As automakers continue to try and reinvent the traditional European passenger car, the 2003 Geneva auto show will again be a showcase for all manner of crossovers and sport wagons.
But while much of the focus may be on vehicles such as Opel's new Signum, there will be numerous underlying trends at this year's event in Switzerland.
Interested in small, affordable roadsters? Try the latest production versions of the Ford Streetka and Smart Roadster.
Intrigued by folding hard-top roofing systems? Check out the latest coupe cabriolets from Peugeot and Renault.
Fascinated by developments in the compact minivan segment? Don't miss the Volkswagen Touran, Ford Focus C-Max or new Renault Scenic.
Passionate about exotic, high-performance models? Then the Lamborghini Gallardo will probably be the first car on your checklist.
But Geneva isn't all about busting boundaries and defining new vehicle segments. While you're gazing with admiration - or bewilderment - at the latest seven-seat dune buggy concept, spare a thought for such cars as Fiat's New Small and Toyota's Avensis.
They may not be mold-breaking, but they're crucial models, nonetheless.
New products: Alfa will show the GT coupe, the coupe version of the 156 sedan. Designed by Bertone, the GT coupe will go on sale by the end of the year. It was previously named the Sprint.
The GT coupe has room for four adults and has a large trunk - bigger than the 156 sedan's. Alfa plans to build 20,000 GT coupes a year.
Alfa will offer more sporty models to fill out the current GTA range. The "TI" badge will be used on a new, entry-level sporty range that will debut on the 147 at Geneva. Later in the year, Alfa will introduce super-performance "sportiva evoluta" versions that will be positioned above GTA models. Slightly face-lifted versions of the GTV coupe and Spider will also be on display.
New concept: Concept X previews a sporty crossover vehicle to be derived from the next-generation 147 in 2007. The car has a 250hp, 3.2-liter, V-6 engine and an electronically controlled permanent four-wheel-drive system. It sits on big 20-inch wheels, has a huge, 400-liter trunk and features foldable rear seats to increase loading volume.
Talking points: The dream of building half a million Alfas a year is over. The Italian carmaker plans to build around 200,000 units in 2003 - the same as the past four years - and reach 300,000 units by 2007.
New concept: Geneva is the first European showing of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage concept car, the basis for a new smaller Aston Martin. The car will be built at a new factory in Gaydon, England, and launched in 2005.
New product: Audi will unveil the new version of its premium hatchback, the A3. Seen at Geneva in three-door form only, the new A3 is wider, longer and lower than the model it replaces. The new A3 marks the first application of Volkswagen group's new PQ35 platform, also to be used by the next-generation VW Golf and Audi TT, new VW Touran and a future Seat compact minivan.
The new A3 range features evolutionary sporty styling, a new and more sophisticated rear suspension system, and a twin-clutch automated gearshift. A five-door, sports wagon-style version follows next year.
Talking points: Bentley Motors already debuted the new Continental GT at the Paris auto show last September, but it will reveal the price and specifications for its new "baby Bentley." Bentley has hinted at prices of about e150,000, about e100,000 below its larger cars.
Bentley will also reveal the timetable for introducing the Continental GT into various global markets. Most markets will get the car in the fourth quarter. The car will be equipped with a 500hp, 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
New concept: A prototype of the future 6-series Coupe is rumored to appear.
Talking points: BMW says the 7 series is doing well. In fact, the 7 has lost its position as the world's top-selling luxury sedan to the current Mercedes-Benz S class even though the S class is well into the second half of its life cycle.
New product: The Chrysler Crossfire seen at the Los Angeles auto show in January makes its European debut. The sporty, low-slung coupe shares 40 percent of its parts with the Mercedes-Benz SLK - including the V-6 engine and automatic transmission.
The Crossfire is being built by coachbuilder Karmann in Osnabrük, Germany. Time from start of development to series production was just 24 months, thanks to both Mercedes-Benz technology and Karmann engineering capacity.
Karmann expects to build about 11,000 Crossfires a year, of which 85 percent will be reserved for the North American market.
Talking points: Chrysler Corp. has made a successful turnaround. Despite a fierce US incentive war, the North American subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler is expected to post a profit in 2003. But will Chrysler ever return to the outstanding profitability it enjoyed before its most recent crisis?
