Top automakers bring the sizzle to glitzy Geneva car show

The show attracts Europe's largest and most exclusive automakers.

March 5, 2019, 3:38 PM

Geneva, Switzerland -- Every March, the biggest names in the auto industry descend on Geneva, the Swiss city celebrated for its cosmopolitan vibe, decadent chocolate and spectacular views of Lake Geneva and the French Alps.

At this year’s show, which officially opens to the public on Thursday, the glitz and glamour were on full display, with new models and concepts from Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Volkswagen and more.

The show attracts Europe’s largest and most exclusive automakers. American brands General Motors and Ford sit this one out, preferring to showcase their new vehicles in Detroit, New York and Los Angeles. Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover are also skipping the Geneva Motor Show.

“Geneva has traditionally been thought of as the supercar show,” Road & Track’s Bob Sorokanich said. “It’s like Paris fashion week for the automotive industry. It’s absolutely one of my favorite shows.”

It’s like Paris fashion week for the automotive industry.

Here are some of the biggest reveals and highlights from Geneva:

French hypercar maker Bugatti produces pricey cars but it outdid even itself with the La Voiture Noire: “The Black Car.” With a price tag of 16.7 million euros (nearly $19M) this one-of-a-kind vehicle makes automotive history by being the most expensive new car ever. Bugatti says its 8.0-liter 16-cylinder engine outputs just under 1,500 horsepower and about 1,180 pound-feet of torque. The La Voiture Noire will be delivered to the chosen customer by April 2021. It’s certainly worth waiting for.

Lamborghini revealed the Huracan Evo Spyder, a convertible version of its new supercar. The open-top car sprints from zero to 62 mph in 3.1 seconds thanks to its 5.2-liter, V10 engine that produces 640 horsepower and 442 lb.-feet of torque. It also sports a new front fascia and larger air intakes and the top can operate at speeds up to 31 mph. U.S. deliveries start in the spring.

The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) starts at $287,400. Lambo says the vehicle’s AI can anticipate the driver’s moves and prepare the vehicle to “follow the driver’s desires.” The computer’s brain even “synchronizes” with the driver’s brain. A little trippy, but the super advanced technology allegedly helps the driver do his or her “best.”

British automaker Aston Martin presented its Lagonda All-Terrain Concept, a fully electric luxury SUV. Aston Martin has revamped its Lagonda marque as the “world’s first zero emission luxury brand” and Lagonda vehicles will be built at Aston Martin’s new facility in Wales. The first models could roll off the line by 2022.

Aston Martin also debuted its third mid-engine supercar, the AM-RB 003. This turbocharged hybrid V6 engine vehicle will incorporate concepts and technologies taken directly from F1 and the Valkyrie, Aston’s first mid-engine car. The doors of the AM-RB 003 will open forwards, allowing easier access for entering and exiting, according to the British carmaker.

The Bentley Bentayga, the “world’s fastest SUV,” was first shown online but got the royal treatment in Geneva. Reclaiming its fastest SUV title from the Lamborghini Urus, the Bentayga Speed can hit 190.1 mph. The 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine boasts 626 hp and 664 lb.-ft of torque. Who needs a sports car when you can drive the fastest sport-utility vehicle on the planet?

Automobili Pininfarina, the Italian automaker, brought its new electric supercar, the Battista, to Geneva. Rumor on the street is that only 150 will be made and it’s the fastest street-legal car to be produced by the Italians. The stats don’t lie: the supercar hits 0-62 mph in less than 2 seconds and 186 mph in less than 12 seconds. Top speed? More than 250 mph.

Volkswagen’s electric buggy concept will likely come to the U.S. Buyer beware: it has no doors and no roof (but yes to seat belts). It’s a “toy for everyone,” said VW’s Klaus Bischoff. The seats are entirely waterproof and drain holes are scattered throughout the buggy. About 5,000 will be produced for the U.S. each year. The price? “Accessible,” said Bischoff.