25 May 2016 Last updated

New cars

Geneva Motor Show roundup

Gautam Sharma
Added 00:00 | March 11, 2016

Over 120 new cars made their world and European debuts, and though the Chiron drew the biggest crowd, there was much more to see than the new Bugatti

Bugatti’s outrageous Chiron may have hogged the headlines (issue 573), at this year’s Geneva motor show, but the first major Euro auto show of the year also ushered in a raft of other key debutants of both the production and concept variety. And, as is the tradition at Geneva, there was the usual strong turnout from speciality manufacturers and the tuning brigade.

There were numerous world premieres in the supercar segment alone, with Aston Martin busting out its rakish DB11, Porsche unleashing its hardcore yet visually understated 911R, Ferrari whipping the covers off its rejigged FF (now badged the GTC4 Lusso) and Jaguar showcasing the SVR — the most brutal F-Type to date.

The Lamborghini stand also garnered plenty of double-takes, thanks to the ultra-aggressive Centenario low-volume special that chalks up founder and former tractor maker Ferruccio’s 100th birthday. McLaren went a slightly more subdued route with its 570 GT (issue 573), which can haul a swag of soft luggage, if not quite a suitcase.

Maserati also attracted a throng of media as it unveiled its crucial new Levante SUV (issue 572), conceived to take the fight to the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X6 and Range Rover Sport.

There was much more so sit back, relax, and enjoy our A-Z wrap of all the key newcomers at the show.


Aston Martin DB11

Aston has dined out for more than a decade on reheated versions of its familiar VH architecture/V12 recipe, but the DB11 debuts what’s touted as an all-new bonded aluminium platform and powertrain. Propulsion is via a 5.2-litre twin-turbo (yes, turbo) V12 that kicks out a robust 600bhp and 700Nm. Drive goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed auto, and the result is a claimed 0-100kph sprint of 3.9sec and top whack of 322kph, so the DB11 has the muscle to mix it with the Lambo/Ferrari/McLaren brigade. Also new is a state-of-the-art driver interface and infotainment system, courtesy of Aston’s tie-up with Daimler.

Inside, you’ll notice the familiar Merc switchgear and media systems, including a 12in digital driver’s display, a centrally mounted 8.0in screen and Mercedes’ rotary controller. The DB11’s styling features some traditional Aston cues, but the execution is far bolder than before.


Audi Q2

Yes, yet another addition to Audi’s burgeoning SUV portfolio, this time in the form of the pint-sized Q2, which slots in below the existing Q3. Conceived to joust with the likes of the Mini Countryman et al, the Q2 spans just 4,200mm from bumper to bumper, but its wheel-at-each-corner stance means it’s reasonably spacious inside (boot space is 405 litres, expandable to 1,050 litres with the rear seats folded) for its compact dimensions. The blacked-out C-pillars are an interesting design element, but basically the car adheres to the traditional Audi form. It’ll be offered with a range of four-cylinder engines, but Audi Middle East execs concede it will be pitched more at Europe and Asia than our market.


Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

Although it looks as badass as the full-fat Z06, the new Grand Sport is more about beefed-up visuals than it is about spine-crushing performance. It’s powered by the same 460bhp 6.2-litre LT1 V8 engine that propels the standard Corvette, but unique to the GS is an active exhaust system and a dry-sump oiling system that helps it cope with higher cornering forces. Also standard is grippier Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber mounted on 19in rims, tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, and a standard electronic limited-slip differential. An optional Z07 package adds carbon-ceramic matrix brakes and even more aggressive Michelin Pilot Sport 2 Cup tyres, increasing the cornering threshold to 1.2g. With the Z07 package, Chevy says the Grand Sport was less than one second off the track record for GM’s Milford Proving Ground, set by the previous-generation Corvette ZR1.


Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

Ferrari’s FF will never get a mention in any glossy coffee-table books chronicling the most beautiful cars of the century. The prancing horse has worked to redress this with a rebooted version, now known as the GTC4 Lusso. The moniker is a hat tip to past Fezzas such as the 330 GTC, while the ‘4’ is a reference to the number of seats, rather than the fact that drive goes to all four corners. Visual fiddles include new headlights that are similar to those of the 488 GTB, while the derrière is now festooned with four round taillights, emulating the 308 GTS that Magnum PI trundled around in back in the Eighties. Other tweaks include a new front grille, air vents on the fenders that hark back to the 330 GTC, a revised rear diffuser and a subtle rear spoiler. The 6.3-litre V12 has also been fettled to kick out 680bhp (up from 651bhp), while torque is up from 683Nm to 696Nm.


Honda Civic Hatchback prototype

Once-inspired Honda has seemingly lost its way in recent years, but is this a sign that better times are in store? Previewing the 10th-generation hatchback that launches next year, this Civic concept has far more angular design language than the existing model. Although striking to look at, we’d stop short of calling it beautiful. Underpinning it is an all-new platform that has enabled the car to grow 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer. As a result, it has a beefier stance, and this will no doubt be further embellished for the eventual new-gen Type-R flagship. Sadly, we may not see this car in the ME, as Honda’s local subsidiary seems more content foisting us the Civic saloon.


Jaguar F-type SVR

Jag’s existing F-Type R is already a highly potent and entertaining bit of kit, but the engineers at the new SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) division weren’t employed to sit around and twiddle their thumbs. So, here’s their latest handiwork — the stove-hot F-Type SVR, which packs a 567bhp and 700Nm of torque 5.0-litre supercharged V8. With this much grunt on tap, the SVO brainiacs have opted for an all-wheel drive layout to ensure the rear hoops don’t end up in flames. It all adds up to ballistic performance, with 0-100kph despatched in 3.7 seconds, and a top whack of 322kph (you’ll have to be content with 312kph in the convertible). Other upgrades to the SVR over lesser models include SVR-specific suspension, a titanium exhaust system and a menacing aero kit.


