For four glorious weeks, the focus of the entire globe was on Russia as it hosted arguably the most engaging and entertaining World Cup for decades.
Everyone has moved on since France lifted the trophy for the second time on that rain-soaked Sunday, but this week saw the attention of the motoring world fixate on Russia instead, with the opening of the Moscow Motor Show.
Okay, so it might not be up there with the likes of Geneva, Paris and LA, but with close to 1.6 million cars sold in Russia last year and an annual sales growth of almost 12 per cent, it’s a very significant market. So what were the highlights from the Moscow International Auto Show (MIAS)?
This is a weird one because this high-riding Renault won’t be coming to the UK. It won’t even be available in Europe or its native France. Instead, this distinctive coupe-crossover has pretty much been developed especially for Russia – Renault’s second biggest market, accounting for more than a quarter of Groupe Renault cars in 2017.
Renault says that the Arkana’s design combines the elegance of a saloon with the sturdiness of an SUV, and looking at it side-on, that’s not a bad way of putting it. Us Brits are big fans of the Captur and Kadjar so it’s a pity many will never get the chance to drive this.
Lada 4X4 Vision
Lada – now there’s a name you don’t hear about anymore. But it’s still a big hitter in Russia, where it accounted for almost one in five cars sold last year. Consequently, there was plenty of interest in this new concept, which envisages what the brand’s ultra-rugged off-roader could look like.
Even for a car with X in its name, it features more than its fair share of X motifs, with an X-shaped front grille, X-shaped LED headlights and 3D X-sculpting on the vehicle’s side. It sits on 21-inch wheels to achieve a high ground clearance and the cabin features two large infotainment screens and ambient lighting.
President Vladimir Putin wants the country to build its own state vehicles so say ‘Привет, товарищ’ to this: the Aurus Senat. There’s an undeniable Rolls-Royce inspiration from the all-wheel-drive hybrid limo, which is a commercial version of the extended Senat Limousine that features ballistic and explosive protection.
Aside from not devising the best ways not to get blown up, the 5.6-metre long Senat also focuses on comfort, with plenty of leg room for rear passengers and a built-in refrigerator with Aurus-branded crystal glasses. If you’re wondering about that brand name, it’s an amalgamation of ‘aurum’ – Latin for gold – and ‘rus’ for Russia.
NAMI Project Shatl 2.0
You may have spotted this autonomous car concept during the recent FIFA World Cup – it was trialled during the tournament to cart around officials and suits. Project Shatl 2.0 – not the greatest name when read aloud – is a large minibus-style vehicle, designed to be used in conjunction with an Uber-style smartphone ride hailing app to control the on-board infotainment system.
Official photos of the vehicle have not yet been released. However, we will update our post as soon as they become available, so stay turned!
And that’s pretty much all the tasty bits. Not the most dramatic motor show we’ve seen recently but a few intriguing models. Let us know what you think of Russia’s premier car show in the comments…