Bangkok, Thailand - The Thai motor show season is now in full swing in the post Covid-19 lockdown era with the 2020 Big Motor Sale following hard on the heels of the Bangkok International Motor Show which was held just a month ago.
The Big Motor Sale switches the car show scene across the city from west to east as instead it takes place at Bangkok's second major exhibition complex, Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) Bangna.
In fact, the Big Motor Sale is an attempt to plug the gap left here when the Bangkok International Motor Show, in search of more display space, upped sticks from BITEC to IMPACT nearly a decade ago now.
It's a decent stab at a motor show but this edition is playing out to the backdrop of a shrinking economy, falling consumer confidence and budget rollbacks, so it’s much lower key than usual. However, almost all the major car manufacturers are in attendance here and there is plenty of metal on show from frugal eco cars to high performance supercars so there really is something for everyone and the organisers hope that will pull punters through the door until the show finishes this coming Sunday (30 August).
So to skim the booths quickly. Toyota is always the place to start as it commands more than a third of the market and it's pushing its brand-new Corolla Cross hard. It's a C-segment crossover, a pukka family lugger that should sell well although in true Toyota fashion it’s very generically styled. However, it's what the brand should have been building five years ago so the brand is playing catch up.
Toyota has a striking yellow Supra GR on its display, which cannot be missed, it's on the official pricelist now but the tag is hefty and that means the numbers are going to be tiny. Still it’s a useful halo car for a brand that is known for cheap, cheerful and workman like products.
It also has a tuned-up Hilux Revo Rocco on show. This has a stripped out interior, carbon trims and engine upgrades. Finally, the Yaris and Yaris ATIV both get new trim kits to add a bit of visual appeal to these entry level cars.
Next door Nissan have a punchy booth. They're trying to get some wind into their sales and have been putting effort into repositioning the range to where its models need to be and under a new management seem to be getting away from an over focus on the Leaf which was clearly diverting too much of their attention as it isn’t going to generate much return at the moment.
The Kicks with its e-POWER engine is Nissan’s new star of the year, it's a neat and tidy crossover but they now need to educate the public on its propulsion system and its eco benefits.
They also have the Navara here fitted with the N-Trek Warrior package. This pumped up kit puts some meat on the bones of this capable pickup which struggles to make too big an impression in the segment and this trim certainly burnishes its off-road credentials.
With a raised ride height, chunky off road tires on 17-inch rims, load bay hoop and other butch looking trims it looks the part and follows a trend amongst pickup makers to hoover up off demand here for road accessories in the showroom before the customer goes rushing off to the aftermarket. In a black-and-red finish at the show the Navara N-trek Warrior certainly looks one of the most handsome pickups on the market.
Towards the other size end of the scale Nissan’s little Note is also present on the booth with a blacked roof that gives it a bit more appeal. Nissan recently renewed the small Almera sedan and introduced a big SUV so it has a modern range that it now needs to get shifting out of the showrooms.
Switching to the other side of Toyota’s booth and MG is also giving it's models more aggressive trim kits as it seeks to grow its market share upwards and its new Extender pickup is on show with more robust looks as this fairly competent vehicle tries to carve out a foothold in a segment where buyers remain stubbornly wedded to the brands they have grown accustomed to.
Meanwhile, Suzuki’s highlight is its new Ertiga based XL7 crossover on show here soon after it's Thai debut. The 7-seater crossover gets a pumped-up look with new LED daytime running lights, beefed up front bumper, wheel arch covers, roof rails, 16-inch alloys and some other other trims. On the booth it's finished in a black-and-yellow wrap that just doesn’t work visually but at least it serves to hide the lines this the rather anonymous vehicle.
Peugeot is pushing away hard at the Thai market thanks to an ambitious new importer, MGC-Asia, which is putting a lot of hard work into rebuilding the brand here and it has a full range on show as well as previewing the 2008 which is coming to Thailand later this year.
At the same time MGC-Asia is also pitching Maserati in the luxury segment and hitting all the major shows with the sportscars from Modena. It's got the full range on display including the GranTurismo, Ghibli, Quattroporte and the Levante, the latter being a Trofeo specification level version of the SUV finished in striking matte grey finish. Finally from MGC-Asia, it has the Aston Martin brand in the foyer so a punchy presence from this importer.
Sticking with the luxury end of the market and Jaguar Land Rover have plenty that catches the eye. From the former, the I-Pace is always worth a quick look while the latter has its new Defender, one of the stars of the Bangkok Motor Show last month – at least in terms of sheer size ogle factor. Starting at around five and a half million baht the new Defender has its work cut out if it's going to connect with consumers here but they will get a heck of a lot of car for the money and it’s certainly something that's going to stand you out from the crowd.
There's also a fast growing trend to try to shift micro electric cars on the market here as EV becomes the buzzword and all sorts of obscure brand names are popping up from importers ready to give this segment a good go and hoover up tax advantages. To that end there are plenty of small, narrow, simplistic, plastic bodied little cars dotted around the show.
Motorbikes haven't been forgotten about at the Big Motor Sale although they don't make the main hall and amongst the well-known brands on display here are Yamaha, Triumph, Benelli, Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield.