Considered one of the major international auto shows, the 82nd Geneva Motor Show saw launches from some of Europe’s biggest car makers, including Bentley, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and BMW.
Among the sexiest and most expensive cars were from Rolls-Royce, which showed an updated Phantom, and Ferrari with its new F12 Berlinetta, as well as new releases from Lamborghini and Bugatti. More mainstream premium brands were also well represented with new models. Mercedes introduced a brand new A-class compact car, while BMW showed off the M6 Coupe, and Audi the new A3.
Click ahead for some of the hottest new releases from European car makers at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
By Bianca Schlotterbeck
Posted March 13th 2012
Price: Approx. $250,000
It has been a good start to the year for luxury carmaker Bentley, with sales jumping 50 percent in 2012. “For Bentley, we have tremendous times. We finished the year 2011 with overall sales growth of 37 percent, and even in the first month of this year, we are very good again," president and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer told CNBC. "It is 47 percent-plus, on a worldwide average. So the luxury market runs again and we are very happy, and Bentley is prepared to be good business in the future."
Asked about the launch of Bentley’s new luxury SUV, the EXP 9F, Dürheimer, who was chief of engineering at Porsche when that company’s SUV was launched, said: “The SUV market is the only market worldwide that is still growing, and our core business is in the U.S. Meanwhile in China, but also in Europe, and with an SUV, you have the chance to combine a lot of things that for a car owner are very important.”
Porsche describes its new Boxter S as the most comprehensive change of generation in the company’s history. The open-top two-seater receives an entirely new lightweight body and a completely revamped chassis. The new Boxster weighs less than the previous generation and rides on a longer wheelbase and a wider track.
These new dimensions are coupled with larger wheels and a new electromechanical power steering system to significantly enhance the mid-engine sports car's driving dynamics. The new Boxster boasts superior performance and is up to 15 percent more fuel-efficient than previous models. The 3.4-liter engine delivers 315 horsepower, five more than before.
Price: Approx. $519,400
The level of intricacy and detail behind the building of the V12 Zagato is a testament to a painstaking process that takes some 2,000 man-hours to complete.
The hood, the signature “double-bubble” roof and the doors are made of hand-crafted aluminum, while the front and rear fenders, door sills, and trunk lid are made from carbon fiber. A number of other components have been added, particularly the side glass, the distinctive rear window and a bold new grill.
The beauty of the car is matched by its power, a 6.0-liter V12 engine that brings forth an output of 510 horsepower. As far as paint options are concerned, the V12 Zagato is being offered in four different hues: Scintilla Silver, Alloro Green, Alba Blue and Diavolo Red.
Price: Not released yet
Mercedes introduced its new global compact car at the Geneva Motor show, an area where it plans to expand considerably over the next decade. When asked whether the new A class was aimed at a younger customer, Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes-Benz, told CNBC, "We are very glad about the customers we have today. They are very fluent and very good customers for us. We want to grow, we want to grow fast and strong, and therefore, we have to reach for new customer segments as well. For that reason we want to expand into a younger customer base as well, and the new A-Class is a perfect weapon for this fight."
Described by its makers as “the most powerful roadster of all time,” the Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse boasts an increase in power up to 1,200 horsepower, a new dimension of open-top driving. Optically aligned to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which holds the current world speed record of 431 km/h, Bugatti’s engineers have developed the current Grand Sport, with its 1,001 horsepower, into an even more powerful vehicle. The increased power of the new roadster’s 16-cylinder engine is made possible by four enlarged turbochargers and intercoolers. The chassis has also been modified to support the power increase.
“The rapid success of the Super Sport convinced us to increase the performance of the Bugatti roadster. Once again our engineers worked hard to demonstrate that Bugatti is able to constantly redefine the boundaries of what is technically feasible,” said Dürheimer, who is also Bugatti's president.
