Mercedes-AMG GT Coupé, looks like a fastback but is a sedan

Mercedes-AMG GT Coupé, looks like a fastback but is a sedan

Geneva 2018 had the usual collection of hypercars, although many of them are powered by the energy stored in batteries rather than in petrol tanks. Robotic taxis were there too with Volkswagen cheekily painting its already seen SEDRIC in the colours typical of a US schoolbus. Why then for a show rich in electric vehicle world premieres were so many of them overshadowed by new petrol and diesel models? 

You can't argue with the fact that the Jaguar I-Pace made quite a splash, even though it had been revealed online during the previous week. Might this be the first electric crossover to make money? That we do not know. Not only does Tata Motors not break out P&L for Jaguar, instead merging its numbers with those for Land Rover but as of now, no-one knows how many I-Paces can be sold in any given 12-month period.

JLR, never a company to miss an opportunity to maximise the pricing of cars and their options and accessories, is asking sky-high numbers for the electric Jag. In the British market, the cheapest variant will cost a minimum of GBP63,495 before the electrified vehicle grant.

Jaguar isn't saying how many I-Paces Magna Steyr is contracted to build or how long the life cycle is planned to be, but one presumes that the agreement is flexible for both sides. Examining Renault-Nissan, Tesla and BMW Group's experiences, monumental levels of spending have been required and the RoI has been disappointing. JLR's decision to limit its risk by not outlaying too much compared to other car makers is entirely understandable.

The other main product from Jaguar Land Rover at Geneva was the first appearance of the Range Rover SV Coupé, a two-door version of the L405 RR. You can bet that a series production successor will go into production a year or so after the next Range Rover (L460) appears in 2021. To bridge the gap between the last of the planned 999 SV Coupés being built and the appearance of a successor, Special Vehicles might well build a run of convertibles. The price before options will be guaranteed to exceed a quarter of a million pounds. Astonishingly, there is now a Land Rover which costs only ten thousand pounds less than a Rolls-Royce Wraith: SV Coupé pricing starts at an ambitious GBP240,000.

From such dizzying heights to the reality of segments where most European car buyers will be looking for their next new vehicle. Kia Motors Europe introduced what will be its most competitive challenge yet to the Golf at Geneva's press day. That it also showed an estate demonstrates that not all manufacturers see SUVs and crossovers taking over from C segment wagons.

Insiders speak of Ceed mild hybrid, EV and possibly PHEV versions to come, along with a crossover and a shooting brake.

The Ceed and Ceed SW look more elegant than the outgoing cee'd. Insiders speak of mild hybrid, EV and possibly PHEV versions to come in 2019, along with a crossover and a shooting brake. KME is clearly very serious about its intention of selling 500,000 vehicles in Europe this year. It is already ahead of Nissan in Germany and the UK after two months.

Nissan Europe had a very strangely muted Geneva show. As noted in the Management Briefing preview feature, the Juke is beyond its Best Before date and much of the reason for the brand's sales collapse in major markets.

Saving money by delaying new models is an odd tactic and it is hoped for Nissan's sake that it learns this lesson and doesn't also intend to allow the Qashqai to grow old. The other thing which Nissan Europe needs to change is its reliance on two models, or in fact, now, just the one.

Another Japanese brand in trouble across Europe (still) is Honda. What more is there to say on this topic? The CR-V will be two years old by the time it arrives here, which also applied to the current Jazz and while it wasn't quite that long, to the Civic too (which isn't selling too well but at least it's more visible than the rarely seen Nissan Pulsar).

Honda had just one world debut at Geneva, which was a half-hearted looking crossover version of the Jazz called X-Road. The CR-V Hybrid we saw a year ago at the Shanghai motor show and in any case, it won't reach Europe until "early 2019", according to HME. Unlike the existing but outdated CR-V, the next model, both petrol and petrol-electric, will be imported from Japan. That could well mean it's finally time to make some decisions about Honda's powertrain and vehicle manufacturing operations, some of which are currently idled.

Honda has been an admirable investor in the UK but its patience must surely be strained due to the exhausting procrastinations of the present government over Brexit. South Marston (Swindon) would be an ideal location to build electric cars, with the Urban EV in particular having the look of a winner about it. Yet how can a manufacturer which now commands less than one per cent of the regional market make major spending decisions?

