At the season-opening show in Detroit in January the mood was glum, and most of the high-end brands such as Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin didn’t even bother to show up. The highlight in freezing Michigan that press day was a facelifted pick-up truck from Ford… Now on neutral ground in Switzerland, nobody dared stay away from the glitz and glamour of Geneva and the show lived up to its reputation of catering to the stars — everyone from AMG to Zenvo released outrageous cars.
Up on the stand, Daimler’s member of the board and sales boss Britta Seeger called Geneva the catwalk of our industry. If it could strut, the new AMG GT Concept would’ve strutted — it’s a celebration of 50 years of the AMG performance arm of Mercedes-Benz, and although we were hoping to celebrate the anniversary with a concept model of the upcoming Project One hypercar (that’s coming at the Frankfurt show this September), it’s not like we were all that disappointed with what we got instead.
The four-door AMG GT Concept is a supercar in saloon form, and only the third-ever model entirely designed and developed by the Affalterbach outfit after the SLS AMG ‘Gullwing’ and the current AMG GT. The little badge on the mirror is a giveaway — reading ‘EQ Power+’ the name denotes an especially monstrous hybrid coupling a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with electricity to produce over 800 horsepower of total system grunt. In red, accented by bronze brake callipers and wheels, the AMG GT Concept previews what’s going to show up at a dealership near you soon — Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG, claims the car will do 0-100kph in less than three seconds, while Gorden Wagener, Daimler’s design boss, promises the fastback shape (and large, practical tailgate) will remain in the production version.
After production of the Alpine sportscars ended in 1995, the legendary Dieppe Renault factory built by Alpine founder Jean Rédélé in 1969 has been churning out hot hatchbacks and minivans, but this year it’ll start building proper rear-engined (fine, mid-engined…) sportscars all over again, wearing Rédélé’s famous old ‘A’ logos. The new Alpine A110 will start from about Dh230K when it goes on sale later this year, to do battle with Porsche 718 Caymans, powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo engine making 252bhp and 320Nm of torque. That power only needs to motivate a little over a tonne, as the A110 tips scales at 1,080kg ready to roll.
Honda Civic Type R
Honda’s been launching the latest Civic Type R for about the past three years now, and just as we were about to lose interest this thing showed up in Geneva, finally, in production form and rated at 320 horsepower and 400Nm of torque from an all-new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that says V-TEC on top. Yes, there’ll be a manual transmission, and a +R driving mode, and lots and lots of wings and spoilers.
After a third straight profitable year and a record sales result in 2016 with 3,300 units shifted, McLaren is embarking on the way to its Track22 strategic plan, which promises 15 new cars by the year 2022. That’s a lot of cars but Woking’s growing experience (since the 2011 MP4-12C relaunched the road-car company) with development is working. Launching the company’s second-generation model, the 720S (which succeeds the 650S) in Geneva, McLaren’s boss Mike Flewitt said, “What we did with the 720S, is we designed it in half the time of the 12C…”
The 720S benefits from a second-generation carbon-fibre monocoque tub and a newly developed 4.0-litre
twin-turbo V8 engine making over 700 horsepower and 770Nm of torque. With a segment-best dry weight of 1,283kg McLaren is quoting performance figures such as a 341kph top speed and 0-100kph in 2.9 seconds. “Probably even more impressively,” added vehicle programme boss Mark Vinnels, “nought to 200 takes just 7.8 seconds… You’d expect a McLaren to be fast, but I think people will be surprised at just how fast this car is.”
By 2019 Swedish carmaker Volvo plans to introduce its first fully electric car to the road, and in the meantime Volvo’s riding a wave of success (record sales in 2016, over half a million cars, nearly Lexus-like numbers…) spurred on by the company’s new modular architecture, new XC90 SUV and new S90 saloon.
Riding on that same architecture and looking just as fine as its siblings, is the new mid-size XC60 crossover, which finally succeeds the old XC60 that’s been plodding on for about a decade now. Nearly a million of those were sold, and Volvo will hope to repeat that success with the latest XC60 that comes fully loaded with safety kit — Volvo says this is likely the safest car ever made.
