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Geneva Motor Show: special report

THE Geneva Motor Show saw a host of new models making their world debuts, ranging from an ultra-efficient diesel-engined hybrid to a 400bhp Saab supercar.

Honda

On show: Civic Type-R (above), Legend, FCX concept (below)

USER-CHOOSERS will be rejoicing with news that Honda has revealed a Type-R version of the new Civic.

The production car doesn’t go on sale until 2007, but it will follow the looks of this concept very closely. The show car features aggressive bodystyling and a 197bhp 2.0-litre engine which will retain the firm’s trademark high-rev power delivery. The Type-R, priced at about £18,000, will be built in Swindon alongside the five-door Civic and new versions of the three-door range.

Honda also debuted the European version of the Legend luxury saloon. Powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine offering 290bhp, the Legacy is packed with technology including four-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, an emergency brake assist system and Lane Keeping Assist which reads lines on the road and keeps the car between them by applying steering inputs. The Legend is due to go on sale in the UK in August.

Elsewhere, the FCX Concept previews how Honda’s production fuel cell-powered car will look when it arrives in three years’ time. The hydrogen fuel cell concept features four-wheel drive.

Renault

On show: Clio RenaultSport (above), Altica Concept (below)

ANOTHER hot hatchback revealed at Geneva was the Clio Renaultsport, the latest in a long line of sporty small Renaults.

Offering 197bhp, the Clio will accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds through a close ratio six-speed gearbox and has a top speed of 134mph.

To mark the hot Clio out from its less powerful stablemates, the Renaultsport version has wider front wings, a wider track between the front wheels to boost handling and 17-inch alloy wheels.

And – in a first for the sector – Renault has incorporated special aerodynamic features on the Clio gleaned from the firm’s Formula One race team.

The Clio 197’s rear bumper incorporates an air diffuser to channel airflow, sucking the back end of the car to the ground. In the front wings are extractor vents which smooth airflow over the side of the car to help improve handling.

Renault also took the wraps off its Altica concept, a sporty estate car which uses an ultra-low drag body to offer 53mpg economy from its 177bhp 2.0-litre dCi turbodiesel engine. The four-seat concept also features a transparent roof.

Mercedes-Benz

On show: CLS 320 CDI B, CLS 350 CGI (above), CLS/CLK63 AMG, GL

ENGINE technology was to the fore on the Mercedes-Benz stand, with a wide range of powerplants making their entrance alongside the first European showing of the new GL sports utility vehicle.

The new 6.3-litre V8 engine, producing 481bhp, made its debut under the bonnets of the CLK63 AMG coupe and convertible models. Another version of the engine with 510bhp appeared with the CLS63 AMG. But for drivers who prefer to keep a reasonable distance between refuelling stops, Mercedes-Benz debuted two rather more economical units – the Bluetec diesel and direct injection CGI petrol.

The 3.5-litre V6 CGI unit will arrive with the CLS in the UK in July, offering a 10% boost in fuel economy over the existing 3.5 V6 unit thanks to a more efficient fuel injection system.

The other new engine – the Bluetec diesel – is designed primarily for the United States. This system, commonly fitted on large trucks, uses a urea tank to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.

However, as it is equipped with a particulate filter it slightly raises CO2 emissions – negating its benefit in the UK’s company car tax system. Another factor in not bringing the Bluetec technology to the UK is the issue of availability of low sulphur fuel, which the system needs to operate.

Citroen

On show: C4 HDI hybride, C-Airplay (below)

CITROEN’S ground-breaking C4 Hybride HDi was on show in Geneva, combining an electric motor with a 1.6-litre turbodiesel to offer CO2 emissions of just 90g/km and fuel economy of up to 84mpg. The car also uses the firm’s Stop & Start technology to aid the massive reduction in emissions.

There are no plans to introduce a production version for several years, but Citroen will launch a new 173bhp 2.2-litre HDi diesel in the C5 range later this year. Also on show was the C-AirPlay, a concept city car with touch-sensitve controls for the gearbox and a steering wheel incorporating two driver information displays.

