2010 Geneva Motor Show: Worst of show
For all of Geneva's great debuts, here are a few that should've been held back
Geneva, Switzerland - This year, Switzerland's annual show was a smorgasbord of automotive delights. Not only did all the mainstream global manufacturers show up with the latest in production cars and concepts, there are also the Italian design houses and aftermarket tuners vying for media and consumer attention. Yet, like most auto shows, not everything presented at this year's Geneva shindig was a stylistic homerun.
Maybe it's the thin air up here in the Alps. Maybe it's too much Swiss chocolate. But here's a brief list of some of this year's debuts that were ... let's just say ... works in progress.
Aston Martin Cygnet
This isn't some Photochop job. Famed British sports car maker Aston Martin is really going to put a made-over Toyota iQ city car, dubbed the Cygnet, into production.
With each Cygnet emitting under 120g/km of carbon dioxide, Aston argues that it will help the automaker offset the fuel economy of its V8 and V12 models.
Scratch the Cygnet's exterior Aston styling pastiches (trademark grille, hood vents, chrome side vents and C-shaped taillights) or look under its red leather-clad interior, and there's little to distinguish it from the Toyota donor car. Instead of, say, a wonderful V12, the Cygnet gets a 98-hp 1.3-litre engine that struggles to push the iQ (think Toyota Smart) to 160 km/h.
Luckily, we won't see this questionable attempt at expanding the Aston brand in Canada. Initially, its 2,000 unit annual production is limited to existing British Aston owners. But if Jaguar got heat for moving down-market with its Ford-derived X-Type, what can we make of the Cygnet?
If this year's Geneva auto show had a recurring theme, it was the idea that high performance-cars could also be green. Debuts like the Ferrari 599 HY-KERS, Porsche 918 Spyder and Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid all seemed like the proverbial cake-and-eat-it-too propositions.
What's not to love about the combination of style, performance and zero-emission driving? But the reality is these low-volume cars are a passing fad, all about corporate image, not saving the planet or reducing corporate fuel economy fleet averages.
The majority of supercar owners have a stable of cars on hand: one to take the kids to school; one to run the boys to the golf club; one for weekends away at the ski lodge. At most, their supercar may travel but a few thousand kilometres over the course of a year; whether powered by fossil fuels or electricity, the environmental impact is nonexistent.
So yeah, the 718-hp Porsche 918 Spyder that also claims to get 3.02 L/100 km sounds cool. But if you really want to be environmentally friendly, take the bus.
Hyundai i-flow Concept
Underneath the i-flow concept, Hyundai says there is a new diesel hybrid powertrain. But my eyes are still hurting from the car's busy, convoluted exterior to care about how it's powered.
The i-flow is a strange mix of Mazda Nagare design language bits at the front with its cartoon fenders and bug-eating grin, and over-sculpted fender swages from the first-gen Tiburon as its body weaves its way to the rear. And what's with the cut-lines in the roof? Was Hyundai's design studio welder on sick-leave the day the i-flow was being assembled?
Hyundai may be selling a gazillion cars around the world, but someone needs to get down to the design department before they put out another car that's as dated looking as this latest concept.
Lexus CT 200h
Based on the CT 200h's conceptual predecessor - the LF-Ch four-door hatchback Lexus unveiled at last September's Frankfurt show - I had high hopes for Lexus's first dip into the premium compact hatchback market. The production CT 200h, though, is yet another Toyota product that's been sanitized for our protection.
First-gen Mazda3 Sport owners will feel comfortable with the Lexus hatch: it looks almost identical with the now six-year old design.
And until we know what other drivetrain options will be available, the front drive CT 200h will initially only be powered by a 134-hp Prius drivetrain. Yet parent Toyota thinks the CT 200h will snag BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 owners out of their rides. Good luck with that.
Like last year's Mazda3, the refreshed 2011 Mazda5 mini-minivan receives the wind-swept sheetmetal treatment based on the Nagare (flow) series of concepts. But like the compact 3, the end result is a compromise that looks awkward and overwrought.
On the Taiki, Kiyora, Ryuga and Kazamai Nagare concepts, the flowing sheetmetal theme along their sides was designed from the start. But the Mazda5 is still a few years away from an all-new platform. And like having a parent on Facebook, the 5 looks like it's trying way too hard to be cool.
Until we see from Mazda a production car designed via Nagare from the start (the next RX-8, perhaps?) any application is going to look half-pregnant.