As of writing, there’s the Los Angeles Auto Show, Tokyo Motor Show, and there’s also this: Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show going on simultaneously. “Koala what?” I hear you say, but yes, I’m talking about my country’s very own motor show. The 2013 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show, or KLIMS in short. So is KLIMS the hidden gem of motor shows worth knowing about, or just another car expo with a fancy name?
It’s no surprise that the KLIMS is almost unheard of among other automotive shows. Mostly due to the fact the KLIMS has no fixed schedule and it’s just as unpredictable as our weather. To see what I mean, here are all the years in which every KLIMS was held: 1980, 1984, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2010, and of course 2013. Note that the shortest gap between each show was 2 years, while the longest was a ridiculous 14 years! So yea, not a good start.
I have been to the previous KLIMS in 2010 and needless to say, I was not impressed. Very few car manufacturers took part and the concept cars shown were all fit for a museum. It just ended up like a huge car exhibition. Definitely not an International motor show.
Now 3 years later, the Malaysian Automotive Association (the organiser) announced that this year’s show will be larger than ever, with the exhibition area covering 30,000 square meters with 78 exhibitors and the car companies which took part includes Citroën, Daihatsu, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Isuzu, Lexus, Nissan, Perodua, Peugeot, Toyota, Subaru, and Volkswagen. Many of which is their very first KLIMS debut.
All these announcements made earlier this year sure made us Malaysian gearheads excited, and using a badgeless Koenigsegg Agera picture as the KLIMS “mascot” for this year’s show theme “Efficiency In Motion” further skyrocketed our hopes and expectations for the show. That is why I can tell you now that we are all extremely disappointed when there turns out to be no Swedish hypercar in sight at KLIMS. Why the false marketing KLIMS?
Anyways, back to the motor show. Like I mentioned before, this year’s KLIMS is much bigger in scale compared to the previous show in 2010. There is now a completely new hall dedicated to the American Classic Cars Showcase, Malaysia International Auto Salon (modified cars), and also the largest indoor remote controlled car track in the country for Tamiya RC cars.
On paper, so far so good. So what’s my first impression when I first stepped in to the first hall? The first hall is occupied by Volkswagen on the left as well as Toyota and Lexus on the right. Despite the larger and brighter Volkswagen section, majority will head for the right towards Toyota and Lexus. Why is that? Simply because of the attention-grabbing white Lexus LFA supercar. Very clever of Lexus to get hold of a LFA and displaying it literally at the front of the first hall.
Unfortunately, the LFA does not hide the fact that the Toyota booth is really small and insignificant. The only highlight was the year-old Toyota NS4 concept which previews the next-gen Prius, and the 2-year-old Toyota Fun Vii concept car which looks more like a television on wheels, and is easily missed because Toyota chose to display it at the rightmost of the hall.
Despite the typical clean, white, and brightly-lit Volkswagen booth which is nearly twice the size of Toyota’s booth, there were no concept cars or any particularly special cars on display, at least nothing that we have never seen before.
The highlight for me was the Golf Cut Model. Shipped all the way from Deutschland, this Golf had half its body panels and interior removed to reveal the various metals and alloys used to produce it’s lighter but stronger body compared to its predecessor. Despite its looks, the car is perfectly functional and was in fact driven into the hall when displayed.
Also kudos to Volkswagen for hiring fellow friend and also an extremely knowledgeable car enthusiasts to present the Volkswagen cars on display. Unlike the rest of the car companies at KLIMS which chose to hire attractive, TV female presenters instead to gain the crowds’ attention, but reads from cards or memorized, pre-written scripts. Whilst asking a car expert as a presenter meant each presentation can be different and unique, and anyone can ask him any car-related questions and not getting directed to another sales representative (which I doubt will still be as knowledgeable).
Now moving on to the next hall. The next hall is more than triple the size of the previous hall and is occupied by many car manufacturers including Subaru, Honda, Infiniti, Isuzu, Nissan, and countless other car accessories booths. It is in this very hall where KLIMS had the honour to host the global debut of the all-new Honda Odyssey. Besides that, they were also quite some local previews of cars which will be on sale in our country soon. But more on that later.
Besides the launch of the limited edition XV, Subaru’s booth displayed their full range of models currently on sale here and brought along a fully transparent BRZ which reveals its inner mechanics to spice its booth up. Subaru also displayed the boxer engine from the Impreza WRX STI with movable pistons if you turn the lever hard enough.
New Odyssey aside, Honda also brought along the cool EV-STER concept sports car which was first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show two years ago. And also the wild CR-Z Mugen RR concept car of the same age. Again, both ancient concept cars, but I guess it’s better than having none. The silly named Mugen RR may be a concept car, but unlike most concepts, this one is basically a supercharged CR-Z (producing nearly 200hp) with a crazy bodykit which meant it was perfectly drivable.
