MOTORING

Geneva Motor Show: Sparks and sparkles

By Deon Schoeman 8 March 2019

Ferrari F8 Tributo

Everyone expected electric cars to take centre stage at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. But while the presence of EV cars and concepts was significant, the expo also made good on its more traditional promise of spectacle and glamour.

Anyone attending the Geneva Motor Show this week will be under no illusions that the electric car revolution is rapidly gaining momentum.

The automotive industry’s push into the battery-powered motoring realm has never been stronger, and we’re starting to see the vital emergence of smaller, more affordable electric cars, too.

Also prevalent was just how important small cars have become: not only because of their affordability, but also their efficiency. Both Renault and Peugeot chose to debut all-new versions of their high-volume Clio and 208 hatchbacks, with Peugeot also adding an all-electric 208 to the fray.

But Geneva was not just about the EV trend, or about smart small cars. The expo is arguably the most sought after on the motor show calendar among exhibitors and visitors alike, offering the combination of Lake Geneva’s scenic backdrop, a relatively intimate format, and loads of four-wheeled glamour.

CONCEPTS

A motor show is not a motor show without concept cars, and Geneva had more than its fair share – some more relevant than others. Alfa Romeo, Audi, Honda and Fiat were among those showing off concepts set to go into production.

Alfa Romeo Tonale

It may be a concept for now, but the Alfa Romeo Tonale is headed for production. Based on the Jeep Renegade’s platform, the sleek compact SUV shows off an emotive, coupé-in spired shape, concealed rear door handles and slim LED headlights. The show car uses a combination of electric and petrol power, with twin electric motors on the rear axle. It should be in European showrooms by next year.

Aston Martin Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

British supercar maker Aston Martin is planning to enter the EV fray with its first SUV. Shown in concept form at Geneva, the Aston Martin Lagonda All-Terrain features a purely electric drivetrain, and a styling package inspired by luxury yachts. Large and imposing, but with a sleek shape dominated by extended overhangs and a dramatic rear end, the super-SUV has a cashmere-clad, four-seater interior. Expect the production model in 2022.

Audi Q4 e-tron Concept

It may be a concept for now, but the Audi Q4 e-tron is a dead cert for production. The all-electric compact SUV is part of Audi’s concerted push to deliver a full range of all-electric models. As the designation implies, it fits in between the Q3 and Q5 in terms of size, but is powered by twin electric motors with a combined 225kW output, powered by an 85kWh battery. The operating range should exceed 400km. It goes on sale in 2021.

Honda e Prototype

As far as cute factor goes, Honda’s e Prototype took the honours in Geneva. The boxy concept has already been confirmed for production. That boxy shape makes for a relatively roomy cabin, while a touchscreen-dominated dashboard adds futuristic flair. Under the skin, an electric motor powers the rear wheels. Honda hasn’t divulges power output or battery capacity details, but is promising a range in excess of 200km.

VW ID. Buggy

Volkswagen’s ID. Buggy might look frivolous, but it’s underpinned by the auto maker’s MEB electric vehicle platform, and it’s set to be used in variety of future electric vehicles – not only from VW, but also third-party brands intent on developing their own EVs. The buggy is rear-wheel driven via a 150kW electric motor, and should have a 200km range. Clearly, the Buggy is better at recreation than commuting, though!

Fiat Centoventi Concept

It might serve as a preview of the upcoming, next-generation Fiat Panda, but the Centoventi is also an indication that small EVs are becoming a reality, and that the Panda range will include an all-electric model. It offers a modular battery system, allowing owners to determine cost and range. The Centoventi is likely to share its EV platform with an all-electric version of the Fiat 500, due next year, and could go into production by 2021.

PRODUCTION CARS

Two French marques – Renault and Peugeot – dominated the Geneva Show as far as the world debut of production models was concerned. Renault unveiled an all-new Clio range, while at Peugeot, the next-generation 208 also offers an electric version.

Renault Clio

The all-new Renault Clio bucks the bigger-is-better trend by shrinking in size compared to its predecessor, albeit by just 14mm, and aims for a more dramatic look, thanks to larger, deeper grille arrangement frames by bold LED headlights. The cockpit is an all-digital affair, combining a portrait-orientated infotainment display with a digital instrument binnacle. A longer wheelbase means interior space has increased. It should be in SA early next year.

Peugeot 208

Peugeot’s new 208 compact has grown by 50 mm and looks much more aggressive than its smoothly rounded predecessor. The extra length allows more interior space and a bigger boot. The engine offering comprises three and four-cylinder combustion engines, but there’s also a full-electric model for the first time. Inside, a digital instrument cluster is optional, while Peugeot’s i-Cockpit concept, with a small steering wheel and high-set instruments, remains.

Ferrari F8 Tributo

It’s being touted as Ferrari’s most powerful V8-engined production model yet: the F8 Tributo replaces the 488 GTB, and promises 530kW of muscle from its mid-mounted engine, linked to 770Nm. As a result, the new supercar slingshots to 100km/h in just 2.9sec and has a claimed 340km/h top speed. The newcomer is around 40kg lighter than the 488, and features several aerodynamic enhancements to benefit stability and handling.

Polestar 2

Volvo’s electric car subbrand, Polestar, used Geneva for the debut of its second model. The Polestar 2 is a compact sedan aimed squarely at the Tesla 3, and packs a 78kWh battery driving front and rear electric motors. A sub 5sec 0-100km/h sprint time suggests it will be sporty, too. Inside, and Android-based digital interface offers a full range of Google services. Quoted range is close to 500km.

Mazda CX30

2019-GIMS-Geneva

Slotting in between the CX3 and the CX5, surely Mazda’s new compact SUV should have been badged CX4? Badge apart, the newcomer sleek lines will turn heads, while the 120mm extra length compared to the CX3 adds welcome legroom and boot space inside. The newcomer shares its platform with the new Mazda3, and comes with a mix of petrol and diesel engines. SA availability hasn’t been confirmed but is highly likely.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake

Mercedes-Benz will be adding a shooting brake variant to the four-door CLA coupé range. Combining coupé aesthetics with estate car practicality, the result is certainly more dynamic than a conventional station wagon – and more aerodynamic too. Unsurprisingly, interior space benefits, especially for rear occupants. An enhanced version of the MBUX infotainment system is also included. DM

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