New concept: Citroen is expected to make a world debut of a concept vehicle.
New product: GM Daewoo Auto & Technology first showed the Nubira replacement in November at the Seoul auto show, but this is Europe's first look at the car that goes on sale here this summer.
After weeks of road testing in the UK, Daewoo will introduce a Nubira tuned to European drivers' preference for firmer handling and more precise steering. The Pininfarina-designed car will retain the Nubira name, although Daewoo will use a different title for a five-door version due late this year. It could be called the Lacetti, which is the name used in South Korea.
The Scope crossover vehicle also gets its European debut. The Scope offers off-road capabilities and features a flexible seating system.
New product: Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu will introduce a new Cuore mini. The Japanese automaker's emphasis is on very low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for this tiny car that will have to compete in a shrinking European segment.
New product: Geneva sees the world debut of the Challenge Stradale, the street-legal version of the car used in Ferrari's one-make series, the 360 Challenge. The Stradale is also related to the 360 GT used in the FIA World GT championship.
The Stradale will cost 20 to 25 percent more than the normal 360 Modena. It is more than 100kg lighter and is expected to offer 5 percent more power - which means close to 420hp.
Talking points: Now that Ferrari seems to have avoided the risk of being spun-off from Fiat group into Fiat Auto, plans to float the sports car maker are back on the agenda. Currently, Fiat group owns 56 percent of Ferrari; 34 percent is controlled by Mediobanca and its allies; and the remaining 10 percent is owned by Piero Ferrari, son of the company founder, Enzo. The financial markets' worries about a war in Iraq will likely delay a Ferrari IPO (Initial Public Offering) until the autumn.
New product: Fiat's project 350, or B-MPV, right, will make its debut at Geneva. Still without an official name, the car is a compact minivan based on the Punto platform to rival Opel's new Meriva. The B-MPV is the first Fiat production model to be designed by Fabrizio Giugiaro, who will turn 38 during the Geneva show. Fabrizio is the son of Giorgetto, the 64-year-old co-founder of Italdesign-Giugiaro. The B-MPV's interior was created by Fiat internal Styling Center. Just under 4 meters long, the B-MPV is 1700mm wide and 1660mm high, and sits on a 2510mm wheelbase. It can accommodate five people.
Fiat will also show project 169, or New Small, left. Also still without an official name, the car replaces both the Fiat Panda, to be discontinued by the end of June, and the Seicento, which remains in production until summer 2004. With a length of 3540mm, the New Small is 200mm longer than the Seicento.
The New Small debuts in five-door form. A three-door version will follow in mid-2004. It will be built in Bielsko-Biala, Poland.
Bertone was responsible for the exterior design of the New Small, while the interior was penned by I.DE.A. Institute.
New concepts: In late 2004, Fiat will add a four-wheel-drive variant of the New Small, which was previewed by the Simba concept car at the Bologna auto show in December. At Geneva, Fiat will show both the Simba and an open-roofed evolution, a dune-buggy-style vehicle called the Marrakech.
Talking points: Fiat is regaining the lead in common-rail direct injection. The Italian carmaker's Multijet technology will be seen in Geneva in its smallest form, on a new 1.3-liter 16-valve engine capable of 70hp.
The engine will be built by Fiat-GM Powertrain in Bielsko-Biala, Poland. Production is expected to reach over 500,000 units a year at full capacity. Applied to a small engine such as the new 1.3-liter, Multijet technology reduces fuel consumption by 10 percent and emissions drop by 30 to 40 percent.
Fiat introduced first-generation common-rail in autumn 1997 on the Alfa Romeo 156. The original technology permits two fuel injections per cycle in each cylinder - a pilot and the main one - but Multijet permits up to five injections.
New product: Ford will introduce its long-awaited compact minivan, the Focus C-Max, at Geneva. The C-Max comes to market about seven years after Renault invented the compact minivan segment with the Scenic.
After much internal debate at Ford of Europe's product development center in Cologne, the C-Max will be offered with only one seating configuration - five seats.
Ford showed a concept version of the C-Max at the Paris auto show in September and decided to keep the name. Ford says the C in C-Max stands not only for the segment the car competes in, but also three of its key attributes: comfort, convenience and control.
