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2006 Geneva International Motor Show
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Click here to open the slideshowIntroduction
There are several reasons why the Geneva Motorshow is a highlight for the industry and enthusiasts alike. For the industry it marks the coming of spring; traditionally a very popular season to purchase a new car. We enthusiasts look forward to it because of the large number of exotic manufacturers that use the Swiss show to unveil their latest production cars and prototypes. From the many ‘leaked’ press releases we concluded this year could be another classic and set out to Geneva with high hopes. After spending the better part of two days in the various halls we gathered our findings in a brief report and 240 shot slideshow.

Judging from the snowy weather on the way down to and in Geneva, it is not spring for a while yet, but inside the Palexpo exhibition center everybody tried to convince the gathered media that spring is very much in the air. While the automotive industry as a whole is going through a very rough period, every individual manufacturer promises good weather for the future. The many high-end and sporty products launched here will not make a sufficient difference, but they do make for great pictures and reading!

Hot hatch heaven
When Renault launched their latest generation Clio last September in Frankfurt they had a concept on display for a ‘Renault Sport’ version. In Geneva the highly acclaimed Clio Sport got a replacement, which is very similar to the Frankfurt show car. In similar vein Peugeot took the wraps off a sporty version of the all new 207 model here in Geneva. This one will less likely make it to the road, but might rack up a few wins for the French lion on the track. Honda was at it as well with a Type R concept version of the all new Civic model that was recently named North American car of the year. With a very unique body shape and engine combination, the new BMW Z4 Coupe is hard to put in a category, but seeing as it is quite spicy and a hatchback, the ‘hot hatch’ category seems to best to place it in.

Drop top darlings
If there is one particular type of car that will get good sales in the springtime, it is the convertible and Geneva saw the introduction of quite a few. Opel replaced the Speedster with the Pontiac Solstice derived GT, which is the third convertible in their line-up. Lotus filled the production gap left by the scrapped Speedster with the very nice Europa S Coupe, which ironically is far more similar to the Opel GT than the new drop top will ever be. One of the last to jump on the bandwagon, Ford unveiled a hard top convertible version of the Focus. With so many examples to follow it is sad to see they really did not get the proportions right. Alfa Romeo on the other hand proved that a modern convertible really does not need a hard top roof in the trunk. The all new Spyder was one of the stars of the show and won its first award on the day of the launch when it was named ‘Cabriolet of the Year’.

Exotic excellence
As mentioned earlier, Geneva is the favoured playing ground for the exotic and speciality manufacturers. With new cars announced by the likes of Ferrari, Spyker, Lamborghini, Pagani and Koenigsegg this year was no exception. Pagani combined two of their recent releases to form the Roadster F, which was displayed in a meticulous carbon fibre finish. Christian von Koenigsegg was on hand to take the wraps of the CCX, which is the Americanized version of the CCR and features bigger bumpers, low octance heads and more head room to fit all the NBA players. Spyker’s workforce might have set a new record in building the D12 Peking to Paris SUV prototype from scratch in six weeks. The combination of rugged tires and the company’s well known design language seems to work out very well; there were no less than 90 confirmed (downpayment on the bank) orders at the end of the first press day. With the new 640 bhp Murcielago LP640, Lamborghini continues their new product bombardment. Although it still lurked around on the first floor of the stand the Miura Concept launched back in January has been confirmed to remain a one-off. In a remarkable move Ferrari used the press days of the North American International Auto Show to announce their upcoming GT car. This press release was accompanied by a set of three studio shots and a name; 599 GTB. Both were received with mixed feelings. We found that the studio shots hardly do the new car justice and we were very impressed with the look and feel of Ferrari’s new front-engined supercar, now officially known as the 599 GTB Fiorano, which has a much better ring to it.

Conclusion
While many of the new releases were already well known beforehand, there were some surprises on the stands making the first round on the showfloor very interesting. The dozens of new production cars and prototypes unveiled ensured that the 101 year old show again lived up to expectations. For us the winner of this year’s edition was the Italian design house Pininfarina with the Alfa Romeo Spider and Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano reminding us just why we got into this business in the first place.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Pieter Melissen and Wouter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.