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Auto Show:  2011 Geneva Auto Show

2011 Geneva Auto Show - Preview

February 2011 author photo


February 24, 2011

Springtime in Switzerland means the Geneva Auto Show. Unlike Paris or Frankfurt, which occur once every two years (Paris one year, Frankfurt the next), Geneva is an annual event, so it is one of Europe’s most important. The 2011 shindig is open to the public from March 3 through March 13.

There’s almost no point saying that there will be an emphasis on greener motoring because, from now on, that will be a major element in virtually every motor show on the planet. But Geneva also has some Old-World grandness to it, where we can see some of the most luxurious and expensive cars ever made. And sometimes the grand and the green overlap.

The grand

Is $370,000 grand enough? That will be the approximate price of the new Lamborghini Aventador, which replaces the crazy-wonderful Murcielago as the marque’s flagship machine. It will have a 700-hp V12 that can propel the car from a standstill to 60 mph in a breathtaking 2.9 seconds. What could be even more breathtaking is that the first year’s production run has already been pre-sold.

Maserati has a sportier version of the handsome GranTurismo Convertible on display. So as not to confuse people, it’s called the GranTurismo Convertible Sport.

Coming down to earth a little, Infiniti’s Etherea compact luxury coupe concept could point the way to how future products from Nissan’s premium division will look. Voluptuous. This is meant to appeal to younger buyers and should be priced accordingly, because this concept is said to be slated for production.

Bertone, one of the great names in Italian car design, has an intriguing concept on its stand: a representation of a smaller Jaguar. In some form or another, this might go on to rival the BMW 3 Series in a way the X-Type never could.

It’s about time there was a new Audi A3 and Geneva 2011 is the place to see it. Judging by some pre-released sketches, it looks much sleeker than the current model and has more of a sedan profile than a hatch.

The green

Toyota’s newest iteration of its iQ minicar (which might go on sale in the United States as a Scion) comes to Geneva as an all-electric vehicle with a range of 65 miles. Plans are afoot for American customers to lease it in 2012.

After the great reaction given to the Leaf, Nissan is now seen as something of a pioneer on electric auto tech, underlined here by the Esflow electric sports car concept. It has the traditional rear-drive setup favored by enthusiasts, along with zero emissions favored by Al Gore. This machine probably won’t go into production, but some design and engineering elements may sneak into future Nissan products.

The grand and the green

Rolls-Royce will be exhibiting an all-electric version of its luxury sedan, the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE). According to its makers, this is “the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment.” This car will go on something of a world tour to gauge reaction from potential customers and gather some technical data along the way.

Range Rover also claims a world first with its Range_e: a plug-in diesel hybrid. With a frugal diesel engine and the ability to cover 20 miles in electric-only mode, this vehicle has a range of 690 miles. Alas, no plans to bring it to the United States.

It’s a different story, though, with the brand-new 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, billed as “the most fuel-efficient Porsche of all time.” It debuts in Geneva before going on sale Stateside later this year, from $95,975. This sedan/hatch uses the same gas/electric hardware as the Cayenne hybrid SUV.

The just plain odd

Geneva is always good for a hoot or two, usually from Swiss company, Rinspeed, that invariably creates something crazy. A few years ago was the sQuba underwater car; this year, it’s the BamBoo, a battery-powered four-seater convertible with an inflatable roof that doubles as a beach blanket.

Stay tuned because will be bringing all the latest news from the Geneva show floor.

COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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