We are approaching one of the most anticipated weeks for car lovers. The 84th edition of the n—a must for those who want to see the best of the best—will be held from March 4 until the 16th. The historic Swiss show, celebrated every March or April, is the most important of its kind in Europe, together with Paris/Frankfurt (in September), and outside of the Old Continent, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
The expectation of recent editions has little to do with the historic anticipation generated in previous years due to the growing trend for brands to advance their innovations and reserve few surprises for this event. However, the Geneva Motor Show is still important to gauge where the automotive industry and market are headed. This time is no different, and the presence of the majority of the luxury car manufacturers displaying their main innovations endorses the significance of the Swiss exhibition. Among them, we’ll find premium offers at all levels: from Audi and BMW to Ferrari or McLaren, and from Bugatti to Koenigsegg.
Audi´s main attraction is the third generation of the TT, one of the few innovations whose final version was not revealed until the start of the exhibition. The most popular coupe from the four rings brand is renewed with very similar design and dimensions, but with some interesting changes: for example, the new wider front grille is flanked by a new bumper, and new xenon headlights, which eventually will be LED. A retractable rear spoiler and a double (quadruple in the premium version TTS) exhaust give it an added sporty presence.
Advanced technology was used to make its interior ergonomic and more comfortable, and under the hood there will be three available engines: two gasoline 2.0 liters with 230 or 310 HP, and one diesel of the same capacity with 184 CV that consumes just 4.2 liters per 100 kilometers (56 miles per gallon). It will be available for sale in Europe after the summer, and the price will be around €34.900 ($47,900).
Other novelties of lower hierarchy presented by Audi in Geneva are the new S3 Cabrio, or the exclusive RS4 Avant Nogaro, which commemorates the 20th anniversary of the launch of Audi’s Avant RS2— which in 1994 marked the start of the sporty RS— and will be available in a limited edition with a starting price of 101.200 euros (around 140,000 dollars).
Meanwhile, BMW exemplifies the opposite: It brought three new cars to Geneva and all were announced and publicized with great fanfare during the months leading to this event. It will be very exciting to see up close the first BMW minivan—the Active Tourer Series 2, which is also the first vehicle in the brand’s history with a front-wheel drive platform.
BMW’s Gran Coupe Series 4 also makes a statement. The first four-door version of the medium coupe from the Munich manufacturer follows the line established by the Gran Coupe series. It aims to give the same level of sportsmanship with larger, more comfortable dimensions. In addition, BMW also introduced in Switzerland the upgrade of the X 3, with a few changes that are just limited to two new diesel engines and a few minimum aesthetic refinements. And, finally, they will repeat new vehicles—already seen at the Detroit Motor Show—such as the M3 and M4, the series 2 Coupe and the i3 and i8, which can now be more closely admired in Europe.
The contribution of another German brand to the Geneva show is much weaker. Mercedes-Benz only offered something that was already shown in Frankfurt in 2013 and in Detroit last January, in the form of a concept car: the new S Class Coupe, a futuristic and elegant automobile that replaces the current CL Coupe with a V8 biturbo engine of 455 HP in its interior. Its arrival at dealers is scheduled for the second half of the year, and for those who want to shine above all, it will have an option that features 47 Swarovski crystals in its LED headlights.
Mercedes-Benz Clase S Coupé.
Going up a step on the scale of premium sportsmanship while staying in Germany, lets take a look at Porsche: The latest Porsche 911 Targa, unveiled in Detroit, will also captivate in Geneva, but contributes little to what we already know. There were speculations that the Stuttgart firm could surprise by presenting a Turbo variant, but apparently it was nothing more than another of the false rumors that often circulate around this type of event.
Porsche will also come to Switzerland with its new Macan, the utility sport that wants to expand its dominance in the still little explored world of luxury SUVs, following the success of its Cayenne. The cars that will make their debut in the Swiss exhibition are the 919 Hybrid and the 911 RSR, which in the near future will star in team Porsche at the next edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Some interesting news also came from Italy. It is the case of the new Alfa Romeo 4 C Spider, the semi convertible soft top version of the sports 4 C Coupe. This subsidiary of the Fiat Group (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has so much faith in it that it bought it back in grand style to the United States. It has the same engine as the Coupe, four cylinders and 1.750 cc turbocharged, delivers the same 240 HP to the rear axle and, although its advantages have not been made public, it is reasonable to think that considering it weighs less than 1,000 pounds, the benefits will not be very different from the standard 4 C.
