Although Detroit kicks off the motor show season early in January each year, the Geneva Motor Show held in early March is the event we look forward to the most.
The first European show of the season, Geneva is truly international compared to Detroit, a US-centric show full of domestic and US-manufactured Japanese models not sold in Europe and the Asia-Pacific countries.
Geneva also sets the tone for the year. Here manufacturers can get their latest designs and new technologies out of the starting blocks on full throttle, with visitors really revved up too. This is important because by the time the Frankfurt or Paris shows come around in late September, the year has started to wind down with some customers showing signs of new product fatigue.
Finally, for both the press and the public, the compact size of the Geneva Show makes it doable in one day, a critical factor if you don’t want to miss anything significant just because it was tucked away in a corner of a remote pavilion.
This year’s Geneva Show was a veritable supercar and hypercar fest, a sign of huge optimism in itself, and a clear message that the big spenders still have their wallets wide open.
The eagerly awaited Pagani Huayra Roadster was sold out even before its launch, Bugatti say their Chiron is gathering orders at a satisfactory pace, the Koenigsegg Regera is now in production, and Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Bentley are doing just fine.
Mercedes-AMG’s Hybrid Formula 1 engined Project One will not be delivered till 2019, but a private viewing for prospective customers was held at a nearby venue in Geneva. At the show however, AMG chief Tobias Moers was willing to talk to us about its technology, and this most expensive Mercedes road car ever by a country mile will cost its 275 customers 2.275 million euro a copy.
However, the supercar that really held our interest was the new McLaren 720S, whose clever thinking-out-of-the-box solutions make it better than the 650S in all respects, for a fraction of the cost of barely faster hypercars. To wit, this is the kind of car we have come to expect from McLaren, a compliment of the highest order.
Following hard on the heels of the Coupe, the E-Class Convertible completes the E-Class range that has been building up rapidly since the saloon went on sale early last year.
In its 50th Anniversary year, AMG has been giving itself a number of birthday presents, including the AMG GT C Roadster Edition 50. While the Project One hypercar with its 1.6 litre Formula 1 engine was the talk of the town, the company presented the altogether more practical and affordable GT Concept.
The GT Concept shown at Geneva is a four-door, four-seat grand tourer internally coded X290, but dubbed GT4 because it has four-doors, four seats and four-wheel-drive.
Due out in 2019, the production car will be based on the current E-Class platform. Tobias Moers confirmed that the car will be available with a bi-turbo V8 delivering over 600hp, while a petrol-electric hybrid version could offer as much as 800hp.
The complete break from using a standard Mercedes model as the base car endorses AMG’s dramatic success as the performance sub-brand of Mercedes. With sales of 99,235 cars in 2016, a greater than three-fold increase from 2011, it is no surprise that AMG has been given the keys to the kingdom by the Mercedes management board.
BMW debuted their handsome new 5-Series Touring, which is 36mm longer than the outgoing model. Boot capacity is up by 10 litres to 570 litres, with a full 1,700 litres available with the seats folded flat. The engine range is similar to the saloons, with the xDrive 4WD system offered as an option for most of the range.
Making 602hp and 800Nm of torque, bi-turbo V12 powered BMW’s M760Li xDrive flagship is an unlikely contender for drag racing supercars. Silky smooth V12 power and a luxurious cabin means you’d hardly break a sweat while doing 0-100km/h in 3.6 sec on the way to 302km/h.
Audi debuted their Q8 Sport Concept, a progression from the Q8 they showed at Detroit. Importantly, Audi said they will be making it and the production car is slated for 2018. For now, the Concept offers Hybrid power from a 3.0 litre TFSI V6 with an electric motor. System power is 476hp with 700Nm.
The new RS5 is the first car from Audi Sport, which was formerly known as Quattro GmbH, and offers 444hp and 600Nm of torque from a twin-turbocharged 2.9 litre V6.
The Ferrari 812 Superfast is the last car based on this platform, and what a way to go. With 789hp and 718Nm of torque from its glorious high-revving 6.5 litre naturally aspirated V12, this is the fastest and most powerful front-engined production Ferrari road car ever.
Looking like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, the Aston Martin Valkyrie makes the Vulcan look normal. A collaboration between Aston Martin, Red Bull Racing and several other manufacturers like Cosworth, Ricardo, Rimac, the Valkyrie is a Hybrid hypercar.
The combustion engine is a 6.5 litre V12, while the Rimac supplied hybrid battery system acts like a Formula 1 KERS system to boost output to around 1,000hp.
Meanwhile Aston Martin also announced the launch of their AMR sub-brand that will be responsible for high performance versions of the normal road car range. Unsurprisingly, AMR will be stationed at Aston’s Nürburgring test facility.
The pretty Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Convertible is an all-electric concept car for now. However, there is a very good chance that Bentley will turn this into reality by the end of 2018, but with petrol power and the possibility of a hybrid variant too.
The original Alpine A110, produced between 1961 and 1977, is famous as the small, fast and nimble sportscar that won the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally.
After years in limbo, the brand is back with a namesake recast as a 21st Century interpretation with a 252hp 1.8 litre turbocharged four driving the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.
The original was light, and while the new car is larger and heavier, the aluminium construction means its 1,103kg kerb weight is around the same as a Mini Cooper and 200kg less than a 718 Cayman, whose price point it is aimed at. Alpine speaks of a 4.5 sec 0-200km/h time and 250km/h top speed.