Geneva 2011 : The UK’s stars in Switzerland

Words: Keith Adams Photographs: Headlineauto/Newspress

Jaguar Bertone B99 concept
Jaguar Bertone B99 concept

It’s that time of the year again. The first major European Motor Show of any New Year is always going to arouse plenty of interest – and 2011 is no different, with a huge manufacturer-fed, journalist-driven feeding frenzy now underway in Switzerland. Over the coming hours, you’re going to be inundated with information about every aspect of every car on display at the show – but here is the British selection.

The focus of the show for AROnline is the UK manufacturing contingent. Predictably, Jaguar is making much of the 50th Anniversary of the E-type’s unveiling at the show and Norman Dewis was on tap to recount his tales of driving down to the show in an era where crossing continents by car was still very much a novelty. Beyond that, the company’s XKR-S – the spiritual successor to that fine car – will uphold the honours in the new car sector.

The other British manufacturers’ wares on display are more of a mixed bag. Ferrari and Lamborghini are both revealing exciting new supercars but Aston Martin’s only new offering is yet another VH platform-based model, the Virage. Maybe the new – old – name is a little bit misleading, because the UK’s FF/Aventador rival appears to be the DB9’s GLS version to the DBS’s GTi, if you know what we mean. Shame, but that’s where we’re at, with the One-77 hype having long since shot its bolt.

Over at Land Rover, Europeans will, at long last, get their hands on the Evoque five-door, perhaps UK PLC’s most significant car at the show. Yes, it was shown to the press in Paris, but by the time the paying punters had arrived, it had long since been wheeled away. It’s this car that truly excites me, combining class, style and just a little hint of all-round usability. LR’s other new car – the £100K-plus Range Rover, the Autobiography Ultimate Edition – we’ll leave to the contracting number of people who can actually afford to run such a thing.

MINI has the Rocketman to show off as well as the new 2-litre Cooper DS – another significant car. The strangely named mini-MINI might not have Issigonis fans over-excited in terms of packaging, but it’s an exciting small car that should give the Toyota iQ (and the ridiculous Aston Martin Cygnet) a serious run for their money. The Cooper SD might well end up being the best hot diesel superhatch in the real world – we can’t wait to drive it.

Bentley and Rolls-Royce are at Geneva in force. The former is showing its Supersports ‘ISR’ edition Continental, celebrating the amazing 200mph-plus run on ice from a few weeks back; while the latter shows its electric powered 102EX concept, which somehow seems very right for the marque. Will it happen in production terms? We’ll see.

The Car of the Show for AROnline readers – certainly in terms of reader feedback – is the Morgan 3 Wheeler. Here’s a car that, at least in terms of style, captures the very essence of pre-war Morgan and brings it up to date, while leaving the amazing visuals untouched. We wish it well and wait, with interest, to see how quickly the production cars start to filter out.

AROnline’s Concept of the Show? Well, we can’t help but love the retro/modern Bertone Jaguar B99 Concept – whether Ian Callum feels the same way is open to debate…

Finally, we have MG. Well, actually, we don’t – they’re not there. Shame.

Gallery: The girls from Geneva

Geneva 2011: The opposition – a look at the overseas manufacturers

Video: Bertone Jaguar B99 Concept

Video: Jaguar XKR-S

Video: MINI at Geneva

Video: Range Rover Evoque

Keith Adams


  1. More senseless MG bashing… Well done.

    Sensibly, MG Motor UK have no need to be in Geneva this year as their European release is next year. It’s clearly better for them to save money for the UK shows as funnily enough, it’s their release year here in… gasp… the UK

    Back to Europe in 2012 so, sensibly, a Geneva exhibit is most likely…


  2. Ross A :
    Back to Europe in 2012 so, sensibly, a Geneva exhibit is most likely…


    …by which time even fewer people will be interested. At this rate, it’ll be a vintage model by the time MG get around to putting it on sale or marketing it properly. Makes you wonder whether, in reality, they’re all that serious about the European/UK market.

    Might I also add that slamming the author for “senseless MG bashing” just because he simply noted MG’s absence from the show is a bit touchy and over the top.

  3. @Ross A
    I’d love to agree with you, Ross.

    However, as there’s rather a lot of stuff at Geneva you can’t actually buy at all, I think that’s not really a sound argument. They should be (re)building the brand for all it’s worth right now but it’s just not happening.

    I love the fact I’m accused of MG-bashing here – and, on another thread, I’m called an MG apologist. I think the term is realist: I’ll give the company a kicking when it deserves it and, equally, praise it when something good happens.

    Not being at Geneva or Paris last year was a mistake…


  4. Great photos, Keith – I see that the cars are not the only pretty things to see at the show :).

  5. The girl wearing black is leaning on a C3 or is it a C4 and they’ve started offering the glass roof on the new one? It looks too sculpted on the side…

    Oh, and I’m amused to see Dacia’s name hovering above the Bertone Jaguar’s curiously grille-shaped rear end.

  6. Magnus :
    Keep the photos of the totty coming, please, Mister Adams…

    Aye, forget the cars, we’re not interested. Top Totty is your mission.

    Incidentally, MG should be at Geneva. They’ve got enough to display. Why is it other Chinese manufacturers and even Iranian manufacturers have displays there when they’ve no intention of entering Europe?

