Your detailed car-by-car analysis of the 2018 Geneva Motor Show
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The 2018 Geneva Motor Show runs from the 8th to the 18th of March. It's one of the largest events of its kind in the world, allowing car manufacturers to show off their latest products and innovations, as well as being a traditional soapbox for big automotive announcements.
But while the public days run from the 8th of March to the 18th, they're preceded by two 'press days'. It's on these two days that most of the main media launches take place – grand unveilings and debuts of brand new models, hitherto unseen.
Most of the planet's car brands will be there, from the tiniest specialist firms up to giants like the Volkswagen Group. Here's an alphabetical summary of what we know (and what we think) will be at the show.
In 2017, Aston Martin dominated the show with several hugely impressive launches. These included the frankly epic Valkyrie hypercar (née 'AM-RB 001') and their very own real-life Q branch. This year we're expecting to see the new Vantage up close, which is a bit of a step down in terms of price but hugely important to Gaydon – the outgoing Vantage was Aston Martin's most successful model ever.
The main event on Audi's stand is the fifth-gen A6. This executive motorway prowler will be available in both estate and saloon forms, and judging by some of the spy shots will have more aggressive styling than ever. The incumbent A6 is an incredibly competent machine, but is starting to feel a bit old; the new model is likely to borrow heavily from the new range-topping A8 limousine.
Next to the saloons will be the Q8, a full-sized (read: enormous) SUV roughly the same size as a Range Rover. It's likely to compete with parts of the Jaguar Land Rover fleet as well as punching up: the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Maserati Levante and Porsche Cayenne are all likely to be sometime rivals to upmarket versions of this Audi. An SQ8 is anticipated, though not at launch.
Audi is likely to bring a production version of its long-awaited all-electric SUV, too. This will be one of the first proper attacks on the Tesla Model X from an established premium car manufacturer, and will position Audi in direct rivalry with Jaguar's i-Pace at some point later in the year.
We'll have actually driven the Bentayga V8 by the time the Geneva Motor Show rolls around, but this British brand is expected to add a hybrid version of its first SUV too. This will be the bunny-hugging brother of the brutish diesel Bentayga, a distant cousin of the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid.
Bentley's wonderful EXP 12 Speed 6e has been around for a while but we wouldn't be surprised if it was at Geneva. It actually won a Good Design Award in January, and we can see why – it looks tremendous. And it's about time Bentley got closer to a full EV.
It's only about 400 miles from Munich to Geneva, and we expect a number of BMW models to make that journey. The M8 is likely to get an outing in some form or other (though probably not the coupé we've already seen) and will serve as a preview of production metal to come. Part of us hopes it'll be a drop-top or a shooting brake.
The X4 could be another of the Bavarian debuts at this year's Geneva Motor Show. It's another of those slightly bloated Beemers that sits half way between a saloon and an SUV, while retaining the aesthetic niceties of neither. But it's sure to be a commercial success when it goes on sale later in 2018.
Who doesn't want to see the Chiron again? Despite having been unveiled many years ago, the 'fastest production car in the world' has yet to actually prove its worth in terms of sheer velocity. But it's still an amazing thing to look at, and we look forward to the possibility of a special edition being unveiled at Palexpo this year.
Citroen and Peugeot will be attending the Geneva Motor Show; DS, Opel and Vauxhall will not. The huge expense of appearing at this sort of event means that PSA is quite understandably reluctant to fork out for five stands, especially when brands like Vauxhall don't have much going on at the moment.
The main entrant here is the Berlingo. This used to be a profoundly uncool vehicle anywhere except rural France, but it's gradually being given international credibility with chunky styling borrowed from the C3 Aircross. We never thought we'd be excited about a Berlingo, but that's what's happening.
There's nothing solid yet, but some loose fluffy details of Ferrari's input at Geneva have been circulating. There'll be an upgraded version of the 488 known unofficially as the GTO, but details on that model are also being kept under wraps.
The Portofino is going to be the most interesting car there anyway. It's the 'entry-level' Fezza and is a colossal improvement on the outgoing California, which people grumbled about but which was already pretty good.
The sheer range of vehicles that Fiat sells is a spectacle in its own right. While we aren't necessarily predicting a brand new model, we're struck by just how many relatively competent ones are already on offer. The Fiat 500 has dominated its segment for a decade, the Panda is terrific, the Tipo is cheap, and even the Fullback pickup truck is alright. The only car we're not excited to see anymore is the Punto, which has not aged well – it just scored zero stars in Euro NCAP testing.
As for fresh metal, we anticipate a few trim upgrades and possibly a 'sporty' version of the Tipo. This is already a good-looking car, and even a mildly souped-up version would be very welcome indeed.
We didn't much like the Edge when we drove it, and nor did any of the other British auto titles. That could be because it's just not a UK-friendly car, or because it's lacking an ST Line trim level. Ford UK are clearly hoping for the latter, as the ST Line version of this SUV will be unveiled at Palexpo this year.
The jacked-up Ka+ Active looks quite fun, though what we reckon this model is crying out for is safety and comfort kit rather than a raised ride height. It doesn't even get an inch of lift but is apparently set up for rough surfaces, and gets a few bits of black plastic cladding over the wheel arches. This could be a fun car.
There's an outside chance that Ford will unveil the new Focus at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. This will be the fourth generation of the ubiquitous family hatchback, which has been consistently one of Britain's favourite cars since its introduction two decades ago. We've heard rumours each way about this so don't hold your breath, Ford fans.
Honda's all-electric concepts stole the show at Frankfurt a few months ago, most notably the Urban EV. This boxy little car clearly drew on the Mk1 Golf and the Mk1 Civic, and we hope that those same retro-futuristic design vibes inform whatever Honda brings to Geneva. We're looking forward to seeing the Urban EV again, too.
This Japanese brand will also be making a song and dance of its sporting machinery. Expect a Civic Type R TCR debut ahead of the inaugural WTCR season, plus some bikes (MotoGP and World Superbikes) and hopefully the CRF50 Rally.
The Santa Fe has always had a ridiculous name but as a model it's been getting progressively more serious with each generation. This will be its fourth, and we're expecting great things from this no-nonsense Korean family chariot.
More excitingly, the Kona will be shown off in its all-electric configuration. This little SUV met with lukewarm praise, the market and motoring press weary from a near-relentless procession of anodyne B-segment soft-roaders, but it'll be a real contender when it gets an EV powertrain.
Even more excitingly than that, Hyundai will be bringing its Nexo hydrogen fuel cell car to Geneva as well. The many advantages to hydrogen FCVs have been covered at length, but the Nexo represents the second generation of H2-powered (relatively) mass-market passenger cars. It's coming to the UK in right-hand-drive next year.
The i-Pace is probably the most eagerly awaited British car of 2018. That's partly because it's a significant step towards zero-emission SUVs, but mainly because JLR is such a proficient hype generator. This will be a high-performance car, with a 0-62mph time of under five seconds, and its battery-electric powertrain represents a significant change for the Jaguar brand.
We like the Jeep Wrangler. It's not a car we recommend very often, or indeed at all, but we're pleased that this oddball is still being produced. After all, it's pretty much one-of-a-kind, and unless we're much mistaken is the only five-seat convertible currently for sale.
This chunky off-roader is in Europe for the first time, and while we've never been particularly keen on the model, it's still Jeep's halo car the world over. It looks basically the same as it has for years – a little bit silly.
Perhaps the most significant improvement to the Ceed is its name. It's lost its apostrophe, which is a huge step forward in the de-stupidifying of car names. While the up! remains typographically awkward, we feel as though the Proceed (officially 'Pro_cee'd') was the pinnacle of ridiculous model designations. The new Ceed is apparently so-named because it's for the Community of Europe with European Design. The car is indeed made in Slovakia and was designed in Frankfurt, though we're still not convinced about the name.
Either way, this is the third generation of Kia's family hatchback and looks set to compete directly with the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf when it arrives in the UK either late this year or early 2019.
The other Italian supercar brand has recently unveiled the Urus, a slightly clumsily-named late-entrant to the SUV scene. It's poised to become a brand bestseller and, despite its price tag, probably a familiar sight in Central London and the Emirates.
We're not the target demographic for this car, which is why we think it looks a bit naff, but there's clearly demand for the 'super-SUV'. The main benchmark in this segment is arguably the Bentley Bentayga, but there are similarly high-sided vehicles on their way from Ferrari and Rolls-Royce too.
The biggest news is the SV Coupe, an ultra-luxurious limited-edition two-door version of the Range Rover. JLR's 4x4 products have always been fairly upmarket but as every other luxury brand begins to produce SUVs, the British firm is losing its USP.
Land Rover is only going to build 999 of these cars. As well as a done-up interior the SV Coupe will come with a 5.0-litre V8 and a commensurate 0-100km/h time of around five seconds.
Below the RX and NX is a gap in the Lexus line-up. We're not sure what the Japanese brand has lined up to occupy it, but the smart money is on the UX Concept unveiled in Paris a couple of years ago. Lexus actually trademarked the UX name back then, which leads us to assume that the new model will actually inherit the same designation.
We also think it'll be based on the Toyota C-HR, an SUV that we rather liked. That's a new-ish hybrid platform and Toyota will be using it across both brands for the next few years, and frankly this is a segment we're keen to see Lexus expand into; its recent saloons and performance cars have been a trifle underwhelming.
Mazda unveiled some rather exciting concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show a few months back. Both the Vision Coupe and the Kai concept are thought to be precursors to a new-generation design language for this Japanese brand, with the Kai apparently a preview of the upcoming Mazda 3 hatchback. Both are expected to be in Europe this March.
