Blog: Live from the Geneva motor show: part 2 (1st press day)
Glenn Brooks | 6 March 2012
Tesla is promising a late 2012 production start-up for the Model S
Volkswagen brings out the big guns, Bentley blings up the Q7 and Lamborghini's Aventador roadster gets the heart of my inner five-year old racing.
8am: After a long jam on the autoroute finally cleared (it somehow just vanished a few metres after the border crossing from France) it was a pleasure to be greeted by the efficiency and friendliness of the press office staff here at the Palais des Expositions. This is how all international motor shows should be: a quick scan of my pass barcode and I'm in, downstairs to the already crowded coat-check (it's 4C outside) to be greeted by a smiling assistant. I'm ready for work.
9am: The first walk around is done and so time for some quick observations.
- Chevrolet and Opel/Vauxhall, having told us all for so long that the Volt and Ampera have separate identities, are newly bathing in the glow of a shared Car of the Year award. Let's hope they each have more luck with what they're marketing as an EV than Nissan Europe has had with the Leaf (ie Nissan struggled to break 1,000 sales in the UK, the region's largest market for such models in 2011.
- Volkswagen pulled the covers off all its Up design studies and pre-production variants but, almost lost amongst the thumping bass and smiles and waves by Ferdinand Piech, Martin Winterkorn and Wolfgang Porsche in the front row of the presentation, was another world premiere, the Polo BlueGT. This one has something big under its bonnet: the first application of the group's EA211 series engine. This new powertrain family has been designed especially for MQB platform vehicles.
- And the first MQB vehicle was a few stands' walk away at Audi (after I managed to eventually avert my gaze as I lingered quite a while at Lamborghini and its eye wateringly desirable new Aventador roadster in cherry red). The interesting thing about the A3 is its launch as a three-door no sign of the Sportback as yet [that's what they did with the last one - ed]. Word is a new four-door sedan should follow at either the New York or Beijing shows next month. In which case the Sportback seems likely for Paris in September.
- The Bentley SUV concept, the EXP9F, looks as though the coachbuilder commissioned to create it was given an existing Audi Q7 and told to rebody it with maximum bling. That's not meant to be critical - Volkswagen knows where its brands make their money and if buyers in markets in the Gulf states, China and certain parts of the US want lots of shiny bits and are prepared to pay loads for them, then why not?
- Still with VW Group, the SEAT Toledo concept looks great in the metal, to my eyes at least, and the boot is huge. If you loved the generation before last but can't get on with the looks of the present Toledo, chances are you'll like the next one. I seem to have a thing for cars that look like sedans but are in fact hatchbacks: the Skoda Superb five-door still looks terrific, even as it approaches mid-life (its first facelift now seems likely for Paris, having failed to appear here).
- I'm tapping this out from the Subaru stand, which has the Impreza centre stage (accompanied by a banner slogan which declares itself to be 'Proud of Boxer'). So much for nonsensical English, what matters more is that no-one can tell me when the diesel engine will be launched: certainly there is no sign of it here.
Time to go and see the lower floor for the rest of the stands but thought I'd attach a pic of the interior of the Tesla Model S Beta, which the company revealed to the media in the US in the last quarter of 2011. Just have a look at the size of those touchscreens. Perfect for iPad addicts.