Currently reading: 2018 Geneva motor show: full report
Steve Cropley analyses all the launches from the year's biggest car show – plus check out all the news and photos
Jimi Beckwith
News
37 mins read
6 March 2018

To judge by the pre-event publicity, the 88th running of the Geneva motor show looked as if it should best be described as a “Let’s punish Tesla” event.

The world’s biggest and best car makers have long promised that they wouldn’t leave the glamorous, growing electric premium car space to a Californian upstart for long, and this looked like being the place they proved it.

It turned out that way too. There were more credible, near-production electric and electrified cars on hand than at any previous European motor show, and these were also the cars that took most attention, trumping just for once the ever-present crop of somewhat preposterous hypercars and tastelessly modified luxury motors “for rich individualists”.

Finding this year’s show star wasn’t hard. You needed to look no further than Jaguar Land Rover’s new, huge and expensive stand, where the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace took centre stage. The car, driven by selected hacks before the show’s opening, was the darling of the throng as few cars ever are, being honestly admired even by rivals.

First drive: Jaguar I-Pace First Edition

It looked brilliant in the metal and the plaudits were so numerous that even JLR’s CEO, Ralf Speth, who would normally rather have his teeth pulled than boast about one of his cars, was forced to admit that the reception had been “fantastic”.

The Jaguar’s lead over rivals will be short-lived: both Audi and Mercedes have similar cars nearly ready. But everyone admitted Jaguar’s execution had been exceptional. If one design showed how electrification could free up cars’ proportions, this was it.

Other credible electric cars stood almost shoulder-to-shoulder. There was the Volkswagen ID Vizzion, a 300bhp flagship due in 2022 that’s smaller than Phaeton but just as roomy.Aston Martin showed the Lagonda Vision Concept from its new stand-alone sub-brand, a battery limo aiming to fit between Rolls-Royce and Bentley and purporting to show that modernity and luxury were not mutually exclusive.

Renault had a fully autonomous EZ-GO urban people-carrier with no steering wheel, Seat’s Cupra brand presented a 680bhp e-Racer, Hyundai’s Kona Electric small SUV showed off a 292-mile range – and even Ssangyong had an electric concept called e-SIV

New hybrids and plug-in hybrids were thinner on the ground, the only significant one being the Bentley’s Bentayga V6 plug-in hybrid. It looked like a shortfall that might become an early trend. Some say plug-ins are already becoming less popular as 300-mile battery cars become more prevalent and viable, with even better gains in range and energy density – from solid-state batteries among other technologies – waiting in the wings.

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However, those who expected conventional cars to be on the back foot were disappointed. Ford had a whole clump of sporting and family model updates with nary a hybrid to be seen.

Ford Mustang Bullitt coming to the UK

Land Rover was prominent with the much-admired Range Rover SV Coupé, and a bumper crop of supercars was led by the businesslike McLaren Senna GTR track car, though Bugatti’s Chiron Sport also drew many an eye.

Jeep showed European versions of its Wrangler and Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, while Morgan had a run-out Aero GT (while revealing that its all-electric Three Wheeler still “hasn’t quite reached” production). And naturally there were new, nearly-the-same versions of the Ferrari 488 (Pista) and Lamborghini Huracán (Performante).

The diesel sales decline – everywhere but Italy – was the elephant in the room, until VW’s redoubtable boss Matthias Müller sternly declared that he expected customers to return to diesels, and soon, once they had digested the knowledge “that diesels are eco-friendly”.

It struck me that the VW chief might have been attempting to do something to benefit the whole industry (except Toyota, which won’t be making any more diesels), knowing that such an utterance from him would get so much attention that hasty opponents might have to take another look at the facts. No outcome yet, but it was certainly an unexpected and brave bid for redemption. 

Steve Cropley

Geneva motor show 2018 - as it happened

Every March, the world’s car industry and media descends upon Switzerland to showcase new and revamped models. The doors open to the public from 8-18 March, most of the big reveals took place on the official press days. 

The Autocar team was out in force to cover the show, with our team in Geneva ably supported by staff in Autocar Towers (in far less glamorous Twickenham). Take a read of the our live blog below, to learn a little more anbout all the cars that have been launched at the show.

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Tuesday 6 March

19:35

Right then, here's your final treat for the day: the ultimate video round-up from the Geneva motor show. Grab yourself a drink, sit back, relax and press play...

19:20

So, if you’ve just joined us, you’re about 27 hours too late. That’s good news for you, though, as you can read all of the biggest stories from those action-packed hours right here. Here’s an itemised list of the biggest, most important stories. Take your time, it's a formidable list...