The C-Max is the first car built on the newly reengineered Focus platform. It is taller, has a wider track and a longer wheelbase than the current Focus. Ford will also show the Fusion Plus, a premium version of its Fiesta-based "urban activity vehicle," and production versions of the Streetka and Sportka.
New product: Honda is introducing the Tourer, a station wagon based on the Accord but with wheelbase that is 50mm longer. The Tourer features a rear hatch that opens by remote control and more cargo volume than any other entry in the class, Honda claims. It will go on sale within weeks of the show.
Talking point: Honda is eager to show off the technologies it expects will appeal to Europeans. One is the eco-friendly fuel-cell technology of the FCX-V4, one of the world's first series-production fuel cell cars now on the roads in the USA.
Honda also will show the long-awaited 2.2-liter diesel engine that it developed in-house. The aluminum engine has second-generation common-rail injection. Honda has not disclosed specific details of the engine's performance but early reports suggest 140hp to 150hp and 300Nm of torque. Honda will first offer the 2.2-liter diesel in the Accord in early 2004.
New concepts: Hyundai will probably have two concept vehicles making European debuts. The OLV was first seen last month at the Detroit auto show and the HIC debuted at the Seoul auto show last November.
The OLV, or Outdoor Leisure Vehicle, left, features a supercharged four-cylinder engine and is smaller than the Hyundai Santa Fe. Created at Hyundai's California studio, it is part of Hyundai's effort to enhance the brand's emotional appeal.
HIC stands for High-technology Intelligence Coupe. It is based on the Hyundai Coupe platform and serves as a test bed for intelligent, adaptive cruise control and an "around monitoring system" that uses closed-circuit television to replace rear view mirrors and enable the driver to see around the car's exterior.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The HIC uses an innovative multi-control stick to navigate through its electronic functions. It has night vision and distance-sensing cruise control that can also alert the driver to dangerous lane-changing situations.
Talking points: Jaguar's introduction of the new XJ at Paris last autumn was overshadowed. Ford Motor Co. President Nick Scheele admitted that Jaguar would lose $500 million (e467 million) in 2002 because of delays in getting production rolling at the body shop in Castle Bromwich, England. Now XJ production is running at Browns Lane, and the XJ launch is starting. Jaguar will show production versions of the car at Geneva.
Jaguar XJ buyers will begin getting cars in April. It is hard to overestimate the importance of getting this launch right. XJ is Jaguar's flagship car. Because sales of the X-type are disappointing so far, a successful XJ launch could go a long way to reversing Jaguar's fortunes.
New product: The Opirus luxury sedan makes its European debut in a bit of a flag-waving exercise for Kia. The Opirus is based on the large-car platform of Kia's parent company Hyundai.
Kia doesn't expect to sell many Opirus models in Europe - it's meant more for the Korean and North American markets. And it's a departure from Kia's new image as a sporty, fun-oriented brand. But it does demonstrate that the company still has ambitions.
The Gallardo, the new "baby" Lamborghini previously known as project L140, will be unveiled. The aluminum-bodied two-seat coupe will compete with the Ferrari 360 Modena and the Porsche GT2. The price will be around e120,000 plus tax in Europe. The Gallardo has a rear, longitudinally mounted engine coupled with permanent four-wheel drive and electronic stability control. It is powered by an all-new, 500hp, 5.0-liter, 40-valve V-10 engine mated with a new six-speed manual gearbox.
The gearbox is mounted longitudinally behind the engine and will be offered with traditional manual command or in a sequential version with paddles behind the steering wheel.
This system is Magneti Marelli's Selespeed and was renamed "e-gear" by Lamborghini.
The Gallardo is the first Lamborghini designed by Italdesign, though not by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Instead, Giorgetto's son Fabrizio gets credit for his first production sports car.
The Gallardo has traditional doors, hinged at the base of the A-pillar, and not the typical scissors doors of such big Lambos as the Countach, Diablo and Murcielago.
Production will be 800-850 units this year and 1,300 in 2004.
Installed capacity is six units a day or 1,320 per year. But that could rise to eight units a day if needed, or almost 1,800 units a year.
In keeping with company tradition, the name of the car derives from a fighting bull breed. The Gallardo breed was established in Spain in the 18th century by Antonio Gallardo and was later bought by Don Antonio Miura, the same Miura used by Ferruccio Lamborghini to name his most famous sports car.