Reporters from around the globe once again descend on Geneva this week for what has become one of the largest and most important auto shows in Europe. For the last 76 years, Geneva has hosted significant debuts from virtually every manufacturer around the world, serving as a neutral environment where nationalistic favoritism doesn’t exist (except, perhaps, for local builder RinSpeed). This year, showgoers will see concepts and production vehicles ranging from an Alfa Romeo Spider from Italy to the Volvo S80 sedan from Sweden – and a plethora of others in between. And while the Geneva Motor Show naturally focuses on vehicles for the European market, there are always a few cars that will see North American shores in one form or another. For 2006, crossovers seem to be the big news and Geneva debuts adhere to this trend thanks to new introductions from Audi, Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volkswagen. See these, and other expected production debuts, in this preview-style photo gallery.
The 2007 Audi allroad (concept version shown in photo) is positioned below the new Audi Q7 as a smaller alternative for those that don’t want to drive a traditional SUV but still want all-wheel drive and added ground clearance for bad weather. The new Allroad is larger and more powerful than the model it replaces, and is once again based on the A6 Avant.
Audi RS4 Avant
Stuff a direct-injection, 420-horsepower V8 engine under the hood of a station wagon, and what do you get? The new Audi RS4 Avant. Acceleration to 60 mph takes less than five seconds, thanks in part to the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system. A dynamic ride control suspension is also included in the package. Too bad it’s not coming to the U.S.
Audi RS4 Cabriolet
Audi finally grafts its new single-frame grille onto the A4 Cabriolet, one of the last models in the lineup to receive the new corporate nose. But the big news is what gets installed under the hood of the RS4 model, which is for overseas markets only. Equipped with a direct-injection, 420-horsepower V8 engine, this mobile suntan booth runs to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Quattro all-wheel drive and a dynamic ride control system help to maximize the Audi RS4 Cabriolet’s power and handling.
BMW Z4 M Coupe
BMW is set to give Porsche’s new Cayman S some competition with the upcoming Z4 M Coupe, which is powered by a 3.2-liter, inline six-cylinder producing 343 horsepower, and which moves this hardtop to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Top speed is reported to be 155 mph.
Chevrolet’s new Captiva is a small SUV made in South Korea by GM-Daewoo, created for overseas markets but which could, in theory, come to the U.S. and slot in beneath the bigger Chevy Equinox. In Europe, the Captiva will be offered with a 2.0-liter diesel engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, or a 3.2-liter V6. If it makes the trip to North America, expect only the latter two motors, making 142 and 225 respective horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional, and the Captiva features stability control.
Chevrolet currently sells the South Korean-built Epica in Canada and other world markets (it’s the Suzuki Verona in the U.S.), and a new version debuts at the Geneva Motor Show. The updated Epica will be initially powered by six-cylinder engines displacing 2.0 or 2.5 liters, mated to either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. We expect that the handsome Epica previews a revised Suzuki Verona for the U.S.
Looking to carve another niche in the European market, and possibly create an entry-level model for American customers, Dodge is introducing a small concept vehicle named the Hornet at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. This bold design, resembling the dimensions of a MINI Cooper on the outside and the fold-flat, rubber-floor interior functionality of a Honda Element, sits on 19-inch wheels and is powered by a supercharged 1.6-liter engine producing 170 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque.
Ferrari 599 GTB
Ferrari, one of the finest purveyors of exotic supercars, works its magic once again with the 599 GTB, a two-passenger, 3,722-lb. coupe with a 47-percent front / 53-percent rear weight distribution. Capable of reaching 62 mph in only 3.7 seconds and topping out at 205 mph, the 599 GTB draws power from a 6.0-liter V12 generating 620 horsepower at 7,600 rpm and 448 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,600 rpm. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or an updated F1-SuperFast automatic.
Ford Focus Convertible
How cool would this Ford Focus be, with its retractable hardtop and sleek European looks? Too bad FoMoCo’s North American operations couldn’t turn a profit on the 2000-04 model – that’s why we’re stuck with a warmed-over, heavily-discounted Focus in the U.S. while Europeans get this slick, sophisticated version that shares its underpinnings with the Mazda 3 and Volvo S40. Of course, this think would overlap with the Mustang, so maybe it wouldn’t be very cool…
The production version of the Ford S-Max, based on the SAV Concept shown one year ago, will be unveiled at this year’s Geneva show. The Ford S-Max will be available in five- and seven-passenger models, and goes on sale in Europe later this summer. The S-Max isn’t coming to America, but it should.
