The Top 25 Debuts of the 2012 Geneva Motor Show
The Geneva Motor Show is one of the auto industry’s best-known rites of Spring. Every March, the motoring world converges on the lakeside Swiss metropolis to gawk at all the new models (vehicular and otherwise) on neutral ground. It’s absolutely one of the crown jewels of the international auto show calendar.
And because it’s such a prestigious show, the manufacturers tend to bring their best production and concept cars to the Geneva Palexpo. This means picking out the best of the best is a mighty daunting task, which is why we’ve decided to expand the field to 25. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hop to it.
Brabus Bullit Coupe 800
The expert Mercedes-Benz tuners at Brabus have been cramming boosted V12s into E-Classes for years now, creating stupid-fast mid-size monsters. But Brabus is thinking even smaller with the Bullit Coupe 800, which is based on the C-Class Coupe. The twin-turbo V12’s displacement has been bumped from 5.5L to 6.3L, helping to yield 800hp and an electronically-limited 811 lb.-ft of torque (If transmission durability wasn’t a concern, peak torque would be a bat-scat 1,047 lb.-ft.). Sprints to 62 mph happen in 3.7 seconds on the way to a top speed in excess of 230 mph. Lordy, Gordy.
Gumper Apollo Enraged
The Gumpert Apollo certainly isn’t the prettiest supercar on the planet, but it is a frontrunner for the title of most badass. Now Gumpert looks to lay sole claim to that title with the aptly-named Apollo Enraged. Along with the seemingly obligatory matte black paint and stripes, the Audi-supplied 4.2L twin-turbo V8 has been tuned to produce 780hp, and weight has been trimmed down to 2,590 lbs. And in case that isn’t extreme enough, Gumpert also used Geneva to premiere the Apollo R, a track-only number clocking in at 860hp and 2,425 lbs. “Pure German Speed,” indeed.
Lotus Exige S Roadster
With the Lotus Elise on hiatus, the British marque needed a new open-top car. Now it has one in the form of the Exige S Roadster. The same supercharged 3.5L Toyota V6 found in the Exige S Coupe and Evora S provides the power (345 ponies worth), while the cockpit is capped by a standard removable fabric top or an optional removable hardtop. Alas, like the rest of the Exige lineup, there are no plans to sell the Roadster here.
Ford Fiesta ST
We’re quite stoked about the pending arrival of the Ford Focus ST, but it’s not Ford’s smallest hot hatch. That title belongs to the new Fiesta ST, a three-door thriller with a turbocharged punch. The engine is the same 1.6L EcoBoost four that will see base motor duty in the 2013 Escape and Fusion, producing 177hp and paired with a 6-speed manual transmission. As with the regular three-door Fiesta, there are no plans to bring the ST to the U.S. at this point. Of course, that’s not to say a five-door ST won’t eventually make it here…
Infiniti Emerg-E Concept
Considering Infiniti is a major sponsor of the Red Bull F1 team, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that it would roll out a mid-engine supercar concept. Nor should it be a huge surprise that it would feature a hybrid drivetrain (making 400hp, to boot). But we are surprised how freakin’ gorgeous it looks. Most recent Infiniti concepts have looked rather gimmicky; the Emerg-E‘s styling is clean, straightforward and altogether sexy. Fingers crossed for a production version.
“Less weight” and “more power” are two phrases we and most other gearheads really like to hear. So you can imagine how intrigued we are by the new third generation Porsche Boxster, codenamed the 981. The aluminum body cuts weight by 55 lb. over its predecessors, while both the base Boxster and Boxster S get a bit more muscle: The former by way of a new direct-injected 2.7L flat-six making 265hp, the latter with a direct-injected 3.4L flat-six with 315hp. Transmission choices for both remain a 6-speed manual or 7-speed PDK twin-clutch. Look for both to land in U.S. showrooms this summer.
Wiesmann MF3 Final Edition
Even though BMW quit building M models powered by the S54 3.2L straight-six four years ago, it has still been selling those engines to Wiesmann for use in the MF3 roadster. Well, that’s coming to an end, and the tiny German carmaker is sending the 343hp rocket out in style with the MF3 Final Edition. Style that’s been developed, we might add, by Sieger, the famed fashion house. Only 18 MF3 Final Editions will be built, each with a different paint scheme. No word on how many of them, if any, are still available.
