Geneva Motor Show – March 2014

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 Switzerland has no car manufacturing capability of its own, and there are no Swiss owned brands these days, following the demise of Monteverdi, many years ago, and yet the annual Motor Show hosted in Geneva is seen by many as the most important in Europe, with every manufacturer, small or large attending, and generally bringing along a tantalising mix of new production and concept cars as well as all manner of other attractions to entice the crowds to spend time on their stands. And crowds are a real likelihood, as’s group of intrepid attendees have found out over the years  when including a weekend in our visits. For 2014, we resolved to allow 2 weekdays to inspect all that was on offer, and despite various thoughts of driving over, in the end the 4 of us arrived from 3 different airports, ready for 2 exhausting days. And tiring they certainly were, as there is a lot to see, spread over 7 Halls. Although a lot of the new metal had been revealed in the preceding weeks and months (some of it, I suspect, following unplanned leaks online), there was still quite a lot that was announced right up to the start of the event, and with almost every manufacturer having something which had not been seen in public before, as well as the array of customisation and tuning companies who epitomise this show, it was clear that the camera would be very busy. There are over 1350 photos in this report, which will provide a lasting reminder of what I saw long after my feet have recovered from the many miles that I walked seeing it all. Enjoy!


With no completely new Abarth model in prospect for some time to come, interest was maintained with the latest 500 variant, another car to revive a name replete with Abarth history, the 695 Biposto. Although perfectly road legal, this 190 bhp 2 seater car is clearly designed for track use, in the same way as Renault’s Megane R26R was. Given the difficulty that Renault had in selling all of those cars, I do wonder how Abarth will fare with this one, as the price is going to be over £50k, which makes it a rather nice but very expensive toy indeed.

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There were examples of the current “volume” production cars, the 595 Competizione and 595C Turismo.

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Completing the display were an original 50 year old 695 and an Asseto Corse racing model.

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After what seems like a very long wait indeed, the 4C Competizione is finally in production, though I have yet to see one on the roads of the UK. It remains a striking looking car, and reports suggest that it drives very nicely, too. A couple of production models were on show.

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Alongside was the long promised Spider model. Officially still a concept, this car looked equally good, and everyone seems to have declared that the revised headlight units are a huge improvement on those on the Coupe.

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Alfa’s other cars are just the MiTo and Giulietta and both have been subtly facelifted in recent months, with the most recent change being the substitution of the 4C’s engine for the 1750 TBi unit in the top of the range Cloverleaf to created the Quadrifoglio Verde.

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The use of the Green Cloverleaf on sporting Alfas goes back to 1920s. Following a series of “unlucky” races for what was then an ill-prepared team, the addition of a green “lucky” cloverleaf (and a lot of detailed preparation work) on the 1923 RL ensured a win in the 1923 Targa Florio race. That car was a glorious addition to the stand.

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Emphasising its separation, albeit close with a close relationship, from BMW, Alpina had a separate stand in a different part of the show. Five cars were on display, with the XD3 that was launched last year joined by B4s in Coupe and Convertible guises, a B6 Gran Coupe and a D3 Bi-Turbo Touring.

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Aston-Martin had an open D shaped stand, just as in previous years, with a number of familiar production models display at the larger end,  including the latest Rapide, DB9 and Virage.

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The central part of the stand contained a V12 Vantage S and the other end showcased the customisation available, with two different version of the N430 V8 Vantage. Not to my taste, especially the one with the yellow paint additions.

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On the Quattroruote (a well known Italian language motoring magazine), was the special DBS Coupe Centennial Zagato that was created last year as part of the marque’s centenary celebrations.

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Elsewhere, this 1937 15/98 Tourer was a reminder of the sort of luxury tourer that the firm was building in the late 1930s.

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With most of the brand new designs leaked (officially or not) in the weeks and months leading up to the show, it was only really the brand new third generation TT that was held back until the day the show opened. A cautious evolution of the outgoing car, I was not sure about the rather brash looking grille that I saw in the early pictures, but in the flesh, the car looked good, and the interior really does raise the bar quite a lot higher than ever before.

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As well as production versions of the TT, Audi were showing a concept model. the 414 bhp Quattro Sport. Powered by a 2 litre engine, it will apparently hit 60 mph in under 4 seconds!

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The TT was not the only new Audi on show, as the pocket rocket S1 was also making its debut. Bright yellow might not be the most appealing colour for this car, but in other respects, I can see how it will hit the spot for quite a lot of customers, combining the traditional Audi values in a smaller form factor, just as the regular A1 does.

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Audi had an example of the RS2 Avant on show, in iconic Nogano Blue, now 20 years old, and it was joined by the latest model, the limited edition RS4 Avant Nogano.

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There was also an RS5 in the same shade of blue.

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The A3 based range has expanded from three and five door hatchbacks to include a cabrio and a four door saloon. All were on display. The new g-tron version, powered by CNG was making its debut, alongside the e-tron model.

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Audi’s range is vast these days, and despite a large (and very busy) stand, only representative examples of the rest of the range could be included, but these did encompass each basic model design, including the A6 in super efficient 2.0 TDi Ultra spec, the lovely A7, A4 and A6 AllRoads, the S8, an A1, an A5 Sportback, a Q5 in Hybrid guise, the vast Q7 and a lone R8 V10 Spider.

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Examples of each of the different body styles in the current Bentley range were on show, with a V8 version of the Flying Spur making its debut, along with the latest GT Continental V8 S and GTC Speed

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Star billing here went to the first ever front wheel drive BMW, the 2 Series Active Tourer. With BMW’s stand located right next to Mercedes, it was easy to make the comparison to what will likely be its closest rival, the B Class. On styling alone, the BMW wins, as it is not as fussy as the Mercedes, but the acid test will be what is like to drive, and how it is priced. The cars were on a display which precluded getting a really close view of them.

