Currently reading: Geneva motor show 2012: full show report and pics
Full show report and captioned picture gallery of all the star cars from the Geneva motor show 2012

Well, the economies of the world may not be back to full health, but this week's Geneva motor show 2012 seemed to demonstrate that, from the point of view of being free again to create new models of every type, the motor industry certainly is. This, at last, was a show where it was possible to show big cars, expensive cars, fast cars, luxurious cars - as well as the green crop of hybrids and battery cars that has characterised all-important motor shows for the past five years.

What united them all was an efficiency story: even the traffic-stopping, two-tonne Bentley EXP 9 F SUV concept with its proposed 180mph top speed and 500-plus horsepower, had a lightness story and an engine efficiency angle in its make-up. And to go with it from the VW stable came stuff like an old-time full-size supercar concept from (VW-owned) ItalDesign called the ItalDesign Brivido, which reprised the '80s Lamborghini Espada, and even Infiniti had a supercar - the best-looking Infiniti ever, in my book - the awkwardly-named Infiniti Emerg-e which had a Lotus Evora chassis plus a lot of progressive Lotus hybrid bits.

At the outset of the show, the Opel-Vauxhall Ampera became Car of the Year in Europe, a piece of news that buoyed the hard-pressed company behind it, though the news puzzled some commentators who had just heard how US production of the revolutionary range extender had just been suspended. (This, said the Europeans, was simply because the price of petrol in America remains too cheap). The GM victory meant VW's smallest car, the Up missed out on the reward it probably deserved, but that didn't stop the handsome little car - shown in yet more iterations - from being the talk of the show, and establishing itself at the top of an emerging (and fast-selling) class it joined just a few months ago.

Renault unveiled the neat-looking Clio-sized Renault Zoe, another of the battery-powered cars in which it is putting so much faith, revealing that it was targeting private buyers' second cars for such vehicles and that without them the EV project could not be a success. Carlos Ghosn stuck to his oft-challenged assertion that 20 per cent of his group's cars were likely to be electric by 2020 - citing new research that 60 per cent of 18 to 30 years-olds want to buy green cars. Yet reflecting Geneva's new spirit of giving freedom to all kinds of cars, he also made it clear that although Renault was currently "losing its shirt" on big cars, it would come again in the executive car category, using its old alliance with Nissan to assist on one side, and its new alliance with Daimler on the other.

Tata, a quiet attendee at Geneva for at least 15 years, kept right on being discreetly revolutionary as has been its way for years. Its important offering was the Megapixel, a slightly bigger, even better-looking development of last year's Pixel concept, both based on the super-cheap Nano, produced in India. Though the concept showed single gull-wing doors on each side, its essential styling was that of the Nano. Tata is using the car as a test bed for a range extender system arguably more advanced than anything else on the show floor.

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Weighing only 850 kilograms or so, the car had a 13kW/hour battery under its floor, good for 55 miles or so before needing the assistance of a tiny, single-cylinder engine to generate further power and feed its four 15 horsepower electric motors, one in each wheel. Such a car could be five years away, said Tata technical chief Dr Tim Leverton, pointing out that wheel motors might sound revolutionary for cars, but they are commonplace in scooters and other light vehicles. The official efficiency figures for the car were astounding: a CO2 output of 25g/km and combined fuel consumption of 300mpg.

This little terrific car stood for themes that ran right through this year's Geneva Show - nothing is off the table, and the resourcefulness of the whole motor industry can, more than ever, be relied on for the future.

Geneva motor show stars

Aston Martin Vantage

Audi A3

Audi RS4 Avant

Audi TT RS Plus

Bentley Mulsanne Driving Specification

Bertone Nuccio

BMW M135i

BMW M550d



Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

Chevrolet Cruze SW

Citroen C4 Aircross

Citroen DS4 Racing

Dacia Lodgy

Ferrari California

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Fiat 500L

Ford B-Max

Ford Transit / Ford Tourneo

Honda Civic 1.6 diesel

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Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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gussy51 7 March 2012

Re: Geneva motor show in pictures

Maybe its the slow drip feed of models revealed before the show, but I think this years show has been disappointing with little significant shown by the volume sellers. The new Ferrari is awesome, I hope Tata launch something close to the Megapixel here soon and hopefully Bentley won't launch that SUV its hideous!! Disappointed in Lotus' "new" convertible (doesn't move the game on in the way the anticipated Evora convertible might have), disappointed in the lack of news about the Jaguar C-X16 getting a launch date later this year and disappointed that there wasn't any news on the sort of 2 seat commuter vehicles that were shown in Frankfurt last year.