General Motors design chief Ed Welburn calls Geneva the most relaxed of the auto shows and a great design forum. It is the one stop on the show circuit where styling seems to matter more than the latest sales numbers. This year's gathering was full of eye-catching production cars and concepts. Here's a sampling of some of the head-turners. PHOTOS BY PHILIP MEECH
This year's gathering was full of eye-catching production cars and concepts. Here's a sampling of some of the head-turners.
PHOTOS BY PHILIP MEECH
Who designed it: Ryouichi Kuraoka, Nissan's product chief designer
What's interesting: Gull-wing doors usually are too heavy to be practical, but the Zaroot's doors are split horizontally. The lower part folds down as a step, reducing the weight of the door. Also, the side windows on this compact SUV don't open. Nissan added a "toll-ticket" cutout, like the "window in a window" on the late Subaru SVX.
Will it be built? No, but Nissan wants its next compact SUV to stand out from the European crowd, so some Zaroot design touches may be used.
Show reaction: Another exuberant design study in Nissan's series of SUV concepts.
Honda Civic 5-door hatchback
Who designed it: Toshiyuki Okumoto, assistant chief designer at Design Studio A at Honda's Wako, Japan, r&d center
Engine: Honda's 2.2-liter diesel plus gasoline versions
What's interesting: Instead of an Isuzu diesel, this European Civic gets a Honda diesel. It is sportier than the next American Civic.
Will it be built? Yes. The production model to be shown at the Frankfurt auto show won't vary much from this show car. Honda does not plan to sell the car in the U.S.
Show reaction: A good rendition of Honda's "Fast, Fun, Safe" theme. The styling is too edgy to play in Peoria, but it might appeal to Civic tuners in California.
Who designed it: Martin Smith and Chris Bird, Ford of Europe design team
Engine: Ford did not give details on engines. But a version of the Ford V-6 diesel used in the Jaguar S-Type and Land Rover Discovery 3 could be used.
What's interesting: The SAV is built on a stretched version of the Ford Focus platform. The SAV has flexible seating. The rounded front end is designed to get a high rating on European pedestrian safety rules.
Will it be built? Almost certainly. A production version could appear at the Frankfurt auto show this fall. It's highly doubtful the SAV will be brought to the United States.
Show reaction: High interest. It shows ideas of Ford's new design team in Europe.
Who designed it: Senior designer Eduardo Marchena and a team at Hyundai's technical center in Russelsheim, Germany
What's interesting: The entertainment, climate, navigation and communications controls are on a central pod between the two front seats. It can be removed and used from any seat in the car.
Will it be built? This concept offers hints of a model that could be coming to Europe as soon as 2007.
Show reaction: Not a standout in a crowded segment.
Who designed it: Michael Nicholas, Chrysler group design staff, Auburn Hills, Mich.
What's interesting: A first look at how the Chrysler group plans to use its high beltline style in subcompacts.
Will it be built: The Caliber previews next year's Neon successor.
Show reaction: Europeans say they understand what Dodge has in mind for Europe's ultracompetitive compact segment. The Caliber will compete with jazzy Japanese imports in Europe and not the mainstream Golf, Focus and Astra.