2011 Geneva Motor Show: The Premium Hatchbacks
While they may just be catching on here in America, across the ocean premium hatchbacks like the Audi A3 and Mini Cooper represent the way things are done. They offer the luxury of a larger sedan or SUV, but in a smaller, more economical and more urban-friendly form. And at this year's Geneva Motor Show, there was no shortage of automakers unveiling their new visions for the segment.
Mini came back with an even smaller concept, Infiniti and Saab threw their proverbial hats in the ring, Fiat showcase two new variants of its popular 500 model and its sister company Lancia joined with a new entry of its own. Follow the jump to see what they had to offer.
Starting to Switzerland's south in Italy, the Fiat group was keen to show their leadership with an array of new models. In fact every one of its divisions had something new to showcase, and the Fiat brand itself based theirs on the popular 500 range. We were anticipating the debut of the 500 by Gucci, which delivered in a dedicated boutique off of the main Fiat show stand. The vision of scion Lapo Elkann, the stylish retro hatchback has been decked out with all the usual Gucci design elements, from the green-and-red stripes to the Double-G logos throughout to make it even more quintessentially Italian. The surprise, however, came in the form of the Zagato Coupé. The iconic Italian design house took the 500 hatchback and gave it their signature double-bubble roof for a sleeker shape that stood out from the crowd.
Lancia, meanwhile, expanded the empire's premium hatchback line with the new Ypsilon. Replacing the old three-door model, the new five-door Ypsilon is positioned as a premium offering, and will be marketed in certain countries as a Chrysler.
Rival automaker Mini, meanwhile, bridged the gap between the iconic original and the much larger range of current models with the Rocketman concept. Slotting in between them in terms of size, the Rocketman demonstrates some innovative packaging solutions just like the 1960s original.
Following the lead of arch-rival Lexus' CT 200h, Infiniti unveiled the Etherea concept in Geneva. The hybrid hatchback is larger than the retro superminis and would, if approved for production, go up against the likes of the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
Finally Saab joined in on the action with the PhoeniX concept. Looking more like a sports car than a compact hatchback, the PhoeniX was designed by Jason Castriota, a noted designer who comes to Saab after stints at Bertone and Pininfarina. The vehicle would potentially give Saab a competitor to cross-town rival Volvo's C30 hatchback.