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Tops and Flops at Geneva

Tops and Flops at Geneva


Lamborghini Aventador J – We may as well get off to a flyer here and start with Lamborghini’s Aventador J. This kind of car is exactly what Lamborghini need, it’s lairy to look at and completely different to anything else at the show. The standard Aventador and Gallardo are good to drive and great to look at, but I sometimes wonder if they are a mite too sensible. The Aventador J is a one off, but it’ll appear on plenty of bedroom walls, and that is exactly what Lamborghini’s should be about.

Mercedes SL63 – I am a big Mercedes fan, especially when they are fitted with the ‘63’ engine, which has one of the best exhaust notes this side of a Porsche Carrera GT. The latest car now has 557bhp and has a reduced kerb weight. I can’t wait to try it. A new SL is always big news, and when it weighs less than the outgoing one that makes it a ‘Geneva top’ in my book.

Peugeot 208 GTI concept – I’m putting the little Peugeot in here because I want it to be good. Peugeot’s ho hatches have been in the doldrums for a while now, with each one failing to live up to the level of expectation that the 205 GTI has left them with. I have high hopes for this one though, Peugeot has been showing signs of a return to form with the RCZ and 200bhp sounds about right. Let’s just hope this can come close to challenging Renault Sport’s offerings.

Renault Zoe – The Zoe is production ready at last, which is great news for anyone wanting a cheap, usable electric car. It costs £13,650 in the UK, assuming you take advantage of the government’s £5,000 grant. It also has a range of 130 miles, which is the largest range available from an all-electric car. This is the first electric car that I could see myself driving.

Subaru BRZ – Subaru is known for producing four wheel drive, turbo charged ‘B’ road blasters, so this normally aspirated, rear wheel drive coupe is a break from the norm. That said, Subaru has always produced cars that handle well and this should be no exception. Toshio Masuda is Subaru’s product planning manager and he said “you will be surprised by just how good the handling and steering feel is.” If that isn’t a reason to be excited by this car, then I don’t know what is.

Bentley Mulsanne Mulliner driving specification – I like big Bentley’s, and I like the way the standard Mulsanne drives. You would be driven in a Rolls-Royce, but you’d drive yourself in this. The V8 is lovely, and the new 8 speed gearbox works beautifully with it. The Mulliner driving specification gives Mulsanne drivers a new ‘sport’ function which improves steering accuracy and body control, you also get new 21” light aluminum alloys. I suspect that most Mulsanne customers will tick this box and I won’t blame them if they do. I can’t wait to try it.

BMW M550d – The world is changing, and BMW’s M division is changing with it. The M550d uses a triple-turbo 3.0d with 376bhp and 545lb/ft. You can have it as a four-wheel-drive and as an estate so the Swiss are going to love it. The fact that it has a Co2 rating of only 165g/km, exactly the same as a 535d, is icing on the cake. It’s just a pity that it isn’t coming to the UK.

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta – We’ve all seen the video’s now, and the new F12 Berlinetta looks and sounds great. The numbers also stack up pretty well, it has 730bhp and weighs 70kg less than the outgoing 599GTB which means that will not only be fast in a straight line, but it should also handle well having already lapped Fiorano in 1m 23s, making it the fastest road car ever to lap the circuit. That it is also shorter, narrower and lower than the outgoing car is a bonus.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake – I am delighted that Jaguar has expanded their model line-up to include an estate car once again, especially as it is based on the excellent XF. I am also pleased because Land Rover contributes significantly more profit than Jaguar, so TATA investing the money into producing the Sportbrake is great news for Jaguar, hopefully it will take Jaguar closer to being an equal contributor to the financial pot.



Bentley EXP 9 F concept – It is not just that I don’t like the idea of a Bentley 4x4, indeed I have come to accept the need for car manufacturers to branch out. However, in this case Bentley has made a real hash of it. The EXP 9 F is ghastly. The traditional Bentley styling cues are all there, but in this case they simply don’t work. Bentley has always been an arbiter for style and taste, but the EXP 9 F is anything but that.

Range Rover Evoque convertible – Sometimes manufacturers go a step too far in their search to break from the norm and the search for a new customer demographic. The Evoque convertible is a good example of this. That Land Rover claimed the standard Evoque was styled by ‘posh spice’ was a difficult pill to take, but the convertible is a step too far. Land Rover products have always been sold on their functionality. This feels like too much style over substance. I’d be embarrassed to be seen driving one.

Mini Clubvan Concept – Retro chic is all very well, to a point, and I think Mini reached that point a little while ago. The Mini Clubvan at least gains a little more space in the back, with 1200 litres compared to the Clubman’s 920 litres. However, that still isn’t all that much space, and any self respecting carpenter won’t be seen dead in this. I’m afraid it made me cringe slightly and that can’t be a good thing.

Volkswagen Cross Coupe concept – This will not be a terrible car, in fact it’ll be quite a good one, I’m sure of that. It will come with a new plug-in diesel-electric hybrid system and VW reckon it’ll do 157mpg. That’s great, but I’m sure the Range Rover Evoque won’t be far behind and the Brit looks a whole lot more stylish. I’m not sure what VW should have done, but I wish this was just a little bit prettier.


The small changes that I hope will make a big difference:

Rolls Royce Phantom Series II – ZF’s 8-speed gearbox is one of the best around, so it’s good news that the Rolls-Royce Phantom is getting it. There is no more power, but more ratios should make the Rolls-Royce a fair bit sharper, as will the new rear differential. The improved economy figures are unlikely to effect the average Phantom customer, but it’s nice that they are there none-the-less.

There are plenty more new cars being shown at Geneva and I’m interested to know what you’d put in the different sections?

Aventador JAventador J
V 12
397 cu in
Top Speed
186 mph
7, Automatic
Maximum power
700 hp
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost


My personal favorite at the show was the Zoe. Finally, an electric car that is real consumer option. I hope this move from Renault puts the pressure on other manufacturers to do the same! And agree 10...
09.03.2012 @ 11:23
I have to say Ferrari did really well. Lamborghini had a great looking car also. I think overall, it's a really good motor show, apart from the Bentley SUV.
09.03.2012 @ 16:22
I actually kinda like that Cross Coupe. I mean, if it looks exactly like that when it hits production. But the car I look forward to is the SL63. Finally, a lighter SL.
09.03.2012 @ 16:25


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