughly impressed by the ID.2all Concept before it, which was a return to form for VW, and this ID. GTI concept gives me greater confidence that even the brand’s cheaper upcoming EVs will have a lot to offer.
Here’s hoping the 2027 production model (jeez that seems like ages away still) retains the racy looks of the concept and delivers on the brand’s promise for fun and affordable performance EVs.
It’s a big clap for the BYD Seal U and MG Cyberster designed to shake up the electric car status quo.
But for absolute showstopper status I’m torn between the BMW Vision Neue Klasse for its Tesla-killing overtures and Volkswagen’s ID. GTI because it looks so damn good.
In the end, I’m a sucker for the all-electric GTI.
If I had to pick my favourite car that was revealed at this year’s Munich motor show, I’d have to go with the BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept.
I’m really thankful this new BMW concept car that previews an electric 3 Series-sized sedan looks nothing like the blobby (yet aerodynamic) Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class.
One of my favourite parts about the Vision Neue Klasse concept is its three-box design exterior that’s both retro and futuristic at the same time. I also appreciate the Hofmeister Kink is on proud display, unlike the current 3 Series.
I’m looking forward to how this concept car translates into real life as a production model. I’m especially keen to see its interior and whether the full-width head-up display is a worthy replacement for a proper digital instrument cluster.