September sees the biennial staging of one of the biggest and most prestigious international motor shows; the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, or the Frankfurt Motor Show to everybody else.
The show slogan this year is ‘Future Now’ with many world premiere public launches of new cars as well as the latest mobile trends such as electric vehicles, digital information and entertainment and automated driving. This is the global motor industries chance to showcase their new 2017 cars and lift the covers on planned concepts for 2018 and beyond.
Being the German auto industry’s motor show you will see grand displays of all the home marques, a reminder of what the now defunct British Motor Show was in the 60s and 70s. The good news for UK car enthusiasts is that, with cheap and frequent flights to Frankfurt, a visit to the show within the realm of typical short break or even day trip is a possibility. The Frankfurt show will be open to the public from Saturday 16 September through to Sunday 24 September, providing an excellent opportunity to see all the latest models from nearly every manufacturer together in one show.
Travel and Accommodation
Frankfurt is the financial centre of Germany so hotels are at their busiest Monday to Thursday. Cheap deals can be found from Friday to Sunday making a long weekend break ideal to see the motor show, plus leaving some time for sightseeing. The usual business hotels are within walking distance of the show, but cheaper and more interesting hotels are dotted around the city.
The show is staged just 15 minutes’ walk from the main railway station, Frankfurt Main (Hauptbahnhof), so use this or Frankfurt Messe (the show halls themselves) when using online search engines to find the best hotel deals near the show grounds.
Heathrow, Stansted, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Newquay, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, all have direct flights from the UK. Frankfurt has one main city airport and a regional one, but do be careful which you book: Frankfurt (FRA) is a busy city airport on the scale of Heathrow, which is just a short journey on the suburban rail (S-Bahn lines S8 or S9) to the Frankfurt main station.
The other airport is Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) which is a much smaller regional airport. This is a two-hour coach journey (by BOHR) to the city centre, costing €15, but this does deliver you conveniently to the main railway station. Hahn is used by budget airlines and can be a very cost effective way of travelling from the UK, with return flights sometimes available for as little as £30.
The show is held at the Messe Frankfurt, a large exhibition centre. The show grounds spread across 11 halls and 12 galleries, with the main car stands in eight of the halls. They’re all connected via walking escalators, but the distances you need to cover can get pretty tiresome. The German car marques have lavish displays which, during peak times, operate a queueing system to enter and walk around. As a tip if you arrive late, head to Halls 5 to 9 as these contain the non-German marques,neatly avoiding the crowds queueing to get into the Audi, BMW, Mercedes and VW halls.
Test drives of many launch cars can be organised from Hall 10, with an off-road test track for new SUVs also available as an option to consider. A special exhibition, New Mobility World, covers the connected car, e-mobility, urban mobility and mobility services in Hall 3.1. On Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September only, the show hosts a model car collector fair in Gallery 1, a must see for model enthusiasts.
Children under seven have free admission on each day of the show and are catered for with many attractions on the stands. A feature of these international shows is the many branded items such as pens, badges and hats given out on the individual stands to highlight a new car launch.
Entrance to the show costs €16 euros at weekends and €14 during the week. The show is open from 9.00am to 7pm every day.
Big new launches are always a feature of the IAA, particularly for the German car companies. Strong industry rumours have indicated the star of the show could be a new hyper Formula I based ‘Project One’ car from AMG, while BMW will be having a bumper launch show with a new 6 Series Gran Turismo, a new X2 and X7 concept, and an i8 Roadster. Meanwhile Mercedes will preview an electric car range called EQ, and Volkswagen will reveal it’s new T-Roc compact SUV and new generation Polo. Other car companies with key launches include Jaguar with the E-Pace compact crossover, new SUV’s from Kia with the Stonic, Vauxhall (on the Opel satnd) with the Grandland X, and Seat with the Arona. Facelifted existing models will include the Porsche Cayenne, BMW i3, Honda CR-V, Mercedes GL-Class, amongst many others.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as the show is huge – some stands are 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 in advance from the show web site so you can make a plan of the cars you really want to see.
- Take your driving licence and passport so you can test drive the new launch vehicles or future mobility prototypes.
- Weekdays has a special reduced afternoon admission price of €10 after 3pm if time is limited.
- Lastly if you have time for some sightseeing in the city, do not miss a trip to the top of the ‘Main Tower’ to witness the skyline during sunset and discover why Frankfurt is sometimes called ‘Mainhatten’