The reveals at 2012’s Geneva auto show, officially the Salon International de l’Auto et Accessoires, are complete. Less whimsical than a typical Japanese auto show but slightly less production-oriented than a typical American auto show, the Geneva show is centered around European automakers but naturally open to brands from elsewhere. Supercars may have stolen the show, but city cars fought for their fair share of attention. BMW’s hi-po diesels made headlines this year. Premium automakers like Jaguar, Volvo, Infiniti, and Porsche all had key introductions. To put it simply, there was a whole lot going on.
While it may be useful to hear about the latest technology featured in a Toyota concept or the latest styling direction at Bertone, we’re going to highlight some of the most important debuts. These eleven vehicles form Part One of a look back at the Geneva auto show’s most discussed vehicles.
Bentley EXP 9 F
It’s bad enough when an automaker chooses an awkward name for a handsome vehicle. Bentley worsened the use of this strange nomenclature by affixing the badge to a strange and awkward vehicle. We all knew Bentley’s SUV was coming. Competing in the luxury market, even for a company which has addicted its clientele to sedans and grand touring machines, requires a high-riding hatch. But did Bentley need to style the EXP 9 F as though it came straight out of the late 80s? Crazy though it sounds – and with the acknowledgement that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – the EXP 9 F doesn’t look good from any angle. There’s a 6.0L W12 from the Continental under the hood. This Bentley will be fast. They all are. It’ll be opulent. They all are. But it won’t be pretty, and some Bentleys manage to be all three.
Lamborghini Aventador J
The Lamborghini Aventador J isn’t for sale, but it isn’t a concept car, either. It was for sale, but it sold for $2.76 million. Lamborghini says there won’t be another one of these outrageous Aventador-based roadsters. There is no climate control system. There is no high-end navigation system. There’s obviously no roof. And there’s no windscreen. But there is a 6.5L V12 that generates 700 horsepower. This is the kind of vehicle that racks up more miles in the back of an exotic car transporter than it does on city streets.
Sounding too much like Emerg-ency, this Infiniti take on a mid-motored sports car is a European-developed range-extended electric allegedly capable of 0-60mph in four seconds. Unlike too many sports car and supercar concepts, the Emerg-E has a proper face. The stance is obviously aggressive. The engineering is forward-thinking. Infiniti needs a halo model. For those who like the look of this car – and there are many of us who do – the Emerg-E is that halo car, if they build it.
Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
Replacing the 599 GTO isn’t a task for the faint hearted. Ferrari is a very successful brand, but the potential purchasing audience for a car like this is very small. There is no desire to upset any of them. Nevertheless, Ferrari’s design breaks the mold to a certain extent. Fuel consumption and weight are down. Under the hood? A 6.3L V12 generates 740 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque. So yeah, power is up.
Previous A-Class Benzes were somewhat mini-minivan like. In fact, the original A-Class of 1997 was derided for being top heavy and thus, just a bit tipsy. This upcoming A-Class may participate in the U.S. market. Moreover, it’s said to be a high quality piece with materials and finishes that exceed those of the C-Class. In Europe, the A-Class will compete with the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Volvo V40, and high-end versions of mainstream cars. Expect the same if the four-cylinder A-Class makes it across the Atlantic.
Ford Fiesta ST
Long before Ford sold the Fiesta in North America, there was a Fiesta on sale in other global markets. And when Ford has been selling the Fiesta in North America, we haven’t been treated to all bodystyles. The fact that this 177-horsepower 1.6L Fiesta ST utilizes the two-door bodystyle is all Ford needs to say regarding the future of the Fiesta ST in North America. But one never knows. The ST is said to hit 62mph in less than seven seconds before heading towards 137 mph.
Expected to arrive in showrooms this summer from $49,500 or $60,900 for the Boxster S, the mid-engined Porsche roadster is now in its third iteration. From a design perspective, the Boxster may now be at its most balanced, no longer looking like the front and rear could switch places without anyone noticing. The basic Boxster weighs less than 2900 pounds thanks to a new all-aluminum body. The Boxster S is the heavier sports car but, by packing 315 horsepower, it’s no slouch.
Nissan Invitation Concept
Just because Nissan floods its factories with parts for small car assembly doesn’t mean all those small cars are sold in all Nissan markets. This Invitation, for example, is unlikely to be sold in North America. It has the basic look of a small car that will be sold alongside the Juke in Europe next year, however. From the front corner, looking at the Invitation is very reminiscent of the Honda Fit. The high roof and steep hatch surely help interior space, both for passengers and cargo. If only this was a replacement for the Sentra.
Potentially replacing not one but three cars, the V40 is typically Volvo. Handsome, blunt-nosed, with high-mounted rear lights, the V40 will likely step in where the S40 and V50 left off. Its presence may also bid the C30 farewell. Incidentally, though the V40 is a good-looking car, Mercedes-Benz debuted the hotly anticipated A-Class at the Geneva show and stole the V40’s thunder. They’ll be direct rivals.
This is certainly no Veloster, but it’s equally unique. There’s the obligatory concept car powertrain: an electric motor with a range-extending internal combustion engine. The i-oniq, quite apparently, is more about the exterior design. Hyundai will use this car to gauge reaction, thereby establishing future design reaction. Were Hyundai to ever produce the car, its scissor doors would have to be binned. Incidentally, the i-oniq’s gigantic grille isn’t unlike the grille on the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Despite the fact that the XF wagon conversion was clearly an afterthought, it’s a pleasingly successful execution of the late decision. Will the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon suddenly have competition? Perhaps. But this is a tiny market in the United States. Moreover, the XF is already a low-volume car. The Sportbrake will add a small number of sales to Jaguar’s output. At least there’s no suggestion that this is one of the many wagons that won’t be sold in America.