One of very few bright spots for the brand is the UK, where sales rose slightly compared to 2017 in February but only to a combined 6,241 cars for the year-to-date. In Germany, Honda fell by 12.5 per cent in February and has a rather sad 3,735 YtD registrations total. How long can this level of pain be endured? 

Porsche presented one of the surprises of the Geneva show by revealing the Mission E Cross Turismo concept.

From an embattled OEM to one which is thriving. Porsche (which sells more cars in Germany than Honda) presented one of the surprises of the Geneva show by revealing the Mission E Cross Turismo concept. The company has always maintained that the production version of the Mission E prototype was to be one of several electric vehicles so now it seems as though the second model will be a crossover. Production at the same Zuffenhausen factory should commence in the final quarter of 2021 on the same line as the Mission E, which some say might be known as the E-Sport Turismo upon its release in November next year.

Another marque within the Volkswagen AG fold had one of the most important debutantes at the show, that being Audi with the A6. As expected, it looked for all the world like the sedan version of the A7 Sportback that it is. The long-wheelbase car should soon be shown at AutoChina in Beijing, while the Avant as well as the S6 and RS 6 Avant may appear at other events by year-end.

Audi tried to gatecrash Jaguar's electric crossover party by having examples of the e-tron quattro driving around the city before and on press day. There were also a couple of prototypes on the stand as the A6 was presented to journalists, all of these cars being covered in e-tron stickers as a form of mild disguise. There is uncertainty over what the car's name will be, with e-tron quattro having formerly been presumed to be what it shall be called. Unless it leaks out before then, the production model is to be shown at an event on 30 August. This will take place in Brussels, as the car is to be built at Forest, Audi's factory in a suburb of the Belgian capital.

Of remaining divisions of the Volkswagen empire, Bentley chose this show to display two new turbocharged powertrains for the Bentayga - a 550PS 4.0-litre petrol V8 and a petrol-electric 3.0-litre V6 PHEV. Even though the second of these is a plug-in, Bentley calls this variant the Bentayga Hybrid. FCA does the same with the Pacifica Hybrid, another car-with-a-cord.

SEAT is on a roll at the moment, its sales rising in most of its main markets. The brand had no world debuts instead choosing to give Cupra, its new brand, a public outing after a media preview a few weeks back. Will there be enough demand for the 300PS Cupra Ateca, the first model? Antonino Labate, the new brand's director of Strategy, Business development and Operations explains the thinking behind Cupra to our Mike V. You can read his interview here.

The next major news for SEAT should be the debut of the Tarraco, an additional SUV which is due on sale in the final quarter of this year. It will become the Spanish company's largest model and should also be the replacement for the Alhambra. Volkswagen will build the Tarraco in Wolfsburg on the same line as the Tiguan and Tiguan Allspace. Production is due to commence in October.

After the Tarraco comes a second generation Mii in 2019. For the first time there will be an EV version of the little SEAT to supplement the Volkswagen e-up! which is presently the only electrified model of the up!, Mii and Škoda Citigo triplets. The e-Mii will be followed right at the end of next year by a new León.

Škoda too is gaining ever more SUVs. Next month at AutoChina in Beijing we should see the Kamiq, a 4,390mm long SUV.

Škoda too is gaining ever more SUVs. Next month at AutoChina in Beijing we should see the Kamiq, a 4,390mm long SUV. Leaked images show it looking a lot like the (4,382mm long) Karoq. It is to be manufactured by the SAIC Volkswagen joint venture and will be unique to China, reportedly going on sale there from June.

The other SUV in Škoda's future will be smaller than the Karoq/Kamiq but as yet it has no official name. The general silhouette can be seen in the Vision X concept, which was the company's major exhibit at Geneva. The Volkswagen Group will probably delay its Czech subsidiary's entry to the segment until mid-2019, so as to give the Volkswagen T-Cross a good chance of establishing itself. Given that the Karoq is the same size as the Nissan Qashqai, the B-SUV will probably be sized between 3.9 and 4.2m. It may well be sub-4m so as to be competitive in the Indian market.