Hyundai HED-2 Genus
Hyundai introduced the HED-2 Genus concept in Geneva, a crossover vehicle modeled after sports-tourers like the Chrysler Pacifica, but which would also offer the performance of a sports coupe plus the cargo capacity of a minivan. Though there’s no definite word on production possibilities, word is that a derivative of the Genus will see the light of day.
Kia introduced the five-door Cee’d concept this year at Geneva, which foretells a production version of a similar vehicle that will debut at the Paris Auto Show in September. This five-door concept is aimed at the mid-level segment of Kia’s lineup, and is unlikely to come to the U.S.
Kia Sedona SWB
Pictured here is the short-wheelbase version of the Kia Sedona minivan that will arrive in North America this fall as an entry-level model with less space and a lower price. Kia predicts that 10 percent of Sedona sales in the United States will be of this smaller, less expensive version of its new minivan.
Kia introduced a more handsome and powerful Sorento SUV at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show. The Sorento also gets improved interior materials, and a back seat configuration that’s easier to fold down. Power-wise, Europeans will get a choice of an updated 2.3 CRDi diesel engine that gets a boost from 140 horsepower to 170, or a 3.3-liter V6 gasoline engine that will make 235 horsepower. The 3.3-liter engine is the same powerplant that has received rave reviews in the Hyundai Sonata, built by Kia’s corporate parent. It’s likely that you’ll see that engine offered in the U.S., as it has more horsepower and better fuel economy than the existing 3.5-liter, 192-horsepower engine. Design changes include reshaped headlights and tail lights.
Ferrari executives may have thought that their 620-horsepower 599 GTB would be the shining, exotic-car jewel of the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, but they obviously hadn’t consulted with the folks at Lamborghini. The Murcielago LP640 houses a 6.5-liter V12 good for 640 horsepower and a 0-62 mph sprint in about 3.5 seconds.
Lexus RX 350
Lexus debuted more power and luxury for its RX SUV at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show, upgrading the powertrain to Toyota’s successful 3.5-liter, V6 engine, and renaming the model the RX 350. The engine makes 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque, a boost of around 45 horsepower and 10 lb.-ft., with improved fuel efficiency and a ULEV II smog rating. The engine features technology such as sequential fuel injection and Electronic Throttle Control with Intelligence (ETC-i). Interior upgrades include a quieter cabin and a new standard entertainment system that’s satellite ready, has eight-speakers, and an in-dash six-disc CD changer. The Mark Levinson Premium Audio System is also available. Expect to see the RX 350 in the States around the end of the year.
Lotus has developed the APX, short for Aluminum Performance Crossover, to showcase its new supercharged 300-horsepower V6 engine. Lotus is shopping the concept to prospective manufacturers to see if anyone is interested in adding it to their lineup.
Lotus Europa S
Hard to believe after the sales success of the Elise that Lotus did not engineer its new Europa S sports car to meet U.S. regulations, and therefore, this sexy new 2+2 cannot be sold in America. Built to steal sales from models like the Porsche Cayman and Nissan 350Z in Europe, the Europa S comes with luxuries such as carpet, leather upholstery, and dual front airbags as standard equipment.
Lotus Exige S
Despite record sales in North America, Lotus continues to reserve its best stuff for overseas markets. Witness the new Exige S, which features a supercharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for nearly 220 horsepower and capable of propelling this lightweight sports car to 60 mph in click over four seconds on the way to a top speed just shy of 150 mph. European and Japanese customers get to buy the new Exige S. You get to look at this picture.
In Europe, Mazdaspeed models are sold under the Mazda Performance Series nameplate, which is why this hot-rodded Mazda 3 shown in Geneva wears an MPS badge. What you need to know is that it’s coming to America, powered by the same 2.3-liter, turbocharged engine as found in the Mazdaspeed 6, detuned to produce 250 horsepower in the Mazdaspeed 3 because the new model will be front- rather than all-wheel drive.
