After years of covering the world's auto shows at Autoblog, the Geneva Motor Show never ceases to amaze. It's in Switzerland, so by nature, it's neutral, and since there's no "home team" like in Detroit, Frankfurt or Paris, every automaker comes out to play. And play they did.
While this year's showing wasn't nearly as impressive as the end-of-the-recession shindig we endured in Germany last September, the shear number of reveals boggles the mind and cramps the fingers. But despite six pairs of aching feet, one broken laptop, countless espresso triple-shots and braved our fair share of sharp-elbowed shooters and clueless colleges, we survived (mostly) unscathed and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our time in Switzerland.
After the jump we've assembled our favorite debuts from the show, but rather than creating another "Best and Worse" or "Top Picks" post, we've singled out two vehicles: One that embodies our no-cost, no-holds-barred, fantasy ride and another production-ready example that we could conceivably drive home tomorrow given our meager (or not-so-meager) means. Check out our picks after the break and let us know what your own choices are in 'Comments.'
As soon as the first renderings and specs of the Porsche 918 Spyder concept arrived, I was convinced the mid-engine hybrid was going to steal the show. And by many accounts, it did. But despite its high-tech (yet feasible) powertrain, sinfully purposeful stance, incredible level of detail and the fact that its color combo matched my new Pumas, the moment I laid eyes on one behatched Bentley, I was sold. Visions of weekend jaunts to the coast with the wife coddled in otherworldly luxury and the dog fast asleep on the woven leather "carpet" danced through my mind, but all the while, my Spyder desire grew. Could there be a dualistic compromise? Yes. And it goes by the name of Polo GTI.
Sure, it doesn't have the presence and opulence of the Touring Superleggera Flying Star, but the Lab-Pointer-Pit-Dane-Spaniel can fit in the back, its 1.4-liter gets astronomical fuel economy and it might even thwart my desire for a Mk1 GTI. Not only that, but it's got two freakin' forms of forced induction, more than adequate power (178 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque, and loads of tuning potential) and can navigate around the suicidal bike messengers when I head out to SF. I've driven the new GTI. It's good, but it's big... and heavy... and the brakes faded halfway down my favorite mountain pass. On the other hand the Polo has all the GTI's good bits (awesome seats and interior included) condensed into a smaller, lighter, more economical package. So it's settled. The Porsche gets the nod as the preferred track tool and late-night backroad bomber, while the Polo GTI is the livable daily driver with oodles of hoon potential. Now if I could just get either model in the States... – Damon Lavrinc – Senior Editor, horrible taste in shoes.
Sadly, and I say so because there really were so many worthy, wonderful cars revealed this year, my fantasy car for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show is easy. What is it? The Bertone Alfa Romeo Pandion concept, baby! As desirable as some of the other show stoppers are (I'm pretty sure I drooled on the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera's Alcantara seats... twice), nothing competes in the realm of fantasy quite like this rear-hinged scissor-doored beaut. I mean, we're talking fantasy here, right? And I fantasize about a car that can scorch a canyon road, drop jaws up and down the California coast and then hang on my wall as a piece of art. Especially that rear end – hubba hubba. As it happens, the Bertone Pandion Concept perfectly fills that fanciful, ridiculous niche. A quick footnote: in my fantasy world all garages have 30-foot vaulted ceilings.
Now comes the reality part. Before we get to the specific car in question, I need to point out that it is within the realm of possibilities that one day I'll be a rich man. Hey, I could rob one of these here Swiss banks, right? With that little caveat out of the way, the only production car I (briefly) thought about taking home on Lufthansa as checked baggage is the Bentley Continental GTC-derived Touring Superleggera Flying Star. First of all, SHOOTING BRAKE!!! Second, designer Louis de Fabribeckers did a bang up job designing this purposeful, understated beast. Thirdly, you can outfit the Flying Star with a 610-horsepower twin-turbo W12. I think we can safely term that an adequate amount of mojo. Finally, and this really is the show stopper, woven leather boot carpet. D'oh! Here comes more drool... – Jonny Lieberman – Associate Editor, lives inside his own head
"Screw you, hippie. It's a hybrid." If for no other reason, then of all the lustmobiles unveiled at this year's Geneva Motor Show – a veritable moshpit of automotive exotica to rival any other – I'd pick the Ferrari 599 HY-KERS concept as my fantasy ride of choice, just so I could show up and shut up legions of tree-hugging smug grins with those six simple words. Not that I'd need any other further reason, or that the Fiorano really needs any further enhancements over "stock." It's already one of the fastest cars on the road and widely regarded as one of the most dynamically brilliant chassis ever devised. Sure, the one-off Pagani Zonda Tricolore would be an enticing choice. (The five-of-a-kind Zonda Cinque Roadster even more so, to this humble correspondent's eye.) But I'd hate for the know-it-all hypocrites who dare to lambaste the V12 supercar while trotting the globe in carbon-spewing jets (as I am, incidentally, while I write these words en route home from Switzerland) to actually be right. Instead I'll depress my "push to pass" button and leave that Prius (along with just about everything else) in the dust, and grin even smugger all the while.
Unfortunately, while Ferrari is pursuing production applications for KERS, it remains a show car for the time being. (Because that's the only reason a freelancing blogger couldn't buy one.) So instead, I'll retreat to the writer's refuge: cliché. "Good things come in small packages." Yes, it's a cliché. A huge cliché, in fact. But clichés don't become clichés because they're devoid of meaning. Well, the Abarth 500C is about as small a package as they come. And yes, it is a good thing. It's nimble. Easy to park. Light on fuel. And the first convertible Abarth in decades. Truth be told, I didn't care much for the stock Fiat 500C when it came out. But with a few crucial enhancements – those brown leather seats playing as central a role as the turbocharged engine – the 500C has gone from something a hairdresser would drive to something truly hair-raising. The smallest scorpions, they say, pack the most potent venom. And the Abarth 500C is dripping with it. – Noah Joseph – Foreign Correspondent, must have been Italian in another life
The easy choice for my fantasy car would be the Porsche 918 Spyder, but for me the Geneva Motor Show is all about the tuner cars. Sure, the majority of them are over-styled and over-powered, but there are some really cool ones too. The best of those had to be the Abt R8 GTR. The German tuner actually races the R8 in Europe, so Abt knows what it's doing when it comes to Audi's supercar. The carbon fiber body components are a thing of beauty, and the same thing can be said for the interior. Beautiful, yet functional. Add an extra 95 horsepower, carbon ceramic brakes, lightweight 18-inch wheels and you've got a winner. Did I mention that it's 220 pounds lighter than a stock R8?
For my reality pick I'm in agreement with editor Lavrinc on the Polo GTI. As a GTI owner for five years running, the sporty 2-door VW has a natural appeal. It embodies the spirit of the original GTI, and it's got everything I want in my daily driver. The turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine offers plenty of horsepower (180), even more torque (184 lb-ft) and incredible fuel mileage. There's so much else to like – beautiful 17-inch wheels, chromed exhaust tips and an absolutely gorgeous interior with the classic plaid seats. I'm torn on whether I want VW to bring it to the United States because if they do I'm going to have a tough decision to make. Do I really want to start a new car payment? - Drew Phillips – Director of Photography, Subdued speed freak