Saab

ON SHOW: AERO X (below)

SAAB gets a fresh new image with the Aero X, a sensational green machine that delivers a 400bhp punch from an engine that runs on 100% bioethanol.

But there’s no chance that the Scandinavian supercar – one of the big surprises at Geneva and built from a mixture of carbon fibre and aluminium – will ever roll from the production lines because the slinky two-seater that rockets to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds uses fuel that is currently available only in Brazil.

Saab managing director Jan-Ake Jonsson said: ‘We have built this concept to show how we can exploit our links with the aero industry in the models we’re planning for the future. Replacements for the 9-5 in 2008 and the 9-3 in 2010 will certainly take styling cues from this exercise.’

Sadly, the most distinctive feature of the Aero X will never be seen on a production Saab either. Styled to look like the cockpit cover of a jet fighter, a forward-opening cockpit canopy takes the place of normal doors and windshield pillars to give a panoramic view of the road ahead.

However, other aircraft-inspired design highlights of the twin-turbocharged 2.8-litre sports coupe being considered for future use include wheels which look like aircraft engine turbo fans and distinctively-shaped headlights and air intakes.

Kia

On show: CEE’D (below), Sedona, Sorento

THE striking Cee’d concept car took pride of place on the Kia stand, signifying a new design direction for the firm.

The vehicle has been designed in Europe and from December the production version, due to be unveiled in September, will be built at Kia’s new factory in Slovakia.

The Cee’d is a Ford Focus-sized five-door hatchback. Gregory Guillaume, the chief designer at Kia’s European Design Centre, said: ‘We wanted to introduce this concept as the starting point for the new design DNA for Kia, to highlight that this car is designed in Europe and made in Europe.’

Also on show at Geneva was an upgraded version of the Sorento SUV and the all-new Sedona people carrier.

Vauxhall

On show: Astra Twintop, Meriva, Opel GT (below)

VAUXHALL’S sleek Astra TwinTop was one of three new folding metal roof convertibles on show in Geneva.

On sale in the UK within the next couple of months, the Astra tin-top range is priced keenly, with the entry-level version costing from £16,995.

This was joined by the facelifted Meriva, which has a 178bhp turbocharged VXR version as its range-topper.

But the star of the stand was the Opel GT – and the bad news is that it won’t come to the UK in right-hand drive form.

The two-seater roadster goes on sale in Europe in 2007, offering a 260bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and rear-wheel drive.

Discussions are under way about bringing small numbers of Opel-badged GTs to the UK in left-hand drive form.

Volvo

On show: S80 (below)

VOLVO is planning an assault on the corporate car market with its all-new S80 executive saloon, and it estimates that 70% of sales will go to non-Volvo drivers.

On sale in the UK in June, the S80 offers five engines – a 4.4 V8, 3.2 inline six, 2.5 inline turbo five and two diesels in 185bhp and 163bhp guises. Four-wheel drive will also be available.

The Ford-owned Swedish brand has high hopes for the car and believes the majority of S80 sales will be to the UK’s company car market.

Ian Rendle, Volvo Car UK’s corporate sales manager, said: ‘Company motorists want a car in the executive sector which combines luxury, driving pleasure and refinement with the reassurance of high safety standards – and these are all credentials Volvo has focused on with the S80.

‘The corporate sector in the UK will account for the majority of the new S80’s sales. It will appeal to the high mileage company car driver.

‘The fact that Volvo used British roads to help develop the S80 is testament to how important we see the UK market for the car.’

Audi

On show: RS4 Avant & Cabriolet, S6 Avant, A6 Allroad (below)

AUDI’S new additions to the superfast RS4 family took a bow at the show. The Avant estate and four-seat cabriolet models arrive in the UK this summer, offering the 414bhp V8 engine and four-wheel drive running gear used in the RS4 saloon.

Continuing the sporty theme was the debut of the S6 Avant – an A6 using a detuned version of the Lamborghini Gallardo’s V10 engine.

