Well, as I slowly start to catch up with the rest of life, I noted that I am way overdue discussing the annual Geneva Motor Show. As I've noted in the past, this is an annual event, and, being held in the neutral country of Switzerland, everyone and anyone who even thinks they can design and sell a car gets some floor space. And, unlike the recent Detroit show, no one skipped this particular event (although, shortly beforehand, Nissan announced they'd be blowing off the Los Angeles and Frankfurt auto shows later this year). Curiously, this year's Geneva show was a bit of a flashback; when I first started attend the show back in 1993, Geneva was known for luxury, horsepower, and blue-sky concepts. And, while there was an undercurrent of 'green', there really weren't any big green things (aside from GM's Opel Ampera), but, strangely, there was a lot of luxury, horsepower, and blue-sky stuff...
- Brilliant idea, or the answer to a question nobody's asked? BMW's 5 Series Gran Turismo is essentially the production version of what BMW has been calling their 'progressive activity sedan'. Think of it as one part wagon and one part MPV, and a little taller than a sedan. It's not entirely unattractive, and I suppose if you wanted something with a little more 'uprightness' than a wagon it might suit you, but I'm not sure BMW will sell the 100,000 or so they plan to build starting late this year.
- Further up the food chain, BMW also showed the Rolls Royce 200EX concept--a just-about-ready-to-roll version of their new 'entry level' (eg, about $200K+) sedan due to go on sale next year. It looks like a lower, sleeker Phantom--complete with 'coach' (aka 'suicide') rear doors, and is sporting a new direct-injection V12. I think I'm still a bit partial to the similar--but more muscular--Bentley Flying Spur, but I have to give credit to BMW for successfully managing the Rolls brand.
- Less successful, alas, was the Lagonda concept. When Aston Martin announced, a few months ago, that they were reviving the Lagonda brand for 2012 as a more luxurious alternative to the sporting Astons, I was picturing the stately Lagonda Vignale concept from a while back. What we got, alas, was a Suzuki X90 writ large--a car based on a truck. The truck in question was the Mercedes GL, and the car was a tall, roomy, oddly proportioned sedan. Remember how successful the X90 was? Apparently Aston didn't. A second Lagonda is promised for May--hopefully something a little prettier.
- Equally goofy--and equally headed towards production--was the Nissan Qazana concept (although what was shown was a little further away from production intent than the Lagonda). What was particularly scary was the front end--slightly frog-eyed, and apparently thematically similar to what they plan to build when the vehicle starts rolling off the line in the UK next year. Lots of interesting things going on with the Qazana, from the supersized 20" wheels--quite large for a small SUV--to the motorcycle gas-tank-inspired center console (which they apparently want to try to carry over into production).
Oh, and in case you're wondering if there was anything there reflecting the current economic meltdown, I did notice a surprisingly lack of dancers (usually used at press events, and sometimes for sporadic performances during the day), and a jump in the number of flashdrives (instead of CDs and printed materials) to distribute product info. Biggest cost-cutter? Mitsubishi, who handed out a card with a website address and instruction to download their materials there.
Coming soon--a look at the New York Auto Show...