The Geneva Motor Show is one of our favourite events of the year, not to mention the largest of its kind in Europe. It’s a place for the world’s car manufacturers to meet on neutral ground and show off their latest models, both production and concept, to the assembled public and press. It’s not the only motor show in the world, but it’s arguably the most influential, and on the ‘media preview day’ next Tuesday, March 5th, there’s bound to be big news.
Here’s what we can reasonably anticipate at the show in terms of new and prototype models.
Alfa Romeo’s return to Formula 1 will take centre stage on its Geneva stand this year, though fans of the Italian brand’s road cars will not be disappointed. A revamped Giulietta hatchback will make its debut in Veloce and Executive trim, the former being powered (rather oddly, all things considered) by a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine. It looks great, but the Giulietta is pretty average in comparison to more mainstream players in the C-segment space.
The Stelvio will be in Geneva in ‘Turizmo Internazionale’ specification, too. The Ti badge has been fastened to a 276bhp version of the brand’s first SUV, which will be capable of 143mph and which will reach 62mph in just 5.7 seconds. It’s nowhere near as quick as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, a sub-4.0 super-SUV, but does offer something a little bit dynamic for buyers who find the vanilla Stelvio just a little bit sluggish.
The Lagonda brand will be resuscitated in 2021. There are no prizes for guessing what form its first model will take – hybrid SUVs are flavour du jour, and even Aston Martin is keen to cash in on the crossover craze – but expect some excitement when the design is revealed on Tuesday. This won’t be a mass-market production model like the DBX, and only 500 will be built, so the ‘Project 003’ will likely sit alongside the Valkyrie in terms of scarcity.
We’re as bored as you are with electric SUVs, so we’ll forgive you if you skip this one. Audi’s Q4 E-Tron is a fully electric soft-roader with a fully-ridiculous radiator grille. It’ll have a motor on each axle, and while we don’t have performance figures yet, we expect it’ll be pretty quick off the mark. All we’ve seen are stylised sketches, so the Q4 should draw some attention in the metal next week, but whether it proves as popular when it goes on sale in 2021 remains to be seen.
At the other end of the interestingness spectrum is the TT RS, which goes on sale in April. Its characterful five-cylinder 2.5-litre engine produces just shy of 400bhp and drives all four wheels, a setup capable of launching the coupé – once derided as a bit fashionable, the TT has spent the past two decades evolving into a very serious car.
“The new TT RS is in absolute peak form,” says Michael-Julius Renz, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH. “Like a well-trained athlete, it showcases even more prominently how much power lies beneath its muscular outer skin.”
Right. Well, aside from that, Audi will also be bringing the new A6 Allroad, a sophisticated estate car with off-road pretentions. Rural readers, especially those with dogs, take note.
Bentley turns 100 years old this year, and to celebrate the occasion will bring a special edition, Blower-inspired Continental GT to Geneva. We don’t know much about it beyond what the teaser images show us, but we’re hoping to see a big white number on the radiator grille like a 1920s racer.
We might be treated to a preview of the new Flying Spur, which won’t be ready for another few months but which will probably go on sale before the end of the year.
‘M’ versions of the X3 and the X4 SUVs will probably be the fourth and fifth most talked-about models on the BMW stand this year, as the world continues to drool over souped-up crossovers. These two are very similar cars, sharing the same straight-six and basically identical mechanical underpinnings. Obviously the SUV format means massive dynamic compromises, but anyone who desperately wants an M3 or M5 Touring might still be tempted.
However, the main event will be the facelifted 7 Series and its new brother, the X7. The 7 Series saloon has been Beemer’s range-topper for decades, but times are changing, and it now needs a similarly opulent SUV in order to continue dominating this space. We’re not convinced by the styling of these models (consensus on the motoring desk ranges from “overwrought” to “disgusting”) nor by the X7’s ability to compete in what is becoming an extremely crowded market, but traditional good taste has never really affected this sort of car.
