The Geneva Motor Show’s Best Debuts – If Coronavirus Hadn’t Canceled It
(Bloomberg) -- The last time the Geneva Auto Show was canceled, German troops were marching on Europe.
This time, it was microbes. On Feb. 29, Swiss officials preemptively banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an effort to prevent the novel coronavirus before it spread. But automakers still had to scramble to cope with the disappearance of the most glamorous automotive trade show on the calendar.
They responded in different ways: Bentley held an 800-mile driving tour through Scotland and England before unveiling the $2 million Bacalar; Aston Martin released digital assets and live video feeds of its V12 Speedster; Koenigsegg insisted in unveiling its Gemera to an empty convention hall.
Everyone, it seemed, pressed forward with getting out the news of their new cars, one way or another. Here’s a look at the best of them that would have been there in Geneva had Covid-19 not interfered. Odds are most will find their live public debut at the upcoming New York International Auto Show, which has yet to be canceled. In the meantime, enjoy the (digital) show.
Aston Martin V12 Speedster
Aston Martin adds yet another topless supercar to the mix that includes Bentley’s Bacalar and Ferrari’s Monza series. The V12 Speedster comes with 700 horsepower—but no roof and, more insanely, no windshield. (Drivers have to wear helmets and goggles.) The car was developed by the company’s Q by Aston Martin bespoke division in charge of special projects and inspired by the DBS Superleggera and the Vantage. Its body is pure carbon fiber; its interior is chrome, aluminum, and even 3D-printed rubber. Pricing starts at $950,000. Just 88 of them will be made.
BMW i4 Concept
The latest electric sedan aimed squarely at Tesla’s electric Model 3 cars, BMW’s i4 Concept boasts a 530-hp electric motor and can accelerate to 62 mph in roughly 4 seconds. Total driving range will ostensibly reach 372 miles. (Tesla markets the longest-range version of the Model 3 at 322 miles.) Although the i4 is still in the conceptual stage, the production version would join other electric vehicles at BMW, like the long-running i8 and i3, as the automaker makes a massive push into the EV segment. This year BMW will sell 140,000 hybrid and electrified cars in Europe, with about 40,000 being all-electric.
Ferrari’s latest grand touring, or GT, car is the gorgeous Roma. The 611-hp V8 boasts a sprint time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of just under 200 mph. Inside, the cabin provides 2+2 seating and a vertically mounted 8.4-inch touchscreen as well as a separate screen for the front passenger, much like that of other Ferraris like the 812 Superfast. Pricing starts at roughly $225,000.
The latest track-ready “Longtail” model from McLaren has a 755-bhp V8 engine and gets to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. (It’s called “Longtail” after its elongated body shape made by a unique front splitter and large wing on the rear.) It can accelerate 15% faster than its closest predecessor, the $299,000 720S coupe. Pricing for the 765LT has yet to be announced, but expect the MSRP to crest $300,000. Deliveries start in September.
Although the Polestar 2 was seen at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, it was slated to show again this year. It is the more practical, more affordable offering from Volvo’s luxury counterpart, Polestar. Like the BMW i4 Concept, it targets Tesla’s economical Model 3. The 400-plus-hp electric fastback sedan will debut to the market as a 2021 model with prices starting at less than $65,000.
In other Polestar news, and just ahead of the 2020 Geneva show, via live video feed, Polestar also announced the Precept model, a four-door, fully electric grand tourer that looks like a cross between a sport wagon and large touring sedan. That concept is a possible contender against the luxurious Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S.
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
After years of turbocharged flat-four engine power, the new higher-tuned GTS 4.0 versions of the Porsche 718 Boxster and the Porsche Cayman will be powered by a naturally aspirated flat-six engine once again—a very big deal to nostalgic Porsche nerds worldwide. The new engine gets up to 394 hp and 309 pound-feet of torque. The GTS 4.0 comes only with a six-speed manual transmission and a sport exhaust system, two other nods to the Porsche faithful who demand such tactile engagement in their cars. Porsche’s ceramic composite brakes are also available. The Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 will start around $87,000. The Boxster GTS 4.0 will start at just under $90,000. Deliveries will begin by early 2021.
Bentley Mulliner Bacalar
The £1.5 million ($1.9 million) Bentley Bacalar is extremely rare: Bentley is making only 12 of them, each engineered to their individual owner’s taste. They have already sold out. But the roomy two-seater with a 650-bhp W12 engine is just the first of what will be a new portfolio of cars sprung from a nascent division at Bentley called Mulliner Coachbuilt, so you can expect more customizable tourers to come down the pike soon.
As for the Bacalar, you’ll never mistake it for something inferior: It has a sharply defined wide stance, swooping clamshell rear, and Barchetta, or roofless, body. The interior displays a wraparound cockpit and semi-enclosed luggage compartment behind the seats; trimming options include Beluga-colored leather seats, ancient British woods, and natural yarns spun into textiles for the trimming.
Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport is the massive wing on the back. All the better to hit that perfect apex with on the track, right? In fact, this track-suitable version of the Chiron joins the bevy of other track-specified versions of already existing cars, like the McLaren 765LT.
It has the same 1,500-hp quad-turbocharged W16 engine as the standard Chiron, but it’s 110 pounds lighter, which makes for quite a difference in thrust the moment you press the gas pedal. (The lightweight nature springs from pounds lost on the rear wing, wheels, and 3D-printed titanium exhaust, among other things.) The Pur Sport will start production in the fall of 2020 and cost around $3.6 million. Sixty of them will be made.
Pininfarina Battista Anniversario
As the name would suggest, Pininfarina is offering this Battista Anniversario in honor of the nameplate’s 90th birthday, keeping the same overall look but adjusting and updating the forged wheels and aerodynamics including the obtrusive rear wing.
But the real upgrade is that the limited-to-five edition of the birthday Battista uses its four electric motors to reach 1,900 hp and a marginally faster top speed (217 mph) than the $2.2 million regular model. Pininfarina claims this one will have a sub-2-second zero-to-60-mph sprint, which would make it faster than a Formula One car. Each of the anniversary electric hypercars is totally hand-built and hand-painted—and costs $2.9 million.
Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne
If you’re wondering, the unusual exterior look of Hispano-Suiza’s limited-edition sibling to the $1.7 million Carmen comes from copper-colored accents and carbon fiber exposed under a gloss clearcoat.
The car comes with 1,100 hp and the ability to reach 62 mph in 2.6 seconds. Its powertrain uses an 80-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion-polymer battery pack with a range that can reach 249 miles.
These are now standard numbers for the crop of very expensive electric supercars being touted at auto shows worldwide—but this one is the most polarizing of the lot, with sharply raked front and rear fenders, a nearly square front grille, and disc-like wheels.
Hispano-Suiza will make just five of them at $1.84 million each. Deliveries begin in 2022.
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