The A6 Allroad made its world debut at Geneva, bringing increased off-road capability to the A6 Avant range.

This has a higher ride height than the A6 on which it is based and will be available with two petrol engines – a 3.2 FSI V6 with 255bhp and a 4.2 FSI V8 with 350bhp, and two TDI diesels – the 2.7 with 180bhp and the 3.0 with 233bhp.

Audi also revealed details of a new addition to the A3 range – a tuned version of the 2.0 TDI turbodiesel engine offering 170bhp.

Available in three-door and Sportback guises, the TDI 170 will be available with front and four-wheel drive and with the choice of manual or DSG transmissions. Expect the TDI 170 to arrive this August.

Ford

On show: S-MAX (above), Galaxy, Focus Coupe-Cabriolet (below)

THREE new production Fords were on show in Geneva – the S-MAX and Galaxy people carriers and the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet.

On sale in June, the S-MAX and Galaxy both offer seven-seat capability. The S-MAX is smaller than the Galaxy and both will offer a wide range of petrol and diesel engines.

The Focus Coupe-Cabriolet, with its folding metal hard top, arrives in the UK later this year to do battle with the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop, Peugeot 307CC and Renault Megane CC.

Chevrolet

ON SHOW: CAPTIVA (above), EPICA (below)

TWO new models promise to raise the profile of Chevrolet in Britain’s fleet market next year, it was claimed at Geneva.

Backed by bargain pricing, the Epica saloon and Captiva sport utility vehicle are set to quickly win business motorists over to the US brand, company officials believe.

Available from autumn, the Ford Mondeo-sized Epica family car will cost about £16,500 with a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine and an all-inclusive specification. The five or seven-seat Captiva, sized to rival the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, will cost from £17,000.

A spokesman said: ‘At the moment, only one out of every five cars we sell goes to the fleet market, but we’re aiming for a dramatic change in that situation. These cars make it clear that the Chevrolet badge stands for quality and exceptional value, so we expect a substantial increase in fleet sales next year.’

European styling and a versatile interior layout are key elements of the Captiva, which will come with 2.4-litre petrol power and front-wheel drive or a 2.0-litre turbodiesel linked with four-wheel drive and a choice of manual or automatic five-speed transmissions.

‘The Epica will be supplied with 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engines in other markets but we think the 150bhp diesel version has such potential that it is the only one we will offer in the UK,’ added the spokesman.

Mitsubishi

On show: Colt CZC (above), Concept-X, Concept-EZ Miev

MITSUBISHI’S stand was dominated by three all-new models, but only one of them is destined for production in the near future.

The Colt CZC, which made its world debut at Geneva, is a folding metal-roofed hardtop version of the cute Colt supermini.

The car transforms from coupe to convertible at the touch of a button. Power comes from a choice of either 107bhp or turbocharged 147bhp 1.5-litre petrol engines.

The CZC goes on sale in the UK next month, priced from £13,999 to £15,999.

The Concept-X made its European debut at Geneva, previewing what to expect when the latest incarnation of the long-running Evolution rally replica models goes on sale.

The Concept-X features the usual mix of super-powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and sophisticated four-wheel drive hardware, but clothed in a far more sleek bodystyle than previous Evos.

The third new car was the Concept-EZ MIEV, a small car which features electric motors in each wheel to provide low emissions transport.

Skoda

On show: Roomster (below)

SKODA introduced its fourth model line at Geneva – the quirky Roomster.

The mini-MPV features a huge rear end, both long and tall, and uses versatile seating arrangements, meaning it can be converted to use as a two, three, four or five-seater. Due to go on sale at the tail end of 2006, the Roomster will be offered with familiar Volks-wagen Group petrol and diesel engines.

Smart

On show: Smart Fortwo EV, Brabus SBR (below)

THE smartest Smart so far could soon be helping cut airborne pollution in a number of British towns and cities.