The Ami One is already our favourite car from the show, and we’re still a few days away. This minimalist two-seat city car sits somewhere between a dockless scooter and a Smart car in terms of practicality, with Citroen (naturally) claiming it as the future of urban mobility. Its fully electric drive system has a range of about 100 miles between charges, which can be achieved in a couple of hours using a wall box, making this a two-seat Twizy with more than a soupcon of 2CV.
The pictures we’ve seen show a basic, chunky, rugged-looking cabin, resembling that of a public transport vehicle rather than a car. What’s more, it’s a “light quadricycle” under French regulations. While this is less useful in the UK, it means that young teenagers in France might be able to drive this instead of riding a moped. We’re excited about this, and about what it could mean for the future of driving.
It’s hard to think of a worse name than ‘Formentor’, redolent as it is of both ‘Dementor’ and ‘fermented’. The fermented Dementor is the first proper in-house car from Cupra (which Seat has been trying to position as a standalone brand for over a year) and doesn’t look too bad on paper. A plug-in hybrid powertrain producing 424bhp makes it relatively punchy, and a claimed 31-mile zero-emission battery-only range makes it pretty usable in town, but will this upstart badge be able to compete with the extremely established old guard in this overcrowded family SUV segment? What’s more, whose idea was it to call this four-door SUV a “coupé”?
Remember Ginetta? This relatively tiny British manufacturer has been building sports cars and racers for over half a century, without ever properly breaking into the mainstream. And while their new product, a 600bhp hypercar, is unlikely to sell in significant numbers, it’s one of the most exciting (and viable) performance cars being unveiled at Geneva by a UK manufacturer.
Powered by a naturally aspirated V8 engine, the exceptionally lairy-looking Le Mans-style machine is clearly quite a serious machine. But the claimed downforce of 376kg at 100mph begs the question – how will it handle at, say, 20mph? Road-going race cars are all well and good, but not if they bin themselves on roundabouts.
Will Honda’s little electric hatchback become the Jimny of 2019? Its cute, chunky, retro styling could go some way to mitigate its pretty underwhelming specs, with a range of just over 100 miles and only four seats. Honda reckons this is all you need for urban mobility, but with similarly sized EVs like the 208 offering significantly more versatility, we suspect that the Honda E Prototype is something you’ll buy with your heart rather than your head.
The photos we’ve seen of Kia’s all-new electric car concept are inconclusive, but it could become one of the lowkey stars of Geneva if it’s as handsome as they keep saying. Modeled loosely on a muscle car, the concept shows that not every EV has to be a crossover or urban hatch.
The Mazda 3 is one of the few conventionally attractive machines on display at Geneva this year. While other manufacturers reject notions of beauty in favour of aggressive masculinity, Mazda has built a hatchback which is understated, pretty, and compact.
Mazda will also be bringing (yet another) SUV, this one called the CX-4. It will sit, rather unsurprisingly, between the CX-3 and the CX-5, which are both extremely competent cars.
McLaren is one of only a small number of British marques attending Geneva 2019; Land Rover and Jaguar, which represent a sizeable chunk of the UK’s automotive industry, haven’t been able to justify a presence there. The 720S Spider, which we’ve already sampled, will be on the stand, as will a customer-ready version of the Senna GT R hypercar. We hope they’ll have brought the Speedtail with them, too.
The CLA Shooting Brake will ‘brake’ cover next week. This might be the compact premium estate that the market needs to remind it that SUVs are measurably worse than their long-roof counterparts, though we expect the facelifted GLC to garner more attention at the show this year.
The ASX has always been a runner-up in Britain’s great SUV race, so the introduction of a new one could go one of two ways for Mitsubishi. It’ll either be a comprehensively overhauled model suitable to compete with class leaders such as Nissan’s Qashqai, or it’ll be a continuation of the same left-field thinking that has made the Japanese brand so successful in some areas – and so unsuccessful in others.
A lot will depend on the price. The new ASX will be available with two- or four-wheel-drive, the latter being something Mitsubishi traditionally does quite well. Whether it represents a large enough chunk of the market to support this model remains to be seen, however.
A new Morgan is a once-in-a-generation event, and 2019 sees the introduction of just such a machine. With a new chassis and a powerful inline six, the latest Mog will probably be the company’s sportiest yet. Stay tuned for more on Tuesday.
