There were more than eleven noteworthy vehicles introduced at the Geneva Auto Show last week. In Part One of our look back at 2012’s big European automotive get-together – which included a Bentley, Ferrari, Ford, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz Nissan, Porsche, and a Volvo – we realized that a British wagon probably wasn’t that noteworthy in the grand scheme of things, that a Hyundai design study probably wouldn’t see the light of day, and that a the Ford hatchback may not reach American shores but that a Mercedes-Benz hatchback probably would. Since then, we’ve also discovered that Bentley is already considering a redesign of the EXP 9 F, thankfully.
On this list of eleven other worthy Geneva Auto Show subjects, it is sometimes the vehicle’s narrative that’s more important than the vehicle itself. You’re familiar with many of these cars, in fact, but there are changes which could stir the pot of discussion.
The California has quickly become the old dog in Ferrari’s lineup, behind the FF, 458 Italia, and the new F12. Indeed, it doesn’t seem as though it’s been long since Ferrari told us they were going to start selling a front-engined V8 car with a retractable hardtop. It doesn’t seem as though it’s been long since many of the non-paying Ferrari faithful were aghast and actual Ferrari customers were excited at the prospect of a gentler, but still accomplished, junior Ferrari. At the original Paris reveal, the California’s 4.7L V8 generated 460 horsepower. So what’s the difference four years later in Geneva? A 30-hp bump almost helps the California keep up with the rate of inflation. More importantly, however, is the California’s weight loss program which shed 66 pounds. It isn’t often you hear about a reengineering of this sort midway through a model cycle.
The Ford C-Max will eventually make its way to North America in Hybrid and Energi variants later this year. It’s something of a Mazda 5 rival only with unconventional powertrains and no sliding doors. This B-Max is less likely to form a part of Ford’s North American lineup, but it’s a necessary part of a mainstream automaker’s portfolio in Europe. MPVs, or minivans as we call them, are getting more miniature by the day across the pond. Though the C-Max goes without sliding doors, Ford has found a way to remove the B-pillar on the B-Max in order to incorporate sliding doors and thus a wider aperture for easy rear seat entry. Ford clearly made use of an auto mover to shower its Geneva show floor with the new Fiesta ST, Tourno, Kuga, and B-Max.
Audi A6 Allroad
The Allroad family is once again available in North America. But the jacked-up Avant – that’s wagon terminology at Audi – isn’t based on the A6 as it was a decade ago but on the smaller A4. Audi isn’t even selling an Avant version of the new A6 in North America, deciding to forge ahead with the higher-priced A7 hatchback. All that aside, Audi did introduce an A6 Allroad in Geneva. It’s a stunner, as you’d expect an Audi wagon would be. Audi’s adaptive air suspension lowers the A6 Allroad by six-tenths of an inch at high speed and raises it by nearly an inch and a half when desired, or nearly two inches if needed. The A6 Allroad always rides about 2.5 inches higher than a regular A6 Avant. Just as we weren’t offered the second-gen A6 Allroad, we’re unlikely to get this car, either.
Despite what many auto journalists would have you believe, the Hyundai i20 is not stunningly gorgeous. The rebirth of the Alfa 8C Competizione this is not. The i20 is, however, a pretty good-looking little car. And while this car sits below the i30 in Hyundai’s European lineup (the i30 being Hyundai’s new Elantra GT for North Americans), it isn’t an Accent copy. Regardless, the real story behind the i20 relates to its cleanliness. Hyundai says the i20’s 74-horsepower 1.1L three-cylinder diesel is the cleanest conventional powertrain on the market, emitting only 84 g/km of C02.
Although Nissan suggests the Hi-Cross could be squished into a lineup which already includes the Juke, Rogue, and Murano, it seems more likely that the Hi-Cross is just a way for you to prematurely view Nissan’s styling direction. Strangely, the Hi-Cross isn’t overtly concept vehicle-esque. The wheels are flashy and the interior isn’t realistic, but most futuristic crossover concepts step it up a degree. If the Hi-Cross is the next Murano then we’re waiting on a downsized Murano. The current Murano’s wheelbase is nearly two inches longer than the Hi-Cross’s, for example.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Gaydon’s builder of grand touring machines doesn’t introduce all-new models as often as Ford, or even Ferrari, for that matter. Aston Martin instead chooses to tinker with what’s currently on the production line. The V8 Vantage remains instantly recognizable as the smallest of Astons, yet underneath the skin there are changes which will undoubtedly make it a sportier car. You won’t find extra horsepower or a rejigged manual tranny. But the six-speed automated manual is now a 7-speed with closer ratios and, says Aston Martin, refined shift quality. The front bumper is lower. Brakes are bigger. The steering rack is quicker. And tires are wider.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet
It seems like forever since Volkswagen stopped selling the Golf Cabriolet to girls across America. VW of America simply deemed the competition inside the showroom to be too stiff, what with the Eos and Beetle droptops. Nevertheless, the Golf Cabriolet lived on elsewhere, and now, it’s faster and more fun than ever. Not only does the fabric-roofed GTI Cabrio feature the Golf GTI’s best-ever wheels, it utilizes the same 2.0L turbo found under the hood of the GTI, too.
Fiat doesn’t sell as many cars in America as Mini does. The Cinquecento’s pricing strategy isn’t as appropriate as it is Canada, where Fiat out-sells Mini and Scion – but there are larger issues at play. Mini now sells the regular Cooper as well as the Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe, and Roadster. Fiat just sells the 500 and 500C. In order to increase the 500’s range of potential paying customers, Fiat decided to build a bigger 500. A bigger and dreadfully ugly 500 which doesn’t appear to share anything with the original 500.
In the United Kingdom, Audi was the fourth-best-selling automaker in January and February. Thanks for much of Audi’s popularity in the UK are owed to the A3, a vehicle which is sometimes one of the 10 most popular cars in Britain. While a new A3 may mean little to Audi of America, it’s a hugely consequential car globally. This new A3 weighs 176 pounds less than the old A3, although the weight loss will depend on trim line. It also features a larger wheelbase and similar exterior dimensions, a great recipe for greater interior space and greater agility.
Given it’s close connection to America’s best-selling car, it’s not surprising that the Lexus RX is the Toyota Camry of premium utility vehicles. The changes made are always just enough to keep current owners satisfied with their next RX while also significant enough to keep the RX parellel with the pack. Not all the changes will please the anti-RX crowd, the gang who prefer more interesting luxury SUVs and crossovers, but the now familiar Lexus spindle grille alerts consumers to the newness of this latest RX. Powertrains are virtually identical. The centre console is slightly altered. There’s a new F Sport model available. And it’s still an RX, so it’ll find around 7500 U.S. buyers per month.
The G70 isn’t actually a new concept car. That almost means it’s not a concept car at all, doesn’t it? See, Suzuki has developed the G70. It used to be the Suzuki Regina, at least when it was on the auto show floor in Tokyo last year. The very fact that Suzuki showed it again by saying the name was changed to reflect a “nickname adopted during the development process,” bodes well. Production? Maybe. Showroom availability in North America? Don’t get your hopes up.