x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Supercars strut high-concept stuff in Geneva

The Geneva Motor Show is the world’s supercar bazaar.

Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, left, looks on as men unveil the brand's latest car, the California T, at the Geneva Motor Show. AFP photo
Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, left, looks on as men unveil the brand's latest car, the California T, at the Geneva Motor Show. AFP photo

The Geneva Motor Show is the world’s supercar bazaar. Credit Switzerland’s stratospheric per capita income and/or the fact that, lacking a significant indigenous automaker, the populace is without automotive prejudice, but last week the PALEXPO show floor was chock-a-block with hyper-motored two-doors of every shape, size and price tag. Or as Marek Reichman, chief designer for Aston Martin so aptly put it, “this is where the rich come to shop and they’re not afraid to spend”.

That’s why Ferrari’s show booth was almost as big as Volkswagen’s. Besides announcing that Apple’s CarPlay will soon grace the interior of the FF, they were taking the wrappers off a new turbocharged version of its California roadster. And even if that isn’t the most exciting Prancing Horse ever to debut on Swiss soil, the assembled press swarmed the booth like Enzo had risen from the grave.

Not so very far away, and much more extreme, was the Zonda Revolucion highlighting the Pagani display. The company calls it a “revolution in the concept of art applied to pure speed”, but like Ferrari’s FXX, it really is the ultimate in automotive indulgence. Neither road legal nor homologated for any current race series, its sole purpose is to allow really rich enthusiasts to drive very fast on exclusive, privately owned racetracks. This last it will do with some alacrity as this final evolution of the Zonda now boasts 800 horsepower motivating but 1,070 kilograms.

Barely less outrageous was Gumpert’s Apollo, a seeming mash of Bugatti styling and Audi powertrains, all dripped in a chromed red sheen that would make any California Kustom Krome house, well, red with envy. Powered by a twin turbocharged version of Audi’s 4.2-litre V8, the Apollo S boasts 750 horsepower that only has to motivate 1,200kg. Speed, therefore, matches its outrageous colour scheme, Gumpert claiming the supercar accelerates to 100kph in less than three seconds, capped by a top speed of somewhere around 360. Yours for a mere €535,000 (Dh2.8million).

McLaren’s nearby stand seemed almost ho-hum in comparison, the new 650S’s 641 horsepower less than half of that claimed by the 1,340hp Koenigsegg One:1 parked nearby. That the €255,000 (Dh1.3m) 650S Spider might have been the best car on the show floor will hopefully make up for its relative lack of drama when the Eurozone’s monied come calling.

Even further down the luxury food chain, Aston Martin was showing off its (comparatively) budget-priced N430, rumoured to go on sale in the United States for just a smidgen over US$100,000 (Dh367,000). Alfa Romeo took the wraps off a roofless Spider version of its achingly gorgeous 4C and Maserati revealed an even ritzier version of its flagship Quattroporte. Even Lexus got in on the act with an RC F GT3 racer that sported a decidedly un-Toyota like psychedelic paint scheme.

But, what further sets Geneva apart from all other motor shows is the incredible display of boutique companies that cater exclusively to the supercar crowd. Ruf had a booth almost as big as Porsche’s. The aforementioned mega-motored Koenigsegg boasts turbochargers that looked big enough to swallow low-flying birds whole. There was something called a Nimrod Zero which looks suspiciously like a Ferrari 458 somehow made unattractive. It was sharing booth space with something called the Avanti Rosso, which is essentially a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 – as if they don’t cost enough already – given the same somewhat gaudy treatment. Indeed, if you want a supercar that makes a Bugatti Veyron seem dainty and Ferraris cheap, then Geneva is the place.

But they weren’t the silliest things for sale on the PALEXPO floor. For that, you had to go to the Sbarro booth. There you’d find three iterations of something called the Lazareth project, the nuttiest of which is essentially a four-wheeled, road-going ATV powered by a 3.0-litre V8 lifted from a Magnum, P.I. era Ferrari 308. Just the thing for adrenalin junkies with big wallets.

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