The 10 best cars from the show of no-shows
As the Geneva International Motor Show kept the doors shut amid the coronavirus outbreak, car manufacturers went online and conducted business as usual.
It was a show of no-shows – the flashiest annual motoring expo in Geneva kept the doors shut, with Switzerland banning mass gatherings while coronavirus spreads across Europe.
Car manufacturers the world over simply went online and conducted business as usual, revealing a number of surprises and technological breakthroughs last week. Here’s my pick of the best.
1. Fiat 500
With manufacturers in Europe scrambling to lower their fleet average CO2 emissions and meet new regulations, the answer lies in electrifying more and more models across entire portfolios. The Italians went as far as launching a third-generation Fiat 500 in electric-only form – the popular supermini has been going strong since 2007 and it’ll keep going for those who prefer a petrol variant, but the latest 2021 car is all new, with an 87kW front motor and a driving range of 320km.
2. Hyundai Prophecy
The fifth-biggest car company in the world surprised us all with an interesting concept that harks back to aviation-inspired classics like the Saab 92. There’s even some Porsche 911 in this Hyundai Prophecy design study… The Prophecy is an EV with advanced AI and two joysticks instead of a steering wheel. Hyundai believes the solution provides better ergonomics and driver control for its future vehicles.
3. VW ID.4
Over the next three years, Volkswagen is investing $30 billion towards EVs and, to make up the volume, the Wolfsburgers are betting on crossovers – the first such zero-emissions vehicle is the VW ID.4, to be built on the company’s new MEB platform dedicated to EVs. With a range of up to 500km available, the ID.4 will be sold in the US, Europe and in China as a Golf-sized crossover with space for five occupants.
4. Microlino 2.0
Taking inspiration from the micro car craze of the 1950s, and in particular the classic Isetta bubble car, a Swiss company has created a modern-day alternative powered by batteries. The new Microlino 2.0 is claimed to be capable of covering 200km on a single charge, and features the same front-hinged door as the original Isetta, with space for two passengers. The Swiss say they’ve received 17 000 pre-orders, with each Microlino bubble car priced from around $13 500.
5. BMW i4 concept
Tesla has had the premium EV market to itself, but now the company’s flagship Model S has tough competition from the new zero-emissions Porsche Taycan. Tesla’s volume-selling midsize Model 3 is also about to see some rivals enter the market – BMW just revealed its i4 concept, which previews a 3 Series-sized EV that is expected to start from $50 000 once it goes on sale in 2021. The concept features a powertrain developing 530 horsepower, allowing for a claimed range of up to 600km.
Renault has an ambition of selling the cheapest EVs in Europe next year. The company’s budget brand Dacia (best known to South African consumers for producing the popular Renault Duster) has just revealed a Suzuki Jimny-sized EV crossover that has a range of 200km and a no-frills interior to save money. In China, a pretty much identical car is already on the market as the Renault K-ZE, where it retails from less than $9 000.
7. VW Golf
Wolfsburg’s big highlight for this year’s Geneva motor show was supposed to pull in all the crowds, but instead the Internet could only muster up a lukewarm reception for the new eighth-generation VW Golf GTI. Alongside the hot-hatch, Volkswagen also launched the latest Golf GTE, an electrified plug-in hybrid with a system total of 240 horsepower and a zero-emissions range of around 60km, which is twice as much as the previous generation could manage.
8. Koenigsegg Gemera
When he’s not busy breaking top speed records with his multimillion-dollar hypercars, Swedish genius Christian von Koenigsegg chases his dream of developing the perfect internal combustion engine. The new Koenigsegg Gemera four-seater features a hybrid powerplant with a total of 1 700 horsepower, but the electrified technology takes a back seat to the fossil-fuelled three-cylinder on board. The tiny 2-litre engine has no mechanical camshafts actuating the valves and is thus much simpler and more efficient. This three-cylinder alone develops 600 horsepower and 600Nm of torque, representing a real breakthrough in internal combustion development.
9. Bentley Bacalar
This $2 million dollar creation comes with 5 000-year-old wood veneer and loads of carbon fibre, which is a combination only Crewe could pull off – the new Bentley Bacalar is limited to just 12 examples worldwide and each one has already been sold. There is a 12-cylinder engine under the bonnet worth 650 horsepower, but all that money doesn’t even get you a roof – the Bentley Bacalar is strictly a two-seater speedster.
10. Aston Martin V12 Speedster
Following the Bentley Bacalar, as well as other roofless limited-edition models from McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche, British manufacturer Aston Martin got in on this trend with the new V12 Speedster. With a $1 million price tag, the Aston Martin comes with an open-top cabin and no windscreen, but since 88 examples will only ever be built, each V12 Speedster is likely destined to spend its life in a collection as an appreciating asset.