Axon's Automotive Anorak: Brussels, a motor show that works

04th February 2019
Gary Axon

You have to admire the annual Brussels Motor Show (or Brussels Auto Salon, to give the event its official title). While other motor shows the world over increasingly struggle to attract the major (and minor) motor manufacturers to exhibit at their events, January’s Brussels Show (the 2019 Salon being the 97th edition) consistently tempts all of the car makers (plus most motorcycle brands) to display at the event.


With the exception of Infiniti, every other major car marque was present at the 2019 Brussels Salon, including serial motor show dodgers Volvo, Ford, Mini, Opel and others. With these manufacturers (and others) now absent from major shows such as Geneva, Detroit, Paris, et al, they usually make the most of displaying at the Belgian capital’s exhibition.

Opel (Vauxhall), for example, used the event for the world debut of its new Zafira Life, as well as its pleasing GTX Experimental concept car, as they won’t be exhibiting at Geneva in March. Volkswagen revealed its new compact T-Cross crossover, with Ford showing its subtly facelifted Mondeo, including the first sighting of the hybrid estate model. Other show world debuts included the second-generation Range Rover Evoque, the new Škoda Scala, updated Hyundai i40 and special 60th Anniversary Mini.

European show debuts at Brussels included BMW’s new X7 SUV and 8-Series Cabriolet, the new Porsche 911 (992), Mazda 3, Volvo S60 and revised Toyota Prius, with the appealing American three-wheeler Vanderhall Venice also being shown in Europe for the first time too, along with the Nobel M500.

The Gillet Vertigo racecar.

The Gillet Vertigo racecar.

The secret of the Brussels Salon’s success at attracting all of the vehicle makers (along with c.450,000 visitors over the event’s ten days) is that it is a selling show; new car buyers qualify for special Salon-only offers if they enquire about a model at the Show, such as attractive price discounts, free equipment and specification updates, and so on.

The exotic and prestige car makers are all stylishly grouped together in a special spacious ‘Dream Cars’ hall, the theme of which changes each year, this January’s display having an exclusive private club feel with luxurious sofas, chandeliers, a champagne bar, and what have you. Displays ranged from a classic BMW 2002 Turbo and Ferrari 155 Inter, to the latest Porsche 911, Rolls-Royce Cullinan and one-off Zagato Monstro, with Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Maserati, Gillet, Alpine, AMG and many others also exhibiting. 

On the entrance into the Brussels Salon, visitors were bombarded with a series of giant Volvo advertising hoardings, one bravely boosting that ‘by 2020 nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo,’ hopefully a true but astonishingly optimistic claim by the Swedish car maker.


Once inside the Brussels Salon, if you arrive early enough ahead of most of the visitors, you might be lucky enough to witness one of the amazing ‘dance-off’ sessions that some (but not all) of the personal manning the manufacturer stands perform to physce themselves up ahead of dealing with the public.

I witnessed a lively dance-off between the Hyundai team and the Fiat staff on the opposite stand, with all personnel, young and old, throwing some elaborate shapes and moves. It was both impressive, engaging and (in a few cases) hilarious. Eves-dropping some of the stand manager’s pre-show motivational speeches (admittedly in French and Flemish) was interesting as well, from what I could understand.   

A photo gallery of a few of the 2019 Brussels Salon highlights can be view here, and post-Brexit ease of movement willing, the 2020 event will be well worth a visit for any new car fans in need of an early New Year fix, so hopefully see you there next January.

  • Axon's Automotive Anorak

  • Brussels Motor Show

  • Brussels 2019

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