When someone mentions Switzerland, the first things that probably spring to mind are cuckoo clocks, chocolate, cow bells and snow-topped mountains. In the motoring world, the land-locked Alpine country is better known as home to one of Europe’s most significant motor shows.
Geneva is where the first big event on the annual European motoring calendar takes place every year. The annual Geneva Motor Show – most other major car exhibitions are biennial – is notable as the showcase of new cars that will find their way onto UK roads in coming months.
It always opens during the first week in March, when a world spotlight focuses on what is being revealed from under the concealing fabric covers on Geneva show stands. There is always a touch of magic about motor show reveals, as the covers are whisked aside under a barrage of photographers’ camera flashes.
So what is being unveiled this time? The favourite 007 car company, Aston Martin, is now in its second century and has two show-stoppers in the gorgeous Vantage GT3, and the Vulcan track-only supercar. From Audi there is the new R8, updating the company’s flagship supercar, and introducing an e-tron hybrid version. Yes, cars like these are well out of the reach of most of us, but maybe when those lottery numbers come up …
Meanwhile Abarth, whose cars were voted most exciting to drive in the last WeBuyAnyCar National Car Awards, is showing its 595 range of higher performance Fiat 500-based models, consisting of the Custom, Turismo and Competizione.
BMW is introducing a facelifted 1-Series, the company’s most popular model. DS appears for the first time as a brand in its own right, having shed the Citroen badges, and has a facelifted DS 5 to celebrate. From Fiat there is the Doblo Trekking, a family car with light off-roading ability.
Ford will grab some attention with its new Focus RS, the hot hatch version of one of Britain’s most popular cars. Rivalling it will be Honda’s new keenly anticipated Civic Type R, as well as the new HR-V and also the new Jazz, third generation of a hugely popular small car.
Hyundai is showing its new Tucson and i20 Coupe. Kia is giving a first look to the next generation Optima in concept car form. Home-grown Land Rover commands attention with the latest Range Rover Evoque, given new engines and equipment tweaks that include full LED adaptive headlamps, a first for the Solihull-based car maker.
Lexus is showing its new GS F super saloon, with five-litre V8 power, and Lotus is in Geneva with its updated Evora 400, said to be the fastest production car the Norfolk sports car maker has ever produced. Mazda has a raft of newcomers with the new CX-3, latest CX-5, Mazda2 and Mazda6. Mercedes debuts the CLA Shooting Brake, which is a kind of A-Class estate. MINI has a concept car showing what the new Clubman will be like, and it doesn’t have the funny rear door arrangement of the old car.
Nissan has a new design for a small hatchback, called the Sway – and we hope it doesn’t. Talking of funny names, how about the Renault Kadjar, which the French car maker calls ‘Captur’s big brother’? Then there is Subaru’s Levorg, described as a sports tourer.
Skoda is in Geneva with the newly updated Superb, a car with a brave name, but an apt one. Toyota has new versions of the Auris and Avensis. Vauxhall is reviving the Viva name for its new small car, and Volkswagen has a Golf GTD Estate for the first time. Which just leaves Volvo at the end of the alphabet, with its new XC90 making a Geneva debut.