Electric powertrains and driver-assist features have been the cutting edge in automotive technology for a while now, and at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show both were more in evidence than ever.
There were the obligatory supercars, of course, from Ferrari’s 812 Superfast and Lamborghini’s Huracan Performante to McLaren’s 720S, with styling which was less than universally loved. Aston Martin’s Adrian Newey-masterminded AM-RB 001 now sported the name Valkyrie and showed off a profile so slender it seems hard to imagine a 6.5-litre V12 and a driver will both fit inside. There were also debuts for the production version of Techrules’ Ren turbine-powered range-extender EV, and the (Williams-engineered) Vanda Dendrobium prototype from Singapore which may make limited production. Even Tata got in on the performance car act, with the Racemo sports car powered by a 187bhp (140kW) 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo engine.
Concept cars ahoy!
Bentley showed off a new version of the EXP12 concept which made its debut in Geneva two years ago. The Speed 6e not only provides further clues to the next new Bentley production car, it also opens the brand’s dialogue with customers over a full electric drivetrain, which it’s committed to offering among its future models. Bentley says it is developing inductive charging and aims to produce a model with enough range to drive “between London and Paris” (about 300 miles) on a single charge.
At the other end of the scale, Toyota’s i-TRIL concept was a step beyond a Renault Twizy, offering one-plus-two seating and drive-by-wire control with no pedals. Honda showed off its NeuV urban vehicle, which becomes an automated ride-sharing vehicle when not in use by its owner. There was also a Type R version of the new Civic, covered in so many vents and slots and wings that it looked to be trying rather too hard.
Renault’s Zoe e-sport concept was much tidier: with a carbon fiber body to keep weight down to 3,086lbs (1,400kg)—of which 992lbs (450kg) is battery—and two motors developing nearly 460bhp (343kW), it’s said to manage 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds. This is what hot hatches will be like one day, but not yet: there’s little chance of the Zoe e-sport turning into a production car. Likewise the Peugeot Instinct, an interesting wagon-style concept showcasing PSA’s autonomous tech, and the Renault Trezor electric GT which was voted concept car of the show.
It wasn’t just concepts
Of the production machinery, the most significant cars were two new SUVs—the Range Rover Velar, which shares its aluminum-intensive architecture with Jaguar’s F-Pace, and Volvo’s handsome new-generation XC60. Hyundai expanded its Ioniq range with a plug-in hybrid to add to the existing electric and hybrid models. There were plenty of admiring looks for the new Alpine A110 sports car, too, despite the comically tiny size of its trunk lid.
Former GM brand Opel did its best to concentrate on its (Peugeot-based) Crossland X SUV rather than on questions about its future under PSA ownership, while another GM brand, Cadillac, showed off the Escala concept that appeared at Pebble Beach last year and announced its own new SUV program.
But despite the electric powertrains and the autonomous technology there was a feeling that this year’s Geneva show was one of consolidation, of car makers taking the ideas of the last few years and incrementing them towards mainstream production. There were plenty of new applications here in Geneva, but few genuinely new ideas.