Geneva Motor Show: what we learned

  • AFP
  • Updated: Mar 13, 2015 17:33 IST

Geneva is dubbed the auto show for the one percent for good reason. Because it is here more than at any other event on the automotive calendar where the world's most exclusive brands decide to showcase their latest wares. However, alongside this automotive exotica were unveiled a host of mainstream motors big and small, exciting and practical, making this year's show one of the most inclusive in recent memory and as a result offering clear insight into the trends, functions and features that will be driving the industry forward at both ends of the spectrum over the coming years.

The supercar market is literally on track

The McLaren 675LT, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 all made breath-taking debuts at this year's show and each is a car designed for track-day racing rather than boulevard cruising. As McLaren's chief test driver Chris Goodwin explained of the 675LT, it is a car built to be driven to a track, round the track and then back home again. In other words, it would be impossible to live with as a daily driver.

McLaren and Aston Martin took things one step further, unveiling cars that were track only and therefore illegal for road use.

The need for speed is universal

Alongside supercars, there were a raft of hot hatchback unveilings, most notably the new Ford Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R, both of which boast phenomenal performance but can and will be used as everyday cars. During its unveiling, Ford's executive vice president and president Europe, Middle East and Africa Jim Farley, said of the Focus: "It's our mission to make performance accessible to as many people as possible." He also promised that 12 performance models to suit all budgets were heading for European Ford dealerships. "This promises to be a vintage era for driving enthusiasts," he said.

Luxury has no limits

As well as speed, comfort was high on the list on most stands. Ford introduced the new Titanium X specification for a number of models at the show, which takes creature comforts and cabin materials up to a new level for mass-market cars, and also showcased the Vignale sub brand that will offer clients bespoke levels of service and huge personalization choices for a new car.

However, nothing came close to Serenity, a one-off Rolls-Royce Phantom with a hand-woven, hand-dyed, hand-embroidered and hand-painted silk interior, even though Mercedes made a huge effort.

The German company unveiled the Maybach Pullman, which, at 6.5m from nose to tail, is the longest production car in the world, designed to seat two rear-seat passengers in absolute fully reclining luxury.

Everything crosses over eventually

Geneva was big for SUVs and crossovers. Renault showcased the family-friendly Kadjar, which wants to offer an alternative to the Nissan Qashqai; Mazda's CX-3 wants to be a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur; and Seat's 20V20 concept will be competition to all of these when the production model launches in 2016.

Geneva also saw a refreshed Range Rover Evoque and the confirmation that a convertible version is in the works but the biggest surprise in terms of off-roaders came from Aston Martin with its DBX concept that signals that nothing is immune from the crossover treatment.

Boutique brands are booming

The increasing crossover-fication of the industry highlights the fact that most companies are now part of larger groups that share platforms and technology. The Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai share many of the same components, for instance, and often it's just exterior design flourishes that separate an elevated Audi from a VW crossover or SUV.

Yet despite this homogenization, tiny independent marques are still performing. Niche British company Morgan showcased a new Aero 8 flagship model, coachbuilder Touring Superleggera wowed the crowds with its bespoke take on a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and Swedish supercar firm Koenigsegg unveiled two new models, one of which, the Regera boasts over 1800bhp, a hybrid drivetrain and no traditional form of transmission system.

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