A new electric-powered version of the troubled DaimlerChrysler brand’s city car has yet to be given the green light for production – but Mercedes Car Group managing director Dermot Kelly has already sold the benefits of the concept to dozens of local authorities.

He said: ‘We believe the Fortwo EV model has great potential in helping local government departments meet environmental obligations and discussions with officials in several areas have established a high level of interest.

‘In addition, this two-seater is just the ticket for the growing number of companies who are keen to show their commitment to green causes and it also has the makings of an ideal courtesy car.’

Kelly added: ‘I think free parking and exemption from congestion charging would make it particularly popular in London.

‘I’m working hard to make it available in the UK. I’m convinced it will happen and become the precursor of an electric version of the new Fortwo model due next year.’

The little car uses a 41bhp motor to reach 75mph and has a range of 50 miles after its battery has had an eight-hour charge.

Earlier, Smart president Ulrich Walker unveiled the company’s fastest model yet – the Brabus SBR. This supermini with attitude has an output of 210bhp and is capable of topping 140mph – but it has yet to be given the go-ahead for production.

BMW

On show: Z4 Coupe, Z4 M Coupe (below)

RACY new Z4 Coupe and Z4 M Coupe models to rival the Porsche 911 stole the limelight on the BMW stand – but the big news centred on its latest engine family.

Thanks to a high precision injection system that optimises combustion, the firm’s new in-line bi-turbo six-cylinder power unit develops 306bhp and up to 300lb-ft of torque. BMW research and development chief Dr Burkhard Goschel said: ‘It stands for maximum sporting flair and there’s probably no other engine in this class that is as light or as compact.’

Due to drive a new model to be launched in the ‘foreseeable’ future, the engine uses two small turbochargers which make turbo lag a thing of the past. The engine weighs 70kg less than a non-turbo four-litre V8 of similar power but uses 10% less fuel.

He added: ‘High precision injection is the basic technology that makes the BMW Group one of the first manufacturers to promote the second generation lean-burn direct injection.’

Volkswagen

On show: Concept A (above), EOS

VOLKSWAGEN is the latest firm to jump on the ‘crossover’ bandwagon with its Concept A, an SUV with coupe styling.

Although only a concept at the moment, the car gives a clue to what Volkswagen’s answer to the Land Rover Freelander will be like when it appears in a couple of years’ time.

The car at Geneva featured a 147bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine which uses both a supercharger and a turbocharger to give performance and economy.

It channels its power through a six-speed DSG clutchless manual gearbox and four-wheel drive chassis.

Elsewhere on the stand, Volkswagen was displaying two new Polo variants – the GTI with a 147bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine and Golf GTI styling cues – and the jacked up Dune. Both go on sale in the next two months, the GTI priced from £14,785 and the Dune from £12,645.

Volkswagen also showed the Golf GT which uses the same 1.4 TSI engine installed in the Concept A. On sale in the summer, the GT sits below the GTI in the line-up and will also be available with a 166bhp 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel. Prices have yet to be announced.

Hyundai

On show: Santa Fe, Genus (above)

HYUNDAI’S new Santa Fe SUV made its European debut at Geneva, prior to it going on sale in the UK later this year.

A bigger car than the model it replaces, it is now available for the first time as a seven-seater, boosting its appeal in the fleet market.

Hyundai claims passenger comfort and on-road handling have been improved in the new version to cater more for European buying tastes.

The Santa Fe will be available with a 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel.

Sharing stand space was the Genus concept, a crossover car which blends coupe-like styling with estate car versatility.

It previews the type of vehicle Hyundai will develop in the future for the upper-medium sector.

Alfa Romeo

On show: 159 Sportwagon (above), Spider (below)

ALFA Romeo gave its Spider and 159 Sportwagon ranges their international debuts at Geneva.

The Sportwagon builds on the base laid down by the new 159 saloon buts adds a stylish estate bodystyle to compliment the range of petrol and diesel engines already available.

