Blog: Does the Moscow Motor Show matter?

Mazda 6 and Graham Hope
29 Aug, 2012 3:42pm Graham Hope

It clearly does to Mazda, who chose the Russian capital for the world premiere of its all-new Mazda 6

Russia will be Europe’s biggest car market within five years, and the second biggest market for the Mazda 6, so the decision to unveil it in Moscow makes a lot of sense – not least because it was the major attraction and gained much more in the way of headlines than it would have if it had been revealed in Paris.

But what about the rest of us? How interesting and relevant was Moscow? Well, most of the major manufacturers were here, because they couldn’t afford not to be. But it’s fair to say the market in Russia is very different from what we are accustomed to.

Nissan and Peugeot unveiled saloons that won’t come to the UK. There were ostentatious SUVs all over the seven show halls. Emission isn’t so much a dirty word as a complete irrelevance to many. And some of the Chinese cars on display simply would not pass muster in the UK.

Away from the Crocus Centre, the differences were glaring too. Congestion here would stop the whinging about crowded British roads once and for all. My 26-miles transfer from the airport to my hotel took a mind-boggling three hours.

The standard of driving is pitiful. I witnessed numerous cars reversing up motorway slip roads to avoid hitting appalling jams.

And there is a much wider spread of cars on the road too. Blinged up Porsche Cayennes are ten a penny. But so are ancient Ladas held together by gaffer tape.

So although it’s only three hours away by plane and shortly to become the dominant market in terms of European sales, Russia is still, in many respects, a very foreign land.

Yes, the manufacturers are thinking seriously about their presence here. They have to. But what you see at the Paris, Geneva and Frankfurt shows has a much greater relevance to what you and I will be driving in years to come.