As our list of vehicle and concept world premieres attests, this year’s Geneva motor show media preview days saw a bumper crop of new models revealed. Glenn Brooks, our man at the Palais des Expositions, reports his observations.

In theory, you can do this event in one day, or even a morning or afternoon, such is its compactness, with all manufacturers restricted to sharing just two halls, split over two levels. In reality, a punishing press conference schedule which starts from what can seem like just after dawn, and which ends just before 6pm, means you’re on your feet for a full day.

Keeping you from making an efficient, flying visit are the colleagues who you will be guaranteed to bump into, scheduled interviews with industry executives (this year, I booked myself just three so that I would see some cars too), occasional grazing on any passing trays of nibbles as there is never a proper lunch – spare a thought for we vegetarians who must consume mostly cheese and bread, or else starve – hearing industry gossip and then the occasional serendipitous moments.

Serendipitous? How else to describe seeing Ratan Tata, surrounded by his entourage, shuffle onto the Bertone stand to be received by Lilli Bertone – warm greetings, followed by an inspection of the Aston Martin-based concept which Carozzeria Bertone had just revealed, the tour conducted by the matriarch herself.

The Alfa Romeo stand was noteworthy this year, not for having any living legend visit it that I witnessed at least, but for the simple fact that there was finally some new product. The 4C was locked (why?) but you could see inside and joy of joys it’s a proper sports car – the proportions are spot on, being low and wide and short, while there is no sign of this annoying fashion for electronic parking brakes and tiresome press button starters – a good old handbrake could be seen, as could a slot for an ignition key: insert, turn, done.

I kept thinking ‘TVR’ as I looked at the 4C and considered things like the door handles which seemed familiar from some other, older car – are they off the Ferrari 456? Still, Aston Martin used to use Volvo S80 A/C vents and Mazda 323 tail-lamps and it never seemed to concern potential customers.

The 4C’s headlights might be avant garde but the lock barrel in the driver’s door was decidedly old-school and not quite what you might expect on what will be an expensive car. A few other hints such as the single wiper made me wonder if the rumours of this model being a rebodying of someone else’s sports car (the KTM Crossbow has been suggested) aren’t too far of the mark. Fiat isn’t saying. The carbon tub, which was also on display, is a thing of beauty, it must be said.

Working my way down the list of world premieres alphabetically, I should mention the facelifted Aston Rapide S (and Bertone’s update of the Jet 2 and Aston Rapide Jet 2 + 2 shooting break), which was well executed. Thence to Audi where a long line of toffee apple red RS models were arranged to bisect its stand. This was the first sighting of a new sub-brand, g-tron, which means CNG and petrol. The A3 g-tron is due to be launched in Germany in late 2013.

Elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group empire, Bentley pulled the covers off the Flying Spur. It is a rebodying of the old car but for unknown reasons (brevity?), the Continental prefix has been dropped. Still with the Bs, the 3 Series GT was the main news from BMW. This car really ought to be called 4 Series GT as it’s D or even E segment sized. Geek that I am, I know that it shares the same long wheelbase dimension as the 3 Series Li, the extended play sedan they build only in Shenyang. It has taken almost forty years, so please rejoice with me that there is now a 3 Series in which you will find an excess of rear legroom. Do email me if you’ve seen this done before but get this: the GT is the first car I have seen with a gas strut to raise that panel in the boot floor which covers the spare wheel well.

GM has three world premieres coming for the New York auto show in a few weeks’ time, so the decision was taken to reveal the Corvette convertible at Geneva. Chevrolet had a lot of press coverage thanks to that clever thinking. It’s wide and low and striking and I think I want one. A Chevrolet Netherlands executive I was chatting to tells me the current car costs around EUR130,000 there. Perhaps we aren’t so badly done by in the UK after all with no chance of right-hand drive cars: at least ours are far cheaper thanks to a less aggressive government fiscal policy.

The Citroen C3 facelift was Europe catching up with Brazil (see Fernando Calmon’s piece on this model from last year here) despite PSA calling it a world premiere at Geneva. The Hybrid Air prototype was interesting but will it really reach production? Perhaps. My money would be on it being under the bonnet of the next DS3 or perhaps the rumoured DS1 (a sporty-pricey version of the C1 replacement) from around 2016 or 2017. As for the Technospace concept, it was easy to see the next C4 Grand Picasso and it was also the first sighting of PSA’s EMP2 architecture.

I had a good look at the Dacia Logan MPV, which in second generation form is a five-seater only. So why the huge rear overhang? The boot, as you might imagine, is enormous. I can see this car being a big success, and not just in lower income markets, as Dacia sales in France keep on demonstrating.

