The Top 20 Debuts of the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
Aside from chocolate, cheese and timepieces, Switzerland is also known for its neutrality. As such, none of the world’s major auto manufacturers hold a distinct advantage when they roll into Geneva for the global car biz’s annual rite of spring (or late winter, anyway), the Geneva Motor Show. As a result, almost all of the world’s major nameplates (and many aftermarket tuners) have it circled on their calendars as a good venue for debuting new concept and production models. Here are 20 of our favorites from this year’s show.
While the Jaguar XKR can hardly be called a slug, what with 500hp and all, 500hp just ain’t what it used to be. To that end, Jaguar has created the XKR-S, which produces 550hp, sprints to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and features enough vents and scoops to keep an HVAC technician amused for weeks. This is one cat we can’t wait to get our own paws on.
MTM Audi R8 Biturbo
In Volkswagen’s supercar hierarchy, the Audi R8 is intentionally kept at the bottom so as not to step on the toes of the Lamborghini and Bugatti lineups. Longtime Audi tuner MTM, however, has no such concerns, meaning they can max out the R8. That’s exactly what they’ve done with this particular example, adding two turbochargers to yield 777hp and a top speed of 217 mph. Oh, and that shiny finish? The aluminum body was stripped down to the bare metal and hand-polished for 700 hours. Zounds.
Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
After lots of conjecture and teasing, Lamborghini’s new halo model – the Aventador LP700-4 – has finally been revealed, and boy was it worth the wait. The company’s all new second generation V12 produces 691hp and drives all four wheels through a 7-speed sequential manual transmission. The body features Reventon-inspired styling as well as racecar tech bits like a carbon fiber passenger compartment and pushrod suspension at all four corners. Expect a price tag in the vicinity of $370,000 when production begins this fall.
Lexus LFA Nürburgring
Although the Lexus LFA is a proper supercar, there are still those who feel it’s a little too much like its stablemates in that it’s compromised somewhat for comfort and practicality. Lexus seeks to silence those critics with the Nürburgring package, named for the legendary 13-mile German racetrack.
For a $70k premium over the base model, you get 10 more horsepower (for a total of 562hp), functional rear spoiler and front splitter, retuned suspension and a lower ride height. Oh, and a one year hot-lapping pass for the Nürburgring and driving lessons from one of the ‘Ring’s pro instructors. But get in line pronto: Of the 500 LFAs that will be built, only 50 will be fitted with the Nürburgring package.
Nissan Esflow Concept
The Nissan Leaf is a fantastic car for eco-conscious motorists looking for an everyday around-town runabout, but it doesn’t exactly move the needle for performance junkies. However, the Japanese automaker is showing what a sporty sibling of the Leaf would be like in the form of the Esflow Concept. It has a pair of electric motors in back (allowing the rear wheels to be powered individually, thus negating the need for a differential) and a lithium-ion battery pack based on the one in the Leaf. Nissan estimates 0-60 sprints of less than 5 seconds and a 150-mile range when conditions are right.
BMW Alpina B5 BiTurbo Touring
BMW Motorsport GmbH may be the German marque’s in-house tuner, but the company is also super cozy with independent tuner Alpina, so much so that Alpina-massaged Bimmers are sold and serviced at BMW dealers. The firm’s latest model, the B5 BiTurbo Touring, is based on the 550i Touring (BMW speak for “wagon”) and has had its 4.4L twin-turbo V8 goosed up to 507hp and 516 lb.-ft. Zero-to-sixty takes less than five seconds, while top speed is 187 mph. Alas, as with the standard BMW 5 Series Touring, the Alpina-fied model is not coming to the U.S. At least we get the X5M and X6M…yeah, that doesn’t make us feel any better either.
Saab PhoeniX Concept
One year after being jettisoned by GM and scooped up by Spyker, Saab is out to prove that it’s still very much alive. And what better way to do that than by creating a concept car named after the mythical bird that rose from its own ashes? A 200hp turbocharged 1.6L four powers all four wheels, and there’s a new Android-powered infotainment system inside called IQon that will be found in production Saabs in the near future. Who would have guessed a little over a year ago that we’d be using “Saab” and “future” in the same sentence?
