herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

geneva 2015

Small SUVs for families and powerful sports cars for the rich are the big things at this year's Geneva International Motor Show.

Environmentally correct electrics and hybrids, not so much, thanks to cheaper fuel and limits on battery life.

So what's hot and what's not at this year's show?

Renault was first down the catwalk with the Kadjar, a crossover in two or four-wheel drive versions, while Honda blurs the borders between car and hatchback with its new HR-V, touting acoustic insulation that reduces road noise and three different ways to configure the interior to carry things.

At the higher-priced end, Infiniti (the luxury arm of Nissan) shows off its QX30 concept with carbon-fibre trim and 21-inch wheels.

High-priced sports cars and luxury vehicles are on display in abundance. Audi is showing a new version of its R8 with a 10-cylinder engine churning out 610 horsepower and acceleration of 0-100kph in only 3.2 seconds.

It's priced at €165,000 for the basic version, €187,000 for the more powerful one and goes on sale in Ireland (yes, the recession is over) this summer.

For those lusting after a bit more grunt, the McLaren 675LT offers 0-100kph in 2.9 seconds and 0-200kph in 7.9 seconds, on your way to a top speed of 330kph (205mph).

Ferrari is joining in with the 488 GTB, powered by a turbocharged eight-cylinder engine.

Electric models and hybrids have lost some of their buzz, but are represented this year in the guise of the Mercedes plug-in hybrid version of its C-class saloon.

Problem is, as a class they don't sell well yet. Only 75,331 electrics and hybrids were sold in the EU last year. That's up 37pc, but their limited range and higher costs mean little demand aside from environmental enthusiasts.

But it's the family car segment that most interests us, and here's the lowdown on what's coming to an Irish showroom in the coming months.

First up is the new Skoda Superb, now in its third generation, which is being flagged as the most luxurious ever, offering sat nav and leather interior as standard. Next down the ramp is VW's Sports Coupe Concept GTE (below), a clear indicator of what the new Passat CC will look like.

Staying with the sports models, Ford has pulled the covers of the much-awaited RS, packing a savage 316bhp.

Rivalling the RS is the Honda Civic Type R which is no slouch either, banging out a blistering 280bhp and running the fastest lap at the Nurburgring for a front-wheel drive.

It was a big day for BMW, with the launch of the 2-Series Gran Tourer, a seven-seat family vehicle that's something of a contrast with the company's powerful saloons and SUVs and featuring front-wheel-drive.

Mazda also unveiled its compact SUV called the CX-3 which is, as you've probably guessed, a smaller version of the CX5.

The rugged little motor took centre stage with the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5, the most advanced version yet of the iconic roadster with a lighter chassis and packing 160bhp.

Over on the SEAT stand, the Spanish giant revealed its SUV Concept 20V20 which will rival the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5 and has all-wheel-drive capability.

Finally, Opel launched its new city car, named Karl and boasting best-in-class technology including cruise control, lane departure warning and city mode steering.

Also showcased was the Opel OnStar, a clever device to deliver in-car wifi.

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