If last year’s Geneva motor show gave notice that the world’s major car manufacturers were finally waking up to the notion of electrification, the 2018 expo, which has just opened to the public, is evidence that early pioneer Tesla now faces stiff competition. A slew of car brands, including Aston Martin, Audi, Hyundai, Jaguar, Porsche, Renault, Seat, Smart, Ssangyong and Volkswagen, are prominently displaying battery-powered vehicles on their stands, several of them SUVs, many still concepts and, crucially, one or two more-or-less production ready – but all of them emphatic statements of intent. And while a couple of these show cars seem perhaps a little frivolous, there are others that clearly must be taken very seriously indeed.
Enthusiasts for more traditional forms of motive power need not fret unduly about this avalanche of electricity, however, for plenty of new models on display feature petrol and hybrid engines. Bentley, for example, is revealing for the first time its V6-hybrid Bentayga SUV, alongside a recently introduced petrol-V8 version, while Land Rover’s riposte is a two-door Range Rover SV Coupe that will be made in a limited run of 999.
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Cars for 2018
Ferrari and Lamborghini, meanwhile, are facing off with higher-performance versions of their 488 and Huracàn supercars, named Pista and Performante respectively, with UK challenger McLaren unveiling its wild, 720S-based P15 Senna track-day car for good measure (plus an even crazier track-only GTR variant). And if that weren’t sufficient for extremist petrolheads, Aston also has an AMR Pro track version of its Valkyrie hypercar on display, whose minimalist proportions stand in sharp contrast to the massive – if considerably lightened – Bugatti Chiron Sport, another newcomer.
Japanese giant Toyota is making waves with a pair of show debuts. There’s the small UX SUV from its luxury offshoot Lexus, which is startlingly arresting in appearance, and a Supra GT Racing Concept, which offers strong clues to the company’s forthcoming road-going GT that’s being jointly developed with BMW (and will also spawn the latter’s third-gen Z4).
As for the big three from Germany, Audi has pulled the wraps off its upcoming A6 executive saloon and BMW is showing its M8 Gran Coupe concept, plus a new sporty X4 SUV and facelifted 2-series active tourer. And as ever, Mercedes-Benz has pulled out all the stops for Europe’s premier motor show, with an all-new A-Class and AMG GT 4-Door, facelifted C-Class, the sledgehammer AMG 63 version of the new G-wagen and a V6 engine for its snooty X-Class ute.
Our five favourites at Geneva this year? Read on.
The British manufacturer’s long-teased all-electric SUV is finally production-ready, with deliveries set to begin this year. And if we’ve been blown away by its sleek, cab-forward design, which much surely rank among stylist Ian Callum’s finest efforts, then so too has the entire throng at Geneva, where it’s universally hailed as the star of the show. If so far we haven’t been wild about an all-electric future, this is one car at least that’s likely to change our mind.
The unveiling of the latest incarnation of Audi’s ultra-capable executive contender completes the makeover at the top of the four-ring range. And as this new A6 is based on the deeply impressive A8, which we drove late last year, we can look forward to high-tech overload and mild-hybridisation across the range of power units. Audi is also promising to make this the sportiest drive in its segment, a prospect that’s as enticing as it’s intriguing.
SEE ALSO: Audi A8: Into The Future
We’re big fans of Audi’s wonderfully smooth yet punchy and tuneful 4-litre twin-turbo V8, which has also found its way into Bentleys, Porsches and, most recently, Lamborghini’s Urus. So its adoption for the Bentayga, currently the world’s most civilised SUV, is particularly welcome, not least because it helps make this luxurious yet surprisingly wieldy behemoth a more sporting – and thus even more attractive – proposition.
SEE ALSO: A Bentley to Brag About
If you love AMG’s glorious two-door GT coupes and convertible, then the notion of a full four-seater, capable of socking it to supercars with more than 300km/h and a 0-100 standing start in a scarcely believable 3.2 seconds, sounds just as irresistible. The GT 4-Door Coupe is closely based on the new CLS, but bespoke styling and a fabulous interior promise to yank it even higher up-market. On this evidence, Mercedes’ roll seems unstoppable.
SEE ALSO: Mercedes-AMG GMT C: Love at First Drive
Instead of the bizarre Mission E Cross Turismo concept that Porsche is also displaying, we’re drooling over this latest ultra-hardcore RS iteration of the 911 GT3. Although not quite in the same league of insanity as the recently announced GT2 RS, a 312km/h maximum and 3.2-second 0-100 sprint are well fast enough for us – and we’ll never not be suckers for the Greatest Sports Car Ever. In its bright green livery it looks sensational, too.
SEE ALSO: Test Drive: Porsche Carrera GTS