The Chinese market might be the prize that every manufacturer, whether of superminis or supercars, is battling over but Europe remains the world’s automotive heartland and the Geneva Motor Show remains its historical showcase. Here’s our pick of the hottest reveals.
Jaguar Unveils… A Name
It’s no secret that Jaguar has been eyeing up a return to the lucrative premium compact saloon sector – dominated by the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class – ever since the death of the unloved X-Type. The big cat is piquing our curiosity by keeping its cards close to its chest by only revealing what the car will be called, the XE; what it will be made of, aluminium and what it will be powered by, a range of four-cylinder engines apparently good for up to 300km/h. So light, powerful, rear-wheel drive and if the teaser shot is anything to go by, quite a looker.
Speaking of 300km/h, Jaguar also unveiled its latest entrant to that exclusive club, the XFR-S Sportbrake, powered by its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 good for 405kW and 650Nm. Wrapped up in probably the best-looking wagon on the market, this is a tyre-shredding, sideways Gentleman’s Express.
Eau My God
Speaking of which, ‘Q-Car’ is an English term for what elsewhere is called a ‘sleeper’, a rocketship that looks like barge. Infiniti may have created the ultimate example by borrowing some bits from parent company Nissan and dropping them into its unassuming Q50. It helps of course that the bits in question come from the mighty GT-R and comprise Godzilla’s twin-turbo 3.8-litre engine, good for 418kW and 600Nm, all-wheel drive system and seven-speed gearbox. Good for a 0-100km/h run in less than four seconds but we can’t help feeling it looks a bit too much of a sleeper.
Spirits in the Material World
A car as grand as a Rolls-Royce doesn’t receive something as prosaic a mid-life facelift, the company instead deciding that its smaller Ghost model is now worthy of being dubbed the Series II. What this means is new LED headlights that make it look like it’s frowning (presumably at any car that has the gall to be in front of it), reworked bumpers to make it look higher, wider and more imposing. There’s also a ‘wake channel’ along the bonnet which leads back from the Spirit of Ecstasy and is supposed to evoke a vapour trail from a private jet or luxury yacht. Inside the car becomes its own wi-fi hotspot and adopts Satellite Aided Transmission which means it adjusts its dynamic settings according to where it is on the planet. Spooky.
Maserati’s press release describes the Alfieri Concept as, “an exciting but realistic and 100% functional prototype that says much about the design DNA of future Maseratis” which is a very unsubtle way of saying its production ready but whether it becomes the new Gran Turismo or slots in lower in the range with smaller engines remains to be seen. Designed in-house to celebrate a century of Maserati in Geneva, the result is highly sculptural with striking head and tail lights and an equally sexy interior of leather, virtual gauges and copper-coloured aluminium.
In what seems to be most unnecessary move ever, McLaren has called its latest supercar the 650S, with the last bit standing for ‘Sport’. Well we weren’t expecting a supermini, McLaren. Intended to sit between the 12C and the sold-out P1 hypercar, the 650S shares their carbon-fibre chassis and 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 while its styling could be described as a mash-up of the two, particularly its front-end which is very P1 influenced. The numerical portion of its name refers to its output in horsepower which in metric means 473kW and 0-100km/h in three seconds dead. The 650S is available in both coupe and open-top spider variants and the maker claims both are luxurious and usable.
Alfa Romeo’s shrunken supercar, the 4C, also gets the chop-top treatment at Geneva with the reveal of the 4C Spider. All carbon-fibre construction means that its 1750cc turbo-four doesn’t have much mass to move and with a twin-clutch transmission it will hit 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. Thankfully the Spider loses its coupe sibling’s weird multi-lamp headlights for a smoother look while the noise it makes is improved thanks for a carbon and titanium exhaust provided by a supplier to Moto GP.
The Ferrari California has been around for a while and now receives a heart transplant in pursuit of greater efficiency and power. For the first time since the F40, Ferrari has adopted forced induction with twin turbos that boost power by 52kW but cut emissions by up to 20 percent. Whether the bonnet vents required for additional airflow improve the California’s controversial looks is up to you. Ferrari’s other ugly duckling, the FF is also updated, gaining Apple CarPlay as well as personalisation options named Ski, Golf and Country which line the bootspace in different materials. Ski gets carbon-fibre and metal, Country gets an all-leather lining while Golf spec receives a tartan treatment. We just can’t bring ourselves to post the pictures.