Furthermore a feature called Pilot Assist is Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving system that can steer, accelerate and brake at speeds up to 130kph. The early-morning Dubai-Abu Dhabi death race is about to take on some AI competition in the fast lane.
To replace the Passat CC, Volkswagen premiered the new Arteon, which they at least didn’t try calling a coupé. Instead the Wolfsburgers went with ‘five-door gran turismo’, which we’ll accept. The Arteon has a wheelbase of 2,841mm that’s about on par with something like a Mercedes E-Class, so you know it’ll be huge inside, while the rear hatch compartment can swallow from 563 to 1,557 litres of cargo. Top-spec models will serve up nearly 280 horsepower and drive all four wheels via a double-clutch transmission, and Volkswagen has also thrown in the choice of a new digital instrument display and 9.2in infotainment system with gesture control available.
Audi RS 5
You know how Porsche has a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 in the new Panamera, and a 3.4-litre V6 and a 3.0-litre V6, and also how sister-brand Audi has a 3.0-litre V6, and it all gets quite confusing. Well the 2.9 will carry the V6 models forward whether they carry a Stuttgart crest or a four-pointed ring — this is the new Audi RS 5 and instead of a V8 it has the Panamera’s lump making 450 horsepower and 600Nm of torque from 1,900rpm for 0-100kph in 3.9 seconds (half-a-second quicker than before) thanks to all-wheel drive and a lower (by 60kg) kerb weight of 1,655kg.
Longer than the previous model by 74mm, the new RS 5 takes styling cues from the epic Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO from the Eighties, which is as good a form of inspiration as any.
2017 Ruf CTR
Even though Ruf has long been recognised as its own manufacturer — the company gets Porsche body-in-white unmarked chassis to begin with — this new 2017 Ruf CTR is actually the Pfaffenhausen marque’s first-ever all-internally designed and developed supercar. And what a way to mark 30 years of the original 1987 CTR ‘Yellow Bird’… The 2017 model (instead of getting a chassis from Porsche) starts with a Ruf-made carbon fibre monocoque tub, the first ever for a rear-engined car.
Then they throw in a 700 horsepower twin-turbo flat-six and a six-speed manual transmission (no, you can’t have an
automatic, stop waving cash around) geared for a 360kph top speed and 0-100kph in less than 3.5 seconds. If you want one be sharp because Ruf’s only making 30 of these 30th-anniversary epics.
Bentley EXP12 Speed 6e
If you think about it, electric propulsion pairs perfectly with luxury brands such as Bentley, which are all about opulence and effortless power — the new Bentley EXP12 Speed 6e demonstrates that by looking so mighty fine we really don’t care much what happens underneath at all. In any case Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer says this concept will help the company “to discuss ideas and get feedback from customers and decision makers of the future, such as millennials, members of Generation C, and the rising affluent in developing economies, to better understand what they expect from an electric car…”
Crewe’s engineering boss Rolf Frech, also on hand at the motor show unveiling, added the production version of EXP12 Speed 6e could do the Geneva-French Riviera jaunt on a single charge, which is a drive more than 500km long.
Vanda Electrics Dendrobium
You don’t normally think of Singapore when you think of supercars but Singapore’s electric mobility company Vanda Electrics wants to change that with the all-electric Dendrobium concept, making its debut in Geneva. The zero-emissions two-seater comes with attention-grabbing automatic roof and scissor-doors, and promises a top speed “in excess of 320kph” and 0-100kph in just 2.7 seconds. This doesn’t sound so far-fetched when you stop and consider the project’s technical partner is a little outfit called Williams Advanced Engineering… The Grove-based F1 team and tech firm currently supplies the Formula E grid with electric motors and powertrains, so they should know what goes where.
Lamborghini Huracán Performante
Sant’Agata Bolognese’s most famous export, Lamborghini, claims to have set a new ‘Ring record beating Porsche’s 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar with a time of 6:52.01 around the 20km Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany. The car that did it is the new Lamborghini Huracán Performante, which made its global premiere in Geneva with active aerodynamics, forged carbon fibre all over the place saving 40kg, a 5.2-litre naturally aspirated (hoorah) V10 making 640bhp and rocketing from zero to 100kph in 2.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 325kph. Bespoke Pirelli rubber helps, too.