Last week we were in Geneva to take in the 88th Geneva International Motor Show. First held in 1905 and now considered one of the major events on the international automotive calendar, the show brings together manufacturers from around the globe to showcase product ranges, demonstrate future concepts and launch new models to the world.
Taking place at Geneva’s Palexpo exhibition hall, for 13 days every March the world’s automotive press and petrolheads alike firmly set their focus on the venue. This year was no different with 180 exhibitors in attendance, more than 110 World and European premiers displayed and a total of over 900 models exhibited. With an expected attendance of over 700,000 throughout the course of the event, it was only right that we were present to get all of the latest first hand.
Taking place amid the backdrop of some of the biggest changes the sector has faced, the automotive industry is at a crossroads. With governments aiming for stricter and stricter emissions targets, the pressure for manufacturers to not only refine their existing technology, so that they have greener credentials, but to also develop alternatively fueled vehicles has never been more marked. It’s only natural then that the key theme of this year’s show was electric and alternatively fueled vehicles.
Aston Martin was probably the most high profile manufacturer to bring an electric vehicle to the show, with the Marque relaunching it’s Lagonda name for its electric vehicle division. The Lagonda concept on display was muted to be 80% representative for what the final production vehicle will look like. The brand is also said to be working on an impressive set of specifications for this car with a range of 400 miles and full wireless charging in 15 minutes the target.
This year’s Geneva show was also the destination for the launch of the FIA Formula E series, next-generation electric race car. The Gen2 car will remove the need for mid-race car swaps for the first time as it boasts a larger battery with higher capacity and stronger performance to boot. The series will also be supported from next season by the eTrophy support championship, which will feature a grid of 20, of Jaguar’s newly launched, all-electric SUV, the I-Pace, which was also present at the show.
Whilst the presence of electric and hybrid vehicles grows on the stands of the more mass market manufacturers, having been on the ground at Geneva last week there are still a number of machines to light the fire in the heart of the more traditional petrolhead, with a plethora of high performance and supercars very much taking the limelight.
Geneva 2018 is the first real headline event of the year within the automotive industry for manufacturers to showcase their latest wares and with new model launches from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Aston Martin, McLaren and Porsche to name but a few, visitors to the show were certainly spoilt for choice. With such a vast selection of new metal, it’s was only right that we cast our eye over some of the show’s highlights.
Whilst also developing and engineering their own electric and hybrid powertrains manufacturers like Porsche and Ferrari have been silently refining their more conventional powertrains with potent results and it’s new machines from these two manufacturers that look set to be the next big supercar showdown.
Launched at the show were the Ferrari 488 Pista and the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Both stripped back, driver-centric track machines these cars are the jewels in the crown of both marques.
Under the bonnet of the 488 Pista is Ferrari’s most powerful V8 engine that they have ever produced. Couple this to the Pista’s lightweight chassis, a sparse but driver-oriented interior, think no carpets and racing harnesses, and you have a machine that is capable of some very serious track time. It’s 3.9-Litre bi-turbo V8 produces 711 bhp, 568 pound-foot of torque and the car as a whole weighs in at a full 160kg lighter than the recently launched Porsche 911 GT2 RS.
The new 488 Pista isn’t alone in the track car stakes, however. Going head to head with the Pista is Porsche’s answer, the GT3 RS. A refinement on a true track great, the RS, like the Pista is another machine to feature a lightweight chassis. Add in Porsche’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine yet and a PDK gearbox and you have a powertrain which is capable of delivering 513 bhp and a top speed of 194 mph.
Both to be made in limited numbers and with order books, no doubt already filled, most likely before any customers saw these vehicles in the flesh, and you have two cars that are likely to become highly sought after well into the future.
Whilst Ferrari and Porsche may have stolen the headlines with their track-focused powerhouses, relative newcomer McLaren was on hand to up the stakes in the Hypercar arena. Despite only being a fully fledged road car manufacturer for eight years, McLaren already has a pedigree that most supercar manufacturers would be envious of. Following on from the 12C, 675, P1 and the 720s, the McLaren Senna was fully revealed to the public at Geneva.
Designed and engineered in a nod to the late, great, Ayrton Senna the McLaren Senna draws upon the firm’s rich Motorsport experience and essentially delivers a road legal race car. Featuring McLarens 4.0-Litre twin turbo V8 the Senna produces 789 bhp, delivering a standstill to 62 mph time of 2.8 seconds and an ultimate top speed of 211 mph.
Mechanics aside, this thing is all about downforce and this is very much apparent in the way this thing looks with its enormous rear wing, front splitter and diffuser all working together to deliver over 800 kg of downforce to the road. The Geneva show was also a showcase for McLarens special operations division (MSO), which had their Senna Carbon Theme edition present. Featuring a high gloss, all carbon body, the Carbon Theme features yellow flashes across the bodywork, with green brake callipers and subtle blue and red wheel nuts in a nod to Ayrton Senna’s Brazilian nationality.
Other highlights of the show included the Aston Martin Vantage. More than just a visual refresh this model is a complete overhaul from its predecessor with a total departure from Aston’s previous design philosophy. Alongside the Vantage on the Aston Martin stand was the marques striking Valkyrie AMR Pro. A more hardcore, non-road legal, track car variant of the standard Valkyrie, it is the brainchild of famed F1 designer Adrian Newey and is designed to be the ultimate expression of aerodynamic performance. It will be made in limited numbers of just 25 worldwide.
The new Bentley Continental GT and Hybrid Bentayga also featured prominently at the show, as did the Spider variant of Lamborghini’s acclaimed, Huracan Performante’ with each of these vehicles on sale now.
This year’s show was a real showcase of the automotive industry at it’s finest and whatever way you look at the future of motoring, one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be exciting.