New vehicles hope to make big splash at Geneva Car Show

There are car shows and then there is Geneva.

With world premieres of 26 concepts and 18 production vehicles, the Geneva Motor Show not only is in a class by itself but it is the harbinger of things to come for the whole year.

And this year’s story from Geneva was about the power and the glory.

Green was big, but nothing compared the exotic, and sometimes over the top, vehicles seemingly on every stand with eye candy the like of which you won’t see anywhere else.

Supercars dominated, like the 660 hp FF that is Ferrari’s first ever all-wheel-drive, four-passenger car.

At the other end of the hall was Lamborghini with the 700 hp V12 Aventador LP 700-4, the world’s first series production car with an all-carbon fibre monocoque passenger cell and push rod suspension straight from Formula One.

Follow this up with a stunning Aston Martine Virage in a golden orange, Pagani’s 230 mph Huayra, the 820 hp GTA Spano and a matte red lightweight two-seater from Alfa Romeo called the 4C GTA that drew, arguably the largest crowds during press days.

And for pure whimsy it’s tough to outdo the return of the three-wheeler Morgan or the Rinspeed Bamboo, more like a giant golf cart and described as the ultimate beach car.

While Geneva is very much Euro-focused, much of what was shown will make its way, sooner or later, to the North American market because of the increasing global nature of the car companies.

The following, in alphabetical order, is a sampling of what was making news at Geneva.

Audi

The five-door RS3 is aimed squarely at the BMW 1 Series M Coupe. With a five-cylinder direct gasoline injection engine production 340 hp, it will feature a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive.

Also shown was the Audi A3 concept featuring a low, flowing roof dome and a coupe-like, low C pillar.

It is powered by a five-cylinder turbocharged engine with 408 hp distributing its power to all four wheels through a seven-speed S-tronic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive.

BMW

The Vision ConnectedDrive two-seater concept is all about how cars of the future will be connected to an Internet world.

Computers access everything from monitoring traffic to avoiding tie-ups to social media networking or sampling the environment around the car.

Also shown was the ActiveE, a four-seat electric based on the 1 Series with a 170 hp electric motor with a claimed range of 100 miles.

Chevrolet

A hatchback version of the Cruze was the main attraction at the Chevy stand. Hatchbacks account for almost 70 per cent of sales in Europe.

There was no word on whether the Cruze five-door will be sold in North America but it would be popular in Canada where hatchbacks have always sold well.

Ford

Ford’s offerings ranged from zero emission electric vehicles like the Focus Electric to the new Ranger Wildtrak and the Vertrek SUV concept plus Ford’s latest rally car, the Fiesta RS WRC.

Ford also staged the European debut of the C-MAX Energi, a pre-production version of the plug-in hybrid first shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that will launch in Europe in 2013.

The all-new Ford Ranger Wildtrak made its global debut at the show.

It’s a sporty compact pickup that delivers impressive power and safety, excellent fuel efficiency and significant capability.

Honda

Honda’s EV Concept electric vehicle and a platform for mid size plug-in hybrid vehicles were displayed alongside the revised Accord range.

The Honda EV Concept hints strongly at the direction and styling for Honda’s upcoming production battery electric vehicle, the Fit EV, which will be introduced to the U.S. and Japan in 2012.

Infiniti

One of the more interesting concepts was the Infiniti Etherea seen as a design study for a future entry level aimed at young buyers.

Infiniti says such a future car would not be a scaled down version of an existing vehicle, but different from anything else in the burgeoning compact premium segment.

Kia

The next generation Rio was unveiled alongside the all-new European Picanto subcompact.

The Rio has a new interpretation of Kia’s signature grille, integrated with the headlamps to give a new twist on the Kia family look.

In profile, the body-to-glass ratio and its strong wedge form give the new Rio a dynamic stance. Offered initially as a five-door and three-door, the five-door is expected in Canadian show rooms by the fall with the three-door following early in 2012.

Mazda

Based on Mazda’s new Kodo design language, the Minagi is a compact CUV which will probably fit into the slot currently occupied by the CX-7 and would do battle against the likes of Kia Sportage and VW Tiguan.

MINI

The Rocketman concept can best be described as a mini MINI with odd 3+1 seating.

A carbon space frame construction forms the basis for a weight-minimizing construction. Wide-opening doors with double-hinge joints and integrated sills facilitate entry into lightweight seats that allow owners to choose between seating for two, three or four passengers.

Nissan

Nissan’s Esflow concept is a pure electric vehicle that gives an idea how a zero emission sports car of the future might look.

The powertrain unit, which employs the same technologies installed in the Nissan LEAF, is tuned to offer a sporty driving experience.

Porsche

Porsche played it very low key at Geneva showing a hybrid version of the Panamera sedan as well as the “Black” versions of the 911 and Boxster.

Smart

The smart forspeed electric two-seater has no roof or side windows and features a low wind deflector instead of a windscreen.

The smart four-speed accelerates from 0-37 mph in just 5.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 75 mph.

A 30 kW magneto-electric motor is installed at the rear of the smart forspeed.

Subaru

Subaru exhibited the Boxer Sports Car Architecture Concept, currently under joint development with the Toyota Motor Corporation.

Based on an all-new platform and highlighting Subaru’s new design direction, the vehicle boasts the brand’s trademark horizontally opposed Boxer engine technology with the idea of offering sure-footed driving experience in a rear-wheel drive format.

Toyota

Toyota continues to remain the leader in hybrid technology choosing Geneva to unveil the Yaris HSD, a new concept heralding a production model that will bring Toyota full hybrid power to the B-segment, Europe’s largest market sector.

The next step in Toyota’s roll out of full hybrid versions of its complete model range in Europe, the Yaris HSD concept, incorporates hybrid-specific styling cues and new, forward-looking design elements.

Volkswagen

For North America the big news was the face-lifted Tiguan compact crossover.

 

Sporting a new front end defined by horizontal lines to bring it into line with the latest Volkswagen ‘design DNA’, the new Tiguan looks sharper and sleeker than the current model.

 

 

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