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
It’s easy to forget that Peugeot was originally, and is still, a bicycle manufacturer. As a resident of the Netherlands, I’m quick to notice a clever and nicely designed two wheeler such as this one nestled in between the 208s on Peugeot’s stand.
Combining a laminated wood frame with a neatly designed aluminum rear fork and pedal assembly, this tiny-wheeled city bike avoids the clown-like stance of the commuter friendly bikes of Amsterdam, while also giving you a neat place to stash your briefcase. It also shows that Peugeot’s new design language can easily extend beyond the automotive world.
There are several more bikes that I’ve heard are hiding in the corners of the show, so I’ll be sure to hunt them down tomorrow and post them for contrast.
By Drew Meehan
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.
By Owen Ready