x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

New models go into overdrive in Geneva

The Life: The National's Neil Vorano heads to the International Geneva Motor Show for this year's latest offering.

The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 in Geneva.
The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 in Geneva.

The International Geneva Motor Show is one of the most anticipated car exhibitions every year, and for good reason.

With Switzerland home to not a single major car factory, all the major brands try to upstage each other with model debuts and wild concept vehicles. There are always surprises to be found.

First held in 1905, the show has helped launch models such as the Jaguar E-Type in 1961, the Lamborghini Countach in 1971 and the Audi Quattro in 1980. And this year's version, which ends on Sunday, is no different.

One aspect that makes it enjoyable is its layout; the Geneva Palexo is a single large hall with two levels. It is easy to wander, row by row, and take in all the fancy cars, displays of new technology and, of course, the "booth professionals".

It seems that every car maker has rolled out something new and spectacular. Of course, many manufacturers, such as Ford, Kia and Saab, are showing the small to medium-sized sedans that will be seen on roads around the world.

But the real attractions are the models that get a petrol-head's blood pumping. Lamborghini has introduced its Aventador, the successor to its nine-year-old Murcielago. Pagani, the niche Italian car maker, has brought along the Huayra, a masterpiece of horsepower and design, and just the second car the company has produced. And Ferrari has chosen Geneva to show off its new FF, the company's first all-wheel-drive, four-seat grand tourer.

But it's certainly not all about high-horsepower sports cars here. As with just about every car show in recent years, electric cars and other alternative-fuel vehicles are everywhere in the Palexo. The green revolution seems to have overtaken performance here and there is a glimpse into the future on just about every stand. Toyota has introduced its new Prius+, a seven-seat version of its popular hybrid sedan, and Mercedes is displaying its hydrogen fuel cell-powered F-Cell, based on its A-Class cars. Even Rolls-Royce has an electric-powered Phantom, the 102EX, on its stand.

But with the Swiss being so famously neutral, it really shouldn't be a surprise to see such a melding of petrol-guzzling luxury and sports cars and battery-powered eco-vehicles on the same floor.