Still in transalpine lands and talking about Fiat, it is inevitable that we look at what Ferrari brings to Geneva. The Maranello firm presents their latest creation, the California T—already shown last month—which embodies the return of turbo technology to road vehicles manufactured by the Cavallino brand. Before raising any suspicion about this propulsion technology, Ferrari has promised that its new V8 turbocharged engine with 560 HP will respond with total precision and without delay to the driver´s commands, and also that their sound will be equal to the traditional atmospheric models. But the most interesting entry from the Italian brands came from Maserati. In fact, it can be considered the real surprise at Geneva Motor Show. We are talking about Alfieri, a new prototype created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this brand from Bologna, established in 1914. This concept car heralds the new lines that will be included in the next generation of Maserati sports vehicles, particularly the Gran Turismo, which will be the next model to modernize its image after the presentations of the new Ghilbi and Quattroporte.
Its main rival, both in the market and in Formula 1, arrives in Switzerland with a new weapon to compete with the Cavallinos: McLaren will officially present its 650S in coupe and spider versions, which stand above the 12 C Coupe and spider, and below the more luxurious and exclusive P1. In this case, a V8 biturbo engine with 641 HP will compete with the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Its aerodynamics deserve a close look with elements that promise superb performance, such as its rear spoiler, which can be inverted to function as an airbrake, or an improved adaptive suspension.
Back to Italian sportiness, we remember that Lamborghini also drew us to attend the Swiss meeting to see up close the new Huracán, a definitive successor to the outgoing Gallardo. Its new 5.2 liters V10 engine and 610 HP, surpasses the Gallardo’s performance with notable figures: it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (100 km/h) in just 3.2 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of up to 202 mph (325 km/h). Its sale is planned for mid-2014.
But outside the main luxury brands, there is a novelty intended to astonish all attendees at the Geneva Motor Show. It is the new Koenigsegg One, an edition limited to only six units that offer a very desirable list of benefits: it weighs only 1,360 kilos (nearly 3,000 pounds) and its engine delivers 1,360 HP, resulting in a spectacular ratio of… 1 kg per HP!
These are very impressive figures, turning the Swedish manufacturer into the new candidate to beat for the world’s speed record, which only a few weeks ago was lost by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to the Hennessey Venom GT. We still have to wait for official data of acceleration and top speed.
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Rembrandt.
By the way, Bugatti also wanted to be present in Geneva. The brand from the Volkswagen Group presented the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Rembrandt Bugatti, named in honor of the sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, brother of Ettore Bugatti, the founder of the Italian firm. This version, finished in brown and copper tones, will be limited to only three units. Its price? 2.180.000 euros (almost $ 3 million) each.
Finally, in the section dedicated to the future of automobiles, we also found some eccentricities, as shown by the Swiss carmaker Rinspeed, which did not want to miss the chance to be a prophet in its homeland presenting an autonomous vehicle. Mounted on a Tesla Model S, what stands out in the xChangE is its idea of car interiors for the near future. Aware of the fact that once smart cars are fully implemented, it will no longer be necessary to drive, Rinspeed predicts that the passenger cabins will become a sort of mobile offices, work and leisure spaces wisely equipped with the highest level of comfort and technology.
In this case, the Swiss firm installed comfortable swivel seats, which can be oriented in the opposite direction of the car´s motion. The passengers sitting inside will be mere spectators of the journey and can enjoy the big screen on the powerful control system as well as many other applications, television and Internet.
And as usual, in Geneva we have seen, once again, the perfect combination of technology and engine, so popular in recent months. In the Swiss show, Apple took the opportunity to launch CarPlay, an application that allows any car to be fully and intelligently connected to the driver´s iPhone, who can access any information, maps, music, calls and messages from a screen installed in the dashboard. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have already adopted the CarPlay, and it is expected that the rest of the manufacturers will incorporate it to their cars in the coming weeks. ■