/ Motoring

Car makers need to park their wild ideas

Geneva Hamann Range Rover

I’ve been to enough motor shows to know that they’re more about glitz and glamour than the business of actually launching cars, but come on – this year’s Geneva Motor Show feels like a cartoon fantasy land.

Geneva is chock full of cars that leave you with the feeling that the recession never happened. I’m not talking about all those ‘out there’ dream cars that will never make it into production; in fact, there are far fewer of those this year than normal.

No, I’m talking about the huge number of fantastically irrelevant cars in the super-luxury category, which is booming despite the world’s economic woes. Contrastingly, there’s an almost complete lack of new products or new ideas for people in the mainstream, real world. For everyday car owners, Geneva is a virtual desert.

Geneva Motor Show – fantasy land

Luxury car fanatics have the enviable dilemma of choosing between the new Bentley Flying Spur or the Rolls-Royce Wraith.

Footballers and moguls are faced with a quandary over which is the best new hypercar: the Ferrari ‘LaFerrari’, McLaren P1 or Lamborghini Veneno?

And my personal vote for the most outrageously pointless car of the show goes to an 800bhp version of the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen built by Brabus.

Geneva Motor Show – keeping it real

Where are the cars that are going to help ordinary people keep mobile in difficult times? The answer: very much absent.

You’d think that, in a European market that was down a whopping 8.2% in 2012, car makers would be fighting hard to launch cars that might turn this trend around.

The headlines were certainly there for the grabbing for any brand that could conjure up a major new real-world car. But there was hardly a single significant car launch. Congratulations go to Nissan for debuting the new Note, which looks like it might take a bigger slice of the small MPV pie thanks to much sharper styling. And I think that one of its main rivals, the all-new Peugeot 2008, looks pretty good too.

It is Renault, though, which has arguably woken up the most. The French brand has put a lot of its eggs in the electric car basket, but with sales looking very flat (if you’ll pardon the pun), it knows it has to change.

Renault has enjoyed success in Europe with its budget brand Dacia, which is about as ‘real world’ as you can get. And now Renault is taking inspiration from sister brand Nissan by essentially copying the successful formula of the Qashqai and Juke with its two new models, the Scenic XMOD and the Captur. The latter was probably the star of the show.


I’m sure a trip to Geneva had some compensations. I should have loved to sit in the Wraith and check the specification to see whether the horsepower would be ‘adequate’, as Rolls-Royce traditionally declared it.

I wonder how much this manufacturers’ ego trip and the cost of building concept cars add to the price of ordinary cars bought by people whose first priority is reliability and running cost.

Whyte Rider says:
22 March 2013

Aren’t cars generally about fantasy? How many people buy a car only to satisfy a need? Come on lighten up and enjoy the quality of the engineering and design on show, plus there were lots of concepts which will feed in to everyday motoring for example the VW’s XL1 and E-Co-Motion, Toyota i-Road. And what about Volvo’s cyclist detection system? It seems you were just starry eyed about RR, Bentley, Ferrari and McLaren and forgot to look beyond the glitz.