Geneva Motor Show can proudly close its doors with the knowledge that it was a resounding success. Big car brands showcased amazing products this year, even if there were a lot leaks prior to the show, it did not dampen the overall success over the show.
A battle that has lasted for decade has always been between Ferrari and Lamborghini. Lamborghini responded to the challenge last year with the excellent Avantador but at this years Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari rose to the challenge with the fantastic looking Ferrari F12.The stunning shape penned by both Pininfarina and Ferrari styling centre is an all amuninium body that weighs 1525kg which is 70kg less than the Ferrari 599 it replaces.
At 730BHP, the F12 is the most powerful production Ferrari ever and 40BHP more than its arch nemesis the Aventador. Power comes from an engine that can only be described as a masterpiece, a front mounted 6.3L naturally aspirated V12, that delivers peak power at 8,500RPM and delivers 508 pound feat of torque at 6,000RPM. 8% of peak torque is available at 2,500RPM. Drive is sent strictly to the rear wheels via a 7 speed dual clutch gearbox. Ferrari quotes a 0-60MPH of 3.1 secs, 0-124MPH of 8.5secs and a top speed of 211MPH.
The F12 has some really advanced aerodynamic aids that help it produce alot of downforce, this inturn helps the car get round the Fiorino test track in 1.23sec dead. To put this into perspective, the Ferrari Enzo, did it in 1.24.9 secs.
The F12 is really a great looking car that blends form and function seamlessly but dont expect it to be reeasonably priced. Ferrari have not yet announced prices but expect to part with at least £250,000 upward if you want one packed in your garage.It will be interesting to see who will come up trumps when the F12 and Aventador are put head to head later on in the year.
LAMBORGHINI AVANTADOR J
Lamborghini not wanted to be out gunned by the F12, came to Geneva with the most extreme Lamborghini ever, the Avantador J (Jota).
The Avantador J is a standard Avantador with the roof and windscreen completely chopped off. The body is all carbon fibre, including carbon fins in the wheels and a material in the cabin of the car called carbo skin that Lamborghini has patented. The engine from the J is left well alone from the Avantador at 6.5L V12 delivering 690BHP. The removal of air conditioning, stereo and sat nav to save weight will see the Avantador J hit 0-62MPH in 2.9secs and go on to speeds above 210MPH.
If you want one well, you cant because you can't afford it and if you could, you still can't have one because the Avantador J is not a concept car but a one off that has already been sold to an unnamed customer for the price of 2.1 million euros. The Avantador is really a remarkable looking car and we will see more offs and limited production cars from Lamborghini in the future as Lamborghini has confirmed that we will be seeing a limited production version of the Sesto Elemento concept car soon.
MERCEDES BENZ A-CLASS
If the Avantador J requires you to sell your home and family to own one, you will be happy to know that there were alot of impressive motors for the masses at the Geneva Motor Show. Case in point is the all new A class unveiled on the eve of the motor show. The A-class looks totally different from the tall body construction of the previous A class and as a result, Mercedes have been able to pen a fantastic shape especially when you consider its rivals have fallen over themselves designing dull cars like the A3 unveiled by Audi and the really ugly 2nd gen BMW 1-series.
There will be 2 petrol engines offered, a 1.6L and 2.0L producing 115BHP and 211BHP, and 2 diesel engines of which the interesting one is the A220 which is 2.2L with 170BHP. A 250BHP front wheel drive model will be the performance option available which will take on the A25 AMG name but there are also reports that AMG will sprinkly their performance magic over the A-class with a 4 cylinder 350BHP 4 wheel drive version.
The A class is Mercedes latest attempt to bring in a younger audience after the failed attempt with the Smart Roadstar and four four and on looks and appeal alone, there is no doubt that it will be a success.
Most will remember Volvos of 20 years ago that looked like they were designed with a set of set squares with no injection of style. After the launch of the beautifull C70 in 1997, Volvo have steadily upped their style game and the most excellent example in recent years has to be the just unveiled Volvo V40. Stefen Jacoby, the CEO of Volvo said that the new V40 “the car to make our competitors sit up and take notice” and from what has been seen so far, he is right.