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No such restriction on seeing the new M3 and M4 models, though at some times of the day they were locked. Although the purists may well continue to bemoan the passing of the V8 engine, I have no doubt that these cars will be sensational to drive, and that the press will be effusing their praise in the coming weeks. They certainly look good.

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Not, perhaps, quite as good as my favourite BMW of the moment, the very elegant (though scarily pricey) 6 Series Gran Coupe.

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There is a 4 Series Gran Coupe now, too. Aimed at competing against the Audi A5 Sportback, which it will probably do better than the 3 Series GT, this car looks nice enough, but it is expensive, with model for model prices significantly higher than the equivalent Audi. Will it sell? We shall see.

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Little doubt in my mind that the 2 Series Coupe will sell, even though its looks are a mix of dumpy and gawky. This M235i is apparently an absolute belter to drive.

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The 7 Series is one of the next in line for replacement, this F01 generation not having quite wowed enough people as much as BMW would have liked.

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Other BMWs included a 330d Touring and an M135i Hatch

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Among the SUV range, the X3 facelift was making its debut, and the X5 is only a matter of months into its life. The X1 soldiers on until next year, and as a new X6 is due later this year, there was no example of the current one on show.

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The production i8 will go on sale later this year. It will join the i3 that is already on sale.

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Brabus were showing a couple of classic Mercedes that have received their attention, too.

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Every show these days seems to bring further “limited edition” Veyron models, and this was no exception, with a duo presented for the first (and likely only) time.  The brown one is a Rembrandt Legends Edition and the white one a Grand Sport Vitesse.

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After at least four completely failed attempts to relaunch the brand in Europe, Cadillac made an announcement that they are going to try again and that this time they really are serious. Forgive me for expressing doubt. For a start, they had populated their stand with fast talking Americans, none of whom spoke any of the local languages, unlike any other brand present, and then they are still asserting that although diesel models, so essential for success in their market sectors in Europe, are coming, they cannot say when. So that means that they are going to try to get us to buy the ATS (which precisely no-one did in the UK in 2013 even though it was available all year), the new CTS, the ELR and the gargantuan new Escalade. Do they honestly think they will fare better than Infiniti and Lexus in breaking the German dominance of this end of the market? Get real, guys!

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There’s actually nothing wrong with the looks of their cars, though. But outdoing them all is the stunning Elmiraj Concept which was tucked away at the back of the stand. I know that Cadillac is agonising over the numbers to decide whether to build this car. It would never sell in quantity, but it does look fantastic.

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No sign of the Korean Chevrolet models, such as the Spark, Aveo and Cruze, meaning that Chevrolet’s stand focused on just two All American muscle cars. More familiar of the two was the Camaro, which was on show in its new for 2014 facelifted (not very nicely to my eyes!) guise, both as a Coupe and a Convertible.

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Attracting all the attention, though was the C7 Corvette, which was shown in regular and ZO6 guises as well as the C7-R which is headed for le Mans.

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One of the cars I most wanted to see was to be found on this stand, the new C4 Cactus. On paper and in the photos, this promises much, and I am delighted to report that in the metal it does not disappoint. Apart from some worrying questions over the durability of the plastic panels on the doors and tailgate, which appeared badly scratched just four days into the show, this car impressed for its thoughtful interior design, and overall style. I see it as a return to something creative from Citroen, and wish the car well.

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The C4 Cactus was not the only new Citroen, with the brand new C1 making its world premier, too. Of the three of C1, 108 and Aygo, this one looks marginally the best to my eyes, but competition is far tougher in this segment than it was when the first generation of cars were launched in 2005, and I was not convinced that the rather cheap feel to it will persuade people to eschew their Up!/Mii/Citigo or Panda, Picanto or Hyundai i10. I may, of course, be wrong.

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Citroen has done well at establishing the DS line as a sub-brand, and they continued this separation by putting all the DS cars in a separate area of the stand. As expected, the DS3 Racing Cabrio joins the range, alongside the regular Cabrio cars as well as the fixed roof models, and there were examples of all of these as well as DS4 and DS5 cars on show.

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There were plenty of more familiar models, too, from the C3, C4 and C5 to the Picasso cars in C3 and C4 guises.

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Citroen’s latest race weapon is this, the C4 Élysée based model that will see the heat of battle in the WTCC series.

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Dacia has been one of the success stories of recent years, doing especially well in France. From an initial range of just one car, the Logan, there are now several different models, and all were on the stand, with the latest Sandero and Duster joined by the Dokker and Lodgy.

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A quartet of US models included the latest Durango Citadel, a Challenger, an SRT Viper and a Ram pickup

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Pasquino Ermini built and raced his own two seater cars in the 1950s, and the brand’s revival has seen the creation of the Seiottosei (686), which has a 320 bhp RenaultSport engine, a steel space frame, carbon fibre front end and GRP body panels. Weighing just 686kg, it allegedly hits 100km/h in under 3.5 seconds.

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Looking rather more elegant, to my eyes at least, was a 1955 357 Sport model.

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There always seemed to be vast crowds around this stand, so it was difficult to get a good view of the cars on show. They included the F12 Berlinetta, the FF, the facelifted California T and the 458 in Spider and Speciale guises.

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No question that the 500 remains Fiat’s most important car. Some subtle updates have been made in 2014, with the new TFT instrument display looking particularly cool. There is a new upscale Cult model at the top of the range, too.

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The 500L is now quite established, with regular 5 seater and the extra long 7 seater MPW cars now on sale. A number of these were on show, including a Trekking Street Surf and a new Beats Edition

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The Punto, once a class leader and best looking car in its class, is fading fast now, with no replacement in sight. There was just one model on the stand.

