What is hot at the otherwise lukewarm Geneva Motor Show



It has been a tepid show at the annual motoring extravaganza in Geneva this year. Arguably the showpiece event in Europe, it is one of the keenly awaited events.

For one, it is somewhat neutral in nature. Switzerland does not have an automobile industry of its own but is nestled within a bustling hub.

The Germans on one side–Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, the French on the other–Renault, Peugeot and CItroen, the Italians–Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, the scandinavians–Volvo, and the Brits–Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini.

It does not give an edge to anybody unlike similar events in Frankfurt, Paris or Milan.

Which is also a reason why it is never missed by inter-continental rivals–Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, General Motors, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Lexus or even our very own Tata.

And you can always be assured of a wide assortment of production as well as concept cars that tell you where you are and where you would be in times to come.

It is a little different this time though. The European automotive industry that held up well after the 2008 economic turmoil is now battling a crisis considered to be the worst in decades.

And that has had an impact on the overall mood, enthusiasm and products on display in such events.

Barring a Ferrari here and a Lamborghini there (trust the Italians to always come good), there are only a handful of models that deserve a must see. Here are a few of them.

LaFerrari

A Ferrari is a Ferrari is a Ferrari. Replete with the blazing red, prancing horse and “you can’t miss me” looks. Okie, they did miss out on the FF a few years back but they can’t be expected to go wrong everytime.

The one that comes to Geneva is special anyway. For a start, it is the first hybrid car that Ferrari has produced. Who would have thought that was possible?

And yet, it is humongously powerful. It has a 6.2 litre V12 engine that belts out 790 bhp power and revs to a superlative 9250 rpm. The electric motor has an output of 160 bhp giving the car an overall power of 950 bhp.

The total torque available is over 900Nm. The sad part….only 499 of these would be made and almost all of them are already accounted for. Slowdown?? What slowdown?

Lamborghini Veneno

Outrageous to some, outlandish to most and even downright ridiculous to some others.

But it is a Lamborghini, and the adjectives sit easy on it. Poisonous to the core (poison is the name in Spanish), it is all chiselled sharp beauty….err…whatever. It is difficult to fall in love for it in one go. But Lambo is never in a hurry.

Even when it can scoot off at over 350 kph. The power?? 750 horsepower. The price? $4.6 million (Rs 25 crore plus). And only three people on this planet will ever get that. Yup…Lambo says…499 for Ferrari…just 3 for me.

Rolls Royce Wraith

Basically a GT coupe version of its Ghost sedan, Rolls takes a direct swipe at arch rival Bentley’s line up of Flying Spurs.

At service is a 12 cylinder 624 horsepower engine that enables this heavy metal machine to sprint to 100kph in just 4.4 seconds. It will still cost you a bomb…Rs 1.65 crore.

But there is no limit to how much they can produce. So you will perhaps see a few of these in India.

Skoda Octavia

The fact that the Octavia nameplate returns to India and replaces the Laura is reason for celebration enough.

I dont know how many people grimaced at the name (Laura) after buying it in India and how many more customers Skoda lost due to the same reason.

It was always in production globally and is not a big draw here but as a vehicle that still commands tremendous brand equity in India, the return of one of the first European sedans to hit the streets here is good news.

Volvo V40 cross country

Volvo’s big bet to crack the Indian market, and it comes barely 4 months after its global debut. As a competitor to the BMW X1 and Mercedes B class, the V40 looks better and in a class of its own–both from the inside and outside.

Dimensionally perfect and with a capable powertrain under the hood, the only thing that can go against it is the pricing. Volvo still does not have a factory in India and the cross country will be a fully imported unit as well, attracting a much heftier duty. That does not take anything away from a car that looks delightful and promising.

Volkswagen XL1

The car that can run for 134 kilometers for just one litre of fuel, easily the most fuel efficient car in the world. And it is not a concept alone but a production prototype.

The XL1 is VW’s futuristic hybrid car that has a 803cc parallel twin cylinder turbodiesel engine mated to a 60 cell 230 volt lithium ion pack.

The engine makes 47 bhp, the same as the old Alto, the motor another 27bhp and together the car is run by 68 horses. The same as the Hyundai i10. But, it is no slouch as many hybrids are.

It has a top speed of 160 kph and does zero to 100 in 12.2 seconds. It is reason enough for the crowds to flock here and make a beeline for this vehicle.

The price is not known yet but we know only 250 of these would be made to begin with. In other words, XL1 is on the other extreme end of a LaFerrari.

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