Qatar motor show 2023: can it recreate Geneva in the Gulf?

Those are big issues to consider, especially if you only came here to read about cars. But it’s important to consider, in the same way that you can’t talk about Chinese cars without consideration of that authoritarian regime. Asked about such concerns, Geneva show boss Sandro Mesquita said: “We don’t do politics. We are a motor show. We are bringing here our values, and I’m sure that we are somehow helping the change that is happening. But we don’t give lessons to anyone. We are Swiss. We are humble.”

Leaving that aside, what about those cars? Well, the Geneva branding might have brought attention – although probably not as much as Qatar World Cup ambassador David Beckham popping in for the opening ceremony – but it didn’t bring a flood of world premieres.

The show was reasonably well-attended: organisers counted around 30 manufacturers, although you’d have to be slightly generous with what you classed as a standalone brand to reach that. With the Qatar Investment Authority holding around a 10% stake in the Volkswagen Group, it was understandably well-represented with Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini. The BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz were also present, along with the likes of Kia, McLaren, Nissan and Toyota.

While those brands were present, none revealed anything that had more than a regional significance and promises of “ten-plus” world premieres really required some imagination to reach. Toyota showed off a new Land Cruiser Base special edition, effectively a customisable version of what is by far Qatar’s best-selling vehicle. This is a desert country: people don’t buy SUVs for show here.


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