2015 Geneva Motor Show: The Top 20 Debuts
If it’s March, it’s Geneva Motor Show time. And the 2015 edition has been one of the most performance-oriented we can remember, with a bumper crop of high-horsepower (and high-style) rides practically bursting through the doors of the expo hall. But the following 20 rides are the ones that we consider to be as tasty as the landlocked nation’s finest chocolate.
Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept
While about 98.3% of this year’s Geneva Motor Show debuts were unveiled well before the Palexpo doors were opened, none of the 1.7% of premieres that were true surprises could hold a candle to the day-of debutant from Bentley, the EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept. The proportions and greenhouse shape might shout “Aston Martin,” but the four-eyed, big grille front and sculpted “pontoon” rear quarter panels are pure Bentley. Ditto the lavishly-appointed two-seat interior. No mention of what would reside under the bonnet of this dream car, let alone a hypothetical production version, but considering it has “Speed 6” in the name, we’re willing to bet it would be a VW Group six-cylinder of some persuasion; Audi’s supercharged 3.0L V6 would fit the bill quite nicely, though maybe not as nicely as Porsche’s 3.6L twin-turbo V6…
Ford Focus RS
It wasn’t so long ago that Ford failing to send the bitchin’ hot hatches it sold in Europe and elsewhere to the United States was as predictable as the sun rising in the east and Kanye picking other people’s acceptance speeches to profess his Beyonce fandom. That (finally) changed with the arrival of the current Focus ST, followed closely by the Fiesta ST. Now Ford is really trying to make up for past transgressions in the form of the Focus RS, a five-door fire-breather with a hankering for Evo, WRX STI and Golf R flesh. A minimum of 316 horsepower will come from the EcoBoost 2.3L turbo inline-four under the hood, while a 6-speed manual transmission and a high-tech all-wheel-drive system – the first compact fast Ford to turn all four tires since the iconic Escort RS Cosworth of the 1990s – puts the power to the pavement. We can’t wait to crack open this five-door can of whoopass.
Audi Prologue Avant Concept
Audi managed to separate us from our socks at the Los Angeles Auto Show back in November with its Prologue Concept, an achingly-sexy large two-door hardtop coupe that foretells the styling language of the brand’s future mid- and full-size cars. Now comes the Prologue Avant Concept, which previews Audi’s next generation of station wagons (most of which we won’t be getting over here, grumble grumble…) and, oh lord is it, as the kids say, teh s3x. Better still, it’s propelled by a 3.0L twin-turbo diesel V6 and a plug-in hybrid drive system which divvies out a combined 455 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft of torque. Audi says the Prologue Avant Concept will cover as much as 33 miles on a charge and zip to 62 mph in 5.1 seconds, though presumably not at the same time. This is, to paraphrase an old advertising tagline, not your grandparents’ Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 has been one of the category’s most successful competitors, so it’s with some trepidation that the company is replacing it with a new racecar based on the Mercedes-AMG GT. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 features the expected fatter fenders, gutted interior with roll cage, and aero appendages including a big-honkin’ rear wing. But instead of the production GT’s 4.0L twin-turbo V8, the GT3 sticks with the tried-and-true naturally-aspirated 6.2L V8 of its forebear. Expect to see this track titan enter a few GT3 races later this year, with an eye toward widespread availability to numerous customers and, as a result, series come 2016.
Ferrari 488 GTB
Downsized and turbocharged engines are all the rage these days, but surely Ferrari wouldn’t jump on that bandwagon with the 458 Italia…would it? Well, as it turns out, it would, and is. The 488 GTB – which is quite obviously a direct descendent of the 458 – ditches the melodious old 4.5L atmo V8 and drops in a 3.9L twin-turbo V8 based on the one in the prow of the California T. In 488 GTB tune, it conjures 661 horsepower and 561 lb.-ft of torque, figures Ferrari says are sufficient to spirit this beast to 62 mph in three seconds flat and beyond 205 mph flat out. Sure, the throttle response and exhaust music will almost certainly be muted compared to the 458, but the numbers mentioned above will make that a little easier to swallow.
Kia Sportspace Concept
The current Kia Optima still looks rather fresh, but the company is already previewing the styling direction it intends to take with the next generation mid-size sedan with…a station wagon. But the Kia Sportspace Concept isn’t just any station wagon, mind you: It features a low-slung roof and a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four belting out 247 horsepower, meaning it’s as much about go as it is show. Of course, on the off chance there is a wagon version of the next-gen Optima, you’d better believe it wouldn’t come here, but because this is currently just a concept, not even Europeans can have it. Now they know how we American wagon fans feel…
Porsche Cayman GT4
From a physics standpoint, the mid-engined Porsche Cayman has a leg up on the rear-engined Porsche 911. However, the company has kept a tight lid on the Cayman’s overall performance capabilities – thereby protecting the 911’s flagship status – since its introduction. That careful partitioning of potential has apparently come to an end, as the new Cayman GT4 packs a 3.8L flat-six rated at 385 horsepower. It’s matched exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission (No PDK for you, Westside trophy wives!) and a chassis setup sharp enough to bifurcate tissue paper. In fact, other than the electrically-boosted power steering, the Cayman GT4 is probably the most purist-pleasing Porsche since 997-chassis 911 GT3 production ended, and should go a long way toward muzzling complaints about future sedan and SUV introductions.