Mitsubishi's planning a supermini based on the Renault Clio

Polestar's 1 coupé is to be sold in the UK, albeit in left-hand drive

Mercedes-Benz is persevering with the next SL, says it'll be a "real wow car"

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant faces a make-or-break scenario

The 992 Porsche 911 hybrid will be the most powerful 911 yet

Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne is already considering axing the Tipo

The Toyota Auris was revealed, with petrol-only powertrains and hybrids making up the range

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Skoda has already revealed the Vision X small SUV concept

Techrules whipped the covers off the Ren RS - a 1287bhp track-only EV hypercar

Rolls-Royce has shown no fewer than four bespoke creations from its customisation department

Mercedes has facelifted the C43, and revealed the warm model's styling ahead of the show

18:50

That's almost it from our Geneva motor show live coverage for today, largely because it's getting late in Switzerland and they're kicking us out of the show halls. Our intrepid show team are now heading back to their hotels - mostly so they can sit at their laptops and keep on working. So keep an eye on the website throughout this evening and tomorrow for more news, updates and insight. There's plenty to read from today too: you can click here to see all the stories in our Geneva motor show news feed. Lots of them, eh?

And, of course, still to come later tonight is our mega Geneva motor show video. Matt Prior (stands in front of the camera and talks) and Mitch McCabe (point the camera at Matt) have been traipsing the halls and looking at the key cars revealed today. It will be worth waiting for, trust us!

18:06

Elsewhere, Rachel has been admiring the Honda Urban EV and Sports EV concepts again: "Nothing new here but still two of the most original looking cars at the show. The only news is order books for the UK will open early next year for the smaller Urban EV. It will be interesting to see if people will put money where their mouth is."

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18:04

As well as hearing about Ferrari hybrids, Rachel has been talking to marque boss Sergio Marchionne about a variety of topics. We'll have more on the site in a bit. One nuggest from Rachel: "Marchionne said that the upper limit of Ferrari pricing isn’t yet reached. When you consider the new La Pista is thought to cost around £215,000, you wonder how much higher they will go. He also said LaPista numbers would be restricted - it will never push volume on its sports cars. Presumably that’s where the SUV comes in..."

17:57

Things you don't normally associate with Ferrari, number 1 in an occasional series: production hybrid engines.

Things you don't normally associate with Ferrari, number 2 in an occasional series: SUVs. 

So who fancies a Ferrari SUV with a hybrid engine then? Well, it might just happen in 2019... check out our story here.

17:44

Atters says: "As a bit of a stickler for punctuation (occupational hazard), it was a relief to see the apostrophe disappear from the new Kia Ceed's name. That said, my sensibilities are now hurt by the Rimac C_Two. What's with the random underscore?! Apparently, it's only a working title: hopefully the final one won't have any random punctuation stuck in it..."

17:28

Start saving now, Atters: "The Polestar 1 might be left-hand drive only, but it's good to know that it will be sold to UK buyers from launch. Having attended the launch event last year and seen it up close, I can confirm it's definitely a 'look better for real than in photos' stunner. I could probably stretch to the £2230 deposit, but not sure my Autocar salary will stretch to the full £116,000 or so price tag... Shame." 

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17:18

"The unveiling of the Toyota Auris was a perhaps little overshadowed by the Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept that was revealed a few minutes later, but it's a significant car that shouldn't be overlooked. There's a choice of two hybrid engines and no diesels, which Toyota says reflects the growing sales of hybrid cars in Europe. Toyota has led the way with hybrid tech since the Prius, and it's clear it's front and centre of its electrified future," says Atters.

17:15

Now for some non-show issues which have popped up in some form or another at Geneva: 

Mitsubishi's planning a supermini based on the Renault Clio

Polestar's 1 coupé is to be sold in the UK, albeit in left-hand drive

Mercedes-Benz is persevering with the next SL, says it'll be a "real wow car"

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant faces a make-or-break scenario

The 992 Porsche 911 hybrid will be the most powerful 911 yet

Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne is already considering axing the Tipo

17:10

"'Its like a GT86 with more power' was the gist of how the new Supra's engineer described the comeback sports car. Given how the GT86 is one of the greater driver's cars of modern times, what's not to like about that?" Tish is getting the inside line on the Toyota Supra. 

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17:03

Rachel's collared Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne, who said: "The Pista is not for anyone. You must own at least one Ferrari, and then it’s up to regional dealers to decide who is invited to own one. “They’re not just for anyone. If you drove a Mustang before then go to your Ford dealer next time,” he lightheartedly said."

16:59

"With all these electrified and autonomous concept cars being unveiled at Geneva, interesting to note that stories on two distinctly old-fashioned machines - the Ford Mustang Bullitt and one-off Jaguar XJ6 - have proven popular on Autocar's website today. Interesting that both trade on nostalgia, but have been thorough updated for the 21st century too." James Attwood's living up to his Digital Editor title...

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16:53

Diesel isn't dead, is the emphatic position of Zetsche. "Let's start with the facts. A modern diesel is a very clean engine, that can fulfil current regulations. Our diesel engines have capabilities to meet the next phase of testing as well. Emission levels are comparable to gasoline levels, and have a 10-15% advantage on CO2. Many efforts of mankind are focused on reducing the carbon footprint. It's irresponsible to forgo the opportunity to progress on CO2 side as long as it doesn't have significant disadvantages for other emissions. We will continue our developments, as in the past."

