Text: Marcus De Guzman / Photos: Marcus De Guzman, Brent Co | posted December 12, 2015 10:39
Crossovers and utility vehicles dominate ASEAN auto trend
An array of new and updated models made their official debut at the 32nd Thailand International Motor Expo. Held at the IMPACT Challenger Exhibition Center in Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok from December 2 to December 13, the 2015 edition of the annual motor show featured several international and Thai automotive brands.
Making its official regional debut during the show was the updated 2016 Subaru XV. It gets subtle exterior revisions like a more prominent hexagonal grill, LED daytime running lights, tweaked 17-inch alloy wheels and new C-shaped combination taillights. The cabin now has leather upholstery with orange contrast stitching, a revised steering wheel for a more comfortable grip, and a push start button with smart entry. It is still powered by the carried-over 2.0-liter Boxer engine that puts out 150 PS and 196 Nm of torque.
Aside from the refreshed XV, Subaru's new 'innovative tourer' called the Levorg, was also present. Combining performance with the practicality of a wagon, the Impreza-based Levorg is aimed at the adventurous customer that appreciates both space and on-road performance in one. Under the hood is a newly-developed 1.6-liter turbocharged Boxer engine that doles out 170 PS and 250 Nm of torque. It is then mated to a Lineartronic CVT and Subaru's Symmetrical AWD system.
The recently updated Mitsubishi Mirage makes its ASEAN debut at the show with a fresh new face for 2016. The update gives it more chrome trims and revised headlamps; the rear gets a restyled bumper and LED tail lamps. It also gets a slightly retweaked engine for better efficiency as well as revised suspension for better handling and comfort.
Over in another booth, Honda arrived with the all-new BR-V. Touted by the automaker to attract compact and subcompact buyers, the new crossover has an aggressive exterior design, along with an interior that can seat 7. Beside the BR-V, a slightly improved HR-V was also presented by Honda. The exterior largely remains the same but it does get new alloy wheels.
Most of the improvements for the HR-V can be seen inside which include: 8-way adjustable power driver's seat, paddle shifters, cruise control, 6.1-inch touchscreen display audio and a multi-angle rearview camera.
Over to pickups, the updated 2016 Isuzu D-Max was also at the annual auto show. Apart from the sleeker-looking front fascia and new alloy wheels, the 2016 D-Max is now available with the new 1.9-liter Ddi BluePower turbo-diesel. It is rated at 150 PS along with a torque pull of 350 Nm. Isuzu displayed a tuned to 230 PS version at the show to prove doubters of its new low-placement engine.
Toyota, on the other hand, had the Hilux TRD Sport Concept. It features a bespoke bodykit, black alloy wheels with red accents, and a revamped flatbed and tailgate. It's not clear whether the concept is a prelude of a future variant of the Hilux, or will it preview something else entirely.
Notable concept cars that also made their presence include Subaru's Viziv2 and Hyundai's Intrado. The former is the latest version of the Viziv concept, which originally debuted during the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. First making its world debut at last year's Geneva show, Subaru described the Viziv2 as their take on the next-generation crossover.
Design-wise, sharp lines and sleek shapes dominate the exterior of the Viziv2. It is driven by a hybrid diesel engine, paired up with electric motors that power the front and rear wheels.
Moving to Hyundai, the Intrado concept from the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, showed off its lightweight construction. Drawing inspiration from materials and technologies from aircrafts, Hyundai claimed that the exterior of the concept is aerodynamically efficient and is free of unnecessary add-ons. Power is provided by a hydrogen fuel cell system that comes with a 36 kWh battery.
Mazda held the Thai debut for the CX-3 and MX-5. Nissan introduced a special edition version of its Navara pickup and a hybrid version of the X-Trail.
BMW highlighted their stand with the recently debuted 7-Series, while subsidiary Mini chose to hold the ASEAN debut of the new Clubman. Jaguar Land Rover made the Thai debut of the XE and Range Rover Sport at the show, while McLaren revealed the 570S Sport Series. Mercedes-Benz launched the GLC, GLE models, which recently debuted in the Philippines as well.
Jennarong Muengtaweepongsa (aka Vanatical Design), the 15-year supercar designer, arrived at this year's motor expo with his first physical concept car. Called the Utagera (Swedish for Terminate), it is his vision of a new Koenigsegg that incorporates all of the design elements of previous concepts and productions cars made by the Swedish automaker. Presented in scale model, Muengtaweepongsa claimed that the concept looks more conservative than other Koenigsegg models, but he still envisioned the car of having a turbocharged V8 that puts out between 900 – 1000 PS.
Rounding off the show were the aftermarket tuning shops that displayed their one-of-a-kind creations along with their products and accessories, and of course, the car show babes that added more eye candy to an already sensory-overloading auto show.