PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 12:00am

The Seventh Shenzhen Motor Show runs until Tuesday at the Shenzhen Hi-Tech Fair Exhibition Centre. Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Volvo, Nissan, Audi, Ssangyong Motor, Kia, Hyundai Motor and Renault are all scheduled to display their latest models alongside 20 mainland marques you might not have seen before, including Shanghai Volkswagen, Shanghai GM, FAW-Volkswagen, Beijing-Hyundai, FAW, Hainan Mazda, Dongfeng Nissan, Dongfeng-Citroen, Yueda Kia, Zhong Hua Car, Jin Bei, Chang'an Suzuki Automobile, Fiat and South East Motor.

Shenzhen Motor 2003 will be more down to earth than the larger Beijing and Shanghai shows, whose objectives are to set motoring trends, the event's organisers, China Automotive Industry International Corporation, Shenzhen Sinoexpo Exhibition and Adsale Exhibition Services, told Foot Down.

'Thus, instead of concept cars, family sedans will dominate the show. Interactive activities such as on-site car testing, a four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle competition and a photo-taking competition will be held concurrently,' we were told. The event is also expected to offer a special zone for parts and after-sales service providers. Admission is 20 yuan.

See you there!

Aston Martin Hong Kong stole the spotlight at the recent Hong Kong International Boat Show at Marina Cove, Sai Kung, with the display of a new DB7 GT and a beautifully restored 1980 Volante convertible.

'The people who buy boats are often the ones who appreciate beautiful cars, too,' James Alderton told Foot Down. 'It's nice to get some branding, some awareness here.'

Alderton admitted the run to the marina was his first in a DB7 GT. 'It has a different growl from the DB7, but then like all these Aston Martin cars, it is a very refined beast,' he said. Alderton expects to sell the car 'fairly quickly' for $2.2 million. 'What we now have are the last three, the last collection of DB7s we shall ever see in Hong Kong; the Coupe, the Volante convertible and the GT,' he said. 'As you know, the factory has run out of production now, so this is the last chance for anyone to see the three classic sports cars. The next stop is the DB9, and the Vanquish is still the flagship product of the company.'

The GTAs differ from standard DB7s in that 'they have tuned the engine up to more of a sports feel and performance, with improved braking, faster revs, faster gear changes. This is the sportier version of a DB7 with leaner aerodynamics,' Alderton said, pointing to the slight ducktail at the model's back. 'That is one of the distinctive features of the GT, and existing DB7s can have an upgrade if they want the GT feel, performance and contour styling.

Does he see the DB7 as an alternative to the Maserati Coupe. 'That's a tough one,' Alderton says. 'I think the buyers of [the DB7] are more out of the ordinary, a bit more eccentric. More individual characters tend to get drawn to an Aston Martin. There's something about them. They are not necessarily the same.'

Kingsway Motors (tel: 2877 4888) also drew yachtie petrolheads to a couple of very attractive two-litre 156s, the Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Selespeed and the Sportwagen, whose 250bhp engines can reach a top speed of 250km/h and zip to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds.

The displays were the new face-lift versions involving a new dashboard vent shap and back lights, according to a Kingsway Motors spokesman.

Foot Down used to think the marque was a jumped-up Fiat until we saw the 156s as the pace cars at last year's Macau Grand Prix and have to admit that the closer you get to a 156 and 147, the more they ooze sex appeal. Alfa's 'have a passion for cars that actually don't really fit into the Fiat category', a Hong Kong Ferrari owner told Foot Down in Beijing.

'The cars are actually much better than a design perception, from a professional point of view than the generic Fiat. If you look at the prototypes that they show, you wish that they would really make the damn thing. Their handicap is that they are part of the Fiat conglomerate, part of the bureaucracy; mass-market image - that is their downfall.

'When Fiat was really down - and they are not out of the hole yet - there was speculation that Alfa would be taken under the Ferrari/Maserati umbrella. Now that would be the best thing that could happen to them.'

On current form, that may not be necessary, and Kingsway's Macau circuit link is a very smart marketing move.