"The Europeans like their wagons," noted IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley. "But you're also seeing a transition taking place here -- to the crossover. They're everywhere, and Europeans are growing to like them.
"Europe had problems at first with the American concept of SUVs because of their uncomfortable association with trucks," she says. "The new crossovers -- especially the small ones -- give the market a new chance at stylish utility."
The Geneva show indicated that the crossover concept is not necessarily locked in a narrow definition.
In addition to the Vulcan, Aston Martin rolled out a concept called the DBX -- which might look to Americans like a sporty coupe, but which the British luxury maker's new CEO Andy Palmer declared to be a crossover.
"The DBX concept has been created as a sports crossover concept," Palmer said. Moreover, he added, it is "the very, very first all-electric, all-wheel-drive, four-seat Aston Martin."
The car sits high on its axles and offers the roomy interior of a crossover. But it is unmistakably Aston Martin-sports car in its DNA, glazed in an urban, industrial flat gray coating that was strangely shiny. The company says it wants the DBX to attract new buyers to the brand -- particularly more women.
Geneva is traditionally not so much about presenting models for consumers' future shopping consideration as it is about capturing the moment of world auto design in a snapshot.
That was visible in a swirl of cars most Americans will never see.
Swedish exotic carmaker Koenigsegg Automotive revealed the Regera, boasting 1,500 hp from a combined twin-turbo 5.0-liter V-8 and electric-drive system. Zenvo Automotive of Denmark promised Geneva a limited production run of its carbon-fiber ST1, featuring a supercharged 6.8-liter V-8, hood vents suggestive of rattlesnake nostrils, and an expected price tag of just below $1 million. And Italdesign Giugiaro showed audiences its full-size GEA concept sedan, with blue and white LED exterior accent lighting and an electronic Dream-mode setting that turns the car's windows black enough for passengers to drift off to sleep in the envisioned self-driving vehicle.
More down to earth -- though barely -- was the 3.8-liter V-8-powered McLaren 675LT supercar, debuting in Geneva with the side profile of a swooping hawk. Bugatti Automobiles revealed its newest Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, but also announced that it would be the last of the exotic series, even dubbing the new model "La Finale." Veyrons routinely retail for more than $2 million, depending on options.
In the spirit of an industry roaring back from the doldrums, Europe's luxury leaders also used last week's gathering to present a new Bentley speedster, the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept coupe, a GT3 racer from Mercedes-AMG and the 740-hp Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce.