Intimacy makes Geneva a special show


GENEVA, Switzerland — Geneva may be considered a small show based on its intimacy and square footage, certainly when compared to the likes of Frankfurt; however, it is just that intimacy that makes Geneva such a special show.

The sounds of diversity are spread across the floor; you would be hard pressed to count the number of languages being spoken. But this is Switzerland — neutral ground and the Expo is filled with design concepts and debuts from all corners of the automotive world.

Automakers are bouncing back from the hard economic times of the past two years with an array of dazzling new cars and concepts at this year’s Geneva auto show. The Geneva show promise “nearly 170 world and European premieres.” More than 40 of those will feature some sort of green technology. If the projections are correct, the number of premieres would be a record for this show, and probably for any recent auto show. The number is roughly twice the number of introductions here a year ago.

The show opens to the public on March 3 and runs through March 13 at the Palexpo convention center adjacent to Geneva’s international airport.

Here are a few highlights that the show goers will find this year in Geneva.

Renault Captur: kissing corporate cousin to the Nissan Juke. This concept has two-part swing-up doors, an intriguing interior lighting scheme, a clear canopy roof laid over a spider like structure and wheels that might defy description. Some call it a potential crossover for the Clio line-up.

Kia Rio: With a longer wheelbase and greater overall length enabling more passenger and cargo space the new Rio in both 3-door and 5-door versions bow in Geneva. The all new design has striking good looks as the company says, “[Rio] is a big step forward.”

Honda EV Concept: Giving yet more direction to next year’s Fit EV to be introduced in Japan and the U.S. with an estimated range of 100 miles. Honda is also showing a Plug-in Hybrid, a multi-mode driver which uses all-electric, gas-electric and a gas direct-drive mode.

Infiniti Etherea: A new definition of compact luxury for an entry level Infiniti. Etherea blends elements of a coupe, sedan, a hatch and even a crossover in what the company calls, “one highly sculptural, near-mono volume form.” Etherea uses the distinctive crescent-shaped C-pillar first seen on the Essence concept.


Hyundai i40: Basically it’s a Sonata wagon that probably will never see the-light-of-day in the U.S. Designed and engineered in Germany, the i40 is tailored for Europe and will have some neat luxury features including heated and reclining front and rear seats, heated steering wheel and a windshield de-mister.

Bertone B99 Concept: The Indian owned, English built Jaguar now gets an Italian twist. The masters of design at Bertone have produced a concept of a small, sporty Jaguar that could fill the hole in the line-up that the X-Type failed to fulfill. Could this Jag be the challenger to BMW’s 3 Series and Mercedes’ C-Class?

Mitsubishi Global Small Car Concept: Expected to reach U.S. shores in 2013, the Global Small Car is to carry small displacement engines, a regenerative braking system and a fuel saving engine stop at idle — start system matched to a new CVT. Called a Sub-B segment vehicle it will be an addition to Mitsubishi’s modest U.S. line-up.


Mazda Minagi: A compact crossover that will turn into the CX-5. Joining the crossover family of the CX-7 and CX-9 the Minagi shows a newer design direction named “kodo.” Mazda says the concept will include its Skyactiv engine and other new technologies. We should see a production version late this year.

Porsche Panamera S Hybrid: Using the same powertrain as the Cayenne S Hybrid the 2012 Panamera S Hybrid could well become Porsche’s most fuel efficient vehicle ever with expectations in the mid-30 mpg range. On sale in the U.S. later this year the Panamera features a 333-horsepwer supercharged 3-liter V6 coupled with a 47-horsepower electric motor and an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission. Expect pricing at just under $100,000.

Toyota iQ EV: The latest version of the iQ hits the bricks in Geneva. Nearing production this newest iteration, a four-seater with a flat lithium-ion battery pack is said to have a range of up to 65 miles. Toyota says, "The EV prototype is being put through testing on European roads this year, with a potential market introduction through a leasing program in 2012. Toyota has already announced its plans to bring the car to market in the U.S. and is also investigating its viability in other regions."

Nissan Esflow: A rear-drive two-seater sporty car concept that takes all that Leaf knows and applies it to what a zero-emissions sports car of the future might look like, although it looks a bit like a 370-Z but bolder and more elegant. Esflow uses two electric motors, each driving a real wheel. Nissan says 0-60 in under 5-seconds, and an estimated 150 miles on a single charge.

Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback: While Chevrolet continues to ponder hatchback sales in the U.S. — they are closely watching the Ford Fiesta and will keep an eye on the Ford Focus hatch before making up its corporate mind. In the meantime the new Cruze hatch 5-door will debut in Europe by mid-year. At and for the moment only a 2-liter 161-horsepower four-cylinder diesel matched to a six-speed manual has been identified for use in the hatch. If gasoline prices in the U.S. continue to ratchet up Chevy might be forced to bring the hatch sooner than later.


