Part I | Of course, it is a long standing comment: Switzerland is a neutral country and every car manufacturer wants to reveal its concept-cars and new model introductions at the Geneva show, but with this first year of renewed growth in Europe we are left a little hungry. It is clear that Geneva is an easy destination for all Europeans and that the Palexpo hall itself, just a few steps from the airport, is relatively small and easy to visit. In summary, every year all the ingredients are in place for a friendly and convenient show.
The European market seems to be restarting, with 2014 being the first positive year since 2007. The market is changing too. SUV’s are taking more and more sales, mostly replacing monospace vehicles.
There were many novelties last year, but this year the predominant theme is face-lifts rather than new vehicles. Even though only a few new cars were present, however, don’t forget that we are in Switzerland, so there is a welcome emphasis on sports cars.
For example, Audi presented the second version of the R8. Less revolutionary then the first, which was a totally new creation from the Ingolstadt company. Style is now underlined with sharper edges and the dramatic, graphic lateral element behind the door is no more. Well, it is still present, but in a more subtle form and split between the greenhouse and the air intake. The interior is 100% new, with the digital screen also seen in the new TT. So, this R8 is not an esthetic revolution, but an interesting evolution.
Ferrari presented the 488GTB — technically it is an evolution of the 458 Italia, but returning to the more pure lines dictated by aerodynamics. Ferrari Design department was definitely paying respect to the history of the mark. The character of the vehicle is achieved with sculptured flanks and enormous air intakes in the rear quarters most surely required for cooling and aerodynamics. The intakes are horizontally divided into two parts, like a signature, but also in order to visually reduce their enormous size. For the interior, sport is king. More of a simple approach: first all the main controls are close to the driver; second the clean, slim centre console, also oriented towards the driver. So, it is (almost) race-car basic, but with the necessary comfort.
From Bentley, Design Director, Luc Donckerwolke (who has since resigned), presented a study called “EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept”. This study, with just 2 seats, is positioned alongside the Continental, but with a more sporty style. Some will think it is like something… or it is inspired from something… but this concept is refreshing, with clear Bentley design cues. It has a typical Bentley front face, but it is more fluid than we are used to seeing. The interior is so British, with elegance, good taste, technology and an interesting vertical, tactile screen.
to be continued…