Geneva Motor Show: Another flood of first preference votes for SUVs
There seems to be no stopping the tidal wave of new crossovers reports our motoring editor from the Geneva Motor Show
The big votes here in Geneva are swinging heavily to the SUVs and Crossovers.
There seems to be no let-up in demand, design (or manufacturing ability) on the evidence of another solid block of newbees on show here.
Some, such as SEAT, are getting in on the act for the first time with their new Ateca - a rival for the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar among others.
Then other marques, who are long-time devotees of the genre at this stage, are pressing on nonetheless and bringing an even bigger spread of candidates for your choice - and money - to their lineups.
These include the likes of Audi with its new, and smallest, SUV the Q2.
Volkswagen is going a little mad with its T-Cross Breeze cabrio concept precursor of a Polo-sized SUV.
Jaguar's new F-PACE crossover shows up again and Skoda's 7-seater concept, due here next spring is one of the better examples of an SUV looking more like a long, tall estate.
And then there is the outstanding Toyota C-HR crossover - it's one of the cars of the show. Petrols and a hybrid from the start. The Qashqai competitor is scheduled to get here by November.
The SUV surge is lapping onto all shores - with many, if not most, of the luxury and exotic makers all vying for position too.
For example there is the Maserati Levante crossover - a first for the marque.
That's not to mention myriad variations within the Land Rover/Range Rover stable . . . and the list goes on and on.
And so, apparently, does our appetite for more of these models.
Experts and executives I spoke with on the floor of the show all had much the same thing to say:
Ω The world, especially big, big markets such as Europe, the US and China are going SUV crazy.
Ω Many strategists confidently expect there will be a 20pc to 30pc increase in crossover sales this year across many markets.
Ω And they expect that level of increase to continue for the foreseeable future.
It was interesting to hear the marques under the Volkswagen brand, especially SEAT, Skoda and VW saying their respective offerings represented a new 'offensive' as they rolled out three Crossovers. Audi, also of the VW Group, had its little Q2 to show off but didn't mention 'offensive' much.
Small, medium, large, bargain basement, exotic barnstormer - the SUV is rolling along n all its shapes and guises. It's the clear winner at this show. The people have decided.
The full range of the new Giulia revealed; Alfa says pricing will be competitive against BMW 3-series, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class rivals. Giulietta has been refreshed.
DB11 production version of new range-topper is here. Engines include a new twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12.
Its smallest SUV, the Q2, (rival Nissan Juke, Renault Captur) looks great. It's shorter, wider and taller than an A3 Sportback. Five-cylinder turbo in RS Q3 Performance with 367hp.
Mulsanne gets a facelift; there's an extended wheelbase version.
The giant M760Li xDrive, due in Ireland towards the end of 2016. M2 Coupé (from €78,370) here April 16.
Sensational Chiron, successor to the Veyron has a quad-turbocharged 8-litre W16 engine (tweaked from the Veyron) with 1,479bhp; 0-100kmh in under 2.5secs. What a reception it got.
Not sure if the surf-inspiried C4 Cactus Rip Curl will come to Ireland - mid-year if it does.
The Spacetourer MPV arrives in late summer/early autumn.
The DS 3 is due in May. All-electric DS E-Tense concept car has a claimed fully electric overall range of 310km (402bhp).
The GTC4Lusso (680bhp) - FF gets a new look and a new name with this facelift.
Hatch, saloon and estate versions of the Tipo here. MultiJet II diesel and Multi-air petrol engines.
Here by September though not sure yet if saloon will make it. Hot version of the Fiat 124 with 170bhp.
New Vignale models of S-MAX, Kuga and Edge on show. Won't see them in Ireland until mid-to-late 2017.
Hotter version of Fiesta ST (now 197bhp). Facelifted Kuga due later in year with a 2-litre TDCi 150PS; 1.5 litre EcoBoost petrol 120PS or 150PS. New 1.5 diesel 120PS towards the middle of 2017.
Is previewing next Civic with a concept - it's a fair old step from current design. Should see it next year, I'm told.