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Surprisingly, there only seemed to be on Panda, too. This was the new Panda Cross.

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Doing better than expected in the sales charts is Fiat’s Freemont, a rebadged Dodge Journey.

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Evidence of Ford’s globalisation strategy was plain to see on this large stand, with models that you might have thought were intended only for non European markets very evident. Of these, it was the duo of the latest generation Mustangs which occupied the turntables in the middle of the stand. This was the first time I had seen this car in the metal, but sadly could not get in them to see if the interiors have been upgraded to the standard they need to achieve.

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Also coming from the US design studios was the concept version of the Edge that I saw at the LA Show last November.

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From Asia comes the EcoSport, a small SUV that is about to go on sale. I am not convinced by this one, and the interior is rather cheap and nasty.

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Of greater significance is the facelifted Focus, with a hatch and estate model on show. Again, you could not get inside them, and there will be a wait of several months before we can get behind the wheel, but the omens are promising.

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We seem to have been waiting a long time for the new Mondeo, now scheduled for later this year, and there were Vignale versions of both hatch and estate on show, along with an electric version.

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Like most manufacturers, Ford are investing heavily in research on alternative energy sources, and this C-Max Solar Energi Concept is an example of what they are looking at.

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Ford already offer a number of alternative technology models in some markets, and there were a number of these on display, including the C-Max Energi and the Focus Electric.

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There were plenty of current production models, too, including the B-Max, C-Max and S-Max, the Focus ST Estate

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Originally conceived as a possible Audi MPV, this Clipper concept is based on VW Group’s MQB platform, and certainly looked good, as you would expect from this respected design house. Fitted with all wheel drive, it has electric power only. The batteries are under the floor, which means that it has a very spacious interior, and three rows of seats. Apart from the front butterfly and rear gullwing doors, it is deliberately not unduly futuristic in design. Two cars were on the stand, with a sportier Ducati version showing an altered door design, and attached to it was a one-off carbon fibre superbike trailer.

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For years, Gumpert has only had one offering, the Apollo, and whilst his remains, it has been joined by a new model, the Explosion. This 4 wheel drive 2 litre turbo powered car develops 414 bhp, which gives it a top speed of 186 mph and a claimed 0 – 100 km/h time of 3 seconds. Price? Err, £86,500 plus taxes, so not exactly cheap.

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Honda seems to have lots the European plot in recent years, having gone from being the Japanese marque renowned for high quality engineering of cars that people wanted to drive, to a maker of Toyota-clone dull appliances. There are signs that things may be changing, though, with the promise of a new Civic Type R for 2015. A concept version was shown, along with the camo-ed up road mule test car. I’m not convinced by the rather OTT looks, but I suspect that they are exactly what will be required by the target buyers.

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Available now is the Civic Tourer, a strikingly styled estate car with class leading load capacity. It is expensive, though.

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The Civic World Touring Car was also on show,  as was a Formula 1 RA267 car from 1964.

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Other production cars included the Jazz, Civic Hatch, Accord and several examples of the CR-V.

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Honda also showed a Fuel Cell Prototype concept.

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Hyundai’s latest concept car, the HED9-Intrado was creating a lot of interest. Powered by fuel cell technology, and with a carbon fibre chassis, this is definitely show-casing the art of the possible, though it has been said that some of the look will translate to the next generation ix35, due next year.

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Also drawing people in was the recently announced second generation Genesis. Rumour has it that this one will be sold in Europe. The first model was a very capable car, almost up to par with the established German competitors, but persuading sniffy Europeans to buy a car in this class with a Korean badge on it could be a challenge.

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The i10 was recently refreshed, and although conceptually similar to the outgoing car, Hyundai have tried to make it feel that bit more upscale. I think they have succeeded.

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The rest of Hyundai’s extensive range was also on show, with i20, I30, Veloster, ix35 and Santa Fe, all evidencing what a strong portfolio this brand now offers.

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Hyundai were also showing the i20 WRC car on the stand.

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This Hyundai-based sports car concept, the PassoCorto, was designed at this Turin school in collaboration with Hyundai. The design brief was for a car aimed at a younger audience, always connected to the web and social media.  It is purely a design study, with no production plans.

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Most interest on this stand was generated by an Infiniti you cannot buy, namely the Red Bull Formula 1 car.

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You can buy a Q50, though I suspect that few will. Replacing the very capable G37, this car promised much, especially as it now has the Euro-market necessary 2.2 diesel engine, but the reviews have all expressed disappointment that this is not what it could and should have been. I suspect it will remain a rare sighting on our roads.

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There was an Eau Rouge concept version on show, which presages an M3 rival. Even though it promises 560 bhp, thanks to borrowing the engine from Nissan’s GT-R, like the late Lexus IS-F, I suspect it will also struggle to find buyers here.

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There were examples of the rest of the recently rebranded range. Q70 is the new name for the old M cars and the FX37 has become the QX70.

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These days, Isuzu only makes commercial vehicles, the latest D-Max  models were on show on a small stand.

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The F Type was the star here, of course, with 2 examples of the stunningly attractive Coupe joined by a Convertible. Which to choose? The Coupe looks great, and it has a usable boot, and is cheaper, but the Convertible is just so pretty, too, and I do like  open top motoring.

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Another star was the new XFR-S Sport brake. The CO2 rating is rather high, but I guess those who can afford the purchase price will not worry unduly.

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The stand also contained an XJR and a regular XF.

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Star billing here was for the Renegade, a new small Jeep that shares its underpinnings with the yet to be seen Fiat 500X. The initial photos generated lots of comment, much of it not entirely positive, but seen in the metal, the design grows on you, and I decided that I quite like it.

