The much-awaited Geneva Motor Show is only half-way through its two week showcase of motoring excellence and yet it has already brought us some fabulous new models.
Whilst over 260 exhibitors put their new cars on display, there were a few that stole the show.
The Rolls Royce Phantom II certainly falls into this category. In the spirit of Sir Henry Royce, the Phantom II certainly does ‘take the best that exists and make it better’. Whilst ensuring what makes the Phantom Saloon, Phantom Drophead Coupé and Phantom Coupé so quintessentially Rolls Royce is not compromised, but is enhanced, the Series II incredibly moves the marque forwards.
New LED headlights emphasise the restyled new front-end, with refined bumpers and rectangular light apertures. They are not only cosmetic however, being the first to be standard on a production car. Enhanced safety is the result since LED lights are electronically-controlled and reflected to focus headlamp beams in the direction of travel, including curved light functionality.
Such driver comforts seem to flow throughout this superb car. Not only is safety enhanced, with other features such as the rear path prediction for easier reversing, but so is route enjoyment, with the larger control centre display. Satellite navigation just became easier.
No aspect is left untouched. The drivability is enhanced as well with the introduction of a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential. The V12 direct injection engine has been made more efficient with improvements to both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
A marque of equal prestige to Rolls Royce is Aston Martin. They brought eight models to the show but the new V8 Vantage certainly took pride of place in their line-up. The 2012 release sees the most advanced package of improvements since the launch of the Vantage S in 2008. The optional gearbox that is available received an upgrade, so that new owners now have the choice of a seven-speed Sportshift II automated manual gearbox, instead of the standard six-speed gearbox. A sportier experience awaits with this seventh gear, closer ratios, lower final drive revs and more responsive gear changes.
Voicing this more sportsmanlike attitude, the exterior proclaims its performance credentials. A larger air intake is ensconced in an aerodynamic splitter on the lowered front bumper. Along the side race-day sills emphasise its pedigree. To the rear, a dramatic diffuser signs off on the package.
Another marque which had fans holding their breath is Bentley. Delivering on so much speculation, they released their concept SUV, the EXP 9 F. For a concept car, this design presents the possibility of driving everything that represents Bentley style, grace and power, in the 4×4 format. Amazingly, the sportiness of Bentley’s racing heritage, luxury architecture, and exemplary comfort are all captured in the EXP 9 F. They describe the result as the ‘absolute pinnacle of the sport utility vehicle sector’. Recognisable aspects such as the Bentley matrix grill, circular head lights, and rear haunches of the vehicle are retained, and yet effortless fit into the off-road mould. Many more styling cues, including those in the lights and wheels, reflect the ‘Bentley Set’ days with references to the Bentley Blower and others from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Inside, luxury and utility are fused in harmony. From the advanced entertainment technology featuring easy to use touch-screen control, right down to the reversible silk and wool floormats, and everything in between, a practical aspect has been designed into the plush interior. Traditional hand-finished materials incorporate more durable veneers, and even the tailgate allows itself to function as a viewing bench or picnic table.
The concept has been developed using a W12 6.0 litre engine, capable of 600 bhp and 800 Nm of torque. Whilst this may only be a placeholder, it nonetheless sets new benchmarks for 4×4 vehicles.
The Italians are always going to bring some excitement and flair to the Swiss Show. This year the neighbours certainly caused a stir. The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is punted as the most exciting new Ferrari in an eon, and the Ferrari California presents a fresh look at this iconic supercar.
Debuted in the brand new hues of Rosso Berlinetta and Aluminium, the F12 is the most powerful and capable road car ever produced by Ferrari. Transaxle architecture, revolutionary alloys construction and a 200-bar direct-injection 6262cc 65° V12 engine are all crafted to make the most progressive Ferrari yet.
Bugatti were not to be outdone and chose to unveil the Veyron 16.4 Sport Vitesse. The fastest roadster ever met its public this week, and instantly took their breath away. True recipient of the title of supercar, the Veyron Sport Vitesse, with its 7.9 litre W16 engine reaches a top speed of 255 mph, and sprints to 62 mph in just 2.6 seconds. The drive system, chassis and body all complement this electrifying performance. The body though has, understandably undergone radical treatment to arrive at the Sport Vitesse. Larger than life air intakes and front and roof spoilers, together with a carbon fibre and leather interior make this open-top car a comfortable yet powerful sportster.
It is quite possible that Lamborghini stole the show however. So much anticipation had been focused on a new edge to the already-amazing Lamborghini Aventador. Fans will not be disappointed with the resulting Aventador J that was presented. The 515 kW, 700 bhp roadster is quite possibly what everyone came to Geneva to see. More than just an open-top version of the already amazing Aventador, the J looks to motorsport specifications for its ultimate motivation. A ‘Carbonskin’ body, new twelve-cylinder engine, and even a new paint hue for the monocoque all highlight how impressive a step forward is the Aventador J.
The heartbreaking silhouette ensures that in true Lamborghini style ‘form follows function’. A narrower front aspect and wider rear profile, combined with everything that flows immaculately in between, contribute to uncompromising dynamics.
We expect to see and hear a lot more about these cars that are redefining what performance and good looks are all about.