It’s been a couple of years now that photographer Sherman Sim and myself have covered the Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS). Unlike media who go on the show organiser’s invite, we don’t stay at the hotel adjacent to the Impact convention centre, but closer to the Muang Thong Thani town centre – there’s slightly more walking involved, but it’s cheaper and closer to food and shops.

Over the years, we’ve seen this small town grow before our eyes and enjoyed the fruits with every annual visit. First, a new Ibis hotel (which has since become our base), then a nice little neighbourhood mall, which recently added a 24-hour Aeon supermarket and some dining options.

The first phase of an elevated pedestrian walkway (think Ratchaprasong) has cut our walking time from the hotel to Impact by half, something much appreciated by my ageing tag-team partner (just joking, man). We’re usually the only foreigners in this heartland of a community, and we love it that way.

Similarly, BIMS has grown to be the most significant motor show in our region, although Indonesia’s growing market means the annual GIIAS show (which is already big and slick) will soon give its Bangkok counterpart a run for its money. This year’s BIMS is the 40th edition, and the opening ceremony was jaw-dropping – it had pro singers, a full orchestra, dancers suspended in the air and plenty of philosophy from its founder.

It wasn’t as spectacular on the show floor, but as always, there were no shortage of new and relevant cars for us to cover. The biggest one in terms of mass market appeal was the new Honda Accord. The tenth-generation D-segment sedan ditches the naturally aspirated engines of the previous generation for a 1.5 litre turbo engine and a 2.0 litre hybrid for Thailand. We’ll get the Modulo kit when it comes around in the near future, but how about the Hybrid?

Speaking of bodykits on big saloons, Toyota showed off the Toyota Camry TRD Sportivo that amplifies the aggressiveness of the “Beautiful Monster”. The kitted Camry sat next to an actual monster in the A90 Toyota GR Supra (launching in Thailand this year) and a monster in terms of size – the new Toyota Commuter passenger van.

The Supra’s German sister – the G29 BMW Z4 – was launched at the show, along with the latest G20 BMW 3 Series, available in Thailand in 320d and 330i form. The latter was launched in Malaysia last week; we get the same CBU 330i in M Sport trim, but with a few items less in exchange for a RM100k lower price. Another premium entry at BIMS was the Lexus UX 250h, the hybrid variant of the marque’s latest/smallest SUV.

A non-plug-in hybrid feels a little outdated in the world of green cars today, though. Hyundai has introduced its second full EV in Thailand with the Kona Electric, which is good for a 482 km range in the latest WLTP mode. Chinese brand MG is ready to join the local EV segment this year with the eZS SUV, which is expected to retail for around 1.5 million baht (RM192,988) to undercut the Kona Electric and Nissan Leaf.

Speaking of Chinese SUVs undercutting the opposition, the new Chevrolet Captiva – previewed ahead of a second half 2019 launch – will do exactly that. A Chinese Chevy? Yup, the second-gen Captiva will be exactly that, as it’s a rebadged China market Baojun 530, which is also sold as the Wuling Almaz in Indonesia. Both Baojun and Wuling in Indonesia are joint ventures between GM and China’s SAIC Motor, the owner of MG and Maxus brands. With a starting price of below one million baht (RM128,175), it will be one of the most affordable C-segment SUVs in town.

Far from affordable for all is the funky new Suzuki Jimny, which will be officially available in Thailand. That’s cool (for Thais, we can only dream), but only limited units of the small 4×4 will be available, at a not so small price of 1.55 million baht for the five-speed manual and 1.65 million baht for the four-speed auto. That’s equivalent to RM199k and RM212k!

As always, carmakers launched special editions of models that are also available in Malaysia. Toyota showed off the bodykitted C-HR GT Edition, while Subaru unveiled the erm… XV GT Edition, which adds a bodykit, leather and side cameras. The best kitted model isn’t for sale though – dripping with carbon fibre, the Mitsubishi Triton Absolute is one mean-looking truck.

Lastly, Suzuki showed off a dressed-up Swift Sport. The latest SSS isn’t on sale in Thailand, but was there to serve as inspiration to owners of the regular Swift, which is a 1.2L eco car in the Land of Smiles. Another Suzuki, another if only. I doubt that the facelifted Nissan Teana would be missed by many, though. This refreshed L33 debut in November last year, three years after the equivalent North American Nissan Altima was updated. And it’s up against the all-new Camry and Accord duo.

The prettiest of last year’s pretties lead the class of BIMS 2019 out

With the cars covered, we took a break to watch a parade. BIMS tradition dictates that at the end of the press day, all the models from participating brands (not cars, but the pretties, as they’re called in Thailand) will line up on the show’s main boulevard to personally greet the show’s founder and VIPs. The media (and hordes of creepy “photographers”) are free to join in the fun, which explains the parade shots below. This year’s haul is bountiful and slightly different as a result.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s back-breaking work covering a motor show to the paultan.org standards that you’re accustomed to, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed this year’s edition from our eyes. You’re welcome.