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Geneva 2011: tuners and coachbuilders

  1. There’s a whole other world at the Geneva motor show. Hidden in among the mainstream headline grabbers from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Toyota, Alfa Romeo and VW are the tuners and coachbuilders. They’re the plastic surgeons of the automotive world: a small incision here, a little lift there - ideally to the power output - and Bob’s your uncle, something rare and unusual to pitch to an audience that values that sort of thing.

    This year you were no one unless you had twin turbos, 800bhp and a carbon body - ideally fitted to a Mercedes G-Wagen or Audi R8. Don’t sneer though - this side of the industry is worth billions every year and turns out some very cool stuff.

    The sort of stuff that many big automotive empires wish they could get away with…

    Words: Ollie Marriage

  2. ABT Sportline

    ABT didn’t have the most powerful Audi R8 at Geneva (step forward the 777bhp MTM R8) but it did have the only Spyder, with 612bhp - up from 518bhp in the standard R8 V10. Bigger rear air intakes and a whopping wing are the main visual changes, plus there’s new height adjustable suspension and bigger wheels. We’re just imagining the noise in third gear, though.

  3. MTM Audi R8

    The tuned Audi gets a pair of turbochargers boosting power to 777bhp and a claimed top speed of over 218mph. 0-62mph takes three seconds. Clearly, this madness isn’t nearly enough, so they totally stripped the R8’s paint and polished the body. Polished it for 700 hours. All yours for 400,000 Euros.

  4. Brabus G-Wagen

    800bhp. In a G-Wagen. Is Brabus nuts? Clearly, but we’re more than a bit happy the 800 Widestar exists. A 6.3-litre twin turbo V12 barely fits under the bonnet and develops 788bhp (sorry for the early exaggeration - got a bit carried away) and an even more scary 1,047lb ft of torque at 2,100rpm.

    Top speed is limited to 149mph, but the best stat is a 0-60mph time of four seconds. That’s utterly surreal - enough to keep pace with a Lambo Gallardo or Audi R8. Brabus likes this engine - you can also have it in an S-Class or E-Class.

  5. Wiesmann Spyder

    This feisty little Caterham-esque lightweight is the Weismann Spyder. It’s just a concept at the moment, but it comes from a firm that specialises in creating front-engine/rear-drive roadsters and coupes kitted out with beefy BMW powerplants.

    This is the most extreme car they’ve ever constructed, weighs less than a ton and uses the M3’s 4.0-litre 414bhp V8. If Weismann does go ahead with production, the Spyder won’t arrive until next year at the earliest.

  6. Invader

    Alongside the massed ranks of tweaked Cayennes and X6s developed by German firms sat this, the Invader L60. From the front you wonder if it’s based on the Range Rover Sport. But you soon realise the truth when you walk round the side - it’s a Lexus 570 (which is itself based on the Toyota Amazon).

    Japanese tuner Invader leaves the 5.7-litre V8 in place, but drops in a hefty supercharger to take power from 383bhp to 600bhp, enough to drop the 0-60mph time to 5.5 seconds. Brakes and suspension are uprated to match, the interior is re-trimmed and of course there’s a set of 22in rims. Just 100 are being built and it’s price on application.

  7. Hamann

    Hamann likes to rename the cars it works on. For example, its X6 is called the Tycoon, the Cayenne is rebadged the Guardian and this, the SLS, is called the Hawk. Something to do with the wing doors, apparently. No outrageous under-bonnet fiddling, but a new air filter, manifold, catalysts and a titanium exhaust together boost power from 562bhp to 636bhp.

    Gotta’ be worth having, although Hamann also likes to have a go at the bodywork. It’s not too OTT, although you could say the profusion of vents means you lose the purity of the standard car.

  8. Mansory SLS

    Mansory has made a name for itself by doing outrageous things to cars that most treat with the utmost respect - the Bugatti Veyron and Rolls Phantom have both come in for attention in previous years. This year it toned things down a little. The Cormeum is its take on the Merc SLS, and while it looks carbon-bodied and is 90kg lighter, Mansory has actually gone easy on it. The roof and doors are new and lighter, and the longer nose apparently helps deliver more air into the engine.

    That might boost power a bit over the standard SLS’s 562bhp, but what really makes the difference is the supercharger. 660bhp is the result. But Mansory says it has already tested an 800bhp conversion, too. Just 15 will be built.

  9. AC Schnitzer

    AC Schnitzer isn’t much different to the rest of the German tuning houses. Normally. However, this year its star turn was a 99g/km BMW Z4. To put that in perspective, BMW itself doesn’t have a car that puts out less CO2. Under the bonnet is the 2.0-litre diesel, but AC Schnitzer hasn’t been able to resist the temptation for a bit of tweakery, so the 163bhp engine now produces 187bhp. Not very eco-friendly.

    The savings come from the fact this Z4 is 230kg lighter - achieved by such heavy-handed mods as replacing the folding roof with a fixed lid. So this is a coupe, not a roadster. There’s another problem too - does your environmental conscience stretch to 149,000 Euro?

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