2010 Geneva Motor Show: Ze Germans
Germany is the very epicenter of the European automotive industry, playing host to several of the world's largest and most significant automakers. But with the Frankfurt expo forced to alternate with the Paris salon, Geneva is the closest to a home turf international auto show these companies have.
Ever keen to demonstrate the latest cutting-edge automotive innovations and show the world their newest developments, Germany's automakers crossed the border into Switzerland this year with a virtually unprecedented array of new vehicles. Follow the jump to read and see what they brought.
Although, comparatively speaking, Porsche is one of the smallest German automakers, the Stuttgart-based company brought out several significant debuts for this year's Geneva Motor Show. Perhaps the most intriguing was the 918 Spyder concept. Striking a bold shape not seen on a Porsche since the Carrera GT, the 918 Spyder steps into the 21st century with a 500-horsepower V8 engine coupled to a pair of electric motors.
While the 918 Spyder remains a concept car for the time being, Porsche also rolled out a racing version of its 911 with a different sort of hybrid system. Like the Ferrari 599 HY-KERS concept, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid packs an F1-derived regenerative braking system. Unlike Ferrari's battery-based system, however, the Porsche system – developed by the Williams F1 team – employs a mechanical flywheel to store kinetic energy.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Porsche 911 Turbo S
The GT3 R Hybrid wasn't the only new 911 which Porsche brought to Geneva, however, sharing the stage as it did with the new road-going 911 Turbo S. Available in both coupe and cabriolet bodystyles, the Turbo S upgrades on the existing 911 Turbo with a 30-horsepower boost for 530 overall.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Porsche Cayenne
Perhaps most significant, however, was the debut of the new Cayenne sport-utility vehicle. Now in its third iteration, the new Cayenne gets the company's first production hybrid system, in addition to the available conventional V6, V8 and twin-turbo V8 engines with 300, 400 and 500 horsepower, respectively.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Volkswagen Touareg
The Cayenne was originally developed jointly with Volkswagen's Touareg. Now that the two are under the same roof, further coordination can be expected. Case in point the new Touareg, which Volkswagen likewise debuted at the Geneva show. Like its Porsche counterpart, the Touareg has shed weight and gained the option of the company's first hybrid drivetrain. Volkswagen also used the occasion to unveil the new Polo GTI, a small but potent hot hatchback.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Volkswagen Polo GTI
Corporate cousin Audi, meanwhile, didn't miss the opportunity to impress with several new debuts of its own. Perhaps the most anticipated was the debut of the new A1, Audi's competitor for the premium hatchback segment that once belonged solely to the Mini Cooper but has since been invaded as well by Alfa Romeo and Citroen, with more rivals to follow. Positioned below the A3, the A1 was presented in Geneva by spokes-celeb Justin Timberlake in an evident effort to give the youth-oriented hatchback a dose of hip. Unfortunately current plans don't have the A1 coming to North America, leaving the Mini as the sole contender on the Western shores of the Atlantic. European buyers, however, will get a choice of four different engines (two gasoline, two diesel) mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Audi also showed an E-Tron version with a hybrid rotary-electric drivetrain which remains conceptual for the time being.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Audi A1
In addition to the A1, Audi also took the wraps off its new super-coupe, the RS5. Based on the svelte A5 and the sportier S5, the top-shelf RS5 packs a 450-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 driving all four wheels to give the likes of the BMW M3 a run for its money. The jury's still out over whether Audi will bring the RS5 to the North American market.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Audi RS5
Finally, the hybrid version of the flagship A8 sedan unveiled in Detroit mere months ago rounded out Audi's Geneva line-up. The A8 Hybrid "concept" packs a models 211-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine coupled to a 45-horsepower electric motor into the largest vehicle in Audi's range, yet still manages both better acceleration and fuel economy than the A3 TDI, one of the company's smallest. The A8 Hybrid has yet to be officially announced for sale, but sources suggest that's only a matter of time.
Gallery: Audi A8 Hybrid Design Study
In addition to the new E-Class convertible and the MercedesSport customization program, arch-rival Mercedes-Benz took the opportunity to unveil the F800 Style concept. A showcase of where the Silver Star automaker is heading, the F800 is at once both a design study and a rolling test bed of sorts. The styling previews a new design direction for Mercedes, taking the four-door coupe form pioneered by the CLS but in a more compact C-Class size. Powertain options, meanwhile, include either a plug-in hybrid or a hydrogen fuel cell.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz F800 Style
BMW by comparison had relatively little to offer, largely limiting its debuts to mild upgrades to the 3 Series and a new hybrid system placed in the Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid. The third-generation hybrid drivetrain from the Bavarian automaker pairs a turbocharged inline-six with an electric motor for available full electric operation, and is expected to arrive on the market sometime within the next couple of years.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Wiesmann GT MF4-S
Deutscheland's major automakers weren't the only ones on the scene, however, as several German niche automakers came out for the show as well. Retro sportscar maker Wiesmann debuted a mildly refreshed version of its GT coupe called the MF4-S, packing the 4-liter V8 from the BMW M3 and a few minor cosmetic and aerodynamic revisions. Bridging the gap from tuner to manufacturer, Porsche tweakers extraodinaire Ruf managed to shoehorn a custom-fabricated 4.5-liter V8 into the tiny engine bay on a 911 that usually houses a 3.8-liter flat-six, and actually made it lighter in the process. The resulting Ruf RGT-8 could very well be one of the most impressive innovations the Germans brought to Geneva this year.
Gallery: Geneva 2010: Ruf RGT-8