First dedicated hybrid model, the Ioniq, will eventually have the option of three powertrains (all-electric, plug-in hybrid or conventional hybrid).
As a hybrid it will have a 1.6-litre petrol engine an electric motor.
Infiniti: Showed its Q60 Red Sport coupé, QX30 premium active crossover and Q50 sports saloon.
The F-Type SVR is a Special Vehicle Operations division production capable of 320kmh (567bhp from 5-litre V8). On sale this summer.
Niro petrol-electric hybrid, the first Kia to use a new platform specially for hybrid and plug-in hybrids is due in August/September.
There is a 1.6-litre 102bhp petrol, a transmission-mounted 42bhp electric motor (total power 144bhp) and a 6spd dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
The Optima Sportswagon arrives in the fourth quarter. Same 1.7-litre diesel as the saloon. Looks well here.
All 40 versions of the new €2m Centenario have already been sold. It looks absolutely outrageous and by golly did it draw a mega crowd for the official launch. Love it.
European debut for Evoque Cabrio. Strange concept but that's the way the world of motoring is going nowadays.
The LC500h hybrid coupé looks better each time I see it. It should be in Ireland by late next spring. The new Multi Stage Hybrid System effectively gives its 10 gears with its Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) setup. It has a 295bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine. There is a 4spd transmission an electric motor and the CVT transmission delivers six physical gearchange sensations to the driver. I think it will cost from around the €110,000+ mark. Also a 5-litre V8 version.
Maserati: The Levante is its first SUV to rival the likes of the Porsche Cayenne. Sophisticated electronic suspension. It's a looker and should be a great drive with that suspension.
The RX-Vision successor to the rotary-powered RX8 makes its European debut.
Front-mounted engine, real-wheel drive. One of the nicest looking cars at the show.
The 570GT goes on sale in July; 562bhp 3.8-litre engine. What a car. P1 and 675LT Spider MSO are two bespoke McLarens produced by the brand's Special Operations division.
The new C-Class Cabriolet wowed us here. It looks so smart. It is expected to arrive in Ireland by April/ May. Engine options and spec levels to mirror the C-Class Coupé. Nice one for the summer.
The AMG C43 Coupé (slots below the C63), produces 362bhp from twin-turbo V6. Loads more V6-powered AMGs to come, I'm told.
There are European premieres for updated SL, SLC and AMG S65 convertible.
The E-Class arrives in April, SL also - I hope to have a First Drive report on it for you next week.
I can say this: one of those on display here had an unbelievable interior. The dash is quite something.
The SLC facelift ( the SLK replacement) arrives April/May with S-Cabriolet 9 Edition in June/July.
ASX and L200 design studies based on current models, with sharper styling.
Special edition Qashqai and X-Trail concepts.
Buoyed by the Astra's European Car of the Year award, Opel shows its GT Concept; claimed to be a template for future sports cars. It is powered by 144bhp 1.0-litre 3cyl petrol.
Mokka X = new styling and infotainment.
New Traveller Combispace /Shuttle MPV will have multiple configurations of up to nine seats and is due late summer/September.
It is a big car and is based around the same platform as the Toyota Proace and Citroen Spacetourer. All have huge interior space. The Traveller i-Lab has a 32ins touch-screen tablet in the rear passenger area.
The face-lifted 2008 will be here August/September also; engines will be the same as the current line up: 82bhp/110bhp/130bhp PureTech petrol range and 1.6 BlueHDi 75bhp/100bhp diesels. The 308 GTi goes on sale in Ireland in the coming weeks.
The 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman get new names and new engines as part of mid-life updates. The 718 Boxster goes on sale in April. Facelifted 911 GT3 debuts; on sale in 2017.
The new Scenic likely to be in Irish dealerships by late October, I'm told. New Megane engine line-up will be similar to that of Kadjar - gets here this summer. Sport Tourer (estate), Scenic and Grand Scenic in the fourth quarter.
The Ateca, long-awaited SUV, will be the first of three. Ateca shares engines and underpinnings with the Leon hatchback and is a direct rival to the Renault Kadjar, Nissan Qashqai etc.