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That’s actually true for the latest Cherokee, too, though I can understand why people will find the front end to be too distinctive.

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Other Jeeps on show included a number of Wrangler models, as well as the soon-to-die Compass, and the recently facelifted Grand Cherokee.

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Centrepiece of this stand was one of those “just get on and build it” concept cars, the GT4 Stinger. I think this looks great, and is just the sort of image-enhancing car that Kia need to help to make them a desirable brand in the eyes of the many who are still prejudiced by memories of the sort of cars that this Korean marque used to produce.

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Looking around the stand, though, there is not a bad looking car in the range, and of those I’ve driven (which is many of them), they are equally good from behind the wheel, too. Making its European debut was the second generation Soul, shown in conventional petrol and diesel formats as well as the brand new EV version.

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The rest of the range was well represented, with Picanto, Rio, Cee’d, Optima, Carens, Sportage and Sorento all on the stand.

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The new Cee’d GT looked particularly promising. Very subtle, which for me is a large part of the appeal, this is more “warm hatch” than “hot”, but given the excellence of the base product, it should drive well.

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Two of these sensational Swedish supercars were on show, and they proved to be a huge crowd-puller, as always.

This is the latest model, the One:1, so called as it has a power to weight ratio of 1 kg per 1 hp. It produces 1340 hp (1322 bhp) and weighs 1340 kg, which makes it more powerful than any of the Laferrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918. Theoretically, the top speed is 273 mph, which would make it the fastest road car in the world.  All examples that they plan to build have been sold.

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Not quite so extreme is the Agera S

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Mindful of the packed crowds that surrounded the Lamborghini stand last year, we were expecting a repeat in 2014, with this being the first chance most people would have to see the new Huracán in the metal. Whilst it was busy, it was far from heaving, so it was quite easy to get all around the stand and take in the new model, 3 of which were on display, from a variety of angles. First impressions are that this car is almost too neat and tidy in appearance, and that perhaps Lamborghini have missed a trick by not making it wilder to behold. Doubtless that will happen as various models get added to the range in the coming years, as surely they will.

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There was also a single Aventador on display.

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Lancia’s future remains very uncertain, with the Delta now out of production, and no plans for replacement. That means that the only “true” Lanica is the little Ypsilon, several of which were on the stand. They were joined by a lone example of the Voyager, a simple rebadging of the Dodge product.

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At first glance, you ,may have thought that there was nothing new here, but look more closely, and there was. This marked the European debut for the LWB Range Rover. I was invited to sit in it, and I have to say that this is a very impressive vehicle indeed. The driver gets a beautifully presented environment, but it is the rear seat passengers who will really feel special. There is an acre of space, and the overall ambience feels more like a posh drawing room than a mere car. For sure, this is an expensive upgrade from the entry level model, but for those who want a true luxury vehicle with all the Range Rover virtues including go anywhere capability, this car is unmatched.

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JLR are currently making good profits, and much of this can be attributed to the huge success of the Evoque. A new more powerful 261 bhp Autobiography edition was making its debut, along with a 212 bhp diesel.

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The Range-Rover Sport was renewed last year, and the new model looks very elegant, and rather less brash than its predecessor.

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The Discovery hits 25 this year  and there was an example of the model in the centre of this stand.

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The creations of Ludovic Lazareth are a combination of quad bike and supercar. The latest, the €150k Wazuma GT is a 2 seater powered by a 4 litre supercharged V8 Jaguar engine. He also offers the V8R model, which has a Ferrari V8 and a BMW sequential gearbox.

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Lexus had a huge stand, somewhat at odds with the paltry sales that they achieve right across Europe. Centrepiece was the new RC Coupe, with a couple of road going versions joined by an RCF GT3 race version. If you like the latest IS, you will doubtless find appeal in the RC, but if the deliberately controversial styling is not to your taste, I doubt you will deviate from Audi, BMW or Mercedes for your next purchase. The RC F has a 450 bhp 5 litre engine, and will top the range, which will also include an RC 300h hybrid model.

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Mind you, the looks of the IS and RC are nothing compared to this, the Concept LF-NX., Even when toned down for production, this would seem as if it is going to be a very polarising design indeed. Allegedly we only have a few weeks to find out, as the production car should be revealed next month.

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The rest of the range was all represented, from recently facelifted CT, through the new for last year IS, the GS and LS and RX models.

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Magna’s Steyr Mila Blue city car would appear conceptually to be not unlike the BMW i3, but it combines a CNG fuelled Suzuki 3 cylinder engine with an electric motor, which means that it emits just 49 g/km of CO2. It has an aluminium frame and alloy framed panels covered with plastic.

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Compared to some of the other firms who “enhance” prestige cars, Mansory’s efforts this year were quite restrained. Not to my taste, any of them, but nothing like as ghastly as Hamann or FAB Design.

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This is an important year for Maserati, not least because 2014 is the marque’s centenary. There will be all manner of celebrations during the year, and as if to make its own statement about the start of the next 100 years, the star of the stand was a concept car, badged Alfieri, after one of the firm’s founding brothers. Hinting at a potential cheaper model that would sit below the GranTurismo in the range, this car is quite a smaller than you might think from the pictures. I know that not everyone was bowled over by it, but I liked it.

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I also really like the new Ghibli, and this is the car which helped ensure that Maserati sold 15,400 cars in 2013, a significant increase on previous years and a good indication that the declared target ot 50,000 a year is achievable.

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The latest Quattroporte was also on show, with a recently unveiled diesel model.

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The established GranTurismo and Gran Cabrio are still selling strongly, with 4500 bought last year, which in a market segment that is only worth around 60,000 units a year means that they are still doing well.