Aston Martin Virage
While some may question the need for a model to slot between the DB9 and DBS, Aston Martin is adding one anyway in the form of the Virage. Available in coupe or droptop Volante configurations, the Virage’s 6.0L V12 puts out 490hp (20 more than it does in the DB9), includes carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, and revised front and rear styling. Again, we’re still not sure there has to be a stepping stone between the DB9 and DBS, but as fans of fast, beautiful grand tourers, we aren’t going to complain, either.
Alfa Romeo 4C Concept
The Lotus Elise and Exige have received heaps and heaps of praise from people who love driving for the sake of driving due to their lightweight mid-engine designs. And while calling the Alfa Romeo 4C Concept an Italian Exige is tempting, it’s worth remembering that the brand needs a proper performance halo car to replace the 8C Competizione. It’s entirely possible that Alfa Romeo is exploring this avenue on its own accord.
Either way, the 4C features a turbochaged 1.75L four installed amidships and sending about 200hp to the rear wheels via a twin-clutch tranny. Weight is about 1,800 lb., and 0-60 times should be in the four second bracket. Both halves of the drivetrain are cribbed from the production parts bin, and Alfa is seriously examining adding it to the lineup. Here’s our vote: DO IT!
Koenigsegg Agera R
Even though the Koenigsegg Agera hasn’t been out very long, the Swedish supercar peddler has already devised an even more bat bajs variant called the Agera R. The turbocharged V8 makes an astounding 1,115hp on E85 (940hp on straight gasoline), and the bespoke Michelin tires are certified up to 260 mph. Coincidence? Probably not, so Veyron owners should probably be worried.
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive Concept
BMW has spent a lot of time looking toward the future lately, and the Vision ConnectedDrive Concept confirms they still are. While the folks in Munich won’t say what (if anything) is under the hood, but they are saying it has a trick 3D heads-up display that conveys information from the navigation system as well as other functions. It’s doubtful a model exactly like this will make it to production, but you can bet the 3D HUD and some styling cues will show up in BMW showrooms in the years to come.
We’re sure you know all about the Ferrari FF. It replaces the 612 Scagletti as Maranello’s “family friendly” model. It’s the most powerful street-legal production Ferrari ever. It’s the first production all-wheel-drive Ferrari ever. But what you really need to know is that it’s a shooting brake, which is a fancy way of saying “sporty two-door wagon.” History is full of cool shooting brakes (the 1955-’57 Chevrolet Nomad, Volvo P1800ES, and the O.G. BMW M Coupe all come to mind), but none can match the FF in the eardrum-boinking and time/space-fabric-folding performance. And that’s fine by us.
Wiesmann Spyder Concept
Low-volume German manufacturer Wiesmann has gained a large, loyal following with its retro-styled, BMW-powered coupes and roadsters. But some folks apparently want something more modern and less compromised in terms of comfort and civility. For those people, the Brothers Wiesmann have created the Spyder.
Officially, it’s just design study for now, but what a design. Yeah, it’s not exactly pretty in the traditional sense, but the close-coupled proportions help keep the curb weight at around 2,200 lb. That’s good, but the 420hp BMW V8 makes it even better; it’s what creates the Spyder’s four second 0-62 mph times and 180 mph top speed. Now that’ll definitely help us get past the looks.
De Tomaso Deauville
Italian automaker De Tomaso is probably best remembered for the Pantera, the Ford-powered wedge-shaped sex kitten that was sold at Lincoln-Mercury dealers from 1971 through ’74. But it also built a Jaguar XJ-esque sedan called the Deauville, which was also propelled by a Ford V8. Only 244 were built between 1970 and 1985.