BMW made design a greater focus on its new M6 model. The car has always been a top performer, but some argued that it lacked style. The long-bodied M6 coupe offers a sleek, flat design while still being an aggressive performance machine capable of running from 0 to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds. It achieves that time with the same, high-revving 4.4-liter V8 as the M5, but with 20 extra horsepower for a total 560 horsepower. The car is also 30 percent more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, thanks to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
Price: Approx. $55,000
Jaguar Land Rover showcased its striking Range Rover Evoque Cabrio Concept car at the Geneva Motor Show. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, told CNBC: "What we show today is a concept car, the Evoque convertible, and this is really something new, the first time in the industry that an SUV is a convertible. This will really go for a totally new customer variety."
“This has the full capability of a Land Rover because the DNA of Land Rover means we have to have the full capability in our cars,” he said. “In addition, we deliver new freedom without the roof on top.”
When asked if the car was aimed at the Chinese market, he said, “China is a very important market for Jaguar Land Rover. We are very successful in China, and our brands do very well in China. So for our Chinese customer, a convertible, especially in the SUV sector, will offer a new opportunity.
Price: Approx. $160,000
The new Maserati Gran Turismo Sport that premiered at the Geneva Auto Show is characterized by an elegant overall restyling, stressing its sporty nature, and by increased performance. An innovative, functionally redesigned new front bumper optimizes the front air flows for the cooling of both the engine and brakes. A new design of the bumper frames the new headlights with LED technology.
The rear has new taillights in an elegant, more aggressive, darker tone. The interior of the car has also been refreshed with completely redesigned front and rear seats and a new steering wheel with a more sporty and muscular look. True to its name, the Gran Turismo Sport will see a further improvement in performance thanks to its new 4.7 liter V8 engine now capable of delivering 460 horsepower.
Price: Approx. $30,000
The new generation Audi A3 introduced in Geneva builds on previous models but with slight alterations to its design. It is also 176 pounds lighter than before. The hatchback is a very important model for Audi. Over its production life to date, the A3 model series has represented more than 20 percent of total Audi sales.
Price: Approx. $400,000
Following a record year for company sales in 2011, Rolls-Royce introduced its Phantom Series II at the Geneva Motor Show. The upgraded model marked the biggest overhaul for the Phantom series since its relaunch in 2003. CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told CNBC: “We are launching the next generation of our most important car, the Phantom. The Series II car we have updated technically to really keep with the pace and also to prove that this car is the pinnacle in the luxury automotive market.”
He added, “We have listened very carefully to our customers, and the clear message was, don’t change too much in the exterior and to the design, but update it technically, and this is exactly what we have done. You will see a complete new LED front light head set and you will also see a completely updated technical platform of that car with a new interconnection with the MMI —new navigation system — and everything up to the latest technological standards.”
When asked whether Rolls-Royce should modify its prices to sell more cars, he said, “No, we want to stay in a very exclusive league. We are not intending to go into five-digit numbers. Our customers love it when Rolls-Royce is rare. You don’t want to see a Rolls-Royce on every single street corner.”
Price: Not released yet
Ferrari’s new F12 Berlinetta is the most powerful road-going Ferrari in history and now stands above the parapet as the quickest model to lap Ferrari’s famous Fiorano test track in 1 minute, 23 seconds. With a 740 horsepower V12 engine, the F12 Berlinetta can crack 0-62 mph in just 3.1 seconds and 0-124 mph in just 8.5 seconds. However, while the power has increased, Ferrari has brought down the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions with the help of an efficient stop-start system.
Price: Sold for approx. $2.8 million
The Lamborghini Aventador J is a one-off, completely minimalist concept car, but not one that will be resigned to a museum; it has been sold to a collector for about $2.8 million. This car is not about volume sales, and the design will not be repeated on any other production cars, making it truly unique. Its purpose is to show what Lamborghini is about: An engineering showcase made with an extensive use of carbon fiber, its speed will go as high as 186 mph (300 kph).
Some elements, such as the liquid-metal-based paint, couldn't even be serialized if Lamborghini wanted to — it's simply too complex, too delicate for production. The car has no roof or windshield; these have been replaced with wind deflectors that aim to keep the wind from blowing in your face as you speed around a track. However, the Lamborghini Aventador J is still considered to be road legal.