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This was another show where the Mazda models were all painted either in white or a rather pleasant pearlescent wine red colour. It was explained that the white cars were from the fifth generation, whereas the red ones were the sixth generation, and whilst I am not sure of the count, the distinction is valid.

Red cars included the latest 3, 6 and CX5. I think all three of these look very good indeed, with attractive styling, and much higher quality interiors than their predecessors.

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Not that there is much wrong with the white cars, the 2, 5 and MX5.

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Turntable display was for the Hazumi Concept, a car which is said to be a very close relative to the next generation 2 hatchback which is expected later this year.

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As in 2013, this was one of the first stands to which we came, and once more, it was well laid out so that everyone could get a good view of the cars on display from the extensive perimeter. However, a wait of a few minutes, following a polite request, ensured that we actually got onto the stand, and then we spent a good 30 minutes both scrutinising the cars from close up, as well as chatting with no fewer than three separate stand staff. To take this much time with people who were clearly unlikely to be imminent purchasers certainly generated a lot of goodwill, and the fact that when we asked a question that the person we were talking to could not answer, they simply got someone else who could, speaks volumes for their enthusiasm to get good PR with the paying public and not just over-indulged journos!

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Highlight of the stand, of course, was a P1. This is a customer car, and will whisked off to the lucky individual at the end of the show, so although we could up close, we could not get inside. All 375 models have been sold, though they are still building them, of course, and every one reflects the tastes of their owners. We did ask what they thought of the FAB Design “enhanced” one, and the stand staff politely agreed with us that it had been over-embellished in all the wrong ways!

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The 12C continues in production, but McLaren are expecting that the majority of customers will pay the extra £20k for a 650S instead, and having seen both a Coupe and a Spider up close, I have to say that I agree with them. The back end has not changed much, but the nose is new, and looks more aggressive. Both cars were displayed in 2 of the 4 new colours (yes, that orange is different to the shades previously offered), and with more power, and other refinements, these cars look good. They were build number 3528 and 3530 since the start of 12C production. I was interested to learn that America has taken the largest number of cars to date, but McLaren have just opened 6 dealerships in China and they expect that market ultimately to become their largest.

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Completing the display was an M7C from 1970. You would need to be quite small to fit in the very narrow cockpit of this one.

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Mercedes has a huge range of cars, so even though they had a massive stand, they could only show a very small subset of their current offerings, with particular emphasis on recently launched models. Of these, the new W205 model C Class is commercially the most significant. First press drives of the car were published this week, and it would seem that the (lower end) engines are the only weak point, so you can be sure that this car will become a familiar sight on Europe’s roads. The mini S Class styling works well, and there is less fussiness than is evident in many of Mercedes’ recent designs. The interior is very nicely done, with a refreshing simplicity to the dashboard, which is delightfully unfussy and devoid of needless buttons. I do hope that Ford’s Execs studied this and took due note. I don’t like the “stuck on iPad” style display screen but that was the only demerit for me.

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A Mercedes you will not see that often will be the new S Class Coupe, and that will be a shame, as this is a supremely elegant car.

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No doubt you will see this one, especially near airports and with minicab stickers on it, the new V Class looks far less van-like inside, even though the exterior is a clear evolution of the old Viano/Vito models.

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The GLA is just going on sale. Looking very similar to the A Class, with which it shares much, lesser models should do quite well, but whether people will feel that the AMG 45 version is justified at a starting price of £45 before adding the likely several thousands of options.

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The A Class was represented by the lauded by pricey A45 AMG.

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I remain utterly unconvinced by the CLA, an expensive small car with truly dreadful rear seat access and accommodation, but steadily they are finding buyers.

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More to my taste is the  E Class, with a full range of  models on show, including Saloon, an E63 AMG S Estate, Coupe and Cabrio

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The CLS was represented in regular Saloon and Shooting Brake guises.

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The latest S Class has become a surprisingly common sight on our roads already. A Plug in Hybrid car was on display as well as regular and AMG versions.

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Open topped models shown included the SLK and SL

Off-roaders ranged from the GLK and ML to the latest G Class in G63 AMG format.

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This was the first chance that many would have to see the third generation MINI, in advance of its imminent on-sale date. As well as the Cooper S model that was premiered at the Los Angeles Show back in November 2013, lower powered One and D models joined the display. It’s no secret that I am not one of MINI’s bigger fans, and this one is not going to make me change my mind. The front end styling is not attractive, and the car remains as cramped as ever, even though it is slightly larger than its predecessor. The revised dash and control layout is an improvement, though.

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It is going to take a while for MINI to roll out replacements for the rest of the R56-based range, so for now all the other variants, of which there are a lot, continue, so the stand contained an example of each of the Cabrio, Roadster, desperately ugly Coupe, the Countryman and the rather odd Paceman.

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Looking rather forlorn, and largely being ignored was this concept Clubman, which, in suitably toned down production ready guise will appear later in the year. Hardly anyone seemed to have noticed it, as it was away from the central buzz of the rest of the stand. Or it could simply be that they glanced at it and did not like it, so chose not to inspect more closely! Again, it is the nose which really grates with me, though I know that most other detractors have castigated the back end more than the front.

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No new production cars to show, so Mitsubishi were relying on three concept vehicles to try to attract the crowds. Lined up across the back of the stand were, respectively, the XR-PHEV, which is said to give clues to a next generation ASX, and the GC-PHEV which points at a next Shogun/Pajero as well as the AR Concept.

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Production cars ranged from the SpaceStar (Mirage for UK customers), through the long-lived Lancer to the ASX, Shogun and last year’s new Outlander, shown also in PHEV guise.