For better or worse, the Ferrari California has garnered a stigma as being the choice of the poseur. You know, the famous-for-being-famous skank-of-the-week who buys it simply because “It’s a Ferrari, except, like, cute.” The 2013 model might start to change that. It’s lighter (by about 70 lb.), more powerful (by 30hp, for a total of 490hp), and available with a more aggressive Handling Speciale package. Enhancements like that will make any car (okay, almost any car) more butch.
Audi RS4 Avant
If there’s one thing we automotive journalists like more than station wagons, it’s high performance station wagons. And the new Audi RS4 Avant is a pretty high performer. Under the hood, you’ll find the same 450hp 4.2L V8 as the RS5, plus the same 7-speed dual clutch transmission and quattro AWD system. Alas, as with almost all of the world’s station wagons (hot rod and otherwise), it’s not coming to America. A pox upon the houses of our crossover-hugging, longroof-averse compatriots!
Lamborghini Aventador J
Lamborghinis are extroverted by nature, but the Aventador J is like a bedazzled pink thong and glow-in-the-dark werewolf mask to the rest of the current Lambo lineup’s chicken suits. The same mechanicals as the Aventador (including the 691hp V12) are present and accounted for, but things like the navigation system, air conditioning and, oh yeah, the roof and windshield have been ditched. The example pictured is the only one that will be built, and it’s already been sold for a cool $2.75 million.
Less than a decade ago, the Enzo was the fastest and most capable roadgoing Ferrari ever. Fast forward to today, and Maranello’s most recent halo car is upstaged by the 458 Italia and 599 GTO. Now you can add the 599 range’s replacement, the F12berlinetta. The name may be hokey, but this car is anything but pokey: The 6.3L V12 under the hood belts out 731hp and takes just 3.1 seconds to hit 62 mph. Makes you wonder how crazy Ferrari’s next super-exotic will be…
Bentley EXP 9 F Concept
With Porsche selling Cayennes by the boatload, we aren’t surprised corporate cousin Bentley is dipping its toe into those waters. We can’t say we like the result, the EXP 9 F Concept, but it has all the goods (6.0L turbo W12, posh interior, etc.) you’d expect to find in a Bentley. You can bet the rap stars and pro athletes of the world are lined up umpteen deep doing their best Fry impressions, so we’d be flabbergasted if a Bentley SUV doesn’t reach production. We just hope it looks nothing like this…this…machine…
Although the company tries to avoid talking about it in this country (Sprinter vans and chassis cabs excepted), Mercedes-Benz sells much more than luxury cars and SUVs globally. Vans, buses, big rigs, stripped-down sedans with steel wheels and cloth seats, and front-drive hatchbacks all wear the three-pointed star overseas, and the newest of those hatchbacks is the third generation A-Class. Previewed as a concept last year, the new A is lower and larger than its tall, stubby predecessors, and offers a variety of four-cylinder gas and diesel engines with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Mercedes-Benz says it will begin selling some smaller-than-C-Class cars here within a year or two, but hasn’t said if the new A will be one of them. Watch this space, boys and girls.
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse
The sands in the mighty Bugatti Veyron’s hourglass are running out, but that doesn’t mean the VW-owned brand has resigned itself to phoning it in until it rolls out its next product line. Case in point: The Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, which is essentially an open-top version of the Veyron Super Sport. Armed with the same 8.0L quad-turbo W16 putting down the same 1,200hp as the Super Sport, the Grand Sport Vitesse (“vitesse” being the French word for speed) should easily be the fastest (and most expensive) convertible on Earth.
Morgan Plus E
In a world where most automakers strive to stay hip and fresh, Britain’s Morgan is proudly and steadfastly anachronistic. Whether it’s the pre-WWII styling influences, the use of wooden structural components, or the recent revival of its milestone three-wheeler, the little company from Malvern generally refuses to get with the times. That changes with the Plus E Concept. Not only is this yellow roadster powered by a Zytek electric motor (producing 94hp and 221 lb.-ft of torque), but it also features a next-generation aluminum chassis that appears to have done away with the wood. Maybe nothing is sacred after all.
Mansory McLaren MP4-12C
Lately, it seems like tuner Mansory has grown up. It seems to have traded flamboyant colors and body kits with more scoops than the entire Baskin-Robbins chain for considerably more subdued visual upgrade packages. Exhibit A: Its take on the McLaren MP4-12C. Mansory not only adds the handsome body kit, but also engine upgrades to lift output to 670hp. Top speed is also lifted to 219 mph. We’re starting to like this new, more mature side of Mansory.
