One of the world's top five auto shows, the 83rd annual Geneva Motor Show exploded into life this week with around 700,000 visitors. It featured new releases from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Bentley, as well as the unveiling of a new brand, Chinese-Israeli joint venture Qoros.
The most expensive and exciting releases this year came from McLaren, which unveiled the $1.3 million P1, and Lamborghini, which launched the $3.9 million Veneno. The show also saw releases from industry heavyweights Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti Veyron and Swedish hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg.
But despite the glitz and glamour, automakers at the show were unanimous in their concern about the state of the European car industry.
"2013 looks like a tough year in Europe, but we'll try to keep the market stable," Audi Board Member Luca de Meo told CNBC.
"We're holding the line and trying to nurture organic growth. The U.S. has grown by 50 percent in volume and China is a big source of sales and we believe that market will continue to grow," he said.
Click ahead for some of the hottest new releases at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
By James Knight
Posted March 6 2013
Koenigsegg celebrated its 10th anniversary by releasing a one-off supercar. The Hundra, meaning "one hundred" in Swedish, is the 100th car to be built by the company, and is valued at $1.6 million. No expense was spared in the Hundra's making: the body is made of carbon fiber, with hand-laid, 24-carat gold inlays woven into the framework. The 5.0-liter twin turbocharged V8 engine was developed by Koenigsegg itself.
According to Bentley, the environment inside its new Flying Spur is one of "absolute calm". Meanwhile, the exterior reflects the high class style you would expect from a car straight off the Bentley production line. The Flying Spur runs with a 6.0-liter turbocharged 48 valve, W12 engine which produces 616 horsepower. It goes from 0-60 miles per hour (mph) in 4.3 seconds and has a top speed of 200 mph.
Back inside this hub of calm, the driver is given an eight-inch touchscreen interface, while there are two ten-inch screens for the passengers in the back. All the screens are connected to WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled.
Alfa's latest offering is built around its award-winning concept of minimizing a car's weight, rather than focusing merely on maximizing power. With that in mind, Alfa said the new 4C has "significant reductions in weight over its entire structure", meaning a turbocharged 4-cylinder, 1.75-liter engine with just 240 horsepower is far more powerful than it seems. The 4C can do 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.
The 4C is set low, wide and squat like a race car to maximize its agility and aerodynamics, and comes in lava red, which Alfa said is a color that creates "depth and power".
Geneva 2013 sees the global debut of the Qoros brand, a joint venture between Chinese-based Chery Automobile, the largest independent car manufacturer in China, and Israel Corporation. Qoros unveiled its first production model and two concept studies at the show, and expects to launch a new model every six months.
The first model is the fairly unremarkable Qoros 3 Sedan, but for Qoros it is merely an opening salvo as it look to establish itself in the market. The Sedan boasts two four-cylinder 1.6-liter gasoline engines, and also contains a touch screen infotainment system, designed for minimal driver distraction. It looks set to debut at 20,000 euros ($26,042).
Speaking to CNBC in Geneva, Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos, described the Wraith, as "the most powerful Rolls Royce we've ever built in our 109-year history". Rolls Royce's latest release certainly trumps its predecessor, the Ghost, as its updated 624 horsepower, V12 engine helps shave 0.3 seconds off its 0-60 mph acceleration time.
The Wraith is also shorter and squatter than the Ghost, with 130 millimeters taken off its length and 43 millimeters off its height. Perhaps more exciting, however, is the debut of Rolls Royce's Satellite Aided Transmission system, meaning the Wraith is designed to think for itself and anticipate the driver's next move. This addition should mean the Wraith's driving experience is as smooth and polished as its exterior.
As proof of its faith in the new Chevrolet convertible, General Motors has given it the iconic Stingray nameplate, making the Chevrolet only the third generation of Corvette to display it, and the first for four generations. Susan Docherty, president of Chevrolet Europe, told CNB the Stingray is an "incredible machine which represents the soul of our company".
This particular edition certainly lives up to the name, with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that provides 450 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds. The car is also expected to better the coupe edition's overall EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) fuel economy rating of 26 miles per gallon.
McLaren had a clear goal for its new P1, "to be the best driver's car in the world on road and on the track", and it left no stone unturned to achieve it. The P1 comes complete with a jet fighter-style cockpit and a host of luxury features including full climate control, satellite navigation and a bespoke sound system. A 3.8-liter, twin turbo V8 petrol engine, and an electric motor providing 903 horsepower, fire the P1 to a top speed of 218 mph. What's more, it can do 0-62 mph in less than three seconds and 0-124 mph in less than seven seconds.
According to Mike Flewitt, McLaren's chief operating officer, the P1 is "probably the most advanced car on sale today". The catch is that McLaren want the P1 to stay exclusive, so have only manufactured 375. You can buy one for 866,000 pounds ($1.3 million).
Italy's Lamborghini marked its fiftieth anniversary with the launch of the ultra-luxury Veneno at Geneva. Lamborghini described the $3.9 million model as its "faster ever supercar", reaching 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and hitting a top speed of 221 mph. At its launch, CEO Stephan Winkelmann told CNBC the supercar is about "fulfilling dreams…at least for some people". He's not wrong: the Veneno is so exclusive that just three models have been built.
One supercar wasn't the sum of Lamborghini's Geneva releases, as it also unveiled the Aventador. Lamborghini has a long tradition of naming its cars after fighting bulls; the Aventador gets its name from one famous for a particularly valiant bout in Zaragoza 20 years ago. Appropriate you might say, given the sheer power of the new Aventador LP 700-4, which provides almost 700 horsepower from a 6.5-liter V12 engine it shares with the Veneno. Said engine helps it achieve 0-60 mph acceleration in three seconds and a top speed of 217 mph.
Bugatti's latest release is a special edition version of the 2009 Grand Sport supercar, embellished with artwork by French artist Bernar Venet. The car comes with a tasteful rust metal color scheme and the artwork comprises of mathematical formulas running all around its body.
The mechanics of the special edition are identical to that of the original Grand Sport, meaning it has a 8.0-liter, W16 turbocharged engine, which allows for a top speed of 252 mph.
Ferrari's offering in Geneva comes in the shape of their first ever supercar equipped with hybrid technology, christened La Ferrari. The car, priced at one million euros, uses the company's own HY-KERS hybrid technology, made up of two electric motors which add 163 horsepower to the 800 provided by a 12 cylinder engine, without increasing the amount of emissions or fuel required.
This limited edition release – only 499 models will be made available over the next two years – can do 0-62 miles per hour (mph) in less than three seconds and can reach 186 mph in less than 15 seconds. Want to order one? You'll have to get in line; Ferrari say they've already had more than 700 enquiries.