As for the Enzo successor, what can I say? You simply could not get near the curiously named LaFerrari. Have the marketing people taken over? Maybe not – the engineering of this oddly entitled ‘hypercar’ as the company deems it, is impressive. Try 588kW (900CV) for size from a 6,262cc V12. Plus another 120kW from the hybrid system’s electric motor. I did eventually catch sight of the car and while it ain’t the most beautiful model to be launched by the firm, it certainly has a presence.

Fiat had some novelties, which was itself a novelty. It’s great to see new products coming through at long last. The 500L Trekking seems to be answering a question no-one is asking but there again, you could have said that about the Qashqai seven years ago and we all know how that bet on expanding a niche turned out. The Trekking looks great and the interior is one of the best from Fiat SpA in a long time. Let’s hope the forthcoming 500X and 500XL are as good – with no indications that the Punto or Bravo will be directly replaced, Fiat needs its future B-SUV and C-MPV models to do well.

So, to the other F. The EcoSport we’ve seen before but now we know which plant will build it for European markets. I had already found out where RHD cars would be sourced from so I asked Ford of Europe’s head of product development Barb Samardzich about LHD vehicles and she confirmed they will also come from India. The Tourneo Courier, which will be manufactured in Turkey, is about the same size as the EcoSport but a bit more, Dacia-esque, shall we say? On sale in 2014, it will be for people who can’t quite stretch to a B-MAX, apparently. But why launch a second B-segment MPV and van series when the B-MAX is made in Romania so is cheap to build?

Not much going on at the Honda stand, though the NSX concept looked terrific and this was its first time with a big H on its bonnet where hitherto an Acura badge had been. The Civic wagon was on a turntable and out of bounds for poking and prodding by we of the fourth estate. Expect the production model to be revealed at the Frankfurt IAA in September.

Staying with Honda, it’s worth noting that the old Accord is still available in European markets. No sign of a replacement model as yet, despite North America having had one for a while now. Russia gets the same sedan as the US, Canada and Mexiso, and the Aussies will soon have it too (Ayutthaya in Thailand is doing RHD cars) but as the current car hasn’t sold well in the EU, don’t hold your breath for the new one.

Hyundai had a few new models at Geneva, the ix35 Fuel Cell being a late surprise. The first of 1,000 cars was proudly displayed with that fact inked onto its bonnet. There was also a mid-life facelift for the ix35 itself so Americans can no doubt expect a similarly updated 2014 model year Tucson at the New York show in a few weeks’ time. Kia Motors America will probably reveal a makeover for the ix35/Tucson’s twin at the same event, but if the 2014 Sportage isn’t there, expect to see it instead at the Seoul show in April.

I’ll break the alphabetical pattern for a moment as I mentioned Kia. My second favourite car of the show was the little provo. Google it if you’re too young to remember the Civic CRX of the early 1980s but Kia seems to have realised that there might just be a market for a proper B-segment sports car. I’m a fan of the latest CR-Z but I do wish they’d ditch the hybrid powertrain and put a screaming V-TEC engine in it. If Kia can get something that looks as good as the provo into production, it has a winner on its hands. Maybe after everyone has swamped the segment created by the Soul and which then went mainstream in Europe with the Juke, this could be the next big niche.

Infiniti I’ll mention only briefly as the cars still aren’t selling in anything more than small numbers in this region. Perhaps adding Daimler’s 2,143cc four-cylinder diesel will improve matters for the new Q50? The gearboxes also come courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, I was told, but of the car itself all I have to say is it’s US-sized. Think Lexus ES, rather than Benz C-Class: this thing is as big if not bigger than the G sedan which it replaces and we all know how well that sold in Europe.

How about a Q50 wagon to take on the 3 Series Touring, I asked Infiniti’s man? Not likely, as Europe would be the only region which would want it. So, Catch 22. Not much will change for this brand’s sales in the region until the launch of the UK-built Q30 or Q40 in 2015 (my educated guesses at the name).

I pressed the global head of Nissan product planning for more information on the future C-segment Infiniti while interviewing him at the show, so read just-auto next week to see his response to that, plus his answers to many more questions. I hadn’t interviewed Yokohama-based Kano Kato before and it was a great pleasure to do so. He’s amusingly self-deprecating, and blessed with a razor sharp wit. Definitely someone whose future career moves are worth keeping a close eye on and a great example of a new generation of assertive, fast-thinking and informal Japanese executives.

Part Two of Glenn Brooks’ review of the 2013 Geneva motor show will follow on Friday 8 March.