Geneva Motor Show: Highlights #1 – Alpine, Honda, Porsche, McLaren & Range Rover
There’s a very good reason why the annual Geneva Motor Show is considered one of the world’s most important showcases of new cars and new technologies.
It’s not only the first major European show on the calendar, but it typically attracts a full house of auto brands from around the world – something even bigger shows like Paris can’t always emulate.
The 87th edition of the Geneva Motor Show is no different: all the major players are present, together with a sprinkling of supercars and concepts to add a further layer of tech-infused glamour. Here are some of our highlights thus far:
Renault’s heritage-laden sports car brand, Alpine, has finally stepped into the production car limelight. The A110 has been previewed and teased since the first announcement five years ago, but the final product appears to have been worth the wait.
The sleek two-door, two-seater echoes some of the styling traits of the original, legendary Alpines and also retains the lightweight philosophy – comprehensive use of aluminium limits kerb mass to 1 103 kg.
With 185 kW and 320 Nm delivered by the mid-mounted, 1,8-litre four-cylinder engine, the power-to-weight ratio is a useful 167,7 kW/ton, allowing a 4,5 sec 0-100 km/h sprint time. The gearbox is a seven-speed dual-clutch, driving the rear wheels.
The racy interior features fixed-angle bucket seats, quilted leather upholstery, and lots of metal detailing. A central touchscreen display adds some high-tech allure. Pricing will be 58 000 Euros – that’s around R850 000 before duties, taxes and shipping.
PORSCHE PANAMERA SPORT TURISMO
This shooting brake version of the already corpulent standard four-seater may well be the most convincing – and intriguing – member of the Panamera clan. It makes better use of its 5,05 metre length than the sedan, adding extra headroom, greater versatility and an additional 20 litres of boot space.
Vitally, the rear hatch allows much better access to that boot, and with the rear seats folded down, the cargo area grows to a capacious 1 390 litres. There’s a 25 kg weight penalty, compared to the standard model.
Porsche says dynamics remain as sporty and composed as the sedan, despite the Sport Turismo’s different weight distribution and centre of gravity. The suspension settings have been adapted accordingly.
European buyers get to choose between the same five drivetrains offered in the standard Panamera, including turbodiesel, turbo petrol and hybrid versions. Sport Turismo models cost around R80 000 more, though.
RANGE ROVER VELAR
Range Rover has filled the gap between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport with an all-new model dubbed the Velar. Only 50 mm shorter than the imposing Sport, the Velar is based on Jaguar’s F-Pace.
The name is a reference to original 1969 Range Rover prototype, but there’s nothing retro about the newcomer. It exudes all the tech, luxury and exclusivity associated with the brand, packaged in a shape that’s clean-cut and contemporary.
A high shoulder line, narrow side glass aperture, steeply raked windscreen and a short front overhang create a look that’s muscular and athletic. Power comes from an extensive choice of drivetrains spanning petrol and diesel engines, while all-wheel drive, Terrain Response and a maximum ride height of up to 251 mm ensure impressive all-terrain capability.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
The all-new Honda Civic Type R looks set to eclipse the keen benchmarks set by its predecessor – a car that was only released here less than two years ago. The newcomer is naturally based on the all-new Civic, and it looks set to be a humdinger of a car.
A lot of aerodynamic tweaks make for a somewhat fussy, edgy appearance, but despite the increase in overall size, the Type R looks aggressive and purposeful, and all those aero bits are actually functional, easing the hot hatch’s passage through the air and adding downforce in the case of the massive rear wing.
An unusual touch is the triple exhaust system, with a smaller-diameter centre pipe added to regulate the exhaust note – it reduces exhaust noise at higher speeds, but creates a rortier sound at lower speeds.
The two-litre turbo engine is now rated at 235 kW and 400 Nm, while a stiffer chassis, 20 mm lower ride height, adjustable dampers and 20-inch wheels all conspire to offer even grippier, tauter handling than the previous model. Expect Honda to launch an onslaught on the Nürburgring soon, too.
McLaren’s second-generation supercar, badged the 720S, combines reduced weight with dramatic styling, enhanced interior execution and a new 4,0-litre twin-turbo V8, good for 530 kW and 770 Nm.
The new car catapults from rest to 100 km/h in 2,9 sec, gets to 200 km/h in 7,8 sec and has a claimed top speed of 341 km/h. Braking from 200 km/h is achieved in an eyeball-bulging 4,6 sec over a distance of just 117 m.
The car’s low 1 283 kg kerb mass is due to a carbon fibre chassis, while McLaren’s Proactive Chassis Control has been refined to offer a range of settings, from comfortable cruising to track-style aggressive handling.