Koenigsegg Regera 

Koenigsegg aimed to upstage the Bugatti Chiron with its new Regera, allegedly capable of launching from 0 to 400kph (no, that’s not a misprint) in 20 seconds flat. The Swedish upstart trumpets the Regera as “one of the fastest cars on the planet — around a racetrack or anywhere else”. Power comes from a dry-sumped twin-turbo 5.0-litre V8 mated to a plug-in Direct Drive electronic propulsion system. A precise power figure hasn’t been revealed, but Koenigsegg claims it’s “way over” the Chiron’s 1,500bhp. Meanwhile, the quoted torque figure of 2,000Nm seems adequate for towing a small villa across town. Supplementing the V8 are three electric motors: one in each rear wheel and one coupled to the crankshaft. The output of this trio is quoted at 800bhp, so even Tesla’s most potent offering doesn’t compare. The Regera also substitutes a conventional gearbox with a ‘‘clutch-slip mechanism” and a hydraulic coupling. There are no up- or downshifts, just a “seamless delivery of power”. Sounds disturbingly like a CVT to us, even though Koenigsegg claims it isn’t.


Infiniti Q60 coupé

Infiniti has done well over the years with its G35/G37 coupés (in fact, it was the four-seat coupé segment leader in the US for a period with the G37). However, that model (since rebadged Q60 in line with Infiniti’s new naming protocol) is as old as the hills, so an all-new iteration was long overdue. The newcomer (still underpinned by the trusty Nissan ‘FM’ platform) certainly looks the part, and one of its big drawcards when it launches here at the end of the year will be an all-new 400bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. The Q60 also scores a second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering that’s claimed to provide a much sportier and more natural feel than the flawed Gen1 version of DAS. Infiniti product strategy boss Francois Bancon claims the Q60 is the dynamic match of the BMW 4 Series, but we’ll be the judge of that when we eventually get to drive the car.


Porsche 911R

So, you like the GT3 RS, but don’t like all the aero addenda and dual-clutch ‘box that comes with the ‘wild thang’? Well, it seems Porsche has heard your prayers, and the fruits have been delivered in the form of the new 911R. Only 991 examples will be built, with a price tag that exceeds that of even the GT3 RS. What this spend gets you is the lightest version of the 991-generation 911, as it tips the scales at a waif-like 1,370kg. This is the result of a carbon-fibre bonnet, front arches and a magnesium roof. Other weight-saving measures include a titanium exhaust and the ditching of the rear seat. Air-con is also canned, but it is available as an option. Power comes from the same 493bhp/460Nm 4.0-litre atmo engine as the GT3 RS, but drive is sent to the rear wheels by a six-speed manual rather than the ubiquitous PDK. Other goodies include rear-wheel steering, ceramic composite brakes and centre-locking forged aluminium wheels. It’s low-key on the outside, with the most obvious clue to the 911R’s identity provided by a pair of racing stripes, bespoke front spoiler and rear diffuser.


Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupé

Can’t afford the barnstorming C 63 AMG? Don’t despair, because Merc has just fattened up the C range with the C 43 AMG, which eschews the former’s 4.0-litre V8 in favour of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. Thrashing out 362bhp and a barrel-chested 520Nm (sent to all four wheels by a nine-speed auto mated to a 4Matic set-up), the C 43 rockets to 100kph in 4.7 seconds, while top speed is limited to 250 klicks. And there’s also good news if you like a bit of sideways action because the all-paw system splits drive to front and rear axles in a 31:69 ratio, so, for all intents and purposes, it’s meant to behave like a rear-driver. The C 43 also pinches the C 63’s three-stage adaptive variable dampers, and it features the trademark AMG quad exhausts, oversize rims and subtle boot spoiler.


Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze

It may look like a Range Rover Evoque Cabrio wannabe, but Veedub’s open-topped SUV concept is puny by comparison (it’s 240mm shorter, as well being significantly narrower). Though it may come across as showcar fantasy, the T-Cross is billed as a precursor to a real-world crossover SUV, which will slot in below the Tiguan in VW’s line-up. The concept features a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo motor with 109bhp and 175Nm, which mightn’t sound like a lot until you take in the fact that the vehicle weighs just 1,250kg. Power goes to the front wheels only via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It boasts 19in rims and a 300W Beats Audio sound system, but don’t expect these to make the transition to whatever production version eventuates.


Lamborghini Centenario

This brutal-looking monster is both a 100th birthday present to Ferruccio Lamborghini (alas, he’s not around to see it as he passed away in 1993) and a farewell tribute to outgoing CEO Stephan Winkelmann who’s steered the raging bull to record sales and profits over his 11-year tenure. Given the occasion, the Centenario is a suitably dramatic rocket ship, with only 20 coupés (priced from 1.75m euros or roughly Dh7.0m, plus taxes) and 20 roadsters (2.25m euros, roughly Dh9.1m, plus taxes) destined to roll out of Sant’Agata. But you can pop that chequebook away because they’ve all been spoken for. Ample use of composite materials keeps weight down to 1,520kg, and the evil-looking rear diffuser and extendable rear wing help keep the thing glued to the road. There’s also rear-wheel steering to boost low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed stability. Naturally, the 6.5-litre V12 has also been massaged to thrash out 760bhp. OK, 0-300kph in 23.5 seconds isn’t going to threaten a Chiron, but it’s ballistic by any other measure.