Luxury to the max
Ultra-upscale cars and concepts will be in the forefront in Geneva
European automakers are reeling from a slump in sales, but the focus at the Geneva auto show next week will be on the kinds of cars that have largely escaped the region's downturn -- super-expensive ones.
Bentley will unveil a redesigned Flying Spur sedan, Rolls-Royce will show a coupe version of the Ghost sedan and Ferrari and McLaren will have super sports cars on display.
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo will unveil the 4C sports coupe that comes to the United States this year, while Toyota will show a concept for a convertible version of the Scion FR-S sports coupe.
The fledgling Chinese automaker Qoros is expected to get lots of attention. Qoros has recruited veteran auto executives such as ex-Mini styling head Gert Hildebrand in an effort to build attractive, affordable cars that meet Western standards.
The company's first production model, the Qoros 3 compact sedan, debuts in Geneva. Spokesman Eric Geers said U.S. sales of the Qoros 3 are under consideration.
The 4C, a rear-wheel-drive two-seat coupe, will be shown for the first time as a production vehicle. It will arrive in U.S. dealerships by year end when Fiat's sporty brand returns to the United States. Sources say the 4C will be priced at nearly 60,000 euros, or about $80,308. Alfa will build about 2,500 4C units a year. Of those, 1,000 will be sold in the United States.
The second-generation Flying Spur is faster, more powerful and more fuel efficient than the current model and has a lower, wider stance. Bentley says its sharp lines, deeply sculpted panels and a muscular rear haunch are designed to give the four-door sedan a more aggressive look.
Combined fuel economy has improved 13 percent to 15 mpg, helped by the shedding of 110 pounds compared with the outgoing version. The Flying Spur is powered by a 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W-12 that develops 616 hp, up from 552 hp, and is coupled with a ZF eight-speed transmission. First deliveries to U.S. customers are planned for June.
The 3-series GT that will arrive in U.S. showrooms in June is longer, wider and taller than the 3-series Touring station wagon on which it is based. It also offers a higher seating position than the 3-series sedan.
The new GT will be BMW's first model with an active rear spoiler, which extends automatically when the car reaches 68 mph. U.S. models will offer two gasoline engines: a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder or an inline 3.0-liter, six-cylinder. Both get an eight-speed automatic transmission.
After introducing the Corvette Stingray coupe at the Detroit auto show in January, Chevrolet will unveil a convertible version in Geneva. The convertible is expected to reach showrooms by December.
The Enzo successor, code-named F150, is sold out ahead of its Geneva debut, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says. Ferrari hasn't disclosed pricing for the supercar, but sources say it will be about 1 million euros, or about $1.3 million, before taxes in Europe. Volume is expected to be limited to 499 cars, 100 more than the Enzo.
Sources say the Enzo replacement will have more than 900 hp, combining a new V-12 normally aspirated, direct-injection gasoline engine with an electric motor.
The P1 supercar, a rival to Ferrari's Enzo successor, will debut in Geneva after the concept version's unveiling at the 2012 Paris auto show. The P1 is powered by midmounted 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 gasoline engine, and an electric motor that give a combined 903 hp. The car can travel about six miles on electric power only.
General Motors' European unit will launch the Cascada mid-sized convertible as part of its push into new product segments for the Opel/Vauxhall brands.
The Cascada follows the recent launches of the Mokka compact crossover, a sibling of the Buick Encore, and the Adam minicar. With the two-door, four-seat Cascada, Opel hopes to attract buyers looking for a cheaper alternative to premium drop-tops such as the Audi A5 convertible.
Opel also will show the Adam Rocks concept previewing a potential rival to the Fiat 500C convertible. The concept is based on the Adam hatchback and has SUV styling and a fold-back fabric sunroof.
The Chinese brand will unveil its Qoros 3 compact sedan as well as two concepts -- the Cross Hybrid that previews a crossover hatchback and the Estate station wagon. The Qoros 3 will go on sale in China and Europe this year.
Qoros is jointly owned by China's Chery Automobile Co. and investment company Israel Corp. Spokesman Geers said Qoros vehicles are "engineered as a product for the global market" but that the company is focused on China and Europe for now.
Rolls-Royce will debut the Wraith, a coupe version of Rolls' Ghost four-door sedan. Wraith deliveries will start in the fourth quarter.
The FT-86 Open concept hints of a convertible version of the Scion FR-S sports coupe that was launched last year. The Scion FR-S is built in Japan by Subaru, which sells its own version, the BRZ.
Also on Toyota's Geneva stand will be a new two-seat electric concept called i-Road. Styled in Japan, the concept seats the passenger behind the driver to create a narrow, city-friendly vehicle.
VW will show a production version of the XL1 plug-in hybrid two-seater, which closely resembles the concept unveiled in 2011. The aerodynamic body features fully covered rear wheels and rearview mirrors integrated into the door skin. About 1,000 will be built annually in Osnabruck, Germany, but there is no word on plans to sell the car in the United States.
Luca Ciferri, Nick Gibbs and Autoweek contributed to this report
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