Interesting to note is that there was a fixed (and very tight) schedule for each car manufacturer to have their presentation to debut their new cars during the media preview of KLIMS. Fellow journalists and photographers literally have to head for the next booth as soon as a car company’s session is over.
So what’s my point? Well, every rival companies’ booths are just few steps from each other, and there were CEOs and big shots from each companies present that day. And so I find it amusing, funny even when I see the tension and awkwardness between the CEOs from each companies being so close to each other and witnessing each other’s launch presentation.
Anyways, after Honda’s turn is over, Infiniti (literally just 5 steps away) chose to preview their new Q50 sedan before it goes on sale here later next year. The left-hand-drive unit Q50 Infiniti chose to display was unsurprisingly the top-of-the-line variant with a 3.7 liter V6 petrol engine. Our country will not be getting that thirsty engine, but a smaller turbocharged 2.0 liter engine instead.
Moving on to Nissan’s booth which looks significantly larger compared to Infiniti’s, and Nissan launched the Leaf electric car, and also previewed the Note compact MPV which should be going on sale here next year. Isuzu was the next booth and they launched a special edition D-Max and displayed their range of huge, commercial trucks. Yup, let’s move on shall we?
Going to the next hall will require a long walk through a bridge which connects parts of the building together, as it is separated by a river. The river is more like a huge sewerage, with brown muddy water, and floating garbage, with the occasional scavenging bird nipping on them. Definitely, not an impression you want to portray to any visitors, let alone international ones.
Enter the next hall, and due to the lack of sufficient lighting, it feels very dark and uninviting in here to be brutally honest. I guess you don’t get the best halls when you don’t have the budget. Jokes aside, if you want eye candy, this hall is the place to be at KLIMS. Why? Because France.
Yes, both Citroen and Peugeot booths are located in this very hall. Even their production cars looks more attractive than some of the Japanese concept cars at KLIMS. It is therefore no surprise that a French concept car should look stunning, and the Citroen Numero 9 concept does look awesome indeed. It’s just a shame the car was placed at the very corner which was really easy to miss. I mean, even the then-launched Peugeot 2008 got the center stage.
The French were the only car manufacturers in this dim hall, and the rest are product promotional booths and some modified car exhibit. Sounds dull and boring, because it is, but I blame the awful lighting which does ruin the mood.
Next hall is where all the classic car hid. Icons like the Corvette, Mustangs, Firebird, and even the Model T was here on display. Curiously, some of the vintage cars on display there are for sale. Either way, this hall is a sight for sore eyes for vintage car lovers. As you can see however, the lighting here is just as poor, if not worse than the previous hall.
The next and final hall was my favorite of them all. Mostly because I find the decor very presentable as an international motor show. It is not the biggest hall. In fact, only Hyundai and Ford occupied this area, and both companies sure made full use of the space.
Hyundai chose a dark and cool theme for their booth with minimal lighting and dim blue lights and light strips to highlight certain sections of the stage. In contrast, Ford chose a very bright and airy theme, with white floors, bright lighting, which gave a huge sense of space and no doubt made their booth felt spacious than it actually is.
With Ford clearly stealing all the limelight with eleven cars on display instead of Hyundai’s six, the Korean car company brought along a striking concept car to earn back some attention to their booth. The Hyundai i-oniq is a range-extender hybrid and looks best with both its gullwing/scissor doors open. I-oniq aside, Hyundai also launched the Tuscon facelift, i40 sedan and tourer, and also previewed the i30 hatchback and the hot Veloster Turbo. With such a dim atmosphere, all the LED daytime-running-lights and rear brake lights from all the Hyundai looked almost sci-fi cool.
Ford on the other hand previewed even more latest metal including a special model nobody in the room expected. Ford models which were previewed at KLIMS before going on sale here later next year includes, the Fiesta Ecoboost, EcoSport (Fiesta based mini SUV), Fusion (called the Mondeo here), and the best of all…Fiesta ST! Appealing hot hatch aside, the main highlight from the Ford booth was indeed the bonkers Mustang Shelby GT500. Powered by a massive 5.8 liter supercharged engine, this muscle car produces an Aventador-worrying 662 horsepower. I got the chance to have a sit in it, and despite the cheap plastics, the Recaro seats were surprising comfortable and body-hugging, as I expected it to be designed to carry Americans with typically bigger build. So that pretty much sums up the 2013 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show. No doubt this was a significant improvement over the previous show. Yes it is more professionally organized than before, however the number of car companies who participated and global debut of latest models remains embarrassingly tiny to draw any serious international attention. The unpredictable and irregular years in which KLIMS takes place does not do it any favours either. If it was an annual event, I would happily look forward to next year’s show just like most major motor shows. However, with the previous KLIMS taken place three years ago, and another four years before that, I believe the world would have long forgotten that KLIMS ever existed before the next one arrives.