From supercars to Lana Del Ray, the best and worst of the Paris Motor Show
Like Lana Del Ray singing in the rain, the automakers at the 2012 Paris Motor Show tried to keep their enthusiasm even as the clouds grew dark. After 12 hours spanning nearly 40 presentations by automakers -- from dry recitations of numbers to a tri-lingual rap performance that wouldn't be welcome at midnight, let alone 7 a.m. -- the preview day reflected an industry growing more nervous: about the economy, about regulations, and finding a future for itself that will look radically different than the past. Some things worked, others seemed out of tune. Here's our picks for the best and the worst.
BEST CAR, REALITY DIVISION: The new Jaguar F-Type. In pictures, it's nice if a little too restrained. Up close, one gets a much better sense of its heft and details — from the way the tail lamps wrap halfway around the rear fender to the door handles that rest flush with the door when locked and pop out with the fob as needed, in a kind of mechanical handshake. It's been quite some time since a Jaguar evoked this much passion among the scribbling set.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A POP STAR WHO MIGHT NEED A HUG: As part of the F-Type festivities, Lana Del Ray appeared at a Jaguar gathering outside the Musee Rodin, walking over a soggy shag carpet to sing two songs. They weren't festive, but maybe that's more with the times.
WEIRDEST RE-USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: Peugeot's Onyx concept car--constructed out of, among other things, felt, "Newspaper Wood," and glass--was the darling of all the European photographers at this year's show. Most notably, the Onyx featured doors and a front grille crafted out of the finest copper, buffed to a new-penny shine. When pressed for details, a Peugeot product guy said, condescendingly, "it is not a real car. It is just fun, yah?" Yah. And so are Legos.
WORST USE OF AN AUTO SHOW BOOTH PROFESSIONAL: Nissan's never-ending campaign for its new New York City taxi came to Paris for some reason, feature a woman topped in tulle hanging out on the side of the NV200 van, with stuffed shopping bags as props. Does Nissan expect someone to hail a cab in Manhattan and have it shipped to Paris for a shopping trip?
MOST REDUNDANT PAVILION: Definitely Pavilion 2, the "alternative energy" hub. If you wanted to be alone with your own thoughts during the Motor Show, this was definitely the place. When just about every manufacturer seemed to be devoting their time and attention to talking about CO2 emissions or featuring concept cars run on a combination of electricity, hydrogen, and powdered unicorn horns, the alternative energy area, once the hub of the most progressive ideas at any auto show, suddenly seemed like a high-school science fair. Admittedly, it was an AP Science fair for gifted students, but a fair nonetheless. Move over, alt-energy nerds. The corporations are doing your work now.