It’s that time of the year again when the automobile manufacturers take the wraps off their most exciting new releases; the Geneva International Motorshow. Uniquely it’s not just the mainstream manufacturers that show their latest vehicles, but also exotic manufacturers and custom coach builders. As such this year’s edition saw the introduction of the latest generation Renault Twingo super-mini alongside the 1000+ bhp Koenigsegg CCXR and anything in between. For the fourth time our photographers traveled to the foot of the Alps to capture all the news. The results of all of this can be found in the following report and our exclusive 240-shot slideshow
A real change of scenery
A lot of the new vehicles that will make the automotive enthusiasts’ hearts beat faster will rarely be seen out on the street. However, there were a plethora of releases in Geneva that will change the scenery on the road. As mentioned earlier, Renault unveiled the production version of the next generation Twingo. It’s amazing that the quirky design of the first gen has remained in production for over a decade without ever looking dated. The new car follows the lines of the Twingo ‘concept’ shown at Paris in the fall of last year, but does not quite look as unique as the original. Another popular machine receiving a complete make-over is Ford’s Mondeo. It already made its debut in the latest James Bond movie, but Geneva was the first opportunity for most journalists to take a closer look and feel. Ford clearly understood that in this highly competitive market, the best could very well not be good enough. With a wide range of engines and three bodystyles available, the third incarnation of the Mondeo has all the stuff to become a hit. Making their return as a ‘separate’ marque, Abarth underlined its independence by locating their stand well away from the Fiat display. The hugely popular Punto was the first to receive the Abarth touch and Scorpion badge. The bright white display featured a high performance road going version and an even more powerful rally Punto. Fiat themselves used every inch of display space to showcase the new Bravo that follows the Punto’s design and should help continue the fight back to the top of the sales charts for the Italian manufacturer.
Moving somewhat away from the affordable machines, BMW and Audi look set to go head to head in the sports coupe market. The Bavarians premiered a concept version of the upcoming M3, which comes complete with a high revving V8 engine. It will no doubt upset the purists to see BMW move away from the much praised straight six cylinder engine. To take on the benchmark Bimmer, Audi showed a completely new model to their line-up; the S5. Derived from the equally new A5, the top model sports the familiar V8 that also powers the S4. Mercedes Benz could also join in next year, but for now they have ‘only’ unveiled a completely new version of their C-Class model.
For years, or maybe even decades Volvos were seen as boxy and safe. With the introduction of the V70 a good ten years ago the boxy bit was watered down quite a bit and today the safe has been joined by stylish. Here in Geneva, the Swedes welcomed a new version of the V70 together with the 4x4 XC70 model.
The good stuff
Although the previously mentioned machines might be the most important releases, everybody flocks to Geneva for the less sensible vehicles on display. This year we were treated to an exceptionally wide variety of new exotics. One of the most unusual destined for production is the X-Bow developed by motorcycle manufacturer KTM. It is equipped with only the parts necessary to make it go and luxuries like a windscreen have been discarded to shave off weight. Koenigsegg have also made a point of building lightweight supercars and when they weighed their upcoming CCGT racer a week before the Geneva show they noticed it was 100 kg under the weight limit set for the GT1 class by the governing bodies. A representative told us the type of racing program has not been determined yet and their first goal is to get the car up and running for some serious testing this summer. The CCGT should make its racing debut at the start of next season either as a private entry or with factory backing. Weight saving was also on Lamborghini’s agenda, which resulted in the new Gallardo Superleggera. A strict diet of carbon fibre was good for a loss of 100 kg, although the extensive use of the composite material inside and out might not be to everybody’s liking. Masters of the black material Pagani announced the introduction of a very high performance Zonda R, but other than a scale model and an AMG engine there was no sign of it on the company’s stand. Another pre-show announcement, the Artega GT did materialize. The small rear-engine coupe is styled by Henrik Fisker and was quite pleasing to look at.
Italy’s many custom coachbuilders are always present in force at Geneva and as usual they stole the show. Lesser known, but still Geneva regulars Stola showcased a lavish coupe, powered by a Brabus tweaked Mercedes Benz engine. It is similar to the Maybach Exelero Concept also built by Stola and could very well be produced in exclusively small numbers. Bertone celebrated their 95th anniversary with the Fiat based Barchetta Concept, displayed alongside a Fiat 500 Topolino bodied by the company sixty years ago. Zagato surely grabbed many headlines with the all new Diatto Ottovu and the Spyker C12 bodied by them. The former reminded of the Ferrari 575 GTZ first shown last year, but of course with unique touches to what appears to the company’s new house style. The rather striking Spyker sported a design that was inspired by the Lamborghini Raptor built by the Milanese company a decade ago. It is also the first time a modern Spyker is shown with a design that is clearly a departure of the Silvestris that started it all several years ago. The Zagato Spyker is destined for limited production and sports some nice design elements like the double bubble and panoramic roof. Spyker’s recent entry into F1 is also clearly visible with the F1-inspired nose, central air-intake and chimneys on the engine cover to dispose of excess heat. It took just one day for the order book to fill and Spyker representatives told us all 24 examples were already sold.
Last year we were most excited about Pininfarina’s designs for the then new Alfa Romeo Spyder and Ferrari 599 GTB. This year the highly acclaimed coachbuilder was commissioned to design Maserati’s new coupe. Although both companies have a very long history, their paths have only very rarely crossed. The aptly named Maserati Gran Turismo was the very successful result of the collaboration. Hopefully this 2+2 luxury coupe will be more successful than its predecessor, which will be vital for the survival of the Trident badge. We don’t see a reason why it will not be a success.
It is no secret that ‘Geneva’ is the show we most look forward to every year and we were most certainly were not disappointed this time. There were only very few manufacturers that did not release at least one new car and especially the smaller companies rose up to the occasion. The only bad news is that we will have to wait a whole year to go again.