March 7th, 2011

Geneva ’11: The good, the bad and the ugly

So this year’s Geneva motor show has been and gone and what a corker it was! There wasn’t an obtrusive environmental wave but more of an accepting attitude to change, the financial doom and gloom that overshadowed the show last year stayed away and it seemed to be lambing season in the supercar world. Here is our round up of some of the best and worst cars of Geneva 2011.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

Let’s start with a big hitter. Say hello to Lamborghini’s fifth generation V12 supercar, the Aventador LP700-4.

Being the replacement for the ‘Mercy, Mercy Me, Murcielago’ it has obvious visual ties to its predecessor but also to what has also been produced since – the Reventon. However with new technological innovations this new bull is one of the biggest jumps in Lamborghini’s history.

Since last year’s Sesto Elemento concept, the boys from Sant’Agata Bolognese want to become the go to guys for weight saving technologies. The Aventador has a one-piece passenger cell made entirely of a new-generation reinforced carbon fiber. It weighs just 147.5kg but is extremely strong, and helps contribute to a 1575kg kerbweight, a 90kg saving over the Murcielago while twisting stiffness has said to have double in comparison with the Murci.

There is also a brand new, mid-mounted, naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12, which boasts 690bhp and 509lb ft. All these digits contribute to the fact that the Aventador is the most powerful Lamborghini ever. 0-62mph is hit in 2.9sec and it stops accelerating at a healthy 217mph - making it the fastest ever Lambo too.

But the use of new mechanicals doesn’t stop there. Both the suspension and gearbox components are completely new. The single-clutch automated manual gearbox sits in front of the engine and has seven speeds but is not double clutch. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t quick at shifting as it can swap cogs in just 50 milliseconds. The suspension is a Formula 1-style inboard pushrod spring and damper set-up, a system previously reserved for the elite hypercars of the world but is now on the supercar radar.

However there is bad news. All 700 units for 2011 have been sold already in a vast array of typically lairy Lamborghini colours. So if you want one be prepared to pay a lot on top of the £201,900,00 (taxes excluded) asking price.

Alfa Romeo 4C Concept

The biggest surprise of the Geneva show was this, the Alfa 4C. This was for two reasons. Firstly we didn’t really know anything about it before the show and secondly it looks like a really good car for Alfa to have in their portfolio.

The 4C is genuinely exciting because it is the first Alfa in a while that looks like it has got a bit of go to compliment the show. Using a lightweight construction that promises a kerb weight of less than 850kg in conjunction with 200+hp 1.7-litre turbocharged petrol engine and twin dry-clutch transmission, this Alfa sounds like it can perform.

What’s better news is that this short, mid-engined, Italian two-seater is near production ready (although some aspects may change *cough* like the ambitious weight figures) and could be with us as early as the beginning next year.

Morgan Threewheeler

Morgan is a massively marmite brand and I am sure that the return of the Threewheeler will cause the same reaction.

Personally, I think that the new Threewheeler with an old-school aircraft paintjob, tan leather and a “bomb release” style start button is something anyone would want in their garage.

The Threewheeler is powered by an 1800cc V-Twin engine from Harley Davidson, which is linked to a Mazda five-speed gearbox so it is not a wholly British affair.

But imagine taking the Morgan out into the country lanes on a hot summer’s day and being able to hit 60mph in 4.5 seconds whilst your derrière is skimming the tarmac. Sound appealing? Well for £30,000 it is yours.

MINI Rocketman

We have to admit that we haven’t been the biggest fan of the recent overweight offerings from the MINI brand. But it seems like they they have gone back to the basics, retracing the route to where the Mini actually got its name from, by going back to being mini.

This is the Rocketman (we won’t put in a cheap-shot Elton John joke but feel free to do it yourself) and it has a lot of design cues and innovations that have some relevance to the origins of an original MINI - unlike an English Tea set in the glovebox from concepts of the past.

To get in to the Rocketman you have to open the double hinged doors which make it easily accessible in tight city car parks and you are exposed to a carbonfibre monocoque chassis. The car is only 3.2m long and 1.9m wide so there isn’t much room inside. MINI has opted for a 3+1 seating arrangement to try and make the most of the minimal space inside. Other cool design features include a new double boot. One half of the boot can be opened like a sock drawer to place smaller items or you can open the whole boot which is incorporated into the roof structure.

We are not sure what is going to power the Rocketman but it is aiming to achieve 94mpg through a lightweight structure, aerodynamic slipperiness and a super frugal motor – probably the upcoming 3 cylinder BMW diesel.

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive

Concept cars act as crystal balls of the automotive industry. They mainly show off future design ideas and are placed in stuffy conference centres on glitzy rotating stands with leggy girls draped on them to see if punters are left with a smile on a face when looking at them or are reaching for a Biro to quickly lodge into their eyes. Well this is BMW’s latest concept, the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive, and it is meant to show off more than design, it is to showcase the future of motoring connectivity.

Wrapped in a two-seat speedster package is what BMW claims to be the new standards in comfort, infotainment (hate that word) and safety. BMW want cars of the future to be one with the driver, a bit like when Neo gets plugged into the Matrix, I think.

Inside the car there is a 3D head up display that incorporates augmented reality to display point-of-interest icons and road information into the driver’s field of vision. The display is fully customizable, and the driver can fine-tune the amount of information and how it’s displayed in front of him or her. Passengers aren’t left out though as they have their own display to check music or navigation options.

To be honest, there are enough screens in my life and shoving two more 3D ones in front of my face isn’t appealing when picking a car. But if that is the price to pay for having Z1 style doors and cool surfacing and great stance, I can live with square eyes.

Weissman Spyder

It seems that the Germans may be getting a bit annoyed with all the Lotus 2-Elevens, Caterhams and Ariel Atoms at trackdays as they have gone to the drastic measure of creating this concept, the Weissman Spyder.

It looks like a proper trackday tool with only the essential set of lights, steering wheel, four wheels and a bit of bodywork to stick a GoPro to. It can accelerate to 62 mph in four seconds and top out at 180 mph where your cheeks will look like a pair Spaniel’s ears. There’s no windscreen, no doors and nothing but a steering wheel-mounted LCD inside to see when to change through the gears so the 420-horsepower front-mounted V8 doesn’t blow up.

Volkswagen Golf Cabrio

Lets keep this simple, shall we? It is a Volkswagen Golf where the roof has been chopped off and replaced with a bit of fabric that it stored in the boot and comes out electronically when it is raining. That is it. People of the world fitted with lady parts will buy it. End.

Modified Mercedes SLS AMGs

It is not just mainstream manufactures who flaunt their latest offerings at motor shows, tuning houses have a go too. Tuning is a bit like fashion, in the way that there are certain trends and styles. This season trend was to completely destroy Mercedes’ SLS AMG.

The two best efforts were by FAB Design and Mansory who have managed to visually defecate on the awesome Gull-wing by adding as much carbon fibre and garish paint jobs as possible. We also have to congratulate Hamann for their ‘Hawk’ effort but their matte pink paintjob just didn’t cut the mustard for us.

Words: Rowan Horncastle