Paris Unconventional: Part One

Major Waffle
PetrolBlog has been to the Paris Motor Show and here's part one of the more unconventional side of the event.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be at the Paris Motor Show doing some paid work. But I still had time to wander around the show with my PetrolBlog hat on*. I nipped back on Friday morning to go in search of the more unconventional side of the show, so you're unlikely to see anything on the F-Type Jaguar or new Range Rover here. Naturally there's a good chance you may see a Citroën C6 or two. This wouldn't be PetrolBlog without them.

So without further ado, I bring you Paris Unconventional. Admittedly, the title worked better in Geneva, but I couldn't think of anything suitable for Paris. Too many trips around the Arc de Triomphe has made my head fuzzy.

Whatever, here's part one.

Best looking upside down car: Vauxhall/Opel ADAM

Opel Vauxhall ADAM upside down at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Yellow Opel Vauxhall ADAM upside down at the Paris Motor Show 2012

It's easy to mock the Vauxhall ADAM. As if the name wasn't bad enough, its looks are probably best described as challenging. Then there are the names of the three trim levels, namely JAM (fashionable), GLAM (sophisticated) and SLAM (racy). And I haven't even mentioned the colour names. How about ‘Men in Brown’, ‘Purple Fiction’ and ‘I'll be Black’ to get you started?

But put all this to one side, because the ADAM looks like a lot of fun. There are over a million ways to configure your ADAM and it's refreshing to see a manufacturer looking to the future rather than harking back to heroes of the past. Of all the stands I visited at Paris, Opel's was the most exciting and there was a genuine buzz about the place.

With prices starting from £11,255, I reckon the ADAM might win a few friends. It's certainly the most interesting Vauxhall for some time. It also looks pretty good upside down. Which really matters in the car park at Bluewater.

Least sensible car to take to Liverpool: Chevrolet Trax

Chevrolet Trax Manchester United edition at Paris Motor Show 2012

Chevrolet chose the Paris Motor Show to launch its new SUV, the Trax. Chevrolet claims to have invented the SUV with its Suburban Carryall and therefore the Trax benefits from 75 years of experience. Well that maybe so, but I'm pretty sure the Carryall never came with a Manchester United themed paint job.

Top tip, if you drive a Red Devils Trax into Liverpool and leave it parked overnight, don't expect it to be in the same condition the next morning. Just saying.

Most unlikely police car: Renault Twizy

Renault Twizy police car at the Paris Motor Show 2012

On the face of it, a Renault Twizy police car sounds like a preposterous idea. But once you've driven in Paris, you'll understand that it makes a certain amount of sense. I can't see it catching on in the UK though.

That said, I have an amusing image of a Twizy engaged in a chase through Paris, only to be foiled by its 62 mile range. Cue an enraged policeman, shaking his fist with a lit Gauloises in the other hand.

Most bored show girl: Fiat Qubo Trekking Nitro

Fiat Qubo Trekking Nitro with model at the Paris Motor Show 2012

When this model got the call from the Fiat Group, she must have dreamed about being draped over an Alfa Romeo, Lancia or even a Ducati motorcycle. So imagine her disappointment when she was told she'd be stood alongside the Qubo. It's little wonder that she chose to sit inside the car with a distinctly unimpressed look on her face. She should look on the bright side though, it could have been the 500L.

Best Honda at the show: MK1 Honda Civic

MK1 Honda Civic at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Reflective: Civic logos at the Paris Motor Show

The Honda stand was a disappointment, with very little to excite the readers of PetrolBlog. It was also situated in a far off position within the show, behind some rather niche manufacturers. What's more, they had run out of English press packs before the first day was out.

So it was left to the original Honda Civic to provide some interest. I also rather liked the backdrop of the Civic through the ages. Nice.

Shed of the show: A shed

A garage at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Look at this! I can just imagine a few of these with a different car in each. PetrolBlog doesn't do garages, but if it did, they'd look something like this.

Best impression of a Volvo: Suzuki S-Cross

Suzuki S-Cross concept at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Suzuki had the unenviable task of hosting the first press conference of Paris 2012, with the star attraction being the S-Cross concept. It looks rather funky and is part of Suzuki's ambitious growth plan over the coming years.

I didn't notice it at the time, but my six-year old son reckons it looks like a Volvo. I think he has a point - a kind of scaled down XC60, or potential XC40. That said, it does look rather good and it doesn't take too much imagination to see it as a production-ready car. And being a Suzuki, it will be brilliantly reliable and totally robust. Bring it on.

Best alloy wheels: Kia Rio

Kia Rio 5-spoke alloy wheels at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Five-spoke alloy wheels rock and this is a perfect example as to why. And to think they belong to a Kia Rio. Blimey.

Citroën C6 love

Citroën C6 at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Rear of Citroën C6 at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Once again, the C6 was the best car on the Citroën stand, so it's incredibly sad that it's no longer available in the UK. You should be ashamed of yourself for not buying a £40k car that depreciates to worthless in a matter of seconds. Where's your sense of adventure?

It's not as good as the white C6 seen at Geneva, but it's still the epitome of French sophistication and elegance.

PetrolBlog show star: Fiat Panda 4x4

New Fiat Panda 4x4 at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Side view of new Fiat Panda 4x4 at the Paris Motor Show 2012

Paw print badge on the new Fiat Panda 4x4

I'll end each update with one of my stars of the show and first up is the new Fiat Panda 4x4.

In its various guises, the Panda 4x4 has been on sale for the best part of a decade and it remains the only 4x4 model in the A-segment. It's by far and away the most appealing 4x4 on sale today and is arguably one of the greatest cars for tackling the British winter. Should snow arrive, its lightness, short wheelbase and skinny tyres will see it outperform some of its more illustrious and expensive rivals. It's no coincidence that they tend to be the choice of those who reside in the Swiss or Austrian Alps.

Rather intriguingly, the new Panda 4x4 will be offered with the 0.9 litre TwinAir engine, offering 40% more torque than its predecessor with the 1.2 Fire unit. It also comes with a six-speed gearbox, with low-range first gear, for improved hill climbing and pick up. Prices are yet to be announced, but I fully expect it to be the best value 4x4 on sale in the UK.

What's more, its paw print badge is very, very cool.

I really, really want to try a Panda 4x4.

In the meantime, look out for Paris Unconventional: Part Two, coming soon.

*There is no such thing as a PetrolBlog hat, but if there was, I would have worn it in Paris.