Tops and Flops at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show +VIDEO


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Europe's First Major Show of the Year is Bursting with News

• SEE ALSO: Exclusive PRESS PASS COVERAGE of the Geneva Motor Show

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor


GENEVA - March 8, 2012: The Salon International de de l’Automobile Genève has always been a most interesting event. During the past two decades that I’ve attended the show, the car manufacturers from Europe, Japan and North America have been unveiling their new models and exciting concept cars. But the atmosphere is always supercharged by the presence of the Italian design companies, such as Pininfarina, ItalDesign Giugiaro, Sbarro and the likes. And then there are the German tuning firms, such as Alpina, AC Schnitzer, Gembella and Gumpert who also really add a lot of pizzazz to the first major European auto show of each new year.

Beginning about two weeks ago, details of upcoming world premieres and European debuts started to be released by e-mail or during preview events at several manufacturer’s headquarters. During the last days before the show the number of assigned exhibitors conferences climbed to around sixty for Media Day. On that day, from 7:45 AM to 6 PM, each manufacturer gets their 15-minutes of fame to show-off their latest and best offerings. It's like a feeding frenzy at the shark pool.

But knowing what to expect, makes life a bit easier for automotive journalists, like myself. I know who will present what and can make a plan for a route to check out the most interesting new models, while making sure to see the right executives to get a juicy tidbit of information, or sometimes to simply say ‘hello’ and grease the wheels for the future.

If you’ve been following the Geneva show news on TheAutoChannel.com the last couple of days, you know they’ve covered most of the news already. However, there are still several cars that I checked out and liked – or not – and I thought I’d share them with you.

TOPS - production

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Audi A3 1.8 T quattro

Audi A3 - dynamic

The A3 is the big news for Audi. It looks definitely more dynamic. The LED running day-lights and small LED rear lights are in sync with the larger Audi models.


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BMW M550d xDrive

BMW M 550d xDrivePerformance – leader of the pack

The M Performance product category debuted with the M550d xDrive sedan and touring. The first drive showed that diesel power can be stunning and civilized. (Read first drive review).


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Hyundai i-30 wagon

Hyundai i30 Wagon – hauling, hauling

The successful i30 5-door model is now joined by a wagon variant. Hyundai says its luggage capacity is one of the largest in the segment: 18.6 cu.ft., which can be expanded to 58 cu.ft



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Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class – space wonder

The third generation A-Class joins the ‘B’ and shows that the Germans were able to develop a good and dynamic looking and well-executed mainstream vehicle with communication options for the younger generations.


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MINI Roadster JCW

Mini Roadster – small but serious

The Roadster debuted in January in Detroit and makes its first public entrance for the enormous Mini Community in Europe. The Roadster Cooper S is on stage (LINK>>>>>), next to the John Cooper Works Countryman and, the Clubvan concept, together with three special London themed models of the Mini One.


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Volvo V40 sd

Volvo V40

The V40 is an elegant mix of the outgoing S40 and V50. The new Volvo will arrive after the summer, but interest is already impressive. The car comes with safety features and technologies from the larger Volvo models. Some 85 percent of the volume of the V40 is expected to be sold in Europe.



TOPS - concepts and design studies

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Bertone Nuccio rr

Bertone Nuccio - tribute

Bertone celebrates its Centennial with the premiere of the Nuccio, a concept named after the son of founder Giovanni Bertone. Nuccio’s widow is leading the company, which consists of two divisions: Stile Bertone for the styling and Carrozzeria for producing the cars.


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BMW M135i Concept

BMW M135i Concept – upcoming

The M135i Concept shows that M GmbH is seriously developing M Performance models of each series. It is expected that a production version of the 300 hp strong M 135i Concept will follow soon.


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Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera Disco Volante

Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera Disco Volante - inspired

The styling studio brought a design study to Geneva, based on the Alfa Romeo C8 Competizione and inspired by the Alfa C52 Disco Volante of the fifties. This car could reach a top speed of 137 mph.


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Hyundai i-onic

Hyundai i-oniq Concept - supportive

A new interpretation of the ‘fluidic sculpture design’ is a presage of things-to-come out of the South Korean design and technology kitchens. With the 109 hp electric motor the range is up to 75 miles, while a 1-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine provides range support.



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Infiniti Emerg-E

Infiniti Emerg-E Concept – forebode

The brilliantly designed Infiniti Concept shows future styling details and has a hybrid driveline with a small petrol engine as range extender. Expect to see of more of the design and technology.


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Peugeot 208 GTi Concept

Peugeot 208 GTi Concept - incarnation

The Peugeot 107 GTi was a much appreciated hot hatch in Europe. Now the French car manufacturer announced a come back of a fast version of the 208 model. Fast car addicts will love its 200 hp 1.5-liter THP engine that we know from the RCZ GT



TOPS - sports cars

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Alpina B3 GT3

Alpina B3 GT3 - sporty

Last year marked Alpina’s return to motor sports with the victory in the GT3 Championship. To celebrate this, Alpina developed a street version, the B3 GTS and presented it for the first time in Europe. Only 99 will be built, but more than half of them are already sold. The German manufacturer raised the output of the 3.0-liter inline-six engine (from the B3 Bi-Turbo) with 8 hp to 408 and 398 lb-ft of torque.


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Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse

Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse – never enough

That the stunning output of 1001 hp of the Veyron can be topped is proven by the Grand Sport Vitesse, which has a 1,200 hp engine with equal impressive torque of 1,106 pound-feet.


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Ferarri F12 Berlinetta

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta – crowd puller

New Ferrari models are crowd pullers and that will also be the case with the F12 Berlinetta, the successor of the 599 with 740 hp and 509 Pound-feet of torque – good for a top speed of 211 mph.



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Roding Roadster

Roding Roadster – light weight pleasure

Are you considering a roadster? The first ones that come to mind are a Lotus or a Porsche Boxster. But the Roding 23 is much more exclusive, looks better and will undoubtedly use less fuel, as it weighs less than a 2,200 lbs. It’s too bad that only 23 units will be built with the 320 hp BMW 3-liter engine in the rear, that propels the car to 177 mph in just 4 seconds!


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Mercedes-Benz SL 63

Mercedes SL 63 AMG - bullet

AMG developed a super sports version of the new SL-Class with two variants of the 5.5-liter AMG V8 biturbo engine: one with 537 hp and 590 lb-ft, and one with 564 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque for bullet-like performance in a spectacular body.



FLOPS

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept SUV

Bentley EXP 9 F Concept – egggghh!

The EXP 9 F Concept shows what we can expect of Bentley’s upcoming SUV model. It’s my fellow country-man, design chief Dirk van Braeckel, who signed for the design.


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Toyota FT-Bh

Toyota FT-bh Concept – can’t believe it’s butter

The FT-bh for Future Toyota B-segment Hybrid is a different looking ultra light weight hybrid. It could be a hint of a new Prius model, that hopefully will lose the pronounced design angles we see now.



2012 Car of the Year – bad timing

At the eve of the Autosalon, the organization of the 2012 Car of the Year announced its winners during a media event in Geneva: the Opel Ampera, the twin brother of the Chevy Volt. The news came at the very moment of General Motors’ announcement to stall production of the Volt, and consequently of the Ampera, because of low demand and problems with the li-ion battery. Last December Opel announced that they had to postpone the European market introduction of the Ampera. Last year’s Car of the Year was the Nissan Leaf – a real electric vehicle that is on the market in Europe for fleet owners.

Well, there you have it, my inside guide to this years Geneva Motor Show.


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