With all the style, the car still combines all the great Volve strengths of safety and innovation and this can be seen with the V40 being the 1st production car ever to have a pedestrian airbag. Yes you head it right , when impact occurs, a section of the bonnet (closest to the windscreen) is released and elevated by the deployment of the airbag. The system is designed to help to reduce the severity of injuries when a pedestrians head bashes against the windscreen of a car.
This gives Volvo designers the ability to bend strict EU regulations on bonnet height by reducing the bonnet line of the car, giving it a sleek and lower profile for this class of cars. This makes the car look longer than its rivals but the V40 is the same length as the A3.
The V40 engine line-up starts with a diesel engine that boasts CO2 emissions of just 94g/km. The lineup then extends to the turbocharged T5 petrol engine with 254BHP to take. Volovo is making big claims that the V40 will be great to drive with a "responsive" feel to the dynamics. Prices in the UK are set to start at a competitive £19,000 which will include their improved city safety system that includes , lane Keeping Aid with haptic auto steering, automatic Road Sign Information, Active High Beam technology and Park Assist Pilot Cross Traffic Alert.
With the unveiling of the V40 and the A class, its good to know that style, safety, luxury and engineering excellence are not only reserved for the most expensive of cars.
Electric cars are not sexy. Well, they could be but so far, no manufacturer has brought to market a desirable looking electric vehicle until now. That could all change with the unveiling of the production zersion of the Renault Zoe.
The tech behind the cute little body is also very impressive. Renault is quoting a range of 130 miles on carefull driving which could well be a record for electric vehicles. This is achieved from an 89BHP motor which can push the ZOE to a top speed of 84MPH. That may not sound alot but this is Renault and since the dawn of the supermini, you cant call the top 3 best handling superminis without calling a Renault Clio and Renault have promised that the ZOE, due to its lightweight will be alot of fun to drive, so even if the top speed is not remarkable, you will have alot of fun drivin it within the speed limit. Charging takes 9 hours from a standard socket but the if you use a fast socket, you could achieve 80% charge in 30 mins. The best bit of the ZOE has to be the fact that all this impressive tech and great looks will not come at the expense of a high price. At £13,500 after subjected to a £5,000 government grant in the UK, undercuts the ungainly looking Nissan Leaf by a whopping £10,000.
We should all hope this car is a success. Not just for the eco warriors out there but also for the sake of Renault. The company has seen massive decline in sales and last month Renault effectively withdrew the sales of over half of its products in the UK which include the Espace, Laguna, Wind, Modus and the Gordini brand and also reduced the size of its dealer network. Renault problem is due to not being able to charge a premium like BMW with the Mini and Audi with the A1 or able to offer cars at a super cheap rate from budget manufacturers who manufacture their cars in areas with cheap labout in order to keep costs down. The Zoe is part of the 1st of a 3 electric car line up from Renault to stimulate growth but they do have an up hill battle to climb because electric car sales have not been encouraging. BBC reported that in 2011, the Nissan Leaf sold a disspointing 21,000 units world wide.
But unlike the Leaf, the Zoe looks great will drive great and if Renault can make the ownership experience painfull with good reliability and after sales support, then there is no reason to believe that their new strategy wont pay dividens for them.
Geneva Motor show is famous for concept cars and there were not as many concept cars unveiled as there have been in previous years. What was on show on the other hand were really stunning. Case in point the Italdesign Giugiaro Brivido. A 4 seater, gullwinged 171MPH stunner.
Its underpinnings come courtesy of VW, including a 3.0L superchaged V6 producing 350BHP. The engine is the mated to an electric motor which then boosts the power to just over 400BHP, pushing the car to 171MPH and a 0-60MPH time of 5.8secs. The gullwing doors are huge and they serve as the main entry to the front and rear seats.Inside, you find instrument clusters for the driver and the front seat passanger with a slide out ipad for the passenger. One great aspect of the interior has to be the side mirrors. The body of the car has no side mirrors, instead you get a camera where they should have been with two LCD screens on each side of the drivers steering wheel showing the sides of the road. This is a great idea and one idea that will no doubt make it in to production cars in the future.
