It has kicked off in spectacular fashion once again.
Compared to previous years it seems busier. I could be wrong; perhaps the people just queue longer before the press conferences of their choice. It is probably not surprising to see people gathering at Aston Martin Lagonda’s stand 45 minutes before their allotted time, seeing AML has made the headlines quite a few times in the past 12 months. But at Mazda, by comparison, all available seats were taken 30 minutes before the conference started. The press sure seems eager this year.
Do they have a reason to be?
Let’s have a look at some impressions of the first day.
The focus is very clearly on electric. Not only did they unveil two electric cars, the stand has only electric vehicles.
The new cars were introduced by their designer who used superlatives almost exclusively. At least it’s clear the man is proud of his work. And so he should be; the sportier of the two is quite nice. And considerably lower than the A7, apparently.
One of the new Audi models presented.
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They mentioned ‘electric as a system’. Unfortunately they did not expand on that, so at this time it’s not clear what that exactly entails.
It is interesting to note that almost every car manufacturer present at the show seems to have some ‘system’ that is unique to them and, of course, better than the others. Let’s keep in mind these are all electric vehicles, though.
However, we should also keep in mind that the vast majority of current cars have an internal combustion engine running on petrol and those are not exactly the same either. The basics may be the same, there are differences, especially since technology has advanced since this type of engine was first created. I think we should start keeping a closer eye on how different manufacturers implement electric systems.
Bentley is 100 years on 10 July this year. And they have already started the celebrations.
They have made two special edition cars. The first is a Bentayga commemorating the company’s founder, W.O. Bentley.
Ironically, they brought the No. 9 Continental to Geneva, which is made to celebrate the Bentley Blower. The reason I call this ironic is because apparently W.O. Bentley rather disliked that car (read that as a typical English understatement).
The No. 9 Continental, limited to 100 cars.
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Bold claims were made that Bentley has defined grand tourers for the past 100 years and will continue to do so for the coming 100 years. Now, call me biased (because I am), but I question this. How can you ‘define’ anything if in recent history your newest (and I mean all new) model – the Bentayga – is 4 years old?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Bentley. During the factory tour I got to appreciate the company’s history with many racing victories and beautiful cars, but also the craftsmanship that goes into creating a Bentley. But I disagree with the ‘defining’ claim. To me it seems Bentley are quite comfortably staying right where they are.
Aston Martin Lagonda
With the relaunch of the Lagonda brand I cannot possibly call the company ‘Aston Martin’ anymore – especially since they brought a new Lagonda to their stand.
Just after the presentation I heard someone say that AML had ‘the shock of the show’. That might well be correct, because I don’t think any other manufacturer brought four cars to unveil.
Granted, one we basically already knew: the Valkyrie. Previously we had only seen models and prototypes, this was a verification model. If I’m not mistaken, that means this one is fully functional.
The other three cars are probably more exciting then. Project 003 (now named AM RB-03) is the third mid engine hyper car AML are building, after Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR. I have already seen comments on social media that it’s just another Valkyrie, but that’s incorrect. It is a new car. Apart from the V6 (built by AML) we will have to see how else it is different from Valkyrie.
Project 003 or AM RB-03
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The Vanquish Vision Concept is possibly the biggest surprise. It has only recently been replaced as the flagship model by DBS Superleggera, and even though AML do reintroduce names, they tend to wait a little longer.
It is also not your usual production model anymore. Now it’s a mid engine beast. It will be interesting to see what that eventually turns in to.
Last, but not least is that Lagonda I mentioned. It’s not exactly a SUV, it’s a crossover. You could argue about the differences, I’m just stating what I’ve heard. It does look a bit like the Vision Concept unveiled last year. The front has links to that car, albeit a bit less, shall we say, wide?
It looks spacious and different on the inside, it’s big, it’s different. Apparently it will go into production in 2022.
The new Lagonda is trying to get into the super luxury segment of the market. Let’s wait and see how it gets on.
Mazda is celebrating the 30th year of the MX-5, which is also known as the Miata.
A limited edition MX-5 can be seen on the stand, but otherwise there wasn’t much said about it. All focus went to the CX-30. This new crossover (so not a SUV, then!) is to sit between CX-3 and CX-5.
It’s the second car to get a ‘Kodo design’, after the Mazda 3. The other models will get or already have gotten a looks upgrade.
We can also expect a new engine: the updated version of SkyActiv, called SkyActive-X. The explanation of that engine baffled me a little, since it was explained that it combines petrol and diesel techniques. In other words: it uses spark and compression. Now, the last time I checked, petrol engines already used compression. The thing with diesel is, of course, that if compressed enough it will self combust. Something petrol does not do, hence the need for a spark.
In short: Mazda has given me homework.
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The plan for the coming years is to bring down emission dramatically and also introduce hybrid and electric options at some point. But – as promised last year – no mention of autonomous driving.
You can’t get that ‘Zoom Zoom Zoom’ feeling if you don’t control the car!
Initially I intended to see the unveiling of Ginetta’s new car, but decided against it as it was uncovered all day, only to be covered up just before the presentation. It has also been shared on social media etc. before the show. So I guess that who wants to know already knows.
Toyota and Lexus stood out because of their lack of any presentation at all. Their press conference was available online and on demand. I wonder how many people bothered.
I did not check it out, but I did go to their stand. Interesting to see they have yet again revamped the Corolla. The car that is deemed so reliable has been given a new lease of life and Toyota brought many of them. Their virtually unbreakable car, the Hilux Invincible, is unfortunately nowhere to be seen. Pity, because I like that car a lot.
Volkswagen brought some electric vehicles, as was to be expected, but also a new Passat. This could be my ignorance, but I thought the Passat CC and later the CC replaced the Passat, only to be followed up by the Arteon (also present here). Anyway, I think the Passat was always a decent station, so it makes sense to not let it die a silent death.
In general there is a very heavy emphasis on electric vehicles at the show. This is not surprising, with the threat of legislation making zero emission compulsory in a few decades looming over Europe.
Compared to last year there are hardly any autonomous cars to be seen. Some are autonomous driving ready, but the clear focus I noticed in 2018 is not there now.
I guess they’re all too busy fighting for their spot in the electric vehicle market. Some don’t have any on the road as yet, so this will be an interesting development to keep an eye on.