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Marking 40 years of rallying was a 1974 Lancer GSR rally car along with the latest weapon, used in the 2013 Asia Cross Country Rally, the Outlander in Plug In Hybrid guise.

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A confident display from Morgan, and who can be surprised. The Three Wheeler has proved to be a massive hit. Minor improvements have been made to the 2014 models.

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The traditional Morgan never really appears to change, but of course, it does, and there was an update to the Plus 4, with a more powerful version of the familiar Ford 2 litre Duratec, unveiled here. It was shown along with the more potent cars and the Aeromax Sport.

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Words fail me!

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Tucked in one corner of the halls was a multi-layered Nissan stand, with separate levels for a number of different models where there was something new to show. Commercially most important is the new Qashqai which is starting to appear on our roads. A careful evolution of the first generation car, this has a much higher quality interior, but seems to have lost nothing from the virtues of the old car which made it such a success.

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The latest XTrail, looking like a slightly larger and butcher Qashqai was presented in a lone example. It goes on sale in Europe in a few weeks time.

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The big selling Juke has just received a mid-life refresh with new lights and bumpers, and some new colours the obvious visual differences. There is also a new Nismo RS version.

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The GT-R seems to undergo revisions on an annual basis, and for 2014 there is a new Nismo version as well.

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Down on the main floor were the Micra, the latest Note and the Leaf, as well as the NV200 van.

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Very striking indeed was the BladeGlider concept. Will they make it?

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You might have thought that the Astra OPC Extreme concept car would be the centrepiece of the stand. But it was not. It was attracting modest levels of interest, though apparently GM have declared that overwhelmingly positive reactions mean that they will build it. I am sure they had made up their mind long before showing it in public. It has no appeal to me, and is not the car that Vauxhall/Opel need if they are trying to change their image to be more “premium”. This one just advances the onset of “chav” and “river” from cars that are few years old to one straight off the production line.

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They had hoped that the Adam would be an image boost car, too, and despite declaring themselves satisfied with sales volumes in its first year, the reality is that it has not sold in any meaningful quantity compared to declared rivals of MINI, Fiat 500 and Citroen DS3, all of which sell in far larger volumes. Maybe the launch of the new S model, with a 140 bhp engine, the new 1.0 triple and the open topped Rocks model will help. We shall see.

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The Monza concept that was first shown in Frankfurt in September 2013 was making another appearance. Expect elements of this design to appear on the next generation of production cars.

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The stand contained plenty of familiar models, from the Corsa in regular and OPC guises, to the Mokka, Astra, Insignia, Cascada, Meriva and Zafira.

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Two cars on this stand, and, unsurprisingly, crowds packed around the perimeter eager for a good luck. Of the two, the Zonda is now “familiar” (it’s a relative term!), and there was a Revolucion model on show, allegedly the last ever edition of the car. Priced at around £2.3 million, its AMG sourced V12 develops 789 bhp, giving it a 0 – 60 time of around 2.5 seconds.

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The Huayra, that we all still struggle to pronounce, or even spell, is still a rare sighting.

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Highlight, in Peugeot’s eyes at least, was the launch of the 108, a replacement for the long-running 107 city car. The first of the trio to appear (by a few days), it is now clearly that the cars are visually more distinct this time around. This one is supposed to be the more upmarket of the trio, but I am not convinced. I think it looks rather dull outside, and no amount of stickers or two tone paint is going to fix that, and like its brothers, it feels cheap and tinny inside. Not impressed.

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Much to everyone’s surprise, and almost universal disbelief, the 308 was crowned Car of the Year at the start of the Show, and Peugeot lost no time in ensuring that there were a number of reminders of this fact on the cars. There’s nothing really wrong with the 308 apart from the odd driving position and obscured instruments, and it is for sure a much improved car over its very mediocre predecessor, but this is by no means the best car in its class in any regard, and I still cannot fathom how beyond blatant xenophobic prejudice it managed to amass enough votes for a crushing victory. As well as the hatchback models which are starting to become a familiar sight on Europe’s roads, the recently revealed SW model was making its first public appearance, and there was also an Concept R model on show.

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Sébastien Loeb’s 2013 Pikes Peak 208 T16 was proudly displayed on the stand.

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Peugeot now has a range of Crossovers, with 2008, 3008 and 5008 all established in the market. All were on show.

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The 508 RXH was also available for inspection. I like this car, but it is far from cheap.

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On display in a hallway en route to the cloakroom was this, a car sometimes known for short as the Pic-Pic, a Swiss brand who ceased making cars in 1919.

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Whilst the crowds lined all sides of Ferrari’s stand, partly so they could try to get a glimpse of the California T, few seemed to realise that there was another one on Pininfarina’s own stand, which was much to get in eye shot. The relatively subtle visual tweeks seem to have made a considerable improvement to the looks of this car, and I suspect that it will be a whole lot better to drive, too.

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Sitting alongside it on the stand was Pininfarina’s very elegant V12 BMW Coupe.

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No sign of the 918 at all at this show, but there was a 919 on display instead. This really is not a good looking car, I am sad to report, but I have no doubt about the engineering ingenuity and its likely effectiveness on the race track.

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Displayed alongside it was the latest 911 GT3 RSR model.

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The 911 always attracts attention, and none more than the new 911 Targa with its incredibly complex looking folding roof. Gone are the days when Targa meant a lift out roof panel, now the whole thing is operated by an array of electric motors, and is like theatre to watch in operation!

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After the big launch of the Macan at the LA Show, I was expecting it to have a similarly high profile presence here, but instead there were just two cars on the stand, both finished in dark grey.

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There were examples of the longer standing models in the range, from Boxster and Cayman through to Panamera and Cayenne.