On sale from late spring, the Sportwagon will feature two trim levels, three JTS petrol engines (3.2 -litre 260bhp V6, a 185bhp 2.2-litre and 1.9-litre with 160bhp) and two MultiJet turbodiesels (a 2.4-litre with 200bhp and a 150bhp 1.9-litre).

Also new is the Spider, a two-seat convertible based on the Brera. On sale in the UK in the summer, the Spider will be offered with 2.2 185bhp and 260bhp 3.2-litre V6 petrol engines.

Suzuki

On show: SX4 (below)

SUZUKI will extend its UK model range next month when its new SX4 crossover car reaches showrooms with a price tag starting from less than £11,000.

The entry-level SX4, claimed to blend the dynamics of a sport utility model with saloon-like elegance, will come with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and front-wheel drive.

A four-wheel drive system with push button switching between three modes will be available with 1.6-litre petrol or 1.9-litre turbodiesel power.

Suzuki president Hiroshi Tsuda said: ‘We have developed this range with European motorists in mind – it is a crossing of Japanese technology with European taste and we expect to sell around 6,000 in Britain next year.’

Diesel examples of the SX4 will come with six-speed manual transmission and the range is expected to top out at £14,000.

Mazda

On show: Mazda3 MPS (below)

IT boasts a better driving performance, improved economy and an uprated interior – but next versions of the revised Mazda3 range are likely to be only slightly more expensive when they roll into UK showrooms this summer.

And the premium for a zingy hot hatchback claimed to be the ultimate sports compact model should be no more than £2,000, acccording to Mazda UK spokesman Graeme Fudge.

Due to be on sale by the end of the year, the Mazda3 MPS uses the 2.3-litre engine from the Mazda6 MPS, detuned slightly to 247bhp.

Fudge added: ‘It’s a fitting model to extend this range, which has proved popular in the fleet market.

‘We are confident that the extra sound deadening treatment, revised interior and recalibrated suspension of all models will find even greater favour with company car drivers.’

Mazda claims only constrained supply prevented higher sales of the Mazda3 in Britain last year, and expects greater availability to cut waiting lists.

Dodge

ON SHOW SHOW: HORNET (below)

CHRYSLER had the Geneva show buzzing when the wraps came off its latest concept car. The pacesetters in wacky reveals peppered the audience with thousands of toy bees at the launch of the Dodge Hornet.

But as journalists collected the bees from the floor, bosses of the American company’s UK division homed in on the concept and took only seconds to decide it had the potential to be a showroom stinger.

Marketing director Steve Gray said: ‘We have to make a business case, but this car looks a honey. It could be just the model we need to go alongside the new upper-medium sector car we’ll launch in May next year.’

Chrysler’s UK-born design senior vice-president, Trevor Creed, added: ‘Cars in the small car segment are so alike that it’s hard to tell one from another. We want to make a bigger buzz and Dodge is the brand to do it.’

The Hornet stands on 19-inch wheels, has a 1.6-litre supercharged engine producing 170bhp.

Lexus

On show: GS450h (below)

A CAR claiming to redefine the concept of a high performance sports saloon has the potential to drive Lexus back into the reckoning with the UK corporate sector when it goes on sale in May.

Combining a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with a high-output, permanent magnet electric motor makes 335bhp available with 35mpg economy and a C02 exhaust emission figure of just 186g/km in the new GS 450h.

A spokesman for Lexus UK said: ‘In the past we’ve lost a lot of business as a result of high emission levels, but things are different now.

‘We see this model as a great opportunity for us in the company car market and are looking to achieve more than 600 sales this year and around 750 next year.’

Launching the car at the show, Lexus Europe vice-president Karl Schlicht claimed hybrid registrations across Europe would represent 25% of total Lexus sales this year as an increasing number of customers recognised the technology as a key differentiator.

The GS450h will be available in three trim levels and is expected to cost from £40,000 to £47,000.

Land Rover

On show: e-Terrain Concept (below)

IT might look like a giant-size model kit car, but this e-Terrain Technology Concept proves that Land Rover has come up with a comprehensive response to the fast-growing anti-SUV lobby.

