The Geneva Motor Show is increasingly the one sweet note in a dull chorus of car shows. Detroit is being choked by the perniciously popularly Consumer Electronics Show that falls fatally the week prior. Where once Dodge hosted a cattle drive down Motown’s Woodward Avenue, now we’re lucky to see a single significant model reveal inside cavernous and cold Cobo Center.
But not Geneva. While the cold rain howled outside the Palexpo, the cars revealed this year sizzled. Curtains and dropcloths were yanked off a stunning new McLaren, a sexy front-engine Ferrari, a fascinating Mercedes concept, a curious luxury Volkswagen and a Porsche GT3 that will actually have a manual transmission. At a time when US carmakers appear to be their turning cowardly backs on their commitment to lighten their emissions footprint, the Geneva show is a glimmer of optimism.
Here’s what we loved—and hated.
The Ferrari 812 Superfast
McLaren’s 720S is that sort of supercar that finds extremes in the extremes. Take for instance the 650S Coupe, the predecessor to the 720S. That was an extreme car. This is more extreme. With a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine in a mid-engine configuration, this rear-wheel-drive two-seater is faster than the 650S (0-60 in 2.8 seconds, mate) and lighter (2,828 pounds). Top speed is the boiling point: 212 mph. Also more extreme is the $290,000 price tag.
Mercedes-Maybach Landaulet G650
Really, this should be in the most hated section. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As I stood in the rather imposing shadow of the Mercedes-Maybach Landaulet—it’s at least 46 feet tall—I thought about all the suffering in the world. Then I even climbed all the way up into the back seat, which has a retractable cloth roof, and I sat in the Maybach executive seat and let myself disappear into myself for a while. The G650 costs $500,000, making it untouchable to anyone except the 99 assholes who get to buy one. I love it anyway.
The Ruf CTR
I read once that God made the color yellow so we can see the things that hurt us before they hurt us, and we can run away. That’s why bees and bulldozers are colored yellow. On the show floor at Geneva, the Ruf CTR—a sexy creation whose genesis is a body-on-white Porsche 993 and whose subsequent scripture is writ all in carbon-fiber, handmade in the Ruf family’s shop and which weighs about as much as a all the apostles put together (2,640 pounds). The revelation is the twin-turbo 4.0-liter, 700-horsepower flat-six out back. This will break records and melt minds.
The Mercedes AMG GT Concept
It’s hard to bet against Mercedes these days. That’s why the skepticism about the design of this 90%-production ready, four-door coupe-like sedan ceoncept is such an intriguing entry. It is based on the E/CLS platform, equipped with a sports hybrid system that will mate the 4.0-liter V8 with electric power that Mercedes claims will have a “convincing electrical range.” Total power equivalent? 900 horsepower. We should see the road-ready version at the Frankfurt show. The Porsche Panamera better think of something quick.
Renault Alpine A110
This was one of our favorite cars when it came out 20 years ago. Now Renault is putting on its party clothes for the first time in a while and taking on Porsche with the limited-edition Alpine 110 two-seater. Low to the ground and high-priced (for Renault), this four-cylinder turbo will cost €58,500, making it Renault’s most expensive passenger car. Imagine that. It’ll also be as fast as a Porsche 911 Carrera.
Anything from Mansory
Take a designer who hates cars and give them brown acid. That’s Mansonry.
The Gemballa 911
Please don’t put a Trans-Am scoop on a 911.