Geneva Motor Show: our picks
Top Gear’s expert panel pick their three favourite cars from the biggest motor show… in the world
Posted: 11 Mar 2013
Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor
A slightly strange show this. Like any Geneva, it was supercar Babylon. But it was actually a show without great strength in depth. Lots of hypercars plus the Alfa 4C and the Rolls Wraith, but few interesting new cars for normal people.
I like the McLaren and Ferrari for their demonstrating that hybrid technology is about efficiency, and it's OK to choose to spend that efficiency on responsiveness not just on economy. But really how relevant is a galactic 900bhp-plus to my sadly terrestrial driving talent? So they gave me a nagging feeling of being unworthy. So for my three picks, I'm going oddball.
First the VW XL1 (above). It puts LaFerrari levels of technology into a package that means more. It can be cascaded among other VW cars: I've seen the CAD rendering that shows the drivetrain fits directly under the bonnet of an Up!, and we know a four-cylinder version is being scaled up for the Golf, and a petrol-electric edition for the A3. Also any German car with no power steering is OK by me. The lightweight cabin is wonderfully spare and elegant.
Second choice is another carbon-tubbed mid-engined two-seater, the Alfa 4C. It weighs only 1000kg, which means its little 1.8 turbo is going to propel it with near-supercar vehemence. It looks lovely, and it's got a big job to do in re-igniting the Alfa name worldwide. We drive it when the warmer weather comes, and I'm sooooo hoping they haven't dropped the ball with the dynamics. Sorry, but I'm sentimental about Alfa and I'm not apologising.
Final choice, the Qoros range. Of course I, like any of us, would far rather have a 4C or Porsche GT3 than these boring Chinese hatchbacks, but that isn't the point. Any European or Asian mass-manufacturer that isn't given the heebie-jeebies by Qoros is delusional. Straight out of the box this brand has produced cars of staggering maturity. They've got better exterior surfacing and interior lushness than anything but the VWs they so evidently mimic.
Best of the rest? Kia Provo. Is it already time for us to get nostalgic about the turn of the millenium? This thing has the attitude and surfacing of those 'blobjects' we loved back in Y2K. Remember Marc Newson's Ford 021C? Wraith: something of the night there, and so very lush. The Renault Captur, a nicer stab at a mini-crossover than the too-reserved Peugeot 2008 or mildly gawky Ford Ecosport or vanilla-Japanese Suzuki SX4 Mk2. The Pininfarina Sergio concept, bringing the classic little Italian barchetta snappily up to date.
What made me saddest? The Lamborghini Veneno. Is the standard Aventador's aero package so rubbish that it needs this comprehensive re-work? Of course not. So the Veneno's mods must be purely for childish, vulgar display. It hurts my eyes.