Mercedes CLK65 AMG
When it hits the streets the streets later this year, the Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG will be packing 481 horsepower under the hood, representing a 31-percent gain over the model it replaces. As befitting an AMG model, this ride also includes high-composite front brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, a Speedshift 7g-tronic automatic transmission, and unique 18-inch alloy wheels rolling on 225/40 tires up front and 255/35s out back.
Mercedes CLS350 CGI
Due to reach European car lots by the summer of 2006, the Mercedes-Benz CLS350 CGI gets more power and efficiency thanks to its Stratified-Charged Gasoline Injection. The result is 292 horsepower from a 3.5-liter V6 engine, a boost of almost 20 horsepower. For European Mercedes fans, it’s a good thing all the way around: same great looks with more power than before.
Mercedes CLS63 AMG
With most AMG models getting a new, hand-built, AMG-exclusive 6.3-liter V8, it comes as no surprise that the beautiful Mercedes-Benz CLS gets the treatment, too. Replacing the CLS55 AMG, the new CLS63 AMG’s engine makes more than 500 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph should take less than 4.5 seconds. Other upgrades include a new seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission, AMG suspension, AMG brakes, AMG design, and AMG interior upgrades, including some kick-ass sport seats.
Coupe or convertible? Get ‘em both with the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, a sexy hardtop roadster that benefits from a few styling updates and power upgrades. All models get tweaked front bumpers, revised taillights, and new wheels. The Europe-only SL350 now offers 272 horsepower from its V6, good for 0-62 mph in 6.6 seconds. Models bound for American shores are the V8-equipped SL550, which ponies up 388 horsepower for a 0-62 mph time of 5.4 seconds, and the SL600, with its 517-horsepower bi-turbo V12 that reaches 62 mph in only 4.5 seconds.
Mercedes SL55/SL65 AMG
One might think that the regular SL-Class, a sleek two-seater that can reach 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, would be all that drivers need. AMG engineers obviously disagree, as they’ve constructed the SL55 AMG. Not only does this car employ 517 horsepower to match that sub-five-second sprint, but also it adds a sport-tuned suspension, composite brakes, and more aggressive body cues. Not quite enough? Opt for the SL65 AMG and its 612-horsepower bi-turbo V12 that shaves another three-tenths of a second off that 0-62 mph romp.
Mini Traveler Concept Geneva
Proving that Mini doesn’t necessarily mean mini, the Concept Geneva wagon provides seating for up to four passengers, with the interior is accessed through wide-opening front doors and rear barn doors. Loading cargo is a cinch with the sliding rear floor, which also folds up to serve as a delineator between the cabin and the trunk. This is the fourth in a series of Traveler concepts that foreshadow a production version due in about a year.
The Mitsubishi CZC is a small convertible with a retractable hardtop, which should do well in Europe where such models are hot sellers. The CZC will be built by Italy’s Pininfarina.
The Nissan Terranaut is purely a design study, created as a research vehicle for scientists and to promote the exploratory possibilities of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. It features just three seats – one each for the “pilot, co-pilot, and lab technician” – leaving space for a laboratory in the rear of the vehicle, which includes refrigeration for a week’s worth of groceries. The Terranaut is also equipped with run-flat tires mounted on 19-inch wheels for crossing rugged terrain, and a rear bubble top that can double as an escape hatch. Don’t look for this one to hit the streets of Los Angeles and Duluth real quick.
Opel GT Concept
If it looks like a Saturn Sky, why, maybe that’s because it is a Saturn Sky – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Europeans who like great-looking roadsters will surely be thrilled with the Opel GT – for now just a concept – as their U.S. mates are with the Saturn. And it’s not only a beautiful car, but, as introduced at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show, is the first Opel GT in 30 years. Differences between the Sky and the GT are limited to the badge and a more powerful engine: the Opel gets a 265-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Perhaps those of us who enjoy roadster motoring on these shores would be a little more thrilled if we got the Opel GT – instead of the 170 horsepower Sky due in dealerships next spring. And maybe, this time, the American equivalent will be called the poor man’s Opel…
Porsche 911 GT3
Keep an eye out for a new Porsche this August. That’s when the $106,000 911 GT3 will make its U.S. debut, racing to market with a 415-horsepower, 3.6-liter boxer engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. A run from 0-62 mph takes 4.3 seconds, and the top speed is 193 mph. Enhancements include electronic traction control, an active suspension system, and 19-inch wheels.
