Geneva 2011 : The opposition
‘The motor industry’s got it mojo back!’ That’s the considered opinion of Mercedes-Benz’s Rob Halloway after a long day on the first Press Day at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. It’s difficult to disagree with this sentiment with no less than four major supercar launches topping the bill and huge interest trickling down the food chain.
The Ferrari FF and Lamborghini Aventador created a maelstrom of interest between them but, with the new Koenigsegg and Pagani also making appearances, it wasn’t so clear cut as to what the true star of the show actually was.
Concepts led the way, of course, and a surprise hit which aroused masses of column inches – and Internet traffic – was the Volkswagen Bulli. The modern day Camper looks right for our times and is a near certainty for production. Less noticeable, but more significant, have to be the two Giugiaro-styled VW concepts, Tex and Go! which both seem to have a modicum of style lacking in Wolfsburg’s current line-up.
However, in terms of style, the “Concept of the Show” is the Alfa Romeo 4C, which combines the sheer precocious beauty of the 8C with a more accessible price tag, being based around a 1750cc four-pot. Sadly, Alfa Romeo chose to paint it in Red Oxide, and we can only deduce that the thinking behind this was to give the opposition a chance, as well as slowing down the inevitable filling-up of the order book. It didn’t work – and production looks set to commence in 2012.
It was great to see the De Tomaso name return to the new car arena, even if the Deauville lacked that ultimate wow factor. Mind you, whether the cars pick up a ready fan base remains to be seen – we’d like to see a modern successor to the Mini De Tomaso for an ultimate nostalgia trip.
Clearly, the industry is focused on alternative energy sources and, wherever you turned, there were LEV concepts to pose more questions than they answered. Lotus and Rolls-Royce both made convincing cases for themselves – for different reasons – but it was the Hethel company that really put innovative thought into its concept, with synthesized noise generation and simulated virtual gearchanges to make its car feel less alien to LEV virgins.
Tough times are ahead for the motor industry, but it’s facing them off with confidence and innovation.