REVIEW: GENEVA MOTOR SHOW 2012

By Guy Bird for LS:N – LifeStyle News Global, Apr 2012

A Philippe Starck-designed electric golf buggy and an opinion-dividing massive SUV by Bentley proved again why 2012’s Geneva motorshow is as diverse as ever

A Philippe Starck-designed electric golf buggy, an opinion-dividing massive SUV by Bentley and a slick luxury hybrid saloon interior using recycled wood dredged from the Venice lagoon proved again why 2012’s Geneva motorshow is as diverse as ever and still arguably the most important car event in the world.

Every type of worldwide maker exhibited from corporate heavyweights like VW Group, Ford and Nissan/Renault with a slew of new production cars, to exciting concepts by independent design houses like Bertone and Pininfarina plus eco start-ups offering test drives in the dedicated Green Pavilion.

Largely overlooked by the mainstream motoring media, the V+ Volteis by Starck provided a stripped-out but stylish vision of what short-distance electric mobility could look like

Production focus

If there was an overall trend among the considerable variety it was the greater emphasis on production cars or pre-production teaser vehicles rather than far future-facing concepts. Ford is a good example, showing the final production version of its innovative new B-Max supermini-sized MPV previewed in pre-production form at Geneva 2011 and bringing formally concept-car design elements to showroom reality. Dispensing with a traditional B-pillar strut behind the driver and placing it in the sliding rear-door system instead, the whole side of car opens up to ease entry for rear passengers. It will be a particular boon for parents fitting young kids into child seats as well as elderly access but has been designed for universal appeal.

 

Hatchback luxe and Red Striping

Less innovative but sure to be just as popular is Mercedes-Benz’s new A-Class production car also unveiled at the Swiss event. Now a curvy hatchback – like an upmarket VW Golf rather than its previous incarnation as a rather staid mini-MPV – Mercedes hopes it will attract a much younger audience to its brand while pinching sales off BMW’s 1 Series and Audi’s A3 (also shown in its latest mk3 version at Geneva). Some of the A-Class models had bold colour-accented exterior and interior details – a mini-trend referencing sporty 1980s models also witnessed on the new BMW M135i concept.  

 

Controversial Bentley

The most talked-about unveil of the show was undoubtedly the Bentley EXP 9F SUV concept, which split opinion for its design as well as its significance, signalling that the British luxury marque traditionally known for bold but refined sports saloons and coupes seems intent on extending its brand into luxury SUVs – with a car bigger than the Range Rover but seemingly without the latter’s off-road credentials.

 

Independent eco

What was more refreshing at Geneva was the sheer number of design and eco independents that chose the Swiss event to reveal their latest ideas. Legendary Italian design house Pininfarina – long-time partner of Ferrari and behind the supercar brand’s F12 Berlinetta car at Geneva – also showed a sophisticated saloon under its own badge called Cambiano. Of particular interest was its interior that featured wood from supplier Riva 1920 reclaimed from the poles that indicate the navigation channels in the Venice lagoon, alongside slick modern leather and metal concept finishes.

Just as surprising was finding a Philippe Starck-designed aluminium and wicker electric-powered golf buggy in the Green Pavilion. Largely overlooked by the mainstream motoring media, the V+ Volteis by Starck provided a stripped-out but stylish vision of what short-distance electric mobility could look like and proved again why Geneva is the most eclectic and relevant global car show.


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