Fiat Freemont: If you love the Dodge Journey you will love the Freemont. You’ll have to go under the hood (bonnet for some) to see the primary difference. The Fiat badged Dodge will offer a choice of two 2-liter turbo-diesel engines (140-hp vs. 170-hp) matched to a manual transmission.

Saab 9-5 SportCombi: Starved of new product while under the GM umbrella Saab now has a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The 2012 9-5 SportCombi will arrive in the U.S. this coming fall, perhaps with a single, unannounced drivetrain, but well appointed according to company spokespersons. The SportCombi will be built in Trollhatten, Sweden.

Land Rover ‘Range_e’:  Land Rover's diesel hybrid plug-in prototype is a technology-packed working prototype currently being developed at Land Rover's design and engineering center in the UK. 'Range_e' is based on a Range Rover Sport and features a 3.0-liter TD V6 diesel with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Matched with a plug-in parallel diesel hybrid system it offers a premium SUV that can run as a pure electric vehicle. The 'Range_e' has a range of 20 miles on pure electric, a top speed of around 120 mph and a total range of 690 miles.

Jaguar XKR-S: Powered by a high output supercharged V8, featuring a revised suspension and an aero slick design the new car shares performance and luxury equally. Aimed at enthusiasts, Jaguar style, the XKR-S offers up 550-horsepower and 502 lb.-ft. torque machine that goes 0-60 mph in a mere 4.2 seconds. Top speed under controlled conditions is 186 mph. So fast the beauty becomes a blur.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe:  Natural progression, as experienced with the E-Class, so follows the C-Coupe on the heels of the C-Sedan planned for the 2012 introduction this coming fall. Noted as being youthful, stylish and expressive it extends the C-Class portfolio according to MB. The C250 will feature 201-horses and the C350 ups the ponies to 302. Lots of updated telematics and a list of advanced technology safety systems, both standard and optional are available on the sleek new coupe.

Lancia: We’ll do this as a group as Lancia has multiple debuts here, with a variety of vehicles, some coming from its new partnership with Chrysler. Ypsilon — if you’re a fan of the new Fiat Panda or even the 500 then you’ll really like it dressed as a 5-door Lancia (or Chrysler if you’re in the UK or Ireland). 

A stylish, Italian B-segment car with enough room for a young family. Thema – the fusing of Chrysler and Lancia as the 300 become the global flagship for the Fiat/Chrysler marriage. Thema adds some artful Italian design touches inside; 22-inch rims are available on the upscale Platinum trim. No HEMI but the 292-hp 3.6-liter is one of three engine choices.

Grand Voyager – another American model (Town & Country) mates with Italian style. Flavia – the Italian take on the Chrysler 200. Being shown as a concept it could very well be launched before year’s end, in both sedan and cabriolet versions.

Delta – a refresh of Lancia’s C-segment entry. It carries a new grille that reflects the new Lancia family face, new trim and a new 105-hp 1.6-liter MultiJet engine that meets Euro 5 compliance.

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet: This is the first drop top for Golf since 2002. The new cabrio comes with a power operated fabric top, but it doesn’t come to America according to sources. On this side of the pond we’ll just have to be happy with the 2012 Eos and the new New Beetle with a cabrio version – intro date not yet determined. The Golf on sale this coming summer in Europe will feature a four-cylinder gas engine or a turbo-diesel.

The bigger picture:
World debuts at Geneva


Audi RS3 Sportback hatchback

Chevrolet Cruze compact hatchback

Citroen DS4 compact hatchback

Fiat Freemont crossover

Ferrari FF sports car

Hyundai i40 mid-sized wagon

Kia Rio subcompact hatchback

Kia Picanto small hatchback

Lamborghini Aventador sports car

Lancia Thema large sedan

Lancia Grand Voyager large minivan

Lancia Ypsilon subcompact hatchback

Mercedes-Benz C-class coupe

Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster

Opel Ampera plug-in hybrid sedan

Porsche Panamera hybrid sports sedan

Saab 9-5 SportCombi wagon

Volkswagen Golf convertible


Alfa Romeo 4C GTA coupe

Audi A3 notchback sedan

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive roadster

BMW ActiveE electric car

Citroen Metropolis hybrid large sedan

De Tomaso SLC large crossover

Ford B-Max small minivan

Honda EV Concept subcompact electric car

Infiniti Etherea small car

Jaguar B 99 sports sedan by Bertone 

Lancia Flavia mid-sized sedan

Land Rover Range_e diesel hybrid SUV

Mazda Minagi compact crossover

Mitsubishi small car

Mini Rocketman subcompact car

Nissan Esflow electric sports car

Opel Zafira Tourer minivan

Opel electric minicar

Renault Captur crossover

Toyota Yaris gasoline-electric hybrid concept

Toyota iQ microcar

Saab small car
Smart ForSpeed roadster

Volkswagen sports coupe

Volkswagen minivan

Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid wagon