Geneva motor show review: Something for everyone
The frenetic activity of the press days is over with, and now the real business of show gets underway.
If you've ever considered taking a cheap flight to Geneva to see the motor show, this is a great year to do it.
Like supercars? The spectacular Lamborghini Aventador, the Ferrari FF and the Pagani Huayra should keep you happy, and if you fancy a more affordable dream, head for the Alfa stand for an eyeful of the appealing little mid-engined Alfa 4C.
Mercedes' quietly elegant new SLK is a rather more practical sports car, while for total fantasy there's BMW's dramatic VisionED sports car, which decisively edges the brand towards a bold new look.
Less dramatic but prettier is Nissan's Esflow concept, a compact sports coupe hinting at where the next Z could head, though that probably won't have this show car's LEAF-derived electric powertrain.
A concept closer to reality is VW's hugely appealing and oddly named Bulli, which we'd know as a Microbus. But Bulli is what this characterful van is known as in Germany, and this modern, more compact interpretation turns it into a six-seat crossover with a production future.
Other VW Group highlights included the Skoda Vision D concept, a sharp-edged, tidy looking five-door hatch signalling the Czech company's future design direction, but less appealing was Seat's me-too IBX cross-over concept, which was as predictable as sunrise.
For a more exciting more affordable family car consider the new Kia Rio, a sharply styled five door hatch whose 1.1 litre diesel puts out just 85g/km of CO2 and promises real-world fuel consumption of around 70mpg.
Emissions and economy were a more muted theme, but there were definite highlights, including Land Rover's plug-in hybrid Range Rover and Rolls-Royce's experimental electric Phantom. Significant here is the Roll's inductive charging system, which allows you to park in on a pad that cordlessly recharges it.
Also on show was the production version of the Vauxhall Ampera extended range electric vehicle, and a hybrid Toyota Yaris.
Rather than going racing to go green, Geneva revealed an industry racing to recover from a torrid couple of years and keen to excite customers with truly desirable new models and concepts.
Among those were two from Renault, the sexy Captur coupe previewing a new crossover, the R-Space signalling a coming new look for Renault's Espace MPV.
This car's back doors were rear-hinged, the centre pillar packaged in the door, but whereas this is a concept, Ford is close to offering the real thing with its B-Max mini-MPV, which has sliding rear doors, no centre pillar and will pass all crash tests following some painstaking structural rearrangement of the bodyshell. Expect to see it in 2012.
Beyond that we'll see the showroom version of Ford's Kuga-replacing Vertrek crossover.
More dramatic was the Bertone B99 Jaguar concept from the Italian coachbuilders, though it was curious that despite Jaguar backing, this elegant saloon heavily referenced XJs of the style the company has been struggling to get away from.
There was much, much more than this though – we really would recommend checking out those flights.