The Geneva Motor Show might not be Europe’s biggest, but when it comes to exciting new metal there is nothing to beat it. This year is no exception, with a range of brand-new vehicles to suit all tastes and budgets, from a concept that previews the next Fiat Panda, to a £9.5 million Bugatti. Here, we’ve asked our team of writers to each choose their favourite car of the show.
Pininfarina Battista – as chosen by Chris Knapman
At a show where there’s a brand new Ferrari, a gold Lamborghini, special edition Bentleys, and a seeming explosion of mid-engined monsters on the Aston Martin stand, it takes something truly special to stand out. The Pininfarina Battista is it.
Chances are you’ll have heard of Pininfarina, the Italian styling house responsible for some of the most beautiful Ferraris, Alfa Romeos and Lancias there’s ever been – not to mention the gorgeous Peugeot 406 Coupe. The Battista is something altogether different, though, in that it has not only been styled by Pininfarina, but designed, engineered and built by it.
As an electric hypercar the numbers were always going to be wild, but even with that expectation in mind, the idea of a car that has more than twice as much power and torque as a Ferrari LaFerrari or McLaren P1 is almost inconceivable.
To that end, Pininfarina is claiming 1,900bhp and 1,700lb ft of torque from four electric motors (one per wheel), which – if the tyres can cope – will result in a 0-62mph time of less than 2 seconds and a top speed of somewhere near 250mph. The range from a single charge, meanwhile, should be around 300 miles.
What makes the Battista my car of the show, though, is that it is not some far-fetched concept, but a production model that’s set to launch in 2020. At a very good Geneva Motor Show, this was the one that stood out the most for me.
Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept – as chosen by Dan Prosser
The car I liked most at this year’s Geneva Motor Show didn’t have an engine, nor any doors or windows. It didn’t have an interior either, but that’s because the Vanquish Vision concept that Aston Martin showed off was a styling buck made of out clay rather than a complete car. But it was my favourite nonetheless because of what it promises, and also because of what it represents.
Aston says that when it arrives in 2022, the new Vanquish will do so with a twin-turbo V6 engine and a hybrid system. It’ll sit in the same category as today’s McLaren 720S and the Ferrari F8 Tributo that debuted at the same show, and like both of those it will position its engine midships, immediately behind the passenger compartment.
For a company that built its name and reputation on front-engined sports and GT cars that’s a very bold departure, but with hypercars like the Valkyrie and the AM-RB 003, Aston is moving into the mid-engined space with real intent. I cannot wait to find out what a slightly less unaffordable mid-engined Aston Martin is like to drive.
I also liked the Vanquish Vision because it demonstrates exactly how far the British marque has come in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago that Aston would arrive at a motor show with not much more than a new sticker pack for the ageing Vantage to unveil, but now it’s taking shots at Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.
Fiat Centoventi – as chosen by Vicky Parrott
Thanks to social media and the internet, it’s rare for any new car at a motor show to be a genuine surprise. But Fiat managed it with the pure-electric Centoventi; a bluff, blocky little car with lots of attitude and an even greater significance. After all, this is the first meaningful pointer towards the next Fiat Panda – something that’s been alarmingly overdue for years now.
Apart from being thrilled that Fiat has created something ground-up new and exciting, I’m also heartily pleased that it looks brilliant and speaks of real meaning towards an attainable electric future for the brand and its customers.
The lights are almost baby Rolls-Royce Phantom-like in their squared-off gaze, and I particularly like the jauntily-angled LED Fiat logo on the bonnet that lights up to show charging status. The interior, too, looks fresh but well thought-out, demonstrating how the company plans to give the next Panda a high level of personalisation, while at the same time keeping a minimalist aesthetic. Even the cheeky soft toy Panda in the dash showed a sense of humour that’s often missing from the big mainstream manufacturers.
Of course, beyond a significant design statement, the Centoventi showed real insight to the company’s electric ambitions – and how advanced they already are. Complete with cassette-style lithium-ion battery pack beneath the concept car’s floor, the system will allow buyers to choose from an affordable, low-range model with around 60 miles, right up to a long-range 310-mile car, with mid-range options in between.
It’s a deeply appealing blend of solid common sense and high style showmanship, the Centoventi. If Fiat can muster the nerve and the budget to keep to the rather bold promise that the concept stands for, it’ll pay off for both the company and the consumer when it morphs into the next generation Panda.
Subaru Viziv Adrenaline – as chosen by David Motton
If you grew up following rallying in the 1990s, and wore out your thumbs playing Colin McRae Rally on the Playstation, then you’ll remember Subaru from its WRC heyday. The bark of a flat-four, flat-out, the instantly recognisable blue and yellow livery of the Impreza – it was Subaru’s golden era, and not just because of the colour of the rally cars’ alloys…
Today’s Subaru range seems rather tame compared with the lairy excess of an Impreza WRX or STi. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want a sensible, reliable four-wheel-drive vehicle, you could do a lot worse than a Forester or Outback. But there’s a disconnect between the exciting Subarus of the past and the worthy rural workhorses of today.
Step forward, the Viziv Adrenaline Concept. It may have been easy to overlook in a show packed with cute urban EVs and crazy-fast supercars, but the Subaru’s concept is my pick of the show.
Subaru says the Viziv Adrenaline shows a new, bolder design direction. This isn’t a dull-looking estate car with an incongruous looking bonnet scoop added as an afterthought, it’s a genuinely handsome and desirable vehicle.
The design features angles so sharp you could cut yourself just by looking at it. Plenty of SUVs look tough (think Jeep Wrangler), others look sporty (think Alfa Romeo Stelvio), the Viziv manages to combine both.