The Peugeot 208 is rapidly rising to become one of the most important small cars in Europe. This is partly because it’ll come with either a petrol or electric powertrain, which is still unusual; most models are designed pretty much either-or. We like the way it looks, and if our experience with larger Peugeots is anything to go by, the interior should be of reasonable quality too.
We haven’t even driven Polestar 1 yet, but next week we’ll get our first glimpses of Polestar 2, which is a smart-looking electric hatchback crossover. With a claimed range of 300 miles and a price of around £35,000 for the entry-level model, this Volvo spinoff is designed to occupy the space not yet filled by Tesla’s Model 3.
Porsche has taken an angle grinder to its latest 911. The Cabriolet is mechanically similar to the hard top, and will be available in Carrera S or Carrera 4S (rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive respectively) just like the Coupe. There are some dynamic differences though, with the soft-top cars accelerating differently and topping out at an imperceptibly less manic vmax.
The archetypal French supermini returns, stylish and affordable as ever. This is one of the most popular cars in Europe, especially in its native France, where young buyers flock to it like Brits do to the Corsa. The new model is slightly prettier and much better equipped, offering one of the most infotainment-led cabins in the segment.
Seat will bring its all-new electric hatchback to the Geneva Motor Show next week. With a range of 300 miles or so, and seemingly Golf-like proportions, the new model could be in the right place at the right time (with the right price) when it launches in 2020.
More exciting, but less practical, is the Minimo, a Twizy-alike with two seats and a diminutive footprint. It’ll have over 60 miles of theoretical range (like the Renault) but at this point it’s designed for battery swaps rather than charging. This is welcome news for buyers who don’t have anywhere to charge an EV overnight.
It’s another Volkswagen Group crossover. The Skoda Kamiq will draw alongside the Nissan Juke in the medium-sized SUV market, hopefully bringing a bit of Czech practicality with it. It’ll be available with a choice of petrol engines or one diesel option, though there’s no sign of an electric version yet. It’ll be large enough, too, and a focus on rear passengers means that there’s more legroom on the back bench than you get in the Octavia.
We’re always fairly excited when a new SsangYong comes along. Quirky and left-field, a bit like Subaru below, this South Korean manufacturer has been quietly producing reasonably proficient SUVs for longer than pretty much anybody else. The new Korando is unlikely to be front page news, but in a sea of SUVs it at least stands out.
It’ll be available with two smallish engines, one petrol and one diesel, with real off-road ability. This model competes very indirectly with 4x4s such as Toyota’s Land Cruiser, but for many British buyers it’s a brand new alternative to a second hand Discovery. SsangYong says that the Korando will receive an electric powertrain in the next few years.
Subaru makes a belated entry into the e-hyphen market with the e-Boxer hybrid system, which incorporates a modest electric motor built into the transmission. It won’t be capable of zero-emission driving, but it will give a slight torque boost where necessary, reducing emissions and making Subaru’s CVT powertrain just that little bit weirder. We’ll probably see this new technology in a Forester at Geneva.
The launch of the Supra has dragged on to the point where most of us are bored with it already. We’ve already driven its sister car, the BMW Z7, and found it underwhelming, but we’re hoping that the Japanese interpretation of the recipe delivers a rather more exciting road experience.
I.D. has become ID. Still presumably pronounced I.D., this long-running series of EV concepts has been a mainstay of European motor shows for years, and this year we’re getting a sort of beach buggy in addition to the usual driverless pods and urban mobility ‘solutions’. It’ll probably never reach production, but it’s a fun reminder of how the MEB platform reflects the Beetle’s chassis in terms of versatility and the variety of vehicles it can underpin.
There’s a new Passat, too, which is hard to get hugely excited about, as well as a new Caravelle. Hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of the Grand California, a larger version of the iconic camper van that even comes with a shower and loo.
There are already dozens of gauche, expensive and dynamically compromised ‘hot SUVs’ at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, but don’t worry – there could be one more. Volkswagen has decided to enter the fray with the T-Roc R, which will be a bit like a Golf R Estate, but without the practicality.
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