Aston Martin Vulcan
Aston Martin has, for much of its history, been a favorite brand among the “gentleman racers” of the world. The latest and perhaps most extreme bone Aston Martin has thrown at this demographic is the Vulcan. Just 24 of these front-engined not-for-street-use track specials will be made, each with a comprehensive aerodynamics package, Michelin slick tires and a screaming 7.0L V12 pushing out at least 800 horsepower. And instead of handing leadfooted one-percenters the keys and hoping they don’t smash their cars and themselves to bits, Aston Martin will instead be providing Vulcan owners comprehensive track driving instruction from professional drivers like Darren Turner; of course, for an anticipated price tag over $1 million, you’d expect it to come with such a big-ticket perk.
Honda Civic Type-R
As entertaining as every generation of Honda Civic Si has been, they’ve all been understudies to the corresponding generation of Civic Type-R. And the latest Civic Type-R takes Honda’s hottest hatchback to a place it’s never been before: The magical land of turbocharging. The all-new turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0L inline-four makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft of torque is teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission and…front-wheel-drive (Helloooo, torquesteer!). Even so, Honda says this beastie will blast to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds, top out at 167 mph, and lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in about seven minutes and 50 seconds. Oh, and they’re still (Still!) not sending it here, though rumors persist the engine will find its way into a U.S. market Civic in a few years (and Soichiro help them if it’s detuned to 220 horsepower, only installed in a sedan, offered with an automatic or otherwise significantly wussified during translation, for we fear the VTEC geeks will egg-and-TP American Honda’s Torrance, California H.Q. with extreme prejudice if that comes to pass).
While most outside observers would call Mercedes-Benz’s attempt at resurrecting the Maybach nameplate earlier this century a flop, it would appear that the company itself thinks the only significant error it made was trying to make it a standalone brand. The new Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand rolled out its extended-wheelbase, extended-poshness version of the S600 here in L.A. in November, and it’s using Geneva to premiere the Pullman, which features an even longer wheelbase (allowing for the fitment of rear-facing jump seats to bring passenger capacity up to six) and slightly higher roof, plus a divider for those times you want privacy when negotiating a multi-billion dollar merger or plotting atrocities that will get your ass dragged to the Hague (Hey, don’t blame us, blame the Third World despots who bought the classic 600 Pullman in droves back in the day.). With all the creature comforts and space an outsized ego could want (plus optional armoring), don’t be surprised to see private jet values take a dip as more used ones come onto the market.
The McLaren 650S isn’t what we would call “slow,” but that’s not stopping its maker from using it to create an even more extreme sporting machine: The 675LT. As you might have guessed, the “675” in its name refers to the output of the 3.8L twin-turbo V8 in metric horsepower, which works out to a devilish 666 horsepower on the SAE scale. And what of the “LT?” That’s a nod to the McLaren F1 GTR “Longtail,” a car to which the 675LT pays homage with its lengthened rear spoiler. Couple all that with about 220 lbs. less mass than the 650S and this coupe-only Mac is ready to make like a pissed off chimp and rip that grin off the 458 Speciale’s face.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Despite being the fastest, most powerful and most nimble base 911 GT3 yet, the current 991-chassis version still draws all kinds of ire from purists. The new GT3 RS certainly won’t make them shut up about the compulsory PDK transmission, electrically-boosted four-wheel steering and an engine not designed by Hans Mezger (because it retains all of those things), but it will at least make their bitching harder to hear. The RS’s flat-six engine gets enlarged to 4.0L, with a corresponding bump in output to 500 horsepower and 338 lb.-ft of torque. Throw in unique bodywork (including a magnesium roof and carbon fiber front and rear compartment lids, in addition to the obvious new front and rear fascias, front and rear fender vents and towering rear wing), a redesigned transmission that incorporates a “paddle neutral” function that works like depressing a clutch pedal, a pit lane speed limiter and more modest interior accommodations and you have a track day deity. Prices will start at $175,900 (plus destination) when U.S. deliveries begin in July.
Kahn Design Flying Huntsman 110 WB 6×6 Concept
Mercedes-AMG’s decision to build a limited run of six-wheel, six-wheel-drive G63 AMGs has no doubt gotten the cogs in the performance aftermarket’s collective brain turning; why else would Land Rover tuner extraordinaire Kahn Design bring this brute to the land of cuckoo clocks and kickass pocket knives? Dubbed the Flying Huntsman 110 WB 6×6 Concept, this super SUV features Kahn Design’s extended nose conversion (housing a 430 horsepower 6.2L LS3 V8 from GM), flared fenders and a spruced-up interior. But the real conversation-starter is the tandem rear axles, meaning this demonic Defender should have 50% more traction than a stock one. No confirmation if it can also outrun an Edsel, but we’re guessing it can.