Porsche 911 Turbo
Porsche debuted at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show what it says is the most powerful Porsche to date: the all-wheel-drive 2007 911 Turbo. Reaching 62 mph requires a mere 3.9 seconds (3.7 seconds with the optional Tiptronic automatic transmission) thanks to a 3.6-liter boxer engine that cranks out 480 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 457 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,950 rpm. The new Porsche 911 Turbo will go on sale in July, priced at about $123,000.
The now famous RinSpeed studio, based in the Swiss countryside, plans to debut the zaZen, a concept car powered by a 335-horsepower engine from a Porsche 997 Carrera S. The car features lightweight plastics, a transparent top and seats, and a holographic third brake light. zaZen is a Buddhist term that means “a special perception.”
Luxurious motoring is sure to gain a boost in popularity when the production version of the Rolls-Royce 101 EX hits the streets, reportedly in just a few short years. Despite its aluminum hood, this hard-top coupe likely weighs more than the entire Royal Family, past and present combined, and is thusly equipped with a 6.75-liter V12 engine boasting 450 horsepower and 531 lb.-ft. of torque.
Saab Aero X Concept
You may never be able to buy one of these beauties, but if Saab introduces the design flair of the Aero X Concept into its other cars, well, there will be no talk of GM cutting it’s Swedish luxury brand out of the action. Debuted at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show, the Saab Aero X Concept is a two-seat, all-wheel-drive concept featuring a carbon fiber body and a 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 engine. It’s set up to burn ethanol, which is GM’s latest kick, to be sure. Look for traces of the Aero X Concept in the next 9-3, slated for introduction in 2008.
Suzuki may be a relatively small player, but that may be changing with vehicles like the totally redesigned Grand Vitara, and attractive new entry-level crossovers like the SX4, a four-door wagon akin to the Toyota Matrix. Due to go on sale later this year, the SX4 features four-wheel drive and a choice between two capable four-cylinder engines.
Judging from last year’s sales of more than 19,000, hybrids – specifically the Toyota Prius – are catching on in Europe. That’s around an 80 percent jump in sales compared to 2004, and Toyota executives are planning for another robust year in 2006, with a 35 percent jump in Prius sales. With this kind of growth, it’s no surprise that Toyota decided introduced a revised Prius at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show – even if the changes are mild. (NOTE: 2006 model is shown) Notable revisions include a freshened look, an improved interior, and the addition of an Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) feature, up to now seen only in Japan. With IPA, the driver selects the parking spot and the vehicle steers itself into the spot through the use of video cameras, the driver controlling throttle input. The Prius gets IPA in Europe, while the rest of the world outside of Japan will see it in the Lexus LS 460. Customers in the U.S. are likely to get the cosmetic changes made to the Prius, as the award-winning and sticker-price-bustin’ hybrid has not been significantly changed since its introduction in 2004.
Toyota Urban Cruiser
Toyota introduces yet another small three-door crossover SUV, this time named the Urban Cruiser. With vehicles like the RAV4 growing in size, there’s room in the brand’s lineup for a new competitor to go up against the likes of Hyundai’s Tucson and the upcoming Dodge Caliber. However, there’s no official word on when – or if – a production version may arrive.
Volkswagen Concept A
The Volkswagen Concept A is a sneak peek at an upcoming all-wheel-drive crossover vehicle set to go on sale next year. The production version will not have the Concept A’s radical roofline, and will share a platform with the redesigned 2007 VW Golf. Volkswagen is aiming at models such as the BMW X3, Honda CRV, and Toyota RAV4 with the Concept A.
Volvo is introducing a redesigned S80 flagship sedan in the hopes of increasing its share of the luxury market against Mercedes, BMW and Audi. When it goes on sale in June the 2007 Volvo S80 will be powered by the same 315-horsepower, Yamaha-built V8 as found in the XC90 SUV, though a 239-horsepower 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine will also be available. Other features include optional all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, and a collision warning system.
Photos courtesy of the Manufacturers