In terms of production models, we're most excited about the new Mazda 6 estate, which gets updates already shown to us on the regular Mazda 6 saloon. This will be a world debut for the wagon. There's also a chance that Mazda will bring examples of its SKYACTIV-X engine tech, too.
The McLaren Senna will make its motor show debut at Geneva this year. Costing three quarters of a million quid and reaching 100km/h in just 2.8 seconds, this car is at the cutting edge of British automotive engineering. Its controversial use of Senna's name and the strange, bulbous design are two main sticking points, but this hardcore Macca is as close to a real pin-up car as we've had for a while.
We think the new A-Class is one of the most striking hatchbacks in years, and we hope that it heralds a new era of more exciting Mercedes-Benz designs. Inside is a big improvement too, with two monitors dominating the dashboard. We'll be interested to see how the world reacts to the changes to this model – it's changed a lot since it first wobbled into the world in the Nineties.
The C-Class is a mainstay of British motoring and we anticipate a facelift of this endlessly popular model, as well as the inclusion of some new tech on the inside. There'll also be a refreshed Maybach S-Class, which is one of the most luxurious cars in the world. And in terms of performance, we're excited by the prospect of the Mercedes-AMG GT4, a four-wheel-drive V8-powered monster set to compete with the RS7 and Porsche Panamera. Expert a top speed of nearly 200mph.
Is this the ultimate Brexitmobile? Mini will include more Union Jack motifs on its cars (as an option) following a facelift of the range, which includes hatchback and convertible models. This is an update to the range rather than anything revolutionary but we're slightly surprised that Mini is getting more twee, while BMWs are becoming increasingly ferocious.
The Eclipse Cross has begun to arrive on British shores, and the Outlander PHEV remains one of the leading cars of its type. Mitsubishi has always been a bit of an outsider here and lacks the cache of some equivalent European brands, but its no-nonsense product design has earned it a firm following.
We expect to see the e-Evolution concept car make its European debut after its unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show a few months ago. This is an all-electric SUV with an off-road bent, and yes, of course, suicide doors.
Plucky British underdog Morgan will be bringing a brand new toy to Geneva. As well as a 50th anniversary special edition version of the Plus 8, which is losing its BMW V8 engine, there's a race-inspired model called the Aero GT. Morgan describes this as a "gloves off" variant of the Aero 8, which is coming to the end of its life. Only eight of these machines will be made.
Nissan converted their 370Z into a snowmobile for the Chicago Auto Show, so frankly if they bring anything less than an NV200 Combi hydrofoil then we'll be disappointed. We do know that the Japanese brand will debut its concept Formula E livery, but are hoping for some more exciting news too.
Photo / Ted Baghurst
The Peugeot 508 has sold in the low thousands over here, which is a shame. It's a comfortable, understated French saloon with everything going for it, but it just never made financial sense in a marketplace dominated by better-value rivals. We anticipate a new 508 to move platforms to the one shared by the 3008 and 5008, and for an estate version to be made available.
One of the more exciting car of the year so far has been the Volkswagen Up GTI, so we're pleased to see Renault applying similar principles to its little Zoe electric car. This remains one of the easiest EVs to recommend, and it gets even more impressive on the second-hand market. But the addition of a mildly warm model will only broaden this appeal.
A facelifted Fabia will be the most important car on the Skoda stand. Brits buy around 20,000 of these Polo rivals, representing around a quarter of UK sales, though how that will change as the Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs gain traction remains to be seen.
There'll be a range-topping L&K version of the Kodiaq revealed at Geneva too, as well as a 'Vision X' concept that seems to suffer from every show car cliché imaginable.
A lot has changed in the twenty years since Subaru's rallying heyday, but from time to time the brand alludes to its special stage heritage through the medium of concept cars. We're particularly excited about the Viziv tourer, which apparently previews a possible WRX estate car, and by any other futuristic oddities brought to Geneva by this Japanese brand.
The Supra returns. One of the definitive Japanese coupes is being reincarnated this year and next, destined to sit above the GT86. We've seen some spy shots and it looks brilliant, though it'll almost definitely be a hybrid – expect widespread grumbling about a lack of a manual option.
One of the perennial features of European motor shows is Volkswagen's ID concept. Our particular favourite was the ID Buzz, an all-electric reimagination of the iconic VW bus, and we'd love to see it in Geneva.
Apart from that, the Volkswagen production vehicle range is pretty complete. That includes the GTI sub-brand, which consists of the Golf, Polo and now the tiny Up souped-up city car. Expect to see all of them at the show.
As Volvo gets closer to modernising its entire range, attention is drawn to the V60. This small estate will sit just above the V40 hatchback and below the V90 wagon in the Swedish manufacturer's model line-up when it goes on sale later in the year. We're extremely excited by this model, as everything else Volvo has done for the past few years has been wonderful. Plus, we've seen the leaked photographs all over the internet...
- Telegraph UK