The car showcases engine technology which will reduce CO2 emissions of a future Freelander size vehicle to below 150g/km – offering drivers far lower company car tax bills.

A string of new gadgets and innovations are poised to give the Land Rover a clean bill of environmental health as well as improving the go-anywhere ability of the Midland company’s 4x4 models, according to advanced engineering department chief Paul Newsome.

He said: ‘The key technologies we are now perfecting start with the belt-driven integrated starter generator, which allows the engine to stop when the vehicle comes to a halt and start up again quickly and smoothly.

‘But the clever part comes with Belt-ISG, a rear-axle drive that allows the vehicle to go into hybrid-style emission-free electric power. However, both mechanical and electric power can be fed to all four wheels in off-road situations, so we’re talking about a hybrid system that improves traction.

‘This drive unit can be used with any petrol or diesel engine, which gives it a major advantage compared with expensive and powertrain-specific hybrid alternatives – and we’ve also come up with a propshaft that is automatically disconnected when not needed to reduce losses and cut fuel consumption.’

Chief executive Matthew Taylor added: ‘We’re committed to environmental sustainability and these technologies mean buyers will not have to make a choice between capability and efficiency.’

Toyota

On show: Yaris T Sport (below), Aygo For Sports, RAV4 Sports

TOYOTA’S stand at Geneva had a distinctly sporty theme, with three new models making their debuts.

Due to go on sale in 2007, the Yaris T Sport Concept points the way to how the sporty version of the Yaris supermini will look. Powered by a new 1.8-litre petrol engine, the T Sport features 17-inch alloys and body styling, Toyota claims the production version will blend refinement and fun-to-drive qualities.

Continuing the theme, Toyota has lopped the roof off its smallest model – the Aygo city car. The Aygo for Sports does away with the hatchback’s roof and rear seats and in their place is a two-seater sports car with twin rollover hoops.

Designed as a fun beach car concept, the show car had Neoprene seats and a teak floor.

Also on display was a RAV4 with the 180bhp diesel engine, tuned to deliver 201bhp.

Peugeot

ON SHOW: 207 RCUP (below)

BETTER manufacturing standards have allowed Peugeot to put its new 207 hatchback range on the road one month earlier than planned.

The on-sale date for the car in Britain is now June 8, announced Peugeot Motor Company managing director Pierre Louis Colin at the world premiere of the new model.

He said: ‘The ramp-up of production has gone better than we expected and quality levels are perfect. We are having no problems and we’ll hit the ground running.’ UK market specification has yet to be finalised for the range, but Automobiles Peugeot chief executive Frederic Saint-Geours revealed the 207 will cost from about £8,000 when it goes into showrooms in France on April 6.

‘This price is fully in line with the market, and we want to sell a more than 500,000 examples across Europe in 2007,’ he said.

Colin said the range, bigger than the 206 and powered by 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines and the 110bhp HDi diesel at launch, will have been driven by more than 3,000 salesmen and servicing staff from the company’s UK dealerships in advance of the on-sale date.

Also on display was the 207 RCup, a pointer to the hot hatchback version due later this year.

Nissan

On show: Note (below), revised 350Z

NISSAN’S new Note has struck the right chord, it was claimed at Geneva with more than 1,000 orders for the Sunderland-built compact MPV being processed.

A spokesman said: ‘It is clear that young family buyers like the sound of this car.

It’s also going down well with leasing companies and we’re happy that residual values have been set on a par with the new Toyota Yaris.’

Shorter than the Volks-wagen Golf but standing on a longer wheelbase that allows a versatile interior layout, the Note costs from £9,995.

Elsewhere, an uprated version of the 350Z is set to cost around £800 more when it reaches the showrooms – but will represent better value when extra specification is taken into account.

As well as new bi-xenon headlamps and LED rear lights, an extra 24bhp takes output of the facelifted Z to 300bhp. The car also has 18-inch alloys as standard, which used to be a £1,000 option.

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