A show of opposites
Generally considered as the most prestigious event of its kind in the world, the Geneva International Motor Show always inspires manufacturers to bring the very best even in these difficult times. This year was no exception although the trend of producing more efficient and cleaner cars did continue. On the other end of the spectrum these same hybrid technologies are now used to create supercars that have drivetrains capable of producing in excess of 900 bhp. What also adds to the appeal of Geneva is that it forms the annual stage for many of the specialist design houses to present their latest show and concept cars. Despite the difficult economic conditions, floorspace was still at a premium in Geneva's Palexpo exhibition centre. This has been addressed by adding a section previously used for parking to one of the main halls, providing more space to the likes of Kia and Infiniti. Eager to see the latest show and production cars in the metal (and/or composite), our photographers ventured to Geneva for the 10th year in succession. The result of spending the better part of two days on the show floor can be found in this packed, 370-shot gallery
with all the highlights of the show and more.
The hots for hatchbacks
On the afternoon before the show kicked off in earnest, an international jury picked the Volkswagen Golf as the European Car of the Year for 2013. Demonstrating excellent providence, the German manufacturer launched two 'hot' versions of the seventh generation hatchback; the GTI and GTD. The petrol engined GTI will, for the first time, come with two different engine specifications. In 'standard' trim, the turbocharged four cylinder is good for 220 hp, while a further 10 horses are available on the 'Performance' version. Offering even more performance is offered by the new Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG.
This is based on the recently introduced A-Class, which has transformed from a small MPV to a more conventional hatchback shape. While sharing the same two-litre displacement of the GTI's engine, the magicians at AMG have managed to massage the four cylinder to produce a staggering 360 hp. Another new player in the hot hatch market is Kia, who launched a 200+ hp version of the Pro-C'eed and C'eed models.
Concept cars show the way forward
In recent years, manufacturers have given up on producing wild and exciting show cars, focusing instead on concept cars, which offer very direct clues of upcoming production cars. Leading the way in this approach are the Japanese manufacturers and this year we were treated to a second version of the Honda NSX Concept and the Toyota FT-86 Open Concept. Also labelled a concept was Spyker's new B6 Venator, which will form a key element of the troubled Dutch manufacturer's planned resurgence. Powered by a V6 engine and priced at around EUR120,000 or $150,000 before taxes, it is set to target a broader market. Styled by company founder Victor Muller himself, the car does include many of Spyker's typical features like the aircraft exterior details and lovely quilted interior. For now company representatives are tight-lipped about the technical details but considering the rapid development time, it is not unconceivable that the B6 is based on existing technology.
Arguably the most hotly anticipated of all new cars in Geneva was Ferrari's next limited production supercar. Simply known as LaFerrari, it was certainly worth the wait. The strikingly styled machine is powered by a hybrid-electric drivetrain, consisting of a free-revving V12 and an electric motor and capable of producing a combined 950 bhp. On the other end of the Palexpo, McLaren revealed a direct rival in the form of the P1, which will also be built in small numbers and also uses a hybrid drivetrain. In this case a twin-turbo V8 and an electric motor, good for 'just' 900 bhp at full pelt. Both the LaFerrari and the P1 looked modest compared to the exceptional Lamborghini Veneno. Built to mark the manufacturer's 50th anniversary, it is based on the Aventador platform but boasts a unique and very wild body. Among the many striking design cues are a deep front splitter accentuated by a bright red streak, a fin on the engine cover and a full width rear wing. Only three will be built and despite the EUR 3 million price tag, we understand all have been sold. Swedish specialist manufacturer Koenigsegg also celebrated reaching a milestone in Geneva, displaying the 100th car they built. Suitably dubbed the 'Hundra' the unique machine featured numerous hand turned gold leaf accents.
Also out in force at Geneva this year were the Italian design houses like Pininfarina, Bertone and Italdesign. The former used this stage for an homage to longtime design director and chairman Sergio Pininfarina, who passed away last year. Inspired by the 1965 Ferrari Dino show, which was a personal favourite, the Italian designers and engineers created the 'Ferrari Sergio'. The result is a thoroughly modern Barchetta, which does include many classic cues. Longtime rival Bertone produced two Shooting Brake Aston Martins; the Rapide-based Jet 2+2 and a second version of the Vanquish-based Jet 2 built for Lilli Bertone herself. Italdesign Giugiaro showcased the high-performance off-roader dubbed the Parcour in both Coupe and Roadster versions. The all-wheel drive two-seaters are powered by a Lamborghini-sourced V10. The recently re-established Touring Superleggera returned to Geneva with the Disco Volante already shown as a static display last year. A significant difference is that the shape has now been draped over an Alfa Romeo 8C chassis and the fully functional car is now ready to be delivered to its customer. Touring is ready to accept more orders for this striking conversion. Another Alfa Romeo, in addition to the production-ready 4C, to grab the limelight was the Gloria created by master students of the European Institute of Design in just four months.
As mentioned before the 83rd edition of the Geneva International Motor Show was one of extremes. Whether this is the result of some manufacturers still desperately trying to keep a straight face or a sign of genuine optimism remains to be seen. Of the many new designs, Pininfarina's Sergio particularly stood out as a fitting tribute to such an instrumental figure for the automotive industry, who could have almost considered Geneva his second home. All this, and much, much more can be found in our exclusive, 370-shot gallery