16:40

Mark's been chatting with Dr Z: "Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche has met his new shareholder - and Volvo owner - Li Shifu, and had a "very amicable chat". Zetsche said Shifu is "a good entrepreneur with a strong position in China - there's nothing wrong with that". But while Shifu "can decide what Volvo wants to do, he can't on Daimler", said Zetsche, whose chat with Shifu was more one of the current state of the industry than one of "sharing axles"."

16:22

 

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16:14

"I’m a fan of small cars and EVs, so the news of the Skoda E Citigo is giving me all kinds of feelings. The world needs more small, not-necessarily-million-mile-range EVs. Disappointed that the Honda Urban EV is going to be priced as a premium car, though. Goal: missed..." says Jimi.

16:08

SECURITY!

 

 

15:56

Rachel's sparking a pun arms race that she can't possibly win around these parts... "One of the busiest stands I’ve seen all day: not surprising when there’s a new Ferrari in sight. And they’ve not gone off-Pista here. (See what I did there?)"

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15:50

 "McLaren didn't just want to use the Senna name on a variant of a car - it had to be a bespoke car. So says McLaren boss Mike Flewitt, who says there are no plans to use the Senna name again. He's not ruling it out - but believes it to be highly unlikely."

 

 

15:42

 

 

15:31

"If only every car company CEO could speak with the clarity, conviction and energy of PSA Group chief Carlos Tavares," says Jim, "In 45 minutes he covered everything from union relations to electrification and it’s clear he has a plan for pretty much eventuality. The former, of course, is especially relevant for the UK’s Ellesmere Port plant, which Tavares says has “unfortunately suffered complacency for several decades” in terms of costs and quality. His message is simple: the plant must either close the gap to European rivals or face a bleak future.

15:22

The method behind the Auris, as told by Tish: "Toyota opted to stick with the Auris name rather than switch back to Corolla for the car's third generation, as it believes the name is now "well established and respected", according to Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl. Many buyers associate Auris with hybrid just as much as the Prius, and with Toyota ditching diesel and promoting hybrid even harder, the move could have had negative consequences."

15:14

A whole fleet of reveals has happened in the last hour or so, with the wraps coming off of crucial cars of this year's show:

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14:41

Rachel's nabbed VW boss Herbert Diess for a talk about the brand's future: "Talked with Dr Diess about his plans for its performance GTI and R. It won’t go down the route of Seat and its new standalone brand Cupra but still plans to add more R variants. T-Roc and Tiguan Rs are possible in future."

14:30

We've got a video on one of the show stars: take a more in-depth look at the McLaren Senna GTR:

14:18

Things are looking up at Vauxhall's hottest rival, Ford, too, says Jim: "Ford Europe boss Steve Armstrong is in upbeat form, promising a return to profits off the back of popular new product launches with the Ford Fiesta and Ford Ecosport. Last year, the firm's hopes for a profitable run were undone by $600m of losses following the currency swing in the wake of the Brexit vote but he says that, while the currency situation remains less than ideal, the growth sales and profitability should see the company firmly in the black this year. Ford's highlight of the show is the third-generation Mustang Bullitt, a car which Armstrong describes as "spreading some magic across the entire range".

14:03

Jim's just had a 'buoyant' chat with Vauxhall/Opel boss Michael Loscheller, who "talks up the positives of his first nine months (highlight - cutting costs by 17% so far) while acknowledging the challenges ahead (“there is still a lot more to do to hit our targets”). He cites small but significant wins from just being single minded on reducing complexity, recalling his discovery that the Insignia used to be sold with 27 steering wheel options, more than half of which attracted less than 1% of buyers. In total, he says options available have been halved already. He reiterates too that Vauxhall and Ellesmere are “key assets” for the firm but adds that they “must respond to the challenges” that CEO Carlos Tavares has laid down on cost savings."

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14:00

"We will continue to invest and it remains a good technology," so says Skoda tech boss Christian Strube on diesel to Mark. He says the VW Group will replace its entire engine range in 2020 to further reduce CO2, and diesel will be part of the plan and investment will continue as normal.

13:42

Tish is filling in the details on the upcoming Nissan Juke rival from Skoda: "Skoda's Vision X previews many new technologies, as well as a new small SUV. As for production chances for the various elements, the small SUV is coming next year. The electric back axle hybrid four-wheel drive hybrid tech is around 3-4 years away across a range of VW Group models. The hybrid system, meanwhile, can work with a CNG-powered engine, which is production-ready but needs customer demand for the technology to really take off."

13:30

Rachel's more enamoured by the Mini Remastered, though: "They cost a fortune but these Mini Remastered models from David Brown Automotive are SO cool"

13:13

Sam Jenkins is impressed by McLaren's maddest road car yet: “Well, if the McLaren Senna GTR isn’t the definition of mad I don’t know what is. 400kg more downforce than the P1 GTR, 1000kg in total. Just how do they do it?”