Fast forward to 2011 and the re-born De Tomaso is bringing out a reborn Deauville, though the sinewy shape of the original has been replaced by a pudgy, rather tall shape. And the 351 Cleveland has been ditched for a turbocharged 2.8L V6 producing 300hp. Frankly, we’re not gaga for it, but it’s an interesting alternative to the dime-a-dozen E-Class and 5 Series. Besides, if it sells well, perhaps that could open the door for a Pantera comeback…
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid
It’s no secret we love station wagons. And diesel-powered station wagons? Oh baby, that’s the way to our heart. So you’ll forgive us for being in love with the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid. The 215hp 2.4L inline-five turbodiesel powering the front wheels is supplemented by a 70hp electric motor driving the rear wheels. Volvo says it’s the first production diesel plug-in hybrid, and that it can travel up to 31 miles on a charge before the compression ignition lump kicks in to extend the range.
Is it coming here? Of course not! Everyone and his mom know wagons and diesels don’t sell in America, and the two combined are a surefire way to clear out any showroom! Now go back to lusting after those boring gas-engined crossovers between taking your boring kids to school and going on boring shopping trips you boring, pathetic sheep! (Bitter? Us? Surely you jest…)
Mini Rocketman Concept
The first Mini released under BMW’s stewardship was significantly bigger than the Alec Issigonis-penned original, and the current Mini is bigger still. Thus, Mini believes there may be room in the lineup for a truly mini Mini, and the Rocketman Concept offers up a preview. It’s just over 11 feet longs and features a novel “3+1” seating arrangement, plus Mini says it should get about 78 mpg, though they aren’t saying how. It could be a hybrid system, or maybe science we don’t understand. (Oh come on, you had to know we’d work at least one reference to this in, right?)
The Gumpert Apollo is barking mad fast even by supercar standards, but good luck trying to win an automotive beauty pageant with one. So to help soothe the scorched retinas of enthusiasts everywhere, the German firm teamed up with legendary Italian coachbuilder Touring Superleggera to create the Tornante. While the car shown at Geneva is just a styling mock-up with no drivetrain or interior, Gumpert says the production Tornante will use a 700hp variant of the Apollo’s twin-turbocharged 4.2L Audi V8 and will begin production in time for model year 2012.
Bertone Jaguar B99 Concept
While most people assume the Jaguar XJ has always been a sedan-only model family, a lovely hardtop coupe version was also offered between 1975 and 1978. And one look at the Bertone Jaguar B99 Concept (created and named to celebrate the Italian styling house’s 99th anniversary) is all it takes to see the XJC’s DNA, though the B99 has a pair of suicide rear doors. The B99’s other big concession to modernity is the Bertone-designed extended-range hybrid system that yields a combined 570hp and a 435 mile range. And if your interest still isn’t piqued, Bertone also showed a racing version, the B99 GT. It has AWD and 980hp. What’s the matter? Cats got your tongue?
Maserati GranCabrio Sport
If you feel the Maserati GranCabrio is too slow or soft to scratch your performance car itch, you’ll be pleased to know that the Modenese company seeks to assuage your concerns by way of the GranCabrio Sport. The 4.7L V8 has been upgraded to produce 450hp and, remarkably, cut fuel consumption by 6% over the standard version. The slick Skyhook active suspension has been tweaked for increased firmness and responsiveness, the brakes are bigger, and the fascias and side sills have been resculpted into more aggressive shapes. All in all, you’re a lot less likely to find a Chihuahua poking its head over the tops of this thing’s doors than you are the base model.
Audi A3 Sedan Concept
The Audi A3 hatchback has managed to poke more than a few holes in the popular belief that Americans don’t buy hatchbacks, particularly ones wearing premium badges. Even so, Ingolstadt seems to be preparing a sedan version of the popular compact, and they trotted out this concept version to gauge public reaction. While you can expect most of the handsome, tidy styling to be carried over to the production model, the fire-breathing 408hp 2.5L turbocharged inline-five seems less likely. Which is a shame, because who wouldn’t love the prospect of 0-60 in about four seconds flat and a combined 25.8 mpg?