March, as it ever does, began with the Geneva motor show. During the past few years, shows have taken on a certain amount of predictability, with launches announced well before the covers are taken off.
In 2010, it was a bit different (as we’ll see in October, too). Cue the Porsche 918 Spyder, one of those special, limited-series hypercars that Porsche rolls out once a decade or so. The 918 is based loosely on the chassis of the last one: the Carrera GT. But by gum it’s a looker; it’s a hybrid, too. Best of all, it’ll be on the road in 2013.
If any Porsche executives craned their heads through 90 degrees, and they did, they’d have spotted no fewer than 20 metres away the wraps being pulled from a unique project from another supercar maker. In Geneva was the official public unveiling of the Aston Martin Cygnet, a Toyota iQ for the particularly minted.
It met a mixed reaction. A few doffed caps; some scoffed. Probably more of the latter, but not from the Porsche execs we spoke to, who thought it an “intelligent” enough move to lower Aston’s range-average CO2, even if they were kind of grateful they didn’t have to remove the sheets from something similar themselves.
Shortly after the Geneva show, we got our first steer in the new Jaguar XJ, which looked “like taking a British luxury car right back to the top of the market”. For us, it does. No other big saloon has the Jag’s wonderful blend of dynamic qualities.
Jaguar’s sister company, Land Rover, you can’t help feeling, is in a curious, almost transitional phase. Range Rover gets the desirable models, leaving Land Rover, supposedly, with the utilitarian stuff. In March, we pondered the future of the most utilitarian Land Rover of all, the Defender, “whose ancestors created the business in the first place and have been the company’s backbone for the past 62 years”.