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S'pore Motorshow returns after 6-year hiatus

THE LEXUS LF-LC: This is the only concept car at the show.


MORE than six years after it was last held, the Singapore Motorshow 2015 returned to Suntec City with a muted bang - but a bang nonetheless.

There was only one concept car - the Lexus LF-LC - and no super sports cars, although there was a left-hand-drive Ford Mustang and the Lexus RC F with a five-litre V8 engine.

What will impress visitors is the quality of the whole show and how well put together it is. Some booths, such as the one by BMW, stand out for their premium feel, with slick design and high-end construction.

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The Singapore Motorshow 2015 is organised by the Motor Traders Association of Singapore (MTA), a grouping of mostly authorised new-car distributors. Unlike the 10-day event in September 2008, this edition will last just four days; it ends on Sunday.

MTA president Glenn Tan said: "We are keeping it to four days because we don't want to stretch it out too long and make it too costly for the exhibitors."

To encourage attendance, the ticket price is kept at S$6; entry for children under 1.2 m tall is free to make it a family-friendly event.

Mr Tan said he expects at least 50,000 people at the show.

MTA used to organise the show once every two years. But after the turnout for the 2008 event was affected by traffic jams - it coincided with Singapore's inaugural Formula One race - and as the certificate of entitlement (COE) quota began to shrink, the event was put on hold.

"There was no point running a show when you have only 30,000 COEs. But now that the quota is increasing, we have decided to hold it," said Mr Tan, who is the executive director of Tan Chong International Ltd, which imports Nissan and Subaru.

The Subaru Legacy Outback is one of the dozen new cars at the show. The muscular wagon has a 2.5-litre, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine driving all four wheels.

A smaller SUV from Honda making its debut is the HR-V. The 1.5-litre model, priced at about S$150,000, is joined by the seven-seater Mobilio 1.5, which is made in Thailand and listed at S$121,999.

The small hatchback is big at the show. There is the 1.5-litre Mazda2 (S$122,888), the Peugeot 308 with a 1.2-litre turbo-charged petrol engine (from S$113,900) and the funky Citroen C4 Cactus (S$124,988) with a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol unit.

For those with sportier tastes, three two-door models are on show - the Alfa 4C (S$318,800 without COE), Lexus RC350 (S$318,000), and Audi TT (S$265,600).

Equally sporty is the second-generation BMW X6 with a 4.4-litre V8 (S$488,800).

The managing director of a volume Japanese brand said: "Interest in the show is strong for a few reasons. One is the show's return after a long absence; another is the curiosity of those eyeing a new car.

"For visitors, this is like one-stop shopping. Even if they are not buying now, they can do their research."

He did not deny that for his company, the show is a sales- driven event. "There is no point wasting my money to rent space and set up a booth if I am not going to sell some cars. I have to make my efforts over the show days worth my while."

One observer, however, dismissed the event as nothing more than a road show. He said: "This is clearly a sales and branding event, not a true motor show, which highlights automotive trends with concept cars. That would be too expensive. This is more like bringing the showroom to town."

Still, the director of a European make said it was a good effort overall, especially if the show is not viewed as a one-off event by the public.

He said: "It would be good for the motor trade if this can be a regular event, one that generates and sustains long-term interest, so that secondary industries like accessories or detailing can be involved too."