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One year after making its European debut, Chinese/Israel marque Qoros added a five door hatchback, the 3,  to the lineup that they initially premiered. These cars certainly look good enough to be viable in European markets, and the quality of the one saloon car open for inspection seemed far better than other Chinese offerings. What it is like to drive is the big unknown, and which will be critical for its future success.

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This elegant looking machine is the e-Sportlimousine Concept Powered By nanoFLOWCELL. Try saying that in a hurry!

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One of the cars I really wanted to see was the new, third generation Twingo. After a decade of producing increasingly undesirable cars, and seeing their sales reduce by an alarming number, this could really be the car to turn things around. It certainly looks good, though a close inspection was not possible, as all the display cars were on turntables and so you could not sit in them. I did note from the one which had its boot open, though that the boot floor is very high, which is hardly surprising as there is an engine under it. It will be fascinating to see how the market takes to a rear engined car in this class.

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The fourth generation Clio is now quite a common sight on our roads. Regular 5 door hatch and RS models were joined by the Estate version that we do not see in the UK.

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Renault’s small crossover vehicle, the Captur has sold very strongly. I am not a fan, and the interior still seems blighted by some nasty sharp edged plastics just as it was a year ago.

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The Megane was facelifted towards the end of 2013, receiving the latest corporate nose treatment. This is a perfectly worthy car, but aside from the RS 265 model, seems largely to be forgotten or ignored by most buyers.

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That comment seems also to apply to the Scenic these days.

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Renault’s electric cars were much in evidence, with the Zoe and Twizy (including the F1 Concept version) much in evidence.

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There were some Renaults on show which are still very much in production despite their disappearance from the UK range, including the Laguna, Koleos and Espace.

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Renault are not just active in Formula 1, and as a reminder, the FIA Formula E Series, Spark-Renault SRT 01 was on the stand.

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The XchangE concept

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The Ghost has just received a mild facelift, with the new headlights the most obvious visual clue.

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The stand also contained a Phantom and the Wraith.

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A large stand for Ruf, where they have a number of their Porsche based models, including the RCT RT35 and CTR3 Clubsport.

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The wacky creations of Franco Sbarro are a highlight of the Geneva Show for many people, and 2014 was no break in this tradition, with an array of bizarre things on the stand.

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One of the surprises of 2013 was just how good the third generation León proved to be. Not only does it look great, but the two examples I drove proved impressive on the road, too. Naturally I wanted to look at the recently unveiled Cupra models, and once again, these looked very appealing. Subtly modified outside, the interiors contain more features and some very comfortable seats compared to the regular models. This is definitely a car for my “must try to drive” list.

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A new Ibiza is promised for later in the year, but I still rather like the current one, and several of this model were on the stand.

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Other Seats included the now rather elderly Altea, and the largely ignored Toledo.

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Brickbat goes to Skoda for taking the interesting looking Vision C concept car away once the press disappeared, so the public did not get to see it. Why? That meant that the stand was comprised representatives from the current production car range. Newcomer was the Scout version of the latest Octavia. There were plenty of other variants from the range also on display.

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Also only just hitting the streets is the Spaceback version of the Rapid.

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There will be plenty that is new from Smart later in the year, with a replacement for the ForTwo and a new ForFour, based on the same platform as the new Twingo, both due later in the year. That meant that Smart were one of the few brands with nothing new at all on their stand, so they simply packed their display with an array of the current models, many of then in bright colour finishes.

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Presaging the next generation of models from this Korean brand was the XLV Concept, a glimpse of how Ssangyong may yet enter the fast expanding compact SUV segment. A 7 seater, it is powered by a 1,6 litre diesel engine, and is slightly longer than a Nissan Qashqai.

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Production cars included examples of the Korando, Rexton and the Turismo. All look less wilfully ugly than their predecessors, but they are still far from elegant.

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Centrepiece here was the Viziv 2 Concept, a car which is said to hint at a forthcoming replacement for the Outback. Subaru’s recent track record on diluting decent looking concepts into something that is deeply disappointing suggest one should get the hopes up too high for this one.

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Case in point is the Impreza WRX STi, which is now planned to go on sale in Europe this summer. A rather gawky version of the latest Impreza, this car may well drive well, but visually, it scores few points.

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The 2015 Subaru WRX STI NBR Race Car was presented alongside it.

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Switzerland is an important market for Subaru, as the Swiss buy more models than the rest of Europe put together, so there was a large assembly of the Outback, Impreza and XV as well as the Trezia.

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Suzuki were showing their latest small car, the Celerio. Indian built, this model will likely replace the Alto and Splash in Europe, though there have been conflicting statements about this, so we will have to wait a few months to find out. Not that I imagine many will be pent up with excitement, as this appears to be a very dull car that was designed for other markets. The Celerio name is likely to be a problem, too, as I foresee it being called “celery” and plenty of jokes about it being about as desirable as a stick of that vegetable.

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Last year’s new offering was the SX4 S-Cross, a rather plain looking pastiche of the Nissan Qashqai.

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The rest of the range is familiar, and there were examples of all the models, from Alto, Splash and Jimny through the Swift, SX4 and Kizashi to the Grand Vitara.

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With no sign of Lada, or some of the more execrable Chinese marques, it fell to Tata to produce the low budget and very low appeal production cars of the show. One corner of the stand was given over to the Nexon, a baby SUV style concept car.

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It was the production Bolt and Zest, a rather dumpy saloon that had little visual appeal, and even less from the cheap and shoddily constructed interiors. Plenty of people were looking at the cars, but I struggle to believe that these are a serious rival to Dacia at the budget end of the market.

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The Alfa 8C based Touring Superleggera was making another appearance. I was not entirely convinced by the green paint finish, but this is a stunning looking car, even if it does require the sacrifice of the lovely 8C to make one.

