The big theme at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show was … actually, there was no one big theme. There was something for everyone, from small family hatchbacks, like the gorgeous new Peugeot 208 and the Renault Clio, to electric SUVs, such as the new Audi Q4 E-tron and super-luxurious Aston Martin Lagonda. Then there were the supercars, lots of them, both traditional, in the sense of having an engine, like the Aston Martin Vanquish concept and Bugatti La Voiture Noire, and electric, like the Arcfox made by Chinese company BAIC.
There was even a big surprise, something that is rare at motor shows the days. Fiat didn’t say its concept Centoventi was a preview of the next-generation Panda but the illuminated stripes at the top of what would normally be the grille area were clearly a modern interpretation of those of the original which hit the market in 1980. Unlike the original the Centoventi, it is battery-electric, with Fiat claiming a range of up to 500km.
As we are talking electric vehicles (EVs), yes there were quite a few. One that deservedly received the most attention was the Polestar 2, the first full EV from Volvo’s electrified brand after the hybrid Polestar 1. Unlike the limited-volume hybrid though, the Polestar 2 will be a full production model to take on key rivals such as the Tesla Model 3, BMW i4, Mercedes EQA and Volkswagen ID models. South Africa is not currently on the list of priority markets, Polestar chief operating officer Jonathan Goodman told us at the show, but it could be in the future, so we’re keeping an eye on this one.
Peugeot had an electric version of its new 208, BMW went halfway announcing plug-in hybrid versions of all its models and Honda showed the production version of its retro-cool Urban EV, albeit slightly less cool than the concept.
Speaking of concepts, there were loads of them covering every segment of the market. Nissan’s electric IMQ shows a new generation of crossover but is widely expected to be the replacement for the Qashqai although, of course, you can expect the styling to be toned down a bit. Kia showed its Imagine, a car which looks like a crossover but which it claims is more about performance. Mitsubishi brought the Engelberg Tourer, an electric SUV. Is it the replacement for the ageing Pajero? Who knows - the brand has been showing concepts that could be for years and we’ve given up wondering.
Pininfarina, who have been designing Ferrari models for decades, revealed their first electric supercar at Geneva and, guess what, it looks like a Ferrari. They missed an opportunity to do something very different there. Hispano-Suiza showed its electric vehicle, which sits on the same platform as the Rimac C-Two which, by the way, we can confirm will only be coming to South Africa in 2020. Even Tata Motors displayed an EV concept in the form of the Altroz, which is on the Indian brand’s new Agile Light Flexible Advanced platform. Yes, that’s ALFA, - do you think they did that on purpose?
Finally, there was the one that got many people talking - Volkswagen’s ID Buggy. It’s an all-electric, modern interpretation of the iconic beach buggy. The company says it will go into production in the next decade. Not only that but it will provide the platform to anyone who wants to build their own version too.
Then there were the traditional models, you know, the ones with engines in them. Aston had its RB-003, Valkyrie and Vanquish concept as headline-grabbers but there were others too. Bentley showed its Continental GT 9 by Mulliner as part of the brand’s centenary celebrations, and the fastest SUV in the world, the Bentayga Speed. Lamborghini its its Huracan Evo Spyder there and Porsche dropped the top on its 911 Carrera convertible. Bugatti displayed the stunning La Voiture Noire, the most expensive new car in the world, and Ferrari its over-styled F8 Tributo. Things were also busy at Mercedes with the GLC and the AMG GT-R Roadster, as well as the CLA Shooting Brake. Mitsubishi presented its new ASX, Mazda its CX-30 and Renault debuted the new Clio. There was even something for the real traditionalists in the form of the first new Morgan in decades, the Plus Six, which still uses wood in its subframe.
Geneva was a real mix of new models - you could almost say it remained neutral in an industry that is traditional on the one hand and futuristic on the other. There was even a little piece of South Africa in the form of the Dakar-winning Toyota SA Hilux. It got lots of attention and attention is exactly what motor shows are all about.