BENTLEY EXP 9F
The past decade, high end sports cars and luxury car manufacturers have watched closely at the sales success of The Porsche Cayenne.When Bentley announced that they wanted a 3rd model to expand their portfolio of cars that consists or the Continental and the Mulsannes, everyone knew that the logical choice would be to follow in Porsches footsteps and make an SUV and from business perspective, A Bentley SUV makes financial sense and you will not be wrong for calling Bentely stupid if they didn't. So we all held our breaths for the unveiling of what will be the most ultra high end luxury to hit the market.
Bentley did unveil the SUV named the EXP 9F but the problem the car suffers from is that it is not good looking, infact no one will even hold it against you if you sed the words ugly or hideious to describe it.
The looks can grow on you a little but the looks of a Bentley are not supposed to grow from ugly to okay but are suppposed to be either beautifull out of the box or be good looking and grow on you until you consider it great. They should also posss a timeless elegance and those are properties that the EXP 9F seriously lacks. The Mullsane inspired front just dosent do it any favours and the 23inch wheels look a bit to blig bling.
In terms of luxury, quality feel and performance, Bentley completely nailed it. The interior of the car is completely covered from top to bottom in the finest quality leather. The dash is simply gorgeous with all the mod cons you can ask for. Performance is also a big plus with this car with power coming from a 6.0L W12 that already sees service in the 200MPH Bentley Continental GT which could see the EXP 9F, get on to a top speed of around 180MPH all sitting on a platform shared with the Audi A7, VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne for increased economies of scale.
Bentley considers the EXP 9F a design exercise for an SUV that would most likely see the light of day around 2015 and cost over £100,00. We only hope that Bentley will see sense and take the reaction from the press at the motor show onboard and rethink the design decesions made with the EXP 9F when designing the production version. Fortunately for Bentley, they may not have to because all they have to do is look back to 2002 at the unveiling of the original Porsche Cayenne and witness the uproar from the community about its looks. But that did not deter its target market and it helped to massively increase sales of Porshes and in 2007 before the global recession, Brandz considered Porsche to be the 28th most valuable brand in the world and the 3rd most valuable car manufacturer behind Toyota and BMW.
UPDATE: What Car is reporting that a Bentley source has told them that "the Exp 9 F’s styling is ‘a little heavy handed’ and that an alternative design is in progress.". Seems Bentley is listening afterall.
The A3 is arguably the most important car to be unveiled at the 2012 motorshow because it is the 1st car from the VW group to utilize its new and much lighter MQB platform that will form the basis for cars in the VW family ranging from the Golf to Seat Leons, Skoda fabia, Octavia and the list goes on. For Audi, the A3 is the 3rd generation version of a car launched in 1996 and single handedly turned the premium smalll hatch back world upside down with its classy looks and quality cabin that was only seen in cars more than double the price. Since then, it has come over intense pressure from the BMW 1 series and also from the steady in crease in quality of its brother the Golf. The pressure is set to continue with the Mercedes A-class and the Volovo V40 that were also unveiled at the Geneva motor show. That is why it was very disspointing to see Audi A3 unveiled with a style that is very safe, predictable and borderline boring.
It looks no different from the rest of the Audi range and if you ignore the hatchback, the front could easily be mistaking for an Audi A4 or A6. WHat even makes it more depressing is when you put into context what Mercedes and Volvo achieved in the style front with the A class and V40.
The interior as with all Audis is highly impressive and is the exact opposite of the exterior.Audi claims that the interior is centered around the interior with greater increase in quality andequipment. The new MMI (multimedia interface) that is available with the car has a rotary knob of the MMI has fingerprint recognition , allowing drivers to make alphabetic inputs into it and get it shown on the sat nav screen. Usefull for writing destinations out for the sat nav.
Autocar reports that there will be a 4 door version for the american market, a drop top and a 5 door and engines will range from a 1.4L TFSI with 120BHP to a 2.0L TFSI with 260BHP and 4 wheel drive dubbed the S3.The small premium hatchback was invented by Audi and with 16 years of experience, it would have been great to see Audi comeout and show themselves as the top dog and the king of the premium hatchback market. Unfortunately it was completely overshadowed by its competitors.