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Alongside it on the stand was a 1950s Alfa Touring Superleggera, again a striking and stunning car.

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We made several visits to the Toyota stand. Not, I’m afraid to say, because we were transfixed by their cars, but simply because they had a ready supply of water, which was dispensed in some colourful plastic beakers, a number of which are now in one of my kitchen cupboards. They were all themed to line up with the launch of the new Aygo, several examples of which were to be found on the stand. Toyota have certainly tried hard to find a distinctive style, with the rather unusual Hot Cross bun style nose, though whether people really like it or not, remains to be seen. Sadly, the rest of the car feels rather cheap and tinny, and given the number of excellent competitors around, I think it may struggle in the market. Time will tell.

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The Prius has been a huge success for Toyota and there were examples of the regular model, the 7 seater Prius + and the Plug In Hybrid model all on show.

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Less successful is the Auris, Toyota’s C-segment offering. It may look a little less dull, but the problem is that there are too many supremely able competitors. The full range of hatch and estate models were displayed.

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The rest of the range was also represented, from Yaris through Verso-S and Verso to Avensis as well as the much lauded GT-86 Sports Coupe.

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I was somewhat surprised to come across an example of the Sienna on the stand, as I tend to think of this as a US market car only. I presume that somewhere in Europe, you will be able to buy one, if you really must (and I suggest you don’t!).

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The large Land Cruiser model continues to be offered in two different guises, a V6 version and the physically larger V8. Both were tucked away, almost apologetically, to one side of the stand, separate from everything else on show.

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Toyota is proposing to offer a Fuel Cell Vehicle to the market in 2015, and this prototype gives us a clue on what to expect.

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A production version of the T-Roc is one of 4 SUVs that Volkswagen promises to add to their range in the next three years. Pencilled in for a 2017 launch, this one sits on the MQB platform and is Golf based. Apparently it presages a new front end design for all of VW’s SUV vehicles, and this will become the key model in a sector which is growing fast. Despite its Golf base, it will not replace the Tiguan, a new version of which is also under development, along with the smaller Taigun, and a large US-market oriented car based on the Cross Blue.

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However, the T-Roc was not my favourite car on VW’s vast stand. That honour went to the diminutive XL1. I saw one of these on the road outside Millbank House in London a couple of weeks ago, and it is particularly distinctive, looking like a moving flying saucer from a distance. I think it looks fantastic, and the engineering is truly impressive.

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VW continue to expand the Golf range, with last year’s Estate, GTi and R joined by the eGolf and the GTE, this last promising to be a sporty drive, yet with hybrid technology.

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The Golf Sportsvan was presented as a concept at Frankfurt 2013, and we were told a production car with a different name would follow soon, and here it was again, now apparently a production car and with the same name.

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The Polo received a mid-cycle refresh a few weeks ago, though you would have to look hard to spot the differences. There were several on show including a WRC version.

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The facelift to the Scirocco was even more subtle.

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VW’s stand was vast and still did not have that complete a set of models from their huge range. The Beetle was present in Cabrio guise and there was only one Passat I recall seeing. There were a couple of Up! including the eUp! version.

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One of my favourite concept cars of the show was to be found here, the very elegant Estate Concept. Sadly, it is understood to be just that, a concept. As a successor to the Volvo 1800ES, an example of which was also on display, as well as the late lamented Lancia HPE and Reliant Scimitar GTE of the 1970s, this car could fill a niche very well. I fear the problem is that Volvo has done the maths and decided that the niche is simply not big enough.

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The last two concept Volvos, the XC and the Concept Coupe, were also on show, and as a trio they foretell what could be a very promising future for Volvo.

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That is even more likely given the excellence of Volvo’s brand new 4 cylinder engines which have just started to appear in some of their current production cars, to rave reviews.

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There were plenty of production cars on the stand, including the recently launched V60 Polestar and the V60 Diesel Plug-In Hybrid, as well as V40, S60, V70, XC70, S80, XC60 and the long running XC90 cars.

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Apart from the fact that the car was white this year, this looked to be the same car in exactly the same place as last year’s display.

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Following a recent appearance on Top Gear, it is a safe bet to think that just about everyone will now have heard of Zenvo, a Danish marque building a very costly supercar. With an engine generating 1104 bhp, the quoted 0 – 100 km/h time is just 2.6 seconds, though whether it can be driven and controlled at speed is something that Top Gear were unsure about. There were a couple of the ST1 cars on their stand.

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An unexpected surprise was to discover a stunning array of former le Mans racers, which were displayed in a small hall in the centre of the show.

1923 Chenard et Walcker “Tank”

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1925 Lorraine-Dietrich B3-6

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1929 Bentley Speed Six

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1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300

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1949 Ferrari 166MM, chassis 014

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1954 Jaguar D Type

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1957 Ferrari 250 TR, chassis 0606

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1966 Ford GT40 Mark II

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1970 Porsche 917K

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1974 Matra 670B

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1978 Alpine Renault A442B

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1980 Rondeau M379B Ford

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Porsche 962

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Mazda 787B

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1989 Mercedes Sauber C9

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1991 Jaguar XJR9

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1992 Peugeot 905

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1998 Porsche Carrera GT1

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2000 Audi R8

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2009 Peugeot 908

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2013 Audi R18 e-tron quattro

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This really was a most enjoyable trip. It would just about have been possible to see everything (briefly) in a one day visit, but by going on two weekdays and being able to be there until closing time by which time the crowds were long gone, making life easier for the photographer, we had a slightly more leisurely tour around the stands, and the opportunity to discuss what we had seen over a number of beers and some rather welcome pizza on the Monday evening. As soon as the dates for the 2015 show are announced, I will be making plans to attend, for sure.

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