Geneva, in the minds of the CDN team, has always been a show where concepts rose to the fore. Of course, this is an important show for production debuts historically too, but it’s always been about great concepts – particularly when we turn to the likes of Renault, BMW and of course, the Carozzeria. This year, concepts – new, truly impressive concepts – are notable by their absence. But there’s a wealth of new production cars here. Three in particular stand out.
First – and perhaps most surprisingly – is the Volvo V40. The consensus on this car from most, seems to be that – in photos – they didn’t like it much. Yet in the metal it feels well judged for its market. It’s perhaps flattered by the A-class, which slightly underwhelms. Most importantly, it feels premium but genuinely ‘Volvo’ in quality. We particularly like the gauge pack.
Next is the Peugeot 208. It’s a real sign of Peugeot on the up and we’d put money on it being a massive sales hit (which the brand really needs). Many people think that the exterior is somewhat busy, but it’s a great improvement over the last generation 207 (and other guppy-mouthed Peugeots). But the real innovation’s on the inside. Where Peugeot’s extensive user research and determination to do something not only new – but better – really shines through.
And completing the triumvirate is the new Porsche Boxster. Evolutionary? Sure. Conceptually new? Of course not. But a beautifully judged, refined piece of design that moves the game on further than other recent ‘new’ Porsches? Yes. This design endows the car with a distinction of its own. That fails to come across in pictures, but it’s well judged and side-by-side with the 911 doesn’t feel as similar as it might first appear. The interior does borrow much from the 911 though – and is therefore a massive step up in quality. Easy to walk past and dismiss as ‘just another evolutionary Porsche’, it’s worth lingering longer over this Boxster.
Posted by Joe Simpson
The Minagi concept is the last vehicle to have been created under the direction of Laurens van den Acker, though Mazda’s new design boss, Ikuo Maeda, has also made his mark on the design.
Very near production ready, the five door crossover features a Z- shaped character line on the bodyside as well as a new front and rear end design, which incorporate many of the design elements first seen on the Shinari concept last year.
The concept’s interior is perhaps the most appealing. With a clear sports theme – again reminiscent of the interior design of the Shinari – the detailing is both elegant and technical.
Rich black leather and contrasting red stitching on the seats and IP combine with swathes of chrome and recessed lighting throughout the cabin, while transparent glass elements (through which the HVAC system is operated) adorn the center console.
Maeda’s sports car experience and enthusiasm for racing is showing through in this new crossover.
The HSD concept previews the design direction for the next generation Yaris, but there’s nothing groundbreaking here…
Showcasing Toyota’s proprietary hybrid technology in a B-segment package, the monovolume exterior design features some hybrid-specific styling cues previously seen on the Prius and Lexus RX450h. These visual identifiers include the LED headlamps and taillamps and blue Toyota badges.
Within compact exterior dimensions is a ‘spacious practical interior’, Toyota claims. We would have liked to see this for ourselves, but the blacked-out windows of the show car demonstrate that it’s not yet been finished.
As it seeks to cast its metaphorical net wider than its traditional home of the US, the Infiniti stand (notable for being as physically far way from Nissan’s as possible) held host to the Etherea concept.
While all previous Inifiniti designs have followed the ‘premium’ convention in terms of format (think SUVs and rear-drive sedans) the monovolume Etherea is resolutely front-wheel drive – the traditional antithesis of ‘premium’.
And how refreshing it is to see the brand pluck up the confidence to plough its own furrow; offer a point of difference.
Some feel its execution overwrought, yet while its surfacing is dramatic – particularly its hood-to-fender transition – it manages to hang together in a relaxed, non-aggressive gait.