2010 Geneva Motor Show: The Anglo File
You'll have to search long and hard to find a British automaker that's still owned by Brits these days. Bentley? Volkswagen. Mini? BMW. Lotus? Malaysian state carmaker Proton. Land Rover, Jaguar? Indian automaker Tata. But don't think, not even for one minute, that the industry isn't still alive and striving in the UK. In fact some of our favorite automobiles come from there, even if the cashflow is traversing overseas.
With the major motor shows in the UK paling in comparison to the scope of Geneva, the annual Swiss auto salon is – much like it is for the other European carmaking nations – Britain's chance to show the world what they've got. And show us they did. Follow the jump to see how.
We'll start off with Lotus, the British engineering firm, racing team and sportscar maker founded by the legendary Colin Chapman. This is a big year for Lotus, hiring a new chief executive, returning at long last (even if in name only) to Formula One, and preparing several new vehicles. In Geneva, Lotus presented two new versions of its still-fresh-off-the-presses Evora, a facelifted Elise, and collaborated on the development of an additional project for its parent company.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid
Lotus has made a name for itself on the lightweight ethos, determined right from the start that extra weight is the enemy of the efficient sportscar. To that end, Lotus unveiled the Evora Carbon concept, borrowing its carbon fiber body panels from its FIA GT4 racing counterpart to help shed weight (and gain some sex appeal in the process). More pivotal for the company, however, is the Evora 414E concept, which adopts a new hybrid drivetrain that combines a diminutive three-cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motors to produce a prodigious 400+ horsepower.
Lotus also lent a derivative of the system to its parent company Proton for the Emas city car concept, designed by the legendary Giorgietto Giugiaro's ItalDesign studio. And to keep the Evora's kid brother looking fresh, Lotus also gave the Elise a cosmetic refresh.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Lotus Elise
On the other end of the spectrum sits Bentley, which unlike Lotus, is known for producing some of the biggest, most opulent vehicles in the business. Bentley took the occasion to unveil the Continental SuperSports Convertible, which it calls the fastest four-seat convertible on the market. And we believe them, producing as it does over 620 horsepower and topping out over 200 miles per hour. All the while, the Supersports Convertible is capable of running on E85 bio-ethanol for a more environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, a capability which Bentley plans to implement across its line-up.
Bentley, however, wasn't the only one presenting a new Bentley in Geneva. Not even a new Continental, for that matter. Recently relaunched coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera presented the Flying Star, built with Bentley's blessing. Combining the practicality of a station wagon with the sportiness of a coupe, this body style was once known as a Shooting Brake. The Carrozzeria is now taking orders at an undisclosed price. But if the Zagato-designed Continental GTZ was any indication, $1.7 million wouldn't be far off the mark.
Jaguar came to Geneva to present two new special packages for its tantalizing XKR super-coupe. The Speed Pack brings output from the supercharged V8 engine up to 510 horsepower, good for an unrestricted 174 miles per continent-crunching hour, while the Black Pack upgrades the cat's appearance with – you guessed it – black trim to the grille, side vents and 20-inch rims.
At the smaller end of things, former Jaguar stable-mate Aston Martin officially unveiled its Cygnet city car. Envisioned as an alternate urban mode of transportation for existing Aston owners, the Cygnet is based on the Toyota iQ but upgraded with Aston-specific body work and interior.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Aston Martin Cygnet
The Cygnet, however, is far from the only British compact on the stage. Mini at long last unveiled its crossover-utlity vehicle, called the Countryman. The first proper five-door Mini is naturally bigger than the hatchbacks on which it is based, but smaller than most other crossovers, and features Mini's first all-wheel-drive system that will reportedly become an option on the rest of Mini's rapidly expanding range.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Mini Countryman