It would take a particularly cold heart not to get excited about this week’s Geneva motor show, hype and all, as it points towards some of the hottest new launches of the next 18 months and gives a increasingly confident, if still emerging, vision of how the traditional car makers see this period of unprecedented change evolving.
But what if - and it seems slightly heretical to type this before having a proper look and listen at what will unfold on the show floors over the next 48 hours - the very best cars have already been launched? Maybe even 10, 20 or even 30 years ago?
‘Best’ is a dangerous phrase, of course, judged by the depth of colour on our own individual rose-tinted spectacles, and our personal judgment of progress. Your Jaguar XK120 might be another man or woman’s Ferrari 250 GTO, or a Pontiac Firebird, E30 BMW M3, McLaren F1 or, why not, Mazda MX-5, after all.
Maybe naturally aspirated engines were the pinnacle of performance and fun? Perhaps cars that came without the embracing comforts of driver aids were that little bit more thrilling? A trickle of Castrol R on the exhaust? Nothing has ever smelled better.
Or maybe it is the Honda e prototype. I could certainly see the argument for it, chiefly from a styling point of view, but also for how it embraces new technology to offer something different. I only wish it was going to be available in greater numbers, so that it really could be a Honda that we could declare had the potential to change the world.
My point, though, is that how you judge this year’s show depends on your viewpoint. To my mind, change is exciting and, when mixed in with the pressures of legislation aimed at making the world a better place to live in, also fascinating. From that viewpoint, better and best don’t matter because there’s always the promise that both are yet to come.
The car industry has long proven its ability to adapt, especially when it is given clear targets and the freedom to innovate to hit them (the latter point of which is moot, given some of the legislative moves to dictate technology), and this year’s Geneva motor show represents the very best of the brilliant, big minds working on solutions.
What could be better?