Dispatches Do Brasil: Salo Do Automvel De So Paulo (A Preview Of The Sao Paulo Auto Show)

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos

With an expected attendance of over 750,000 visitors, the biannual São Paulo Auto Salon opens its doors to the public on October 30th and will go on for 11 days. By far the largest of this kind of fair in Latin America, the organization of the show ambitions to turn it into one of the five largest in the world and make it the world’s premier compact car launch platform. In 2012, only with Brazilian tourists going to see the show in the city of São Paulo, that city grossed over R$250 million. This year, expectations are that tourism, and all other businesses involved, will make 30 percent more than they did at the last one.

Since we are still a couple of weeks away, here’s a quick overview of the confirmed and the speculated, based on nationality. Check back next week as we cover the big debuts in depth.

The Americans

The Chrysler group will surely be among those most visited. Spies have taken pictures of pre-production run, Brazilian-built Renegades, which are, frankly, generating strong interest. Depending on price, it should be a hit. Jeep will also show its Cherokee and this will be the first time most of us will be able to lay our eyeballs in person on the thing. Challenger and Viper should be shown yet again, but mostly as attention getters as there are no official plans for them in Brazil.

GM will show the latest Corvette and this should garner interest. There are strong indications that they will finally get around to importing the thing (about time). A Camaro Z28 should also make the rounds. For the real world, a Spin minivan in “adventure” guise is rumored, including an a la Wrangler, back hatch-mounted spare.

Ford will also be busy showing imports. The new Edge, and the body-on-frame Everest SUV will be shown. Most importantly, the Mustang seems set to become Brazilian, the first time ever; Ford will import its wild pony, though only for 2016. Of course the new line will be shown, and the Ka should be of particular interest for Brazilians, though the new Focus shown elsewhere will be hidden as the three front triangles one has been here for less than a year.

The Chinese

If you fall down, try again. After relative success when they first arrived, the Chinese have been beaten down by government intervention, high depreciation, continued worries on quality, and mechanically (some) and dynamically (most) have been considered abject failures. Changing strategy, most makers will now focus on CUVs, ranging from compact to gigantic as their hatches and sedans have proved uncompetitive so far.

The French

…will be very busy. PSA should get a lot of visitors as they continue to spin off the DS sub-brand into its own brand. All models will be present and the most important launch is the DS 6WR, a midsize CUV-SUV-thing with turbo engines of up to 200 hp. Citroën will show off the Cactus, but to underscore that it will not be for us, the model shown is the show-circuit one. Peugeot meanwhile, has real news. For the first time in Brazil, it will exhibit its compact 2008 CUV, slated for Brazilian production and on sale by the middle of next year. To attract attention, besides the civilian version, the 37-inch wheeled, V6 biturbo motivated 2008 DKR that will compete in the 2015 Dakar Rally will be here. Another anticipated car is the Brazilian market 208 compact hatch in GT trim, an homage we can say to the European GTi as engines (1.6L, 165 hp) and number of doors (5 and not 3) will be different.

Renault has not confirmed the Duster pickup, but it should go on sale by midyear 2015 will be proudly shown off. If true, they will have a busy stand, because besides concepts, that will be the only launch. Beyond that possibility, both redesigned Fluence and Duster are confirmed. What has not been confirmed are exactly what changes are expected to the Duster. Some say only externally, and in the front it will be retouched. For Duster fans, the most important news will be if the inside finally follows the redesigned and much more inspired new Logan and Sandero interiors. Speaking of the hatch, the Stepway “adventure” version will make its debut and surely generate sales and visits for Renault.

The Italians

Alfa Romeo will again tug our hearts and show off their full line (what there is of it) in São Paulo. Rumors as to their return have been growing of late and a full line show can’t be a coincidence (can it?). The 4C will collect millions of flashes, from a distance, as Alfa Romeo is usually one of those who show but don’t allow touching.

Fiat has not officially denied or confirmed any new launches for the Salon. As the largest Brazilian maker, the new Uno should be enough to generate lines at the stand, but they always have a surprise or two up their sleeves. I wouldn’t call you crazy if you expect to see the 500L and even the 500X (also already in pre-production in the new factory) make an appearance. Besides, the female model selection is usually best in show.

The Germans

Audi will probably show coupe and convertible of the new, angular TT. Taking a page from China, the extra-long A8L is confirmed and, if Brazilian plutocrats demonstrate enough interest, could be imported.

BMW will show the electric line, i3 and i8, and surely talk in the backstage to authorities of the necessity of credit and financing to popularize such cars in this country. Besides those and the regular line, the homely X4 and Series 2 Active Tourer will be launched. Sort of German, but I will include it here; MINI will show off its also homely new line, including the 5-door hatch.

Mercedes Benz will show their regular line and the crazily-powerful, AMG-branded or not, vehicles launched in other international salons recently. In a good moment in Brazil, probably beating their über rivals in sales this year, some of their models will not be shown at their stand, but will rather rub shoulders with such luminaries and exotics as Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche and others in the so-called “Super Cars’ Space”.

Volkswagen will have lots of attractions. In the Brazilian line, the adventure line of the demure up! will be presented, as will the SpaceFox, a sort of a cross between a minivan and station wagon. It will receive the changes the hatch it derives from (the Fox) has already received. The best news though is the Jetta. VW has confirmed local production for the new one (one less Mexican import), which will submit to the same re-skin the American Jetta suffered recently.

The Japanese

Honda will showcase its new HR-V or Vezel. Maybe they’ll even settle on a name… The car will use a 1.8 engine and aim at EcoSport and Duster. The Civic Si makes its glorious return. This time it will be imported only in coupe form, use a 2.4, and be sold for a modest R$115,000. The re-styled CR-V is also likely to show.

Nissan will show its re-styled Versa and March, both of which are already in production at their new Brazilian plant, which marks the first time Nissan is producing in its own factory here, as its Livina minivan is built by Renault at the French facility. To call even more attention, the re-tuned 553 hp, Nissan GT-R will grace the stand.

Called 86 here, the Toyota twin of the Toyota-Subaru collaboration will appear yet again. It was shown back in 2012, but nothing came about. This time around Toyota promises to import it. Showing mostly the regular line, it seems Toyota is focusing on Lexus.

Lexus will focus more on CUVs than sedans. After importing and failing to sell their sedans for lack of prestige and an excess of ambition (priced higher than the equivalent German suspects, much more known and oozing in prestige), might be that the bizarre NX could do the trick. I wouldn’t hold my breath though as things like Land Rover Evoque and Audi Q3 are firmly entrenched in the category and command much better brand recognition.

At least Lexus tries; Acura and Infiniti have given up the pretense and will be noticeable only by their absence.

The Koreans

…also known as Hyundai-Kia, seem not too interested. Hyundai promises to show its pseudo-German Genesis, while Kia neither acknowledges nor denies rumors that the K900 will appear for the first time in South America.

The others

Jaguar, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Volvo, among others will all be here. In spite of showing only what has already been seen and launched elsewhere, they always attract a crowd as the Salon is a real opportunity for many a Brazilian to see these cars up close. Depending on attractiveness though, and if people are not too interested, some of these brands, sometimes, are known to throw caution in the wind and hide the ropes, letting the hordes actually open and close doors, mess with the switchgear and sit in the cars.

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
Marcelo de Vasconcellos

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3 of 12 comments
  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.