That exotic-car-building powerhouses Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren have all built hybrid-drive hypercars shouldn’t come as a massive surprise. But when plucky little Koenigsegg decides to tap-in for this brawl, that should at the very minimum raise one eyebrow. Of course, because this is Koenigsegg we’re talking about, the car itself – called the Regera, which is Swedish for “to reign” – will do much, much more. Sure, it’s got the company’s 5.0L twin-turbo V8 barking out 1,100 horsepower, but it also has a trio of electric motors contributing another 700 horsepower, though the company will only say total system output is “way over 1,500 horsepower.” Curiously, there’s no transmission on board the Regera; it’s too complicated to fully explain here, but basically the electric motors (one to help the engine rev up faster and one for each rear wheel) assume a transmission’s role of torque multiplication; it sounds really, really clever to us, like “change the way future hybrid drive systems are laid-out” clever. But you’d better get in line fast, because only 80 Regeras will be built.
Aston Martin DBX Concept
We can’t decide if the Aston Martin DBX Concept is more heretical or less heretical than the Scion-wearing-Armani Cygnet. On the one hand, the DBX’s body looks the part of an Aston, and doesn’t share its architecture with an A-segment appliance for city slickers; on the other hand, it’s got a crossover-like tall ride height, and it has all-wheel-drive thanks to four hub-mounted electric motors. Is there a gas (or, dare we say, diesel) engine backing them up? Nope. In any case, Aston Martin is adamant it’s just a concept, but does say that some ideas it presents could show up on future production models depending on what the public makes of them.
Though some questioned the sanity of Audi jumping into the supercar game with the original R8, we don’t think anyone can credibly assert that it hasn’t paid off handsomely for the brand, sprinkling the rest of the lineup with the mystical halo car fairy dust it so dutifully excretes. And this new second-generation R8 looks set to keep that practice going, with sharpened (yet still unmistakably R8) styling and standard 5.2L V10 power (available in regular 532 horsepower and V10 Plus 602 horsepower dosages) coupled to a *resigned sigh* standard 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. An all-electric e-tron version (with 679 lb.-ft of torque and a projected 280 mile range) and a GT3 racecar version will also be available for ordering later this year to provide even more harassment to the supercar establishment.
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003
Movie producer/director turned Wall Street financier James Glickenhaus has a pretty sweet collection of rides, including a pair of late model Ferraris (an Enzo and a race-prepped F430 Scuderia) fitted with custom Pininfarina-designed bodies. But now he’s entering the realm of supercar manufacturer with the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003, a carbon-fiber-tubbed treat that looks a lot like a modern LMP1 or LMP2 racecar. And it should move like a prototype, too: The racing version – the SCG 003C – will use a modified version of Honda Performance Development’s 3.5L twin-turbo V6 designed for sports prototypes and Realtime Racing’s Pirelli World Challenge GT Acura TLX, while the street version – the SCG 003S – will use a different twin-turbo V6 of yet-to-be-identified origin. However, the company says the racecar can easily be converted into the road car, which should help make the projected starting price of roughly $2.3 million a bit easier to digest.
Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso Concept
Many so-called experts insist the era of coachbuilt specials is over, and has been for decades. Okay, maybe one-off and small-run rebodies are few and far between these days, but they’re still being made. And we’ve got to say, one of the prettiest such custom jobs to come along in a long time comes from Italy’s Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera and is based on the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Called the Berlinetta Lusso, this blue beauty replaces many of the production F12’s sharp creases and other modern touches with softer, cleaner lines and retro cues like an enlarged “eggcrate” grille and a tail that recalls the classic 275 GTB and 365 GTB Daytona. Touring says this is the only one it’s building for now, but we’re betting they’ll happily do a few more if enough people who want their F12s to go under the knife step forward.
Brabus Rocket 900
If, for some bizarre reason, you find the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG’s 621 horsepower and 738 lb.-ft of torque to be hopelessly inadequate for your full-size super sedan needs, Brabus has got your back. Its new Rocket 900 package takes the most hooligan of S-Classes and turns it into a leather-jacket-wearing, switchblade-packing delinquent. Aside from the burly body kit, beefy wheels and custom interior touches, Brabus bumps the twin-turbo V12’s displacement from 6.0L to 6.3L which, coupled with other revisions, uncorks 887 horsepower and a brodozer-harassing 1,106 lb.-ft of torque. Then again, a Super Duty on stilts will set you back a lot less than the $400,000 or so a Rocket 900 will.
Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV
The Lamborghini Aventador isn’t exactly a four-wheeled invisibility cloak on par with a white Camry, and the new Aventador LP750-4 SV is even less of one. The latest V12 bull to wear the SV (short for Superveloce, or superspeed) suffix features revised aerodynamics – including a rear wing that would make later model Countachs proud – and extra kick from that 6.5L V12 to yield totals of 740 horsepower and 509 lb.-ft of torque. It’s also about 110 lbs. lighter than the standard model, which certainly contributes to its ability to hit 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and top 217 mph. In other words, it’s fast enough to outrun the crowds of onlookers you’ll gather every time you have to stop.