||November 28 and December 1, 2002
||Lauri Ouvinen, Matti Ouvinen and Ville Tikkaoja
The annual Helsinki Motor Show once again brought together the leading car manufacturers
on the market with some of their newest models. The Finnish public was able to see for the
first time cars such as the new Seat Cordoba, VW Phaeton, VW Touareg, the new Audi A8 and
BMW Z4, all presented just a couple of weeks ago in Paris. The new Honda Accord Sedan
also made its first appearance in Nordic countries. Other highlights of the exposition
included the Mercedes Vision GST concept car and a few F1 and WRC racers.
The show has each year also gathered some faces of the Finnish motorsport. The biggest star
of this year was the newly crowned World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm. Fellow
WRC drivers Toni Gardemeister, Sebastian Lindholm and Juuso Pykälistö were also
present as well as the Asian Touring Car Champion Toni R. Ruokonen.
Also a noticeable visitor was the British F3 star and race winner Heikki Kovalainen. He's
currently tipped to join reigning F3000 International champions Arden. Being a Renault
backed driver the question also in the air is whether the Renault Junior Team status will
switch from the Super Nova team to Arden if Kovalainen is to take the Arden seat for
next year. However, we don't know yet what will happen...
And what a car exhibition would be like without some girls posing by the cars. We spotted
a couple of former Miss Finlands and some other beauties...
A view of the show by Matti Ouvinen:
Then into the highlights of the show. Of course the Finnish premieres of three luxury class
SUVs - the Porsche Cayenne, the Touareg from VW and Volvo's new XC90. Three totally senseless
cars for people who have too much money. Oh yes, in the icy Finnish conditions you do need a
4WD Porsche off roader to get to the golf course...which is of course closed during the winter
But then the new Nissan Micra, now that's at least a car that has sense to it. Not that
I'm saying it's a good looking car. Cute, sympathetic, lovely say the ladies. I shall not say
a word. Seat unveiled it's new Cordoba to the Finnish crowds. The Ibiza's sibling with
a 'real' boot comes also from the pen of Walter Da Silva (previously of Alfa fame, having
designed the 156, 166 and the 147.). Obviously Da Silva's style is his own, but don't the
Ibiza and Cordoba look a little too much like something that just came out of Milan? Well,
having driven the new Ibiza I have to admit that the stiff chassis, hot styling and the sporty suspension
do indicate Seat's ambition to become the cuore sportivo in mother VW's lineup. The difference between
the Ibiza and the Micra just shows you how different the cars are in their class. You've got
the sensibly German Polo or the Fiesta, you've got the cutesy Micra straight from the land of anime
and then you've got the aggressively styled Ibiza with a bit of latin character. A lot to
Mercedes brought in their Vision GST concept for it's first showing in Europe. The huge
luxury concept car with 22" tires was the main attraction of the Merc arsenal loaded with
a nice selection of mainly AMG series silver arrows like the new SL, the SLK, the C-class
or the new S-class - most equipped with a compressor for some extra grunt.
Helsinki Motor Show also marked the Finnish launch of the new Renault Megane, sure to turn
heads and split opinions. Definately a matter of love or hate. Personally, I quite like the
pointy styling that's already been seen in the Vel Satis or the Avantime. A three door
Megane in metallic blue, yes please.
In the hot hatch class Seat's Leon Cupra R met Ford's Focus RS. Both fed by turbocharged
engines with around 200 bhp. Skoda launched - not a hot hatch - but a hot station wagon.
The Octavia Combi RS features the same 180 bhp turbo engine as the sedan version. As with the
sedan, the chassis has undergone major changes in order to stiffen it up along with the suspension
and the styling bits. For a bit more expensive yet fast stw, visitors got a glimpse of the
Audi RS6 powered by a 4.2 litre twinturbo V8...
Also for the loaded, the new Audi A8. All aluminium chassis weighing only around 1800kg,
a choice of two V8s, 19" wheels, four wheel drive, 6 speed automatic gearbox and all
the latest safety gizmos that one can imagine. 6,7s 0-100km/h ain't bad for a car this size
but hey, I bet it'll soon be available with the V10 TDI or the W12 that power the VW Phaeton.
Yes, the Phaeton, Volkswagens new luxury car was also given its first Finnish appearance in HMS.
The stylish black Phaeton certainly drew attention. Built in it's own factory hall with wooden
floors it obviously is an exclusively luxurious car, but not many will propably be rolling on
For the coming summer, a choice of open top cars was shown. The blue oval had brought in the
StreetKA, Audi had the A4 Cabrio, Citroen the ingeniously multi-use C3 Pluriel, Mercedes the SL, the
new Z4 from BMW and naturally from Stuttgart the 911 Carrera and the slightly facelifted
Boxter S (All Boxters are currently made by Valmet Automotive in Finland.).
All in all, Helsinki Motor Show has evolved year after year more in the direction of a
street car exhibition. In the early days, racing cars were more abundantly on show. It has
gone in a good direction in terms of quality though. This year manufacturers had loads of
new cars to premiere along with some of their more normal lineups. As a motor racing nut,
I would have wanted some more racing cars and drivers. For example Subaru had a boring
stand. A WRC along with Tommi Mäkinen or Petter Solberg would have done it.