Lifestyles

Motoring: Plenty to interest Canadians at Geneva Auto Show

Touted by many as one of the best concept cars at the Geneva Motor Show, the Kia ‘provo’ concept uses a gasoline engine and four-wheel-drive hybrid technology. - Contributed
Touted by many as one of the best concept cars at the Geneva Motor Show, the Kia ‘provo’ concept uses a gasoline engine and four-wheel-drive hybrid technology.
— image credit: Contributed

This year’s Geneva Motor Show once again produced an intriguing mix of concepts, new cars, exotics and oddballs.

Geneva is great to see because it offers a glimpse into what is happening in the rest of the world. But the trick is figuring out what we will or won’t  come here to Canada.

For sheer volume of new product, Kia must have set a world record.

In the six weeks leading up to Geneva, Kia showed the Rio five-door and Cross GT Concept the Chicago Auto show and the new Cadenza premium sedan and Rondo MPV at Toronto.

This week in Geneva, Kia unveiled two versions of a compact car based on the Forte platform, but only sold in Europe, three new direct injection gasoline engines and the provo concept which many of my colleagues said was the best concept at the show.

The provo marks what we could see as Kia’s first sporty car.

The compact coupe features a steep leading edge with aero-style splitter, carbon-fibre panels and tiny LED cluster front lights, a long hood and sculpted flanks, visor-look windshield leading to the sharply cut-off rear treatment with an aerodynamic splitter and adjustable vent system to direct airflow.

A 1.6-litre Turbo GDI engine producing 200 hp coupled to 4WD-hybrid technology powers it. This is based on an electric motor delivering an additional power surge to the rear wheels when required, while also allowing low-speed electric-only mode. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission adds to the sporty package.

For sheer technical innovation, not to mention sheer size, the Rolls-Royce Wraith proved a tour de force, not just for its fastback styling or its 624 hp V12 engine, but also for its Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT) technology.

It uses GPS data to see beyond what the driver sees to anticipate his next move based on location and current driving style and then selects the most appropriate gear for the terrain ahead.

Corners, road junctions and even roundabouts are all taken into account in advance.

Definitely coming to Canada is the convertible version of the 2014 Corvette Stingray, and it made sense to show it in Geneva because 58 per cent of the 1.1 million Corvette fans on Facebook live outside of the U.S.

The Stingray Convertible will feature the same 6.2-litre V8 delivering 450 hp and 450 lb/ft of torque.

Heightening the ride and handling is a five-position Drive Mode switch that allows the driver to factor in 12 different ‘attributes’ while a new seven-speed manual transmission comes with Active Rev Matching that anticipates when the driver is about to shift and matches the gear to engine speed.

Geneva abounds with exotic cars, with both Ferrari and Maserati hosting reveals, but the most anticipated of these for Canadians was the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Designed by Alfa Romeo engineers and produced in the Maserati plant in Modena, the new compact supercar marks the return of the Italian brand to the United States and Canada as part of Alfa Romeo’s global growth plan.

The Alfa Romeo 4C uses technologies and materials derived from super sports cars (including the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione)—carbon fibre, aluminum, rear-wheel drive—and technologies from the latest standard models from Alfa Romeo, but updated to enhance the sports appeal of the new car even further.

Volkswagen had a bevy of vehicles at Geneva, lead by the latest version of the Golf GTI.

For the first time, the legendary ‘hot hatch’ will be available from the factory with two power levels: the standard 220 hp GTI and the GTI Performance with 230 hp and larger brake discs and a front limited-slip differential (VAQ).

Both GTI models develop a maximum torque of 258 lb/ft. The standard GTI accelerates to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 152 mph. The GTI Performance has a top speed of 155 mph and needs just 6.4 seconds for the sprint to 100 km/h.

A truly interesting green machine was the VW XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle touted as the most fuel-efficient production car in the world, with a fuel consumption rating of 0.9L/100 km (approx. 313 mpg).

Thanks to its plug-in hybrid system, the two-seater can also cover a distance of up to 50 km in all-electric mode and therefore with zero local emissions.

Also in the ‘green’ category was the i-ROAD concept which Toyota claims is a whole new mode of personal transportation.

It is an all-electric, three-wheeled personal mobility vehicle (PMV) with a roomy, enclosed two-seater cabin that use ‘Active Lean’ technology that automatically balances the vehicle when cornering or travelling over stepped surfaces.

Its 850mm width is no greater than a conventional two-wheeler, making i-ROAD as easy to manoeuvre as a scooter or motorcycle through urban traffic.

More on the conventional side was the Toyota FT-86 Open concept, looking only a whisker away from full production.

Based on the FT-86 sporty coupe platform sold in Canada as the Scion FR-S, it uses the same naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine.

Because it is built by Subaru and also sold here as the BRZ, I couldn’t help wondering if it is the harbinger of a convertible, but I rather think Subaru would just as soon bring out a much-anticipated STI version of the BRZ.

But Subaru did have an interesting concept car on their stand in the form of the VIZIV, billed as a ‘future-generation crossover concept’ designed to embody the Subaru brand’s values of ‘Enjoyment and Peace of Mind’.

The name VIZIV is inspired by the phrase ‘Vision for Innovation’ and expresses Subaru’s commitment to innovation across its range of all-wheel-drive models.

Porsche unveiled the GT3 version of the 911, featuring a purpose-built normally aspirated 3.8-litre flat six engine producing 475 hp with active rear-wheel steering that increases cornering agility and enhances high speed stability.

Acceleration is from 0-100 km/h in 3.5 seconds with a top speed 196 mph.

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