Geneva Motor Show: the preview
On March 5 the world's automotive media will descend on Geneva for the most important motor show of the year. We'll be there to see it all unfold and bring you the tastiest morsels from a wide and varied menu. Here's a preview of the most interesting cars of the show - those that we know about in any case, as there are always a few surprises.
Though the Geneva Show will be packed to the rafters with supercars, sports coupés and concepts, we reckon that this year's event will be remembered for the launch of several particularly green cars. In terms of pure electric models, the Chevrolet Spark EV makes its European debut, while BMW's i3 will be on display in 'near production' format. All-electric concepts are promised from Toyota, in the form of the two-seat iRoad, and Mitsubishi's CA-MiEV.
But the biggest news comes from the Volkswagen Group and its roll out of hybrid-electric technology. First up is the Audi A3 e-tron, which packs a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. It uses just 1.5 litres of fuel per 100km (188mpg) and emits just 35g/km, yet has 204hp at its disposal. Eclipsing even that will be the Volkswagen XL1, tipped to be the most 'fuel-efficient production car in the world'. Details of its plug-in hybrid system are scant, but we've been told that it uses only 0.9 litres/100km (313mpg) and can run on electric power alone for up to 50 kilometres.
We'll get to the truly exciting cars in a minute, but the Geneva show is also well represented by models that Irish drivers are most likely to be driving within a year or so. The highlights include Citroen's Technospace concept (previewing a new C4 Picasso), Honda's Civic Wagon, the all-new Nissan Note, Peugeot's 2008 crossover, the Skoda Octavia Estate, Suzuki S-Cross, Toyota Auris Touring Sports (aka, the estate) and six updated Volvos.
It used to be so easy to categorise what was an SUV, but with crossovers all the rage that's becoming more difficult. New SUVs in Geneva include the 310hp Audi RS Q3, a concept version of the Opel Adam called the Rocks, Renault's stylish new Captur, Subaru's Viziv concept and the Cross up!, a Volkswagen up! made to look a little like an SUV. Subaru and Toyota will also give new the Forester and RAV4 their European debuts.
Most of the new luxury cars on display in Geneva will have some sporting DNA in them too. None more so than the 322km/h Bentley Flying Spur. The four-door saloon has been comprehensively restyled and it's more stylish than ever. Occupying the same lofty position in the stratosphere will be the new Rolls-Royce Wraith, essentially a powerful coupé version of the Ghost saloon. Coming back down to Earth, BMW is using Geneva to launch its unusual 3 Series Gran Turismo model, Mercedes-Benz will reveal its revamped E-Class line-up and Lexus shows Europe its new IS saloon for the first time.
Car nuts rejoice: the list of sporty cars coming to Geneva is longer than the list for any of the other categories. In terms of hot hatches, there'll be the 300hp Audi S3 Sportback, the 360hp Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, Peugeot's new 208 GTi and the super-sharp SEAT Leon SC. Joining them will be Kia's first foray into sporty cars in the shapes of the pro_cee'd and cee'd GT. They'll sit next to a coupé concept too. The most talked about cars of the show are likely to be the 916hp McLaren P1, which employs a hybrid system for added responsiveness, and the rumoured Ferrari Enzo replacement. Further down the ladder in terms of price, but not in appeal, will be the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 4C, Porsche 911 GT3 and an open-topped version of the Toyota GT86.