Expect official pricing mid-May; first cars are expected in early September. I'm told there will be a 1-litre petrol 115bhp 6spd manual, a 1.4 150bhp - both with Stop/Start (SS). There will be a 1.6-litre diesel 115bhp, SS and 6spd box, as well as 2-litre TDi 150bhp with 6spd and DSG 7spd auto for 2WD. For 4WD the 150bhp 6spd version is joined by a 190bhp DSG. Standard spec will include: 16ins alloys, Bluetooth, electronic handbrake, LED DRL, 5ins colour touchscreen with SD card slot, 6 speakers, Hillhold control, tiredness detection, manual aircon, Front assist (city brake, pedestrian protection).
SE adds: 17ins alloys, front fogs/cornering, rear Park Distance Control, rear LEDs, electric folding mirrors, cruise control, 2-zone climatronic air con, black roof rails.
Xcellence adds 18ins alloys, full LED headlights, leather interior, rear-view camera, light/rain sensors, Media system plus 8ins touchscreen with CD, SD, 8 speakers, heated front seats.
The 1.6-litre diesel SE should be the big seller and cost - by my reckoning - somewhere from €28,500+. Big, big car for the brand.
Its new large SUV concept, closely related to the Volkswagen CrossBlue, will be produced in the autumn.
It will have an entry-level 1.6-litre diesel. The new 7-seater is expected to arrive in Ireland late next spring. It looks more like a large estate and less a tall, muscular SUV. Like the look of it.
SsangYong: Longer Ssangyong Tivoli XLV (extra boot space) is due in Ireland by June. The small-family MPV has a 1.6-litre diesel and petrol engine, 2WD and 4WD (manual and auto). It will cost from around €23,000. Also possible future midsize SUV revealed here.
Showed their XV concept.
Suzuki: The Baleno arrives in Ireland in June; 1 litre Boosterjet engine; claimed best-in-class luggage space (355 litres). Air con, cruise control and advanced multi-information display.
Toyota: C-HR crossover coupé, Toyota's production version of the mid-size compact SUV, looks great. I'd go so far as to say it's one of the cars of the show. Styling is dramatic to say the least. I saw it in Frankfurt and didn't think it would survive as such a radical. It's even more. Doesn't look like a typical SUV; quite low and coupé-ish. It's due here in November. Has same interior space as Qashqai - though you wouldn't think it from outside.
Van-based MPV the Proace also revealed - same underpinnings as Citroen Spacetourer and Peugeot Traveller.
The T-Cross open-top concept is its latest SUV projection of what a Polo-based SUV will look like. The up! gets a facelift.
The S90 saloon will arrive in June. Engines will include a D4 190hp FWD Geartronic (2.0 diesel auto), D5 235hp AWD Geartronic (2.0 diesel automatic 4WD). It will have IntelliSafe Assist as standard (Adaptive Cruise Control, Distance Alert and advanced semi-autonomous drive Pilot Assist). Powerpulse technology is standard on D5 AWD - permits quicker accelerations from standstill, by virtually eliminating turbo lags.
Its is claiming world first Run-Off Road Mitigation as standard. This uses all sorts of data to assess imminent road departure. Helps driver steer to reduce the risk and can reduce speed.
If departure is unavoid-able, it prepares front seat belts, etc, for maximum protection. Pilot Assist allows the car to keep a set speed and distance to a vehicle in front and can make steering adjustments.
The V90 estate arrives in January with the 2.0 litre diesel automatic, D5 235hp AWD Geartronic 2.0 litre diesel automatic 4WD.
And it will replicate technology on S90. Huge luggage area.
Facelifted V40 (with new Volvo look) arrives in May. Engines will include: aT2 122hp manual 2.0 litre petrol, a D2 120hp 2.0 litre diesel manual, D3 150hp manual 2.0 litre diesel, D4 190hp manual 2.0 litre diesel and a T5 245hp Geartronic AWD 2.0 litre petrol 4WD. It gets new alloys, upholstery, inlays, grille, etc.