TTAC was all set to depart for Switzerland to cover the 82nd Geneva Motor Show when tragedy befell us. My usual suite at the Hotel d’Angleterre (with a view of Lac Léman) was occupied by one B. McAleer during press days, and upon arriving at the airport, our corporate-owned Falcon 7X was padlocked, the plane saddled with a lein from a Columbus-area guitar dealer alleging non-payment by an employee of our fair publication. Nevertheless, we will be covering the show somehow. Here’s what to expect from all the big players.
Audi: The four-ringer brand will have a number of debuts at Geneva, and all of them will be locked to keep out the tract-house dwelling riff-raff. On the performance end, an A1 Quattro, featuring all-wheel drive and Volkswagen’s venerable 2.0T engine will debut, but production will be limited to 333 units it’s supposed to have 250 horsepower and cost $71,000 USD, so it will never come to North America. Also expected to never make it here are the RS4 Avant and the TT-RS Plus. What we may get is the new A6 allroad wagon (a bit of a longshot) and the new Audi A3, which will get its debut one year after the A3 concept sedan launched in Geneva. Despite slotting under the current A4, it’s about the size of the B5 A4, the car that saved Audi from obscurity in America.
BMW: The theme of BMW’s stand should be “brand dilution”, since everything on display is essentially an exercise in lifestyle branding or buzzwords. Most nauseating at the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, which is an utterly pointless exercise in the very German field of occupying every possible niche (really, it’s halfway between a 5-Series and a 7-Series and looks indistinguishable from anything else in the lineup), followed by the M-Performance cars, which are kind of cool in a euro-diesel way, but also spit in the face of the once great M brand. A facelifted X6, new four-cylinder diesels for the 3-Series and an M135i Concept, based on the euro-only hatchback, will also compete for attention. The 116d EfficientDynamics, with its ultra-low emissions diesel and start-stop system is very cool.
Chevrolet: The Cruze station wagon debuts just in time for a mild facelift and some new engines for Europe, including a 1.7L diesel engine.