As the first European-based international motor show of the year, Geneva tends to set the industry tone for the months ahead by which manufacturers are there, what is on show, and the overall theme.
Geneva also towers over any subsequent event as the place for small volume manufacturers and the cream of the aftermarket tuners to showcase their wares in front of the high net worth individuals who are their lifeblood.
As an arbiter of trends Geneva can be full of small electric car and alternative energy hopefuls one year, and bereft of them the next if the price of oil has plummeted in the interim. However, it is only now that electric mobility has finally matured to the point where both major manufacturers and low volume supercar makers are confident enough in their technology to offer them as mainstream models as opposed to a curiosity for wealthy early adopters.
Leading the charge (pun intended) for the volume German manufacturers, Audi showed their e-tron, which is on sale now, and Mercedes presented their production EQC that we will be driving in May.
With both these cars packaged as large SUVs you could be forgiven for thinking that electric vehicles are boring. But a quick look around the supercar stands said otherwise.
SUPERCARS & HYPERCARS
We first encountered Rimac in 2011 when we covered the Concept_One, an elegant carbon-fibre bodied supercar that pioneered not only the all-electric supercar genre but also the Croatian car industry!
Developing their electric motors and Lithium-Ion batteries in-house, Rimac have become a highly respected technology powerhouse, selling their components and expertise to the likes of Aston Martin, Koenigsegg, Jaguar and Seat.
This year Rimac showed their C_Two, which made its original debut at last year’s Geneva Show. With 1,914hp and 2,300Nm of torque from its four electric motors, the C-Two was the most powerful car at the Show, and takes just 2.0 sec to reach 100km/h on its way to 415km/h.
Noted for designing the most widely acclaimed Ferrari and Peugeot models amongst others, Pininfarina has now transformed itself into a car manufacturer whose aim is to produce a line of cutting edge all-electric luxury and super sports cars.
Its debut car the Battista shows off Pininfarina’s styling talent at its best, with a simple and elegant shape detailed to perfection. For my money this was the most elegant supercar at Geneva this year.
The carbon-fibre Battista is much more than just a pretty face. The big numbers here are 1,900hp and 2,300Nm of torque from four motors, capable of rocketing the car to 300km/h in just 12.0 seconds!
Another marque with a long history, Spanish car maker Hispano Suiza also made many of the aircraft engines used by various combatants in WW1, and in the 1920s and ‘30s each of their cars received bespoke coach-built bodies.
The ‘new’ Hispano Suiza Carmen is yet another electric hypercar, but this time with 1,005hp going to just the rear wheels, which means its 0-100km/h time is just under 3.0 seconds and top speed is limited to 250km/h.
Ferdinand Piech, his son Anton and Rea Stark Rajcic arrived at Geneva under the Piech Automotive banner with an electric supercar powered by a new battery technology claimed to recharge to 80% in under five minutes.
Costing a whopping 16.7 million euros this is the most expensive new car ever offered for sale. Why would you? Only because you can!
This year’s Show marked the 20th Anniversary of Pagani, whose meteoric rise to legendary status initially confounded the supercar world. Being different certainly helps, but having great credentials like an officially sanctioned supply of Mercedes-AMG V12 motors and Juan Manuel Fangio as your friend certainly did not hurt Pagani.
Now completely restored, the first Zonda prototype graced the Pagani stand alongside an example of the current production Huayra Roadster.
McLaren’s first ever Hyper-GT, the Speedtail’s design minimises aerodynamic drag, and adopts a similar three-seat cabin configuration to the legendary McLaren F1.
With a dry weight of 1,430kg, the Speedtail is powered by a 1,050hp petrol-electric drivetrain that takes it to 300km/h in 12.8 sec on the way to 403km/h (250mph). Just 106 will be built, and they were sold out within days.
I first met Christian von Koenigsegg and his father Jesko in October 1996 when I visited them in Sweden to drive the Koenigsegg CC concept, then a fibreglass car powered by an Audi V8 motor.
Today, 23 years later the company is thriving, with several speed records to their name, and their latest hypercar is named for Jesko. Priced at over 2.6 million euros this 1,578hp hypercar is powered by a 5.0 litre bi-turbo V8 and aims to be the first street legal car capable of 300mph!
Known for their front-engine rear-wheel-drive cars Aston Martin seem set to alienate their traditional customers with the three mid-engine cars they showed at Geneva.
BMW showed their drop top 8-Series Convertible and the newly face-lifted 7-Series whose larger grille commands a lot more presence.
The big news at Bentley was the new GT Convertible.
Ginetta used to be a manufacturer of small, light and agile sports cars and some pretty effective racecars.
Their latest machine is a foray into supercar territory and goes by the name Akula, which means Shark in Russian. For those in the know it is also a class of Russian nuclear submarine.
Powered by a 6.0 litre V8 making 600hp, the 1,150kg Akula leverages Ginetta’s competition experience for a car that promises an exciting and rewarding drive on both road and track.
Covering a huge spread of models Ruf showed their restored No 78 of the first pre-production 911s ever, the bespoke Goldfinger made for a client, and took the wraps off the production version of their CTR2017.
It had to happen eventually, after all why should Russian plutocrats always drive imported cars?
After much teething problems, the formidable looking Aurus Senat limousine is finally in production, and the company’s debut at Geneva showed an example of a normal car for wealthy patriots as well as the heavily armoured version used by President Putin.
The exhibits proudly showed off the drivetrain, revealing the cars hybrid status and the heavy-duty gearbox and sub-frames. Powered by a 590hp bi-turbo 4.4 litre V8 the base model weighs 2,700kg while the armoured version weighs 6,200kg!
While the full-size SUV architecture of the recently launched e-tron is not for everyone, the more compact Q4 e-tron concept ticked the boxes for a lot of people as did the low slung e-tron fastback Coupe study.
While VW put on a good show across the board, the favourite with the crowd was undoubtedly their electric ID.Buggy Concept.
That said, while some cars can look too aggressive with a body styling kit, the wider wheel arches give the Mansory Billionaire a more purposeful look in keeping with its sheer size.
As all Mansory show cars are pre-sold, the white interior trim led us to suspect this car was commissioned by a Middle Eastern client who values one-upmanship. But whatever you might think of the owner’s taste the peerless quality of fit and finish seen in every Mansory car is simply awesome.
This year they showed two big bore G’s, the first by adding portal axles from the G500 4x4x2 to a previous generation G63, and then tuning it to make a healthy 800hp.
Customers with the new G63 now benefit from the full Widestar conversion that brings the body styling kit and 800hp. As before you can also have a fully customised interior to match.
The M279 V12 is on its last legs thanks to tightening emission laws, so if you want Brabus to build you a 900hp V12-powered Mercedes-Maybach this is your last chance to combine ultimate speed with ultimate luxury.
A relatively fresh name in the luxury limousine segment, up to now Klassen has been known for its luxury interior conversions for the Mercedes V-Class MPV.
This time they also showed their 360mm stretched Mercedes-Maybach featuring a bespoke interior with a division between the front and rear compartments.
Back in 2001 TechArt built their first GT Street around the 996 Turbo, but in RWD form only for hard-core enthusiasts. With 600hp it was a big step up from the 420hp generated by the stock motor, and about 60hp more than the street version of Porsche’s GT1 racer.
The 2019 GT Street RS is based on a 991.2 Turbo S, and comes loaded with a rousing 770hp, or 10% more than Porsche’s own GT2 RS. The 4WD is necessary to tame the beast!
Headquartered in Moscow, but with offices in Miami and Marbella, Top Car is the only Russian tuner to achieve international fame.