Hamann Hawk Roadster
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster is one of the baddest droptops on this interstellar rock we call home. But the tuning wizards at Hamann have made it even badder…so much so that it now goes by the name Hamann Hawk Roadster. There’s the obligatory bulging body kit, giant hoops and retrimmed interior, plus more power under the hood. In total, there’s 636hp under that big carbon fiber hood, blasting the Hawk to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph. That’ll get your hair dry in a hurry.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
It’s hard to believe that the XF Sportbrake is only the second station wagon built by Jaguar, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s also a total looker, with an XJ-ish “floating” roof and low-profile chrome roof rails for securing bicycle racks and what have you. Engine choices are a pair of turbodiesels (a 2.2L four and a 3.0L V6), both connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Unsurprisingly, Jaguar has no plans to offer this commodious kitty Stateside, even with a gas engine. Foo…
Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera Disco Volante Concept
Sixty years ago, Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera (Touring to its friends.) created the Alfa Romeo based C 52 concept. It quickly garnered the nickname “Disco Volante” (Italian for “Flying Saucer”) for its spacey styling. The new homage to that legendary car is based on the bones of the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, meaning propulsion comes courtesy of a 4.7L V8 making 443hp. But the best news of all is that Touring plans on building and selling multiple (though we’re guessing not many) examples of the Disco Volante. Nice.
Long wheelbase sedans are all the rage in China, which explains why Ruf apparently saw fit to stretch the Porsche Panamera to create the RXL. All told, 15¾ inches have been added between the front and rear wheels, creating a positively palatial back seat. The downside is the lengthening makes the Panamera’s polarizing looks even more polarizing. Of course, being a Panamera (especially one that’s been gone over by Ruf), it should be just fast enough to outrun its ugliness, along with most other L model saloons.
Spain isn’t exactly a hotbed of supercar building activity, but upstart GTA plans to change that with the monstrous Spano. Powered by an 8.3L V10 (presumably Dodge-sourced) putting down 840hp, GTA says the Spano will hit 62 mph from rest in 2.9 seconds. Expect deliveries to begin later this year, and expect the price tag to be eye-wateringly high.
BMW M550d xDrive
To hear most BMW fans tell it, it’s the End Times: The iconic M badge is being applied to more and more un-M-like vehicles. Seeing the new M550d xDrive, we’re starting to think the fanboys might be onto something. Don’t get us wrong: The idea of an AWD sport sedan (or wagon!) powered by a 376hp, 546 lb.-ft 3.0L triple-turbo diesel straight-six (that gets 37 mpg, we might add) is straight-up bomb in our book. We just don’t think it’s quite deserving of the vaunted chrome M. Of course, it’s way more worthy than the X5 and X6 with the same engine.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II
Not about to let former sister brand Bentley get the upper hand in the ultra-luxury market, Rolls-Royce has updated the Phantom family (Saloon, Coupe and Drophead Coupe) to become the Phantom Series II. The front end has new LED lighting, and there’s a larger screen in the dashboard for functions like the 3D navigation system and back-up camera. As far as mechanical tweaks, an 8-speed automatic transmission replaces the Series I’s 6-speed, and fuel economy improves by a claimed 10% as a result. We’re guessing most Phantom buyers aren’t terribly concerned about operating costs, though.
Volvo is replacing the three-door, 1800ES-inspired C30 with the five-door V40…just not in America. That blows like a Category 5 hurricane, because this handsome hatchback serves up a menu of engines that includes a turbocharged inline-five rated at 254hp, plus the world’s first pedestrian airbag (a U-shaped cushion that inflates to cover the cowl, lower windshield and A-pillars in the event of a car vs. human collision). It bears repeating: Damn our hatchback and wagon hating countrymen.
Finally, it wouldn’t be the Geneva Motor Show without a vehicle that, upon looking at it, made you momentarily wonder if you were high. However, instead of being a product of Sbarro or Rinspeed (the usual bringers of the weirdness), this oddity is from Finnish engineering firm and car-factory-for-hire Valmet, and is called the Dawn. Apparently, it’s intended to show off Valmet’s EV and hybrid engineering prowess; we say it looks like a Can-Am racer from the Blade Runner universe, or at the very least something from the 2028 Hot Wheels lineup.