Like many of my colleagues I’ve been en route to the Geneva motor show today, but I didn’t expect my first car-related conversation to start quite as early as the self check-in desk of Heathrow Airport ’s Terminal Five.
I’m a big fan of those efficient self check-in machines that stand sentry-like in the terminal building. If you’re organised and have your passport and flight booking reference number to hand, you can check-in, negotiate security and be on your merry way to WH Smith to shelf-surf for car magazines within minutes.
However, a sub-clause in the law of sod obviously dictates that the bit of paper with your flight booking reference number written on it gets shuffled to the bottom of your holdall (even if you purposefully place it on the top before you leave your house).
This morning, as I fumbled in my bag for said bit of paper, a British Airways assistant offered his help with the check-in procedure. I warned him to expect a swarm of equally disorganised motoring journalists throughout the day, and told him about the Geneva motor show.
His eyes lit up. Turns out he is a dyed-in-the-wool Saab fan, is looking forward to seeing the Renault Captur from the show and is also an occasional letter writer to Autocar, all attributes that place him firmly in the ‘crazy about cars’ category.
We briefly chatted about Saab’s struggles before my new friend – whose name I regretfully didn’t get chance to spy on his lapel badge – had to assist another (hopefully more organised) flyer.
Then it was onwards to Switzerland, where tomorrow the show throws open its doors in earnest and we get our first glimpses at a host of cars that have teased, titillated and tantalised us during recent weeks.
I’m looking forward to seeing some of the slightly off-the-wall vehicles. The Mitsubishi GR-HEV intrigues me: I don’t think for one minute that a utilitarian diesel-hybrid pick-up truck will be the answer to all car buyer’s prayers, but I’m interested to learn more about the concept. As well as efficiency benefits brought on by the electric motors, the decent torque provided by the electric motors should be well suited to lugging heavy loads around.
The first official images of the Kia Provo appeared on the internet this morning, and I’m hoping that I’ll find time to have a good nose around the conceptual Mini rival. The racy B-segment design features some retro throwback styling on the inside but is underpinned by a thoroughly modern hybrid powertrain. It’s an interesting time for Kia; having established itself as a major, credible player in the automotive world, it is now starting to flex its muscles and offer some hints about how it plans to carry on broadening its appeal in the years to come.