The 2019 Geneva Motor Show was a sensational avalanche of extraordinary new cars – here’s my best and worst
Did we call it too soon? Are rumours of the demise of the Motor Show greatly exaggerated? After some pretty lacklustre editions of some fairly big international car shows over the last few months, it was almost as if everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, was holding back for the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.
As soon as you thought – ah, so this is the star of the show – there was yet another, and then another until you were gasping for breath, overwhelmed by a torrent of spectacular new vehicles and extraordinary concept cars.
Clearly it was also the year that Tesla became a footnote in the annals of automotive history as the more established car players took up the electrically-charged torch and deluged us with their interpretations of plug-in EVs, some of which offered insane power and speed, and others of which claimed mileage range that momentarily stopped even my electric-sceptic scoffing and caused me pause to ponder.
Trying to report all the new releases on my Instagram account – search #BrownCarGuy – kept me intensely engaged frantically posting and Instastorying over two days trying to keep up, and I still missed a few.
But when the dust settled and I slumped back to at last lazily swipe and scroll through my own feeds, here are the best three that made me dither and consider, and the worst three that riled my bile.
Honda E Prototype
Just look at it? Do I need to say anything more? I mean it’s adorable, reminiscent of the first generation Honda Civic (which we once owned and I love) and in this futuristic form 95% ready for production they say.
It’s an almost faithful reinterpretation of the 2017 Honda Urban EV that stole everyone’s hearts at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
And as Honda’s first foray into the world of EV production cars, ahead of frankly over-ambitious plans to sell only electric cars in Europe within just six years, its yet another indication of Honda rediscovering its norm-shattering mojo from the 1970s and 80s.
GFG Style Kangaroo
I almost didn’t notice this one, overshadowed as it was by the big budget high profile debut from another design house, Pininfarina (a gorgeous electric hypercar that made even Bugattis look pathetically slow!).
The Kangaroo concept from the master and his son, Giorgetto Giugiario and Fabrizio Giugiaro under the umbrella of their new firm GFG Style is a full electric off-roading supercar with style.
Not only does it boast a 0-100kph time of 3.5 seconds and a 450km (280mile) range, but it has gullwing windows AND scissor doors, taillight LEDs that work across the entirety of the ample rear grille, 4-wheel steering, 4-wheel drive and suspension that lifts it to a 10.5 inch ground clearance. I hope history repeats and Lotus takes a close look at this for a future all-road Esprit!
Volkswagen ID.BUGGY Concept
Not only do I just want to pick this up and stuff it in my pocket right now, not only does it make me want to go onto YouTube and revisit episodes of Speed Buggy from my childhood, and not only does it induce me to Spotify The Beach Boys, but it makes electric cars cool and customisable.
It’s built on a modular electric vehicle platform which means that it can be totally personalised. More significantly, Volkswagen is essentially offering its Modular Electric Toolkit MEB platform to other car makers to build small EVs on.
So it’s a highly logical and conscientious move from a car maker trying to cleanse itself of a nefarious oily scandal of recent years. Besides that the ID.BUGGY just makes me grin.
I know that one should patriotically doff a cap at the plucky little race car and sports car marker that’s trying to get itself back in the limelight with a thundering track-attack machine, but sorry chaps, this monster be hideous.
The 940kg does pique one’s interest, as does 575bhp from a V8, and naming it after the Russian word for Shark is… well fascinating, but it doesn’t look much like a shark. In fact it looks like something that got ravaged by a shark that was effing furious at having its name on it.
Considering Ginetta’s expertise, I’m sure it will be amazing to drive, but at £340,000 frankly you’re having a laugh.
Bugatti La Voiture Noir
A one-off rebodied special that allegedly harks back to a fabled original – the black 1930s Type 57 Atlantic (one of four) owned by Ettore Bugatti’s son that mysteriously disappeared and was never found. Marking 110 years of the legendary French brand, what a great story that is on which to hinge celebrations.
As that particular car was dubbed ‘La Voiture Noire’ (The Black Car), the name was dusted off and reused for fittingly enough, another unique one-off Bugatti based on the Chiron that is supposedly completely unique. And as such commanding the world’s most expensive new car tag at a price of $18.9 million even though it won’t be ready for another two years.
Three things: it actually appears to be a modified Divo which at $6m is itself double the price of the prettier Chiron at $3m, so makes no logical sense at the price; the bulky heavy-handed style is a far cry from the delicate and delightfully simple lines of a Type 57 Atlantic; and frankly it just feels like a rather cynical exercise in headline grabbing.
Engler F.F Superquad
It looks like it should be a fun lightweight sharp-handling two-seat sports car. In fact it’s the world’s biggest quadbike. Yep you don’t sit on it, you sit astride it’s centre tunnel and drive (ride?) it using handlebar controls. Okay so it’s not pretty, but you could still merit it as an interesting theoretical experiment.
But as you make yourself comfortable you’re told that it’s powered by a 5.2 V10 (probably out of a Lamborghini Huracan) putting out 850bhp and is capable of accelerating to 62mph (100kph) in just 2.5 seconds with a top speed of 217ph (350kph), and you leap off quicker than someone in the crowd mutters ‘deathtrap’.
To be fair the Suzuki Hayabusa is quicker and I can envisage a more appealing way to have presented this supercar-meets-superbike concept, but in this form the Engelbert Humperdink Quad is quite forgettable.