As part of its press conference at the Palais des Expositions, Toyota Motor Europe made much of the fact that it intends to phase out diesel engines from its regional line-up, although this does not include the Hilux, Land Cruisers and Proace. In truth, such has been the success of hybrid powertrains that this failed to shock anyone. The majority of diesel passenger cars sold by TME in recent years have had their engines bought it from BMW anyway. 

The other big news from Toyota was the Supra. After what has been an especially long wait, the latest model still hasn't been seen as a production car, TMC choosing to display it dressed up in motorsports garb. Perhaps we will finally see it at the New York auto show?

The littlest Lexus, which isn't really that small, might well replace the CT 200h although that is speculative. The new UX looks like no other model in the premium C-SUV segment and may do especially well in Europe. Sales should commence in Japan during October to be followed by the US, China and Europe in December. This 4,495mm long rival for the Audi Q2, BMW X1, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLA is closely related to the Toyota C-HR but is 15cm longer. They share a wheelbase dimension and the (TN)GA-C architecture. Toyota Motor East Japan may be charged with building the UX but that isn't confirmed. It would sense though - Japanese build of the C-HR takes place at the division's Iwate factory.

HMG had a lot to announce in conjunction with the motor show and not just concerning Kia Motors Europe. Hyundai too had world premieres, with an electric Kona being one and the new Santa Fe the other. The first of these is said to have a range of up to 470km and there will be two electrified versions of the larger SUV. That won't mean a Santa Fe EV but rather a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.

Behind the scenes, Renault was, and is, said to be in discussions over the sale of the French State's tranche of the company.

HME's concept at Geneva was a stunner and much admired by various heads of Design departments who were seen eyeing up its lines during the course of press day. And that name? Le Fil Rouge means the common thread, which is what the car is meant to herald: a new direction for how the brand's vehicles will increasingly look.

Another company which intends to evolve the styling direction of its mainstream models is Renault. The first of these should be the next generation Clio, which we'll see at the Paris show in October. There might be a major facelift for the Mégane at the same time, although that change may not take place until 2019, which would mean the next Geneva show. At this year's event, there weren't any new models, the Zoe gaining more power, a motor show debut for the Alliance and Daimler's 1,330cc petrol engine and the Ez-Go robo-minibus concept being the main news.

Behind the scenes, Renault was, and is, said to be in discussions over the sale of the French State's tranche of the company. Will Nissan Motor be allowed to buy it? Will Groupe Renault and its larger Japanese partner finally merge? This could yet become one of the bigger industry stories of 2018 although given what has already taken place in regard to Li Shufu and Daimler, who knows what else might eventuate before the year is out?

PSA's decision to prevent Opel from having a stand at Geneva will not have done much to motivate Opel and Vauxhall's long-suffering loyal workforces. Perhaps yet more harsh medicine is required? Is that really the answer though? After so very many years of never ending pressure from GM to lower costs which must have destroyed the goodwill of vast numbers of talented people - how to put a price on that? - one wonders if investing and encouraging would not be the best way forward.

There was no invisibility for Peugeot and Citroen. The lead brand was given a giant lion sculpture for its stand to draw attention to the 508 fastback but there were no vanity projects on display at Citroen, where the Berlingo, C4 Cactus facelift and renamed C4 Picasso and Grand Picasso (now SpaceTourers instread of Picassos) were novelties. Things have been improving for both brands across Europe as a whole, while at last Citroen is on the rise in China. Not so for DS.

There is much hope being pinned on the DS 7 Crossback which will soon be manufactured at the CAPSA plant in Shenzhen as well as in France. PSA will be greatly relieved to see DS sales shooting up (from a very low base) in Germany during February, so perhaps the worst is now behind this embattled brand. It's a pity that the 508 SW is many months away; its debut is as far off as the Paris show in October.

It would be an event in itself for Fiat Chrysler to have a major new model at any European model show such is the company's belief in keeping vehicles in production for many, many more years than is normal for other brands. So it was that the only brands with anything which could loosely be called new cars were Ferrari and Abarth. These were a faster variant of the eight-year old 488 (it started life as the 458 Italia in late 2009) and a special edition model. The second of these is the 124 GT. It has been created by giving the Spider a carbon fibre roof, some new wheels and a couple of other tiny changes.

