The Volvo V40 is perhaps the surprise of the show, coming across far better in the real than in the initial press shots. Things arguably get even better when you tug open one of its five doors and slip into its cabin.
Yes the IP architecture is perhaps a little overbearing but its detail execution is really impressive. The more you look and touch the deeper the sense of integrity. From the graphics in its digital gauge pack to its single piece metal door card accents via the lovely, bezel-less rear view mirror, in the best Swedish tradition this has the feeling of a product that will continue to quietly please over time.
The aero wheel trend has been knocking around for a few years now (again) and there’s no sign of it stopping. But there is also a new – and rather encouraging – sign that tire sidewalls have started to grow a little more generous and wheel diameters, while still big, have reached a plateau even on concept cars. Somebody even reported seeing an Audi on hoops smaller than 18-inches.
But big, small, fat or thin, these four are our favourites (and yes, one is an outsized Audi).
Clockwise from top left: Volvo V40, Lamborghini Aventador J, Audi A1 quattro, Hyundai i-ioniq
The Rolls-Royce Phantom has received a mild facelift, seen for the first time here in Geneva. Arguably it didn’t need a nip and tuck from a purely aesthetic perspective – it’s still peerless in the super-luxury sector. Yet legislation for DLRs and the fact that the buyers of the first models (don’t forget it’s nearly 10 years old) have dictated a little sprucing.
Unfortunately the change from round, porthole-sized lower lamps to rectangular units. It might seem like a minor point – and it is – but some of the majesty and character has been lost and it brings it a little closer to the pauper’s Ghost.
Missed this one in Frankfurt. But, in further proof that the Fiat Panda will make you smile at any given opportunity, this is hiding on the inside of the bootlid, just by the hinges and the hose to the rear wash squirt.
Perhaps the biggest shock of the Geneva auto show is this Bentley SUV – the Exp 9 F. This is by the far the biggest talking point of the show, but perhaps not in the way that its designers – and the VW group – would have hoped. The interior, in parts, is exquisitely detailed and feels beautifully bespoke.
But it’s the exterior that has made people sit up and take note – or more accurately reported – pull funny faces. We will wait until post show to conduct a full design review to explore further as to why, but for now we will leave you with a few of the choicest quotes that other designers have made when speaking to us about this car: “Like a London taxi cab from the front” doesn’t get things off to a good start. “Like a bad Chinese interpretation of what a Bentley SUV might be” was very cutting. But “makes the Lagonda SUV of 2009 look positively reasonable and well resolved”, is perhaps the one that will hurt most.
Suffice to say that, in recent years, we cannot remember such a negative reaction to a show car. There’s clearly some value and indeed logic to Bentley exploring an SUV direction. But in its current exterior design form, most will be hoping that this isn’t it.
The Peugeot 208 is one of the most important new cars to be unveiled here in Geneva. Not only is it the only debutant in the hugely important European B-segment, but it’s also the car Peugeot had promised would really show it was back on the right track. First impressions are that it lives up to that promise.
The most obvious thing is that it is smaller than the 207 it replaces and looks and feels so. It’s an important realignment of the traditional market segments and feels all the better for its newfound svelteness, which is reflected in its exterior form language. Ok, so there may be a few too many flicks and chrome accents to its detailing and graphics, but they successfully convey ‘premiumness’ without resorting to aping Mini (see Citroen DS3).
But the big news is inside. With the gauge pack raised to sit above the low-set, small-diameter steering wheel and into the driver’s line of sight it’s genuinely unique to sit in. We’ll reserve judgement until we experience it on the road, but initial impressions are that it will work pretty well from an ergonomics perspective as long as you taylor your seating position to match.
Perceived quality is good and there are neat touches such as the full-size center armrest and fragmented speaker grille perforations. And like all good European small cars it feels chic.