Things have certainly changed in the 12 years since I last attended the Geneva International Motor Show. Having attended the likes of the Frankfurt, Paris and Shanghai shows in between, it was a return to Geneva that I was most looking forward to. Apart from the allure of its picturesque host city, what I like most about the Geneva event is the fact that its relatively confined floor space, certainly when compared with Frankfurt, forces manufacturers to carefully consider which significant models to put on generally smaller displays than seen at the larger shows. This also means that covering the show on foot is that much less strenuous.
The last time I was at Geneva I used a film camera, no one was taking selfies and I had to take an extra suitcase with me for all the printed press material I would bring back to the office. There were definitely more show girls on each stand (more on that later) and I never inadvertently walked into a vlogger's frame while getting closer to each car on display.
Indeed, "covering" this year's Geneva Show was a very different affair compared with in 2006. While most live reveals at the show inevitably "leaked" a day or two prior, any other new model information was written and published online (including hi-res images) by teams sitting at their respective desks back in the office, generally before the CEO of each brand had finished his product speech and attending journalists could figure out the WiFi password.
So, while CAR's intrepid online team worked overtime to bring you all the important Geneva stories first, I had a little more time to take in the vibe of the event, kick a few tyres and form a few opinions around what stood out for me this year...
1. Volvo stole the show
From a beautifully crafted stand situated in the centre of one of the main halls, Volvo Cars not only had its new V60 and effortlessly cool Polestar 1 car to introduce, but an unplanned bonus for this Swedish brand's Geneva Show presence was the announcement the night before the show opened that the XC40 claimed the 2018 European Car of the Year award. It's been an outstanding few years for Volvo Cars and I couldn't help thinking that this new accolade, as well as the general excitement around Polestar, neatly summed up this rejuvenated brand's recent successes.
2. Mazda could be the next Volvo
If Volvo is currently enjoying the fruits of its labour in terms of launched and forthcoming product, based on what I saw at Mazda, there's enough reason to think this is a brand that is poised to soar. While the sleek Vision Coupé concept that ended up winning a design award at the show looks set to form the basis of the next Mazda6, the stunning lines of the Kai Concept really caught my eye. If the next Mazda3 looks anything like this, with an interior evolved from the brand's current high-quality examples, Mazda can certainly look forward to welcoming lots of potential new customers to its fold.
3. You have to love the tuners
It was awesome seeing the likes of RUF, ABT and Mansory at the show. From the completely over-the-top to the beautifully re-imagined, these are the kinds of cars that best capture the surprise and excitement that accompanied motorshows before the advent of fast internet. While the lens on my camera was only just wide enough to capture some of the beastly Brabus offerings, my jaw genuinely dropped when I realised Liberty Walk had a stand at this year's show. This fan-fuelled tuner was even selling bumper stickers and branded apparel.
4. There were a lot more double cabs on display this year
Mercedes-Benz and Renault may be the newest players in this segment, but you can be sure given the steady rise in annual double-cab sales in Europe and the UK that other non-traditional pick-up brands are keeping a keen eye on this market. That said, Mercedes-Benz will also be keeping its fingers crossed that the premium it'll be asking for the likes of its forthcoming X-Class (including the V6 that was launched at the show) doesn't scare buyers away. The new SsangYong Musso also looks promising.
5. Show girls still exist
I'll admit that a younger, dumber me used to defend the presence of pretty show girls standing alongside each new car at a motor show. These days, I just don't see the point. While some brands, including the Germans and Koreans, have thankfully changed their approach to this and instead offer young, vibey brand ambassadors (both male and female) poised to answer any product-related question you may have, others (notably the Italian brands) persist in sourcing the prettiest girls they can find, dressing them up to the nines and tasking them purely with making eye contact with anyone passing their stand. By far the creepiest thing about this trend, however, is observing how obsessive some of the gathered media are around taking photos of the girls alone, while all-but ignoring the car each is standing next to.
6. Four-door versions of two-door cars
While in the metal they both look spectacular, I'm torn as to whether the world needs a four-door AMG GT and M8 Gran Coupé. Certainly, as a huge fan of the CLS, I think I'd still rather have a new CLS63 than the AMG GT 4-Door Coupé. Obviously aware that others may share my sentiment, the CLS range will now be topped by an AMG-fettled 53 model, while the AMG GT 4-Door Coupé (oh, how they'd have loved to have called it GT4) takes over as the fastest four-seater fastback.
7. Volkswagen's ID family is growing nicely
Flanked by the original ID EV and the funky ID Buzz, the new ID Vizzion is set to top Volkswagen's future range of all-electric, autonomous vehicles. Indeed, the Vizzion doesn't even offer a steering wheel. While other manufacturers also displayed examples of how each sees the future of motoring, Volkswagen's Geneva display, including a coupé, a bus and now a four-seater, emphasised this brand's core "people mover" philosophy.
8. Cars are getting fast!
From Rimac to Hennessey and Pagani, it's safe to say that, based on some of the figures on display alongside some impossibly slick designs, that it won't be long before a 0-100 km/h figure of 3,0-seconds and top speed of 400 km/h is considered blasé. I liked the look of the Rimac C-Two and the Fenyr Supersport (by W Motors), but I loved the bright yellow Hennessey Venom F5 on display. The Ferrari 488 Pisto is gorgeous in the (silver) metal, too.
9. Yes please, Subaru...
For me, the car of the 2018 Geneva show was the Subaru Viziv Tourer. Still in concept form, it strikes the perfect balance between past, present and indeed future. I love that it's a wagon, too. Pity we have to wait over two years to see, but let's hope the production version retains as many of the Viziv's dramatic lines as possible. Imagine an STI version of this...
Why, Porsche, why?
There's a production version of the new Toyota Supra in there somewhere. I wish it had been launched at the show instead of the Gazoo Racing version.
This car turns into a helicopter. Obviously.
"Hey guys! Today we're at the Geneva Show and I'm excited!"
Build this, Honda. Oh, wait...
Hyundai Kona looks great.
Kia needs to bring the Stonic to South Africa ahead of the Ceed.
Nissan brought its heritage collection.
There were a lot of Formula E cars on display.
Geneva, where there's as much petrolhead eye candy on display outside of the show as in it.
When you have more money then sense.
I didn't like the styling of the McLaren Senna before, and I really don't like the look of the GTR version.
The coolest Audi at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show...