There was no mention at Geneva of what powertrains would be available in the new Jeeps Wrangler and facelifted Cherokee - updated diesels for European countries or not? And after all the previous grand announcements about seven billion euro being invested in Alfa Romeo, still the eight-year Giulietta remains on sale and there were just some limited editions for the Stelvio and Giulia.

The statement may have been a deliberate attempt at publicity ahead of Aston Martin seeking funds via an IPO.

In a few short months we shall hear what future products are being planned for FCA's various brands. With so much of the content of the current plan having been rendered inaccurate over the last four and three quarter years, sceptics are already wondering how much attention should be paid to what is said at the Investors' Briefing in June.

Some are also wondering what is going on at Aston Martin after the announcements made at Geneva. Torsten Müller Ötvös, the head of Rolls-Royce, even made the claim that the firm does not understand what luxury buyers want. This was in retaliation for a perceived slight after quotes appeared in an Aston media release attributed to AM's Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman. R-R's CEO went further, telling the Financial Times that Reichman's statement may have been a deliberate attempt at publicity ahead of Aston Martin seeking to raise funds via an IPO.

"Lagonda has no need to occupy a huge amount of road space or make an ostentatious wealth statement," Reichman stated. "It is like comparing Concorde to the first class cabin of a conventional airliner. By ditching traditional architecture like Parthenon grilles and massive frontal areas, and by using electrical power, Lagonda design can still be distinctive and luxurious without being grandiose. It offers its customers a thoroughly modern, emission-free form of super-luxurious mobility."

It's worth wondering what has become of the DBX, the on-again off-again SUV. Is it now off the menu? The question arises as Lagonda is to become its own brand again and be the badge of choice on a future crossover. There was a lot of PR spin and florid language - see this release which contains the quote above - but not too much in the way of firm detail over how Lagonda models relate to Astons. Moreover, where will they be made, how will they be funded, and when they will reach the market? Nor was there any proper explanation from this tiny company in regard to how it believes it can succeed against BMW Group's Rolls-Royce division and the Volkswagen Group's Bentley Motors. No less a firm than Daimler AG, let us not forget, failed publicly and oh so very expensively with its first attempt at reviving Maybach.

As noted in the preview briefing, Ford of Europe had a quiet Geneva 2018 but we will soon be hearing a lot more from the division once the Focus is revealed to the media. That takes place in April, which should also be when we will learn where and when Job 1 will be.

After the Volvo S60 and S60 L, in 2019 will come the next V40 and most likely an S40 too.

Finally, two firms which share a main shareholder, VCC and Daimler. Both are surfing steep waves of success at present and may yet link up for certain advanced tech projects which involve monumental spending, which is what Li Shifu says he would look to see. In the meantime, the new products keep coming and profits keep rising. Volvo's XC40 is selling well as is the XC60, the new V60 has drawn much praise for the way it looks and the S60 isn't too far away from being revealed. An S60L should follow, and then in 2019 will come the next V40 and most likely an S40 too.

As for Mercedes-Benz, the C-Class continues to lead the global D-premium segment so the newly announced facelift will only make it stronger, at least for a year or two. The Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe looks even better than the concept did at Geneva 2017 and the A-Class also has the look of success about it although many an eyebrow has been raised at its high pricing compared to the outgoing W176. The fact that Daimler will be launching it in May means that the old shape car wasn't even six years old when it was replaced.

Geneva might now be over for PR teams and journalists, but any rest won't be for very long, with New York and AutoChina soon to be upon us. Perhaps soon we will also hear more about the proposal to shift the NAIAS well away from 1) winter; and 2) CES. October is being suggested, which is a peculiar alternative for two reasons: 1) that would be close to the LA, Paris/Frankfurt and every second year, Tokyo shows; 2) for years there has been an obvious void in the international calendar for motor shows (even if Busan 2018 has moved into the middle of it). There is a choice of THREE months. Why not May, June or July?

A list of concepts, prototypes and production model world premieres from the 2018 Geneva motor show can be found here.

Future vehicles intelligence

Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as code names, production plants and expected annual build, are available in PLDB from QUBE