  7. @Ross A
    Iran sends over the Iran Khodro-built ICKO Samand (a re-skinned Peugeot 405) for display, so why not MG? The Geneva Motor Show is the pinnacle of automotive showcasing, whether your selling in Europe or not – our old friend Brilliance Auto has had a stand for years.

  8. I’m convinced the Bertone Jaguar is scaled down too (think MG EXE) and that it will reappear at 125% scale. I hope it’s still there next week – last year, the Aston One-77 disappeared off the stand after the Press Days!

  9. Well, at least, the grille and headlamps of the Bentley Continental remind me of an MG (the ZT Mk1).

  10. Is it me, or do Aston Martin just market the same car with several different names? I am struggling to tell some models apart!

  11. The Bertone Jaguar is inspirational and would make a excellent successor to the XJ Coupe.

    Let’s rejoice in a concept car to which the word ‘sleek’ really does apply.

  12. @Magnus
    Well said, that man – if we cannot have a MG, can we have more Motor Show Crumpet as a consolation prize? It would be rude not to.

  13. Please don’t tell me I’m the only one here who looks at the two girls in blue and thinks “That floor is reflective… Get a shot closer, looking at the floor!!!!

    Yep, thought so… I’m the only perv here. lol.

    By the way, I have that Jag B99 thing… I really hope it gets swept under the rug and the current design direction continues! (No matter what the Top Gear guys think.)

  14. @Keith Adams

    I would agree – on that basis it is a sound argument.

    Some exhibits are just concepts which will never be produced – in fact, I’d say that the B99 is counter-productive to the Jaguar design language of the here and now – or some are products from brands that are already fully established and already have a pre-defined direction in which they are heading.

    MG is still in it’s infancy and SAIC Motor is a serious company. There is sound reasoning as to why they are progressively building things up in the way they are doing. There is a strict plan – they have told many journalists this and I don’t see any reason to question whether that programme is being executed.

    Release this year in the UK – important major shows in the UK are likely.
    Release in 2012 in Europe – important major shows in the EU.

    It’s very logical. These aren’t just concepts – if MG came out with a massive fanfare in a place that, quite frankly, bears no relevance to anyone in the UK, then they’d be wasting money right now.

    The key point is this: the plan is implemented PROGRESSIVELY – yet people here on AROnline can’t seem to get the point of what PROGRESSIVE actually means. Given that they’ve taken advice from industry professionals, I have a lot more faith in SAIC Motor, SMTC UK and MG Motor UK than I would have done under Towers & Co.

    Anyway, watching how MG evolves between now and, say, 2013 should be interesting…

  15. @Adam
    Aston Martin reached a stylistic pinnacle with the DB9. There was nowhere they could go with that design language after that, but they still try, squashing, stretching, shrinking or embellishing the same shape. They need to move on, in the way Jaguar did with the XF and the XJ. That leads me neatly to the Bertone B99.

    Yes, it’s beautiful, dramatic, sexy, etc. but it’s a cop out. I could have reached the same conclusion given a 1972 XJ12 Coupé, some fat alloys and some slitty lights. Sorry, but it’s a rehash of an old design, which was beautiful first time round.

    What Jaguar are doing now is the way to go – okay, they got it very slightly wrong with the new XJ, which needs a bit of a tweak, but the fact is they took the plunge to break away from the established look with the XF and it paid off, big time.

  16. I’m immensely pleased to see the non-automotive highlights of the show getting a bit of screen room on AROnline. It proves that we’re not quite the bunch of thin-blooded anoraks some would make us out to be. Keep it up!

  17. Keith, you’ve been so mesmerised by the totty that you’re labelling Range Rover Sports as Discoveries!

  18. That’s a nice Roller in these photos: is it just me or are Bentley and R-R swapping their respective target markets between ‘old money’ and ‘new money’?

    I do like the Bertone Jag more and more but, as has been written here before, not with the Jaguar moniker – too late. Daimler, yes – or how about Lagonda?

  19. I think the biggest news is that the producers have gone small. The new Alfa is very compact (designed on a Elise tub?)but I think they have sussed that it’s time to stop super-sizing every car.

    I mean the roads are not getting bigger, nor are the parking spaces – trying to fit full-fat 2000’s car into 1970’s spaces is hard work!

    I’m delighted by the new mini-MINI (no way it’s 1900 wide!) but the Star of the Show for me was the new Kia Rio. Small, lightweight and said to be coming with a 1200 DI Turbo 3 cylinder motor with 140-150bhp in Sport mode… Nice.

    I liked the Skoda as well, they spin a “Felicia” off the 4 door Polo platform… bigger than Furby, smaller than Octy – 1.4 Turbo with 7 DSG… YES please!

    Anyway, with petrol now going up to £2.00+ a litre, anything that can’t hit 40mpg is just scrap.

    Mega, Liverpool.

  20. The Geneva Motor Show was a spectacular event with various types of cars from the fastest cars, energy-efficient cars to the most expensive car shown here. Almost every automaker brought their latest models and the professional tuners where there as well – not to mention the super-beautiful and sexy girls. Keith, thanks for your great articles and information about this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.