It may not be a rally car, but if the next generation Subaru XV looks anything like the Viziv Adrenaline I’d be very tempted.
Mercedes-Benx EQV – as chosen by Kyle Fortune
An electric van, as my car of the show? You’d better believe it: the Mercedes-Benz EQV gets my vote. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wowed by all the crazy-money super and hyper cars that litter the stands in the Geneva Palexpo’s halls, but, let’s face it, outside all but a handful of moneyed postcodes they’re pretty irrelevant.
Having just added a third child to the family a big, easy MPV that’ll seat as many as eight and swallow anything you care to bring along with you has enormous appeal. The 248-mile range makes it useable too, even if the reality is probably more likely to be in the region of 180-200 miles. It’ll manage life then, and not produce any fumes on the school run, either.
Mercedes-Benz is calling it a concept for now, but is promising there’ll be a production version on show when the motor show circus rolls up to Frankfurt this September. With a 100kWh battery under the floor powering a 210bhp motor it’s not going to be quick, but the acceleration around town should be brisk and the 99mph top speed is enough.
More importantly is the speed of charging. Mercedes-Benz is saying the EQV will gain 60 additional miles range in just 15 minutes if you find a fast charger. The German car-maker will offer an app on your smartphone to sort out the bills, too.
Legendary rally driver Walter Röhrl is reported to have said that all you need in life is a van and a Porsche 911. In which case I’ll have a 911 too, for when the kids are at school and EQV’s charging…
Koenigsegg Jesko – as chosen by Lewis Kingston
One thousand, five hundred and seventy-eight brake horsepower. That alone would be a good – albeit somewhat predictable – reason for picking the new Koenigsegg Jesko as my favourite car from the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.
There’s far more to this new ‘megacar’ than its Bugatti Chiron-eclipsing power output, mind, hence its place here. There has to be, after all, as its twin-turbo V8 can only produce that figure on specialised E85 fuel; fill up with conventional unleaded and it’ll churn out a lesser 1,263bhp.
No, what really grabs my attention is Koenigsegg’s ongoing ability to develop innovative high-performance hardware – a talent which is highlighted again in the Jesko. Take, for example, the car’s transmission; Koenigsegg has eschewed the usual options and instead come up with its own nine-speed alternative.
The new multi-clutch gearbox, dubbed the ‘Light Speed Transmission’, reportedly clocks in at just 90kg – whereas a dual-clutch alternative capable of handling similar outputs would be more than 30kg heavier, larger and slower to shift.
In short, wherever you glance, you’ll find remarkable engineering that makes other manufacturers’ incremental updates and conventional systems look staid. Another case in point: the Jesko might have a big twin-turbo engine but it redlines at a whopping 8,500rpm and weighs just 189kg – reputedly less than half that of the similarly mighty W16 in the Chiron.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that the Jesko is potentially capable of hitting 300mph. That’s admittedly a statistic that’s becoming increasingly moot these days but, if it achieves such heady heights, that accomplishment should be deservedly applauded.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster – as chosen by Dan Trent
Accepted wisdom has it that open-top versions of track-focused supercars are always compromised dynamically and aesthetically. And you can’t present a new car at a modern motor show unless it’s got some manner of electric propulsion and virtue-signalling tech.
The Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster is, on both counts, massively off-script by arguably looking even better than the coupe version and being powered by a massive, naturally-aspirated V12 engine with a conspicuous lack of electric motors or hybrid assistance. It’s also gold (OK, Bronzo Zenas if we’re being pedantic), which for an event unapologetically catering to the wealthier end of the car-buying spectrum, is further evidence Lamborghini knows its audience.
By the standards of some of the other cars at the show 770bhp is actually pretty modest but the Aventador SVJ Roadster lacks nothing in visual drama and you can be sure its old-school motor will howl like no turbocharged or electrically-boosted rival. If you want the wind in your hair at over 200mph there is, surely, no more dramatic way of achieving it.
Sure, it’s fun seeing all the latest cars and tech from across the industry all under one roof. But there are only so many facelifted hatchbacks and pod-like autonomous concepts you can take in one hit and the hedonism and escapism on the Lamborghini stand is always welcome relief. The brand arguably invented the modern supercar with the Miura and Countach back in the early 1970s; if cars like the Aventador SVJ Roadster are the genre’s last hurrah it’s kind of appropriate Lamborghini should be flying the flag to the end.
Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered – as chosen by Alex Robbins
As a concept car, you could be forgiven for feeling a little disappointed by the Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered. With the exception of a mildly beefed-up bodykit, after all, it looks a heck of a lot like the standard car.
There’s a reason behind this, and it’s that a hot 508 just like this one, with four-wheel drive, hybrid power and 350-ish bhp – down from the concept’s 400 – is slated for production, as confirmed by none other than Jean-Pierre Imparato, the CEO of Peugeot, himself.
It’ll follow in the footsteps of the 505 GTi and 405 Mi16, great names of the past almost forgotten thanks to Peugeot’s collage of mediocrity in the intervening years. All that has changed now, and for me, no car signals Peugeot’s return to form quite as emphatically as this one.
That this car will actually go into production at all is a surprise, mind you, because whether it will sell is anyone’s guess. After all, most buyers aren’t interested in big hatchbacks these days, least of all those with thumping power and hefty price tags. But if Peugeot can succeed in convincing buyers its fast 508 is an Audi S5 Sportback rival, it might just work.
Peugeot might be back, then, but it’s being either wonderfully daft or monumentally brave committing a car like this to the showroom. And that’s why it’s my car of the show.
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