Frankfurt Motor Show: What you need to know

September sees the biennial staging of one of the biggest and most prestigious International motor shows; the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, usually abbreviated to IAA and more commonly known as the Frankfurt Motor Show.

This is the motor industry’s chance to showcase their new 2016 cars and lift the covers on planned concepts for 2017 and beyond. Of course, being the German auto industry’s home motor show you will see the local marques put on grand displays across the halls – even building their own halls to accommodate their ever-growing ranges.

The good news for UK car enthusiasts is that, with cheap and frequent flights to Frankfurt, it does allow a visit to the show within the realm of a typical short break – or even a day trip.

The Frankfurt Motor Show will be open to the public from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 September 2015. This provides an excellent opportunity to see up close, all the latest models from all the main car marques together in one show.

Getting there

Frankfurt has one main city airport and a regional one. Frankfurt itself is a busy airport on the scale of Heathrow, and is served with direct flights from London Heathrow and London City, as well as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. The show is then just a short journey on the suburban rail (S-Bahn lines S8 or S9) to the Frankfurt main station.

Flying direct to Frankfurt would be the only way of making a day trip a possibility. However, if you have some time spare then you can save a significant amount of cash by flying out to Frankfurt Hahn, a much smaller regional airport.

Direct flights to Frankfurt Hahn with Ryanair operate from Edinburgh and London Stansted. This will leave you with a two-hour coach journey to the city centre at a cost of €14 (about £10) but this does deliver you right to the main railway station.

Staying there

Frankfurt is the financial hub of Germany, so you’ll find hotels at their busiest during the working week. The good news is that cheap deals can be found from Friday to Sunday, making a long weekend break easy, and allowing you to take in both the motor show and get some sightseeing done.

The show is staged just 15 minutes walk from the main railway station, Frankfurt Main (Hauptbahnhof), so use this as a guide when checking hotel booking websites. Currently there are good four-star hotels within a mile of the show available for under £70 per night. Lose a star or two and you’ll be able to get change out of £50 a night.

Getting in

Entrance to the show is just €16 (£12) at weekends and €12 (£9) for weekdays, and is open from 09:00 to 19:00 every day.

What’s inside?

The show is held at the Messe Frankfurt, which is a large exhibition centre. The show grounds are laid out in a horizontal 9 shape with 11 halls and 12 galleries. The main car stands are in eight halls and are connected via walking escalators – this gives you an idea of the scale of the show.

The German car marques have huge, lavish displays which operate a queueing system during peak times. As a tip if you arrive late, head to Halls 5-9 as these contain the non-German marques and you will avoid the crowds queueing for entrance to the Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen halls. Hyundai and VW will be staging shows each day which will probably be worth securing a seat in a prime position for the best views.

Test drives of many launch cars and an off-road test track for new SUVs will also be an option to consider – just make sure you bring your driving licence and passport with you.

What’s launching?

This year’s show includes plenty of big launches and will provide visitors an advanced viewing of the industry’s new products for 2016. Highlights include new generation/facelift versions of popular models such as the Audi A4, BMW X1 and 7 Series, Fiat 500, Honda Jazz, Kia Cee’d and Sportage, Mercedes C-Class coupe, Mini Clubman, Porsche 911, Skoda Superb and Vauxhall Astra.

New launches include three new long anticipated SUVs – the Bentley Bentayga, Jaguar F-Pace and Maserati Levante. On show will also be the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, Infiniti Q30, Mercedes GLC and Suzuki Baleno, while a brace of super sports cars will make an appearance, namely the Ferrari 488 Spider and Lamborghini Huracan Spider.

Is there anything else to do?

There is a special motoring related exhibition on vintage motor racing which will be well worth a look, while the show hosts a model car collector fair in Gallery 1. This is a must see for model collectors, but will only be there on Saturday 19 September.

Children are catered for with many attractions on the stands and a feature of these international shows is the many branded motoring related items such as pens, badges and hats given out on the individual stands to highlight a new car launch.

Top Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes – the show is huge with some stands the size of a football pitch
  • Carry plenty of water – you will need it
  • Hand your coat or jacket in at the entrance to avoid carrying around the show
  • Print a copy of the guide map out in advance from the show web site so you can make a plan of the cars you really want to see
  • A lot of the manufacturers will have free wifi on their stands – don’t be afraid to ask for the details
  • Bring a small backpack – if you want to collect the brochures, hats, pens and other freebies, you’ll soon tire of a thin plastic bag

There’s plenty to keep you occupied at the motor show, but Frankfurt has a lot more to offer so it may be worth spending a little time in the city; don’t miss a trip to the top of the ‘Main Tower’ to witness the skyline during sunset and discover why Frankfurt is sometimes called ‘Mainhatten’.

Above all else, enjoy the show and remember to share your experiences here.

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Eric Bottrell

Eric Bottrell is a freelance journalist, qualified lawyer and Chartered Accountant, who has spent a career working in government, and for the public and private sectors. With a lifelong interest and career in transport, he regularly reports from International Trade and Expo shows on all transport related issues.

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