Rather than squirrelling them away in far-flung corners, Geneva gives niche manufacturers, tuners and coachbuilders a proper shot at the limelight, plonking them plum in the middle of halls two, four and six, surrounded on all sides by big names.
With rare exception, this year's smaller exhibitors traded heavily on two themes: lots of power and outlandish styling. Rising demand for something that bit faster and that bit more visually arresting means such firms – particularly German ones – thrived at Palexpo this year. Here’s our pick of this year’s left-field crop.
The Bavarian Porsche 911 tuner presented a trio of fire-breathing new 991-based models in Geneva. The headline-grabber is the RtR, which uses a twin-turbo version of the Mezger 3.8-litre six-pot to generate 791bhp and 730lb ft of torque and runs on a lengthened wheelbase for added stability. Not satisfied by the mere 424bhp output of Porsche's 911 Targa 4 GTS, RUF has added two turbos to its Turbo Florio to gain another 197bhp. Naturally aspirated engine fans are catered for, too, with the restyled RGT 4.2 track day special that makes 518bhp at a screaming 8370rpm.
TechArt is based just 15 minutes from Zuffenhausen, and introduced new packages for the 911 GTS and facelifted Cayenne at the show. Embellishments available for the GTS include an aero kit, carbonfibre accents, 20in centre-lock wheels, a choice of two exhaust systems, interior upgrades, sports springs and an electro-hydraulic noselift system that adds 45mm of clearance on demand. Exterior, interior and exhaust mods for the Cayenne are supplemented by a 79bhp power hike option and a more focused air suspension setup that lowers the car when locked for a sleeker kerbside look.
MTM has been modifying VW Group products for a quarter of a century (and has taken a minor interest in McLaren 12C and 650S mods of late, too). The German company unveiled three new Audi-based models in Geneva. Commemorating the 641bhp Audi 200 that hit 217mph at Talladega Speedway in 1986, the MTM S8 Talladega S achieves the same maximum. It costs around twice as much as a standard 513bhp Audi S8 at just over £160,000, around £35,000 of which goes towards a turbo and exhaust system that help boost output to 791bhp. A mere £132,400 buys MTM’s fully loaded RS6 Clubsport that adds 197bhp to the ‘standard’ superwagon and cuts the 0-62mph sprint by 0.7sec to just 3.2sec. Finally, a new turbo, exhaust and ECU help eke a full 420bhp from MTM’s S3 Cabrio and its venerable 2.0-litre turbo four. Buying the power upgrade alone is a relative snip at £12,200.
Yet another German entrant, Hamann sells in the UK via Scuderia Systems in Surrey. Its Porsche Macan S was one of the most overtly modified cars at the show, with a striking body kit, paint job and interior and lowered suspension. The car’s power hike is relatively modest at 41bhp, achieved via a tweaked ECU and a sports exhaust claimed to produce V8-aping sounds via actuators and the interior speaker system. Similar tweaks boost power in Hamann’s BMW M4 by 85bhp. Recalling the E92 M3 GTS, it has lots of aero kit including a composite rear wing, while the Swabian tuner has attempted its own ‘art car’ finish with the help of Hamburg cartoonist Timo Wuerz. Only slightly less dramatic is Hamann’s take on the latest BMW X6 – seen here in M50d form – which sports swollen arches and a bulging carbonfibre bonnet, while the company’s new Aventador Roadster ‘Limited’ reprises the 750bhp coupé it revealed last year and pips Lamborghini’s new Aventador SV by 10bhp and 35lb ft.
It’s a home show for FAB, which is based not far from Zurich. Its two debutantes pack slight power upgrades but trade more heavily on cosmetic mods, answering demand from the Middle East, Far East and Russia. FAB’s take on the McLaren 650S Spider is the Vayu RPR Spider, whose embellishments include skirts, wings, front splitter, rear diffuser and three-piece 20in wheels. Choose all of its exterior options and, on top of your £215,250 650S, you’ll spend around the same as the £64,500 premium charged for the 675LT, revealed by McLaren a couple of halls away. Meanwhile, FAB Design’s ‘Esquire’ widebody package for the Mercedes S-Class Coupé overlays Stuttgart’s silky lines with a more aggressive aesthetic and wheel arches that are 30mm and 50mm deeper at the front and rear respectively. Excluding the show car’s forged 22in alloys and interior changes, the pack costs just over £30,000.