Given that sales of its performance models have risen 60% in the past couple of years - propelled by Focus RS and Mustang - it's easy to understand why Ford in Europe should be concerned about the currently fashionable driverless cars "taking over".

They're very concerned, it emerges, to the extent that last night, on the eve of whole raft of new autonomous models' debut at the Geneva motor show, they staged a panel debate involving some well-known proponents of driving pleasure, plus an autonomous expert of their own.

The debate, which took place at the preview of the promising new 1.5-litre Fiesta ST, was chaired by Top Gear star Chris Harris (late of Autocar) and featured Goodwood's Lord Charles March, Dave Pericak (the Ford Performance chief billed as Ford's "chief petrolhead"), Ford GT works driver Andy Priaulx and Ford COO Steve Armstrong, billed as Ford's leading in-house advocate of driverless cars. The promoter of the debate was Ford's European president and CEO, Jim Farley, under whose management the performance car expansion has taken place.