Steve Cropley picks his highlights of the 2009 Geneva show
3 March 2009

Geneva this year wasn’t chock-full of speculative new models. Rather, brands set about emphasising their core strengths and their faith in the future. Citroen, for instance, showed its DS3. Project leader Mark Lloyd says the appealing concept is 98 per cent similar to the production car we’ll see next year.

Aston Martin showed the million-pound One-77’s impressive carbon fibre tub and the hand-crafted magnificence of the hand-made, mostly alloy parts that will both propel and clothe it. Also on the show was the new Lagonda Concept, which shows that today’s Aston management sees the famous-but-moribund marque as the place for a giant coachbuilt crossover, the one major model type they don’t have.

BMW at last revealed its much ballyhooed 5-series Gran Turismo, an appealing, slightly taller 5-series hatch with variable loading and seating options.

Volkswagen slipped its new Polo onto the stand, but it looks quite a lot like a Golf Mk6, especially from the front, so you had to look twice to notice. However, VW group product chief Ulrich Hackenberg promises a car with the Golf Mk6’s suspension and reckons it’ll work far better on British roads.

Skoda’s long-awaited Yetisoft-roader looked neat and agile, but you couldn’t say the same for the bizarre Fabia Scout, an estate with plastic cladding along the sides.

Undoubted star of Ferrari"s stand was the 599XX, a barmy, track-based lightweight coupe, which the 30-or-so owners will be allowed to keep at Ferrari’s Fiorano test facility.

Rolls-Royce’s star young exterior designer Andreas Thurner was on hand with project chief Ian Cameron to take the plaudits for the 200EX saloon concept. Still no news on the V12 engine, but more and more are betting on a new-generation 6.0-litre BMW unit.

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The Opel-Vauxhall Ampera, Europe’s even better-looking version of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, was mobbed all day.

The Japanese barely distinguished themselves. Used to decades of success, some have been displaying signs of near-panic recently. But Infiniti did well with its clever Essence coupe, a DB9-sized GT design study that won lots of praise from rival designers for the excellent resolution of its complicated surfacing. Toyota took the wraps off its useful, but hardly glamorous, Verso MPV, but blotted its copybook by cancelling a press conference on launch day “to save money”.

Tata showed the crashworthy, airbagged Nano Europa, along with a Norwegian-engineered version of its well-known Indica hatchback. We were also treated to first sight of a pretty Pininfarina-designed saloon prototype, the Prima, intended for Indian production but deemed suitable for Europe, too.

Steve Cropley

Geneva cars: news and images

Chery DR, Ferrari 599XX, Ford Iosis Max, Frazer Nash Namir, Hyundai ix-onic, Infiniti Essence, Kia No3, Lagonda Concept, Lamborghini Murcielago SV, Land Rover Freelander TD4_e, Mazda CX-7, Mini JCW Cabriolet, Mitsubishi iMIEV Sport Air, Nissan Qazana, Renault Megane RS, RUF Greenster, Skoda Fabia vRS, Skoda Yeti, Tata Nano Europa, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Polo see Mike Duff's in-depth Geneva show coverage

Lagonda Concept, Skoda Yeti, Rolls Royce 200 EX, Vauxhall Ampera, Nissan Qazana, Infiniti Essence, Bentley Continental Supersports, Ford Iosis Max

Video blogs from the show floor

Audi TT RS, Ferrari 599XX, Hyundai ix-onic concept, Kia No3, Lamborghini Murcielago SV, Mercedes E-class coupe, Peugeot 3008, Renaultsport Megane, Subaru Legacy, VW Polo

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