High-octane supercars reign supreme at Geneva show
Supercars will play a large role at this year's Geneva auto show as Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren unveil their latest high-performance models. BMW's 2-series Active Tourer will be another notable premiere.
Here are some key debuts.
The wraps will come off the third generation of the TT, Audi's small sports car. The two-door's design won't change much from the second-generation TT, which launched in 2006. Audi executives have hinted that the TT's coupe and roadster variants could be joined by a crossover version inspired by the Allroad Shooting Brake concept unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. Audi will also debut the S1, a higher-performance variant of the Europe-only A1 subcompact.
BMW 2-series Active Tourer
BMW's minivanlike 2-series Active Tourer, the first front-wheel-drive production vehicle of the automaker's modern era, is scheduled to launch in the United States next year, likely greeted by protests from BMW buffs who believe fwd will dilute the brand's vaunted driving dynamics, which are based on rear-wheel drive. BMW says the 2-series Active Tourer is a response to market pressure from drivers with families for premium vehicles that are also functional. The 2-series Active Tourer is underpinned by BMW Group's new fwd architecture that debuted last year on the third-generation Mini hatchback.
BMW will also debut its 4-series Gran Coupe, a four-door car with coupelike styling. The Gran Coupe is derived from the 4-series coupe but is longer and higher to give the vehicle more headroom and a roomier trunk. It will go on sale in the United States in the spring and will be the second Gran Coupe in BMW's lineup, joining the larger 6-series Gran Coupe.
Ferrari California T
Ferrari has restyled the California coupe-convertible and added a turbocharged engine, which the company says increases the car's performance while cutting fuel consumption by 15 percent in typical daily use compared with the current model. Ferrari added the letter "T" to the model's name to emphasize the turbocharged 552-hp, 3.9-liter V-8 engine that replaces the naturally aspirated 483-hp, 4.3-liter V-8 unit in the current car. The company also said it has achieved virtually zero turbo lag in the California T.
The Intrado fuel cell concept vehicle previews Hyundai's future styling direction that's being developed by Peter Schreyer, the former Kia design chief who was promoted to head of design for the Hyundai and Kia brands 13 months ago. The concept also showcases a new hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain that's smaller and lighter than the drivetrain powering the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell SUV. Hyundai says the Intrado's advanced weight-saving features were inspired by the aircraft industry, so the concept was named after the underside of an aircraft's wing.
Jeep's new subcompact model will be the brand's first vehicle built only outside of the United States. The "baby" Jeep will be produced at Fiat's plant in Melfi, Italy, alongside a sibling model, the Fiat 500X.
The Jeep version will go on sale in Europe in the summer and in the United States late this year. Fiat and Jeep plan annual production of up to 280,000 units of the two models. Jeep's volume will be about 150,000, while Fiat's version will account for 130,000 units, supplier sources say.
The 500X will be unveiled at the Paris show in October and will go on sale by the end of the year in Europe and in spring 2015 in the United States. The Jeep will be sold with only four-wheel drive and will have a Trail Rated version. The Fiat 500X will have a cheaper, more fuel efficient fwd variant, in addition to awd.
Lamborghini has a lot riding on the Huracan, a faster, more nimble replacement for the Gallardo, the brand's $184,895 entry-level sports car and its top-selling model until it went out of production in November after a run of 10 years. The Huracan's 601-hp, 5.2-liter, V-10 naturally aspirated engine has 49 hp more than the Gallardo. It has an aluminum body but makes extensive use of carbon fiber within the bulkhead, floor and roof to shed weight. The Huracan borrows various design elements from the larger Aventador, including its distinctive LED-accented headlamp and taillamp graphics.
McLaren Automotive will unveil the 650S, a model it says is its "fastest, most engaging, best equipped and most beautiful series-production supercar yet." The 650S joins the U.K. exotic sports car maker's lineup alongside the 12C and McLaren P1. It will be offered as a coupe or as a Spider with a retractable folding hardtop. The car is powered by a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. McLaren will disclose performance figures in Geneva.
The S-class coupe appearing in Geneva replaces the current coupe version of the S class, which is called the CL. It has all of the new safety and convenience features of the S-class sedan that went on sale in October, along with an added feature that Mercedes calls active curve tilting.
"The vehicle leans into bends much like a motorcyclist, thereby reducing the lateral acceleration acting on the vehicle's occupants," said Thomas Weber, board member for r&d. The S-class coupe is lower than the outgoing CL and it has styling lines that are more sculpted and flowing. U.S. deliveries begin in the fall. U.S. sales of the current CL, which debuted in 2006, fell to 476 units last year, from 723 in 2012 and a high of 3,672 in 2007.
Chinese automaker Qoros has recruited a large number of Western automotive executives, including ex-Mini design boss Gert Hildebrand, in a bid to build cars that match the quality and safety of established brands in the United States and Europe. It appears to be succeeding. In September, the Qoros 3 compact sedan became the first China-built model to receive a five-star rating under the European New Car Assessment Program testing protocol.
In Geneva, Qoros will debut a hatchback version of the car. Qoros has started sales in China and Eastern Europe but says the United States is not yet a target market.
Luca Ciferri, Mark Rechtin, Diana T. Kurylko, Claire Bal and Autoweek's Greg Kable contributed to this report.
You can reach Paul McVeigh at email@example.com.