Something for everyone at Speedshow

PAUL OWEN
Last updated 05:01 19/07/2012

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It doesn't matter whether your passion for motor vehicles revolves around motorsport, new cars, motorcycles, hot rods, or alternative powertrains, there should be something of interest on the display at the CRC Speedshow.

The Auckland-based annual event is in its sixth year now, and has become a smorgasbord of displays from just about every corner of the New Zealand motor and motorsport industries, as well as showcase of custom-made vehicles, stunt driving, and new technologies. It has also become New Zealand's motor show by default, as demonstrated by the number of new cars and motorcycles that will be making their debut in this market at this year's show.

Given the name of the show, it's appropriate that most of these new debutantes have an emphasis on performance.

Volvo will use the show to highlight a new range of special vehicles to be marketed under a new brand – VPV (Volvo Performance Vehicles).

Ford will unveil the new Focus ST – a white-hot hatch featuring a 184kW turbocharged direct-injection engine and a sharper-handling chassis. The ST shares its 2.0 litre engine with the ''Ecoboost'' Falcon, and with 360Nm of torque on offer it should set new performance benchmarks for compact hatchbacks when it officially goes on sale here late in 2012.

Meanwhile BMW will display a number of new M-badged cars, in 1 series, 3 series, and 5 series formats. These new European-developed cars will share display space at the show with some more muscular performance vehicles from the US. Dodge will show the Challenger 392, featuring a big-block 6.4 litre Hemi V8 which also powers the new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 on display nearby. Of special interest on the same stand will be one of the last Viper ACR supercars made.

A supercharged 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which develops almost as much power as a V8 supercar, will also be on display to tempt some show-goers into commissioning a right-hand-drive conversion.

Japanese car-makers are also represented at the show with displays from Mazda, Honda, Nissan, and Suzuki. The latter will use the opportunity to introduce the new Platinum edition of the Swift, while Mazda will display an eclectic mix of cars – the last RX-8, a Le Mans version of the Mazda3 MPS hot hatch, a funkier Mazda2 model named Nemo, and the Cheetah-morphing CX-5 crossover wagon (as seen on TV). The Honda and Nissan displays combine performance with environmental responsibility. The H-brand will show its sporty hybrid, the CRZ coupe, while the 2013 version of the hot GT-R will rub door handles with the Leaf electric car on the Nissan stand.

New motorcycles making their New Zealand debut at the show include the Ducati 1199 Panigale, arguably the most innovative new superbike since the Britten with its frameless construction and high-revving 180bhp V-twin engine. The new learner-approved version of the Ducati Monster 695 will be a lot less demanding of rider skill, and will be ready to take advantage of coming changes to learner licence regulations in this country.

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Also making their debut in New Zealand will be four new Harley-Davidson models, two new Suzukis – the latest GSX-R1000L2 sportsbike and the new VZR1800 cruiser, and a new model from Victory – the Judge. New dirtbikes on display include the latest Yamaha WR450F and the KTM SX-F450 Factory Edition.

For Australian-based motorcycle distributors like those who look after the business of Ducati and Harley-Davidson in this market, the Speedshow is also an opportunity to network with their Kiwi customers. This year's event is the first time Harley-Davidson has participated in the show, and the aspirational American brand has jumped in, bike boots and all.

"We're delighted to have the chance to meet more Harley-Davidson fans across New Zealand and offer the opportunity for owners to come together at what promises to be a fantastic event," says Adam Wright, director of marketing for Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand.

Wright and his team will give away 60 Harley-Davidson leather jackets at the show, and introduce a new marketing program called Wake up with a Harley, which will offer the opportunity of a 24-hour test ride to prospective purchasers. Other new Harley-Davidson innovations target women customers, and 20 women's motorcycle clothing packs will be given away at the show.

Other attractions feature the display of 70 hot-rods, a new Lotus 7-like kit car from Auckland-based Fraser, the regular flights of Jetman, and stunt motorcycle shows. The Speedshow runs this Saturday at Auckland's ASB showgrounds.

- Stuff

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