Hot cars from GM, FCA to star at Geneva auto show – Detroit Free Press
Look for General Motors and Fiat Chrysler to make a splash unveiling sporty and exciting new vehicles at the Geneva auto show in Switzerland this week. SUVs — particularly small, fuel-efficient ones that fit European cities and budgets — will also be in the news at the show, which signals the start of Europe’s new-car season.
GM’s resurgent Opel brand will unveil the exciting GT concept, radical yet practical vision of an affordable sporty small car.
The rear-drive GT concept pays homage to Europe’s first major-brand concept car, the 1965 Opel Experimental GT. The concept’s proportions capture the classic sports car: low and wide, with a long hood and short deck. The rear-wheel drive GT has a 145-horsepower 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. It weighs less than 2,200 pounds. Opel’s design studio in Rüsselsheim, Germany, created the GT.
Opel says it doesn’t plan to produce the GT, but the building the exciting coupe would be an interesting heritage play to celebrate Opel’s return to vitality after nearly collapsing during the Great Recession. The brand is expected to make money for the first time this century in 2016.
Opel will also show a facelifted version of its Mokka subcompact SUV that heralds changes coming to the Buick Encore and becomes the Mokka X, using a letter that will identify Opel SUVs. A station wagon version of the popular Astra compact will also debut.
FCA looks for excitement
Fiat Chrysler’s Maserati and Alfa Romeo luxury brands will show a pair of important new models. Maserati unveils the brand’s long-awaited first SUV, the Levante. Based on the same architecture as the Ghibli sport sedan, the Levante is FCA’s best hope to divert attention from the delayed launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulia sport sedan.
Maserati’s Levante is the first SUV from the Italian luxury brand. Based on the same architecture as the Ghibli sport sedan, the Levante belatedly gets Maserati into the white-hot market for sporty/luxury SUVs.
The Ghibli will feature air springs, all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Engines are likely to include 350- and 430 V6s and a 560-horsepower V8. Several diesels are in the works for Europe. It’s unclear whether any of those engines will come to North America. A plug-in hybrid is reportedly in the works, too.
The Levante was originally expected to share its platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and be produced in Detroit, but Maserati scrapped that plan when FCA decreed the brand’s vehicles must be built in Italy.
FCA’s Alfa Romeo brand, another Italian luxury-sport marque positioned just below Maserati, will show mainstream models of the Giulia sport sedan. Alfa has previously only shown the top of the line 505-horsepower Giulia Quadrifoglio model. Power for lower models of the racy Giulia is expected to come from a 2.0L gasoline engine and 2.2L diesel. The timing of the Giulia production and sales remain uncertain.
The Fiat brand will also show hatchback and wagon versions of the Tipo, a compact car built in its Turkish plant. The Tipo is a mainstream model that doesn’t really fit Fiat’s announced plan of focusing on stylish little vehicles like the retro-themed 500 family. Tipo body styles will include a hatchback and station wagon.
Ford is not expected to show any new vehicle or concept, but will add new models to its upscale Vignale trim line.
Other vehicles expected to debut at the show include:
- Audi: The Q2, a subcompact SUV to compete with vehicles like the Opel Mokka X.
- BMW: The M760Li xDrive, a big all-wheel drive luxury sedan with a 6.6L 600-horsepower twin-turbo V12, 3.9-second 0-60 time and 155-m.p.h. top speed. Coming to the U.S. in 2017. A plug-in hybrid version of the 7-series will also debut.
- Bugatti: The Chiron replaces Bugatti’s sole model, the Veyron. Details are scarce, but European reports say power will top 1,300 hp.
- Ferrari: The all-wheel-drive FF four-door hatchback gets a power boost to 680 hp, styling tweaks and rear steering.
- Honda: A concept will preview styling for the upcoming production Civic hatchback.
- Hyundai: The Ioniq hybrid hatchback was developed to compete with the Toyota Prius. U.S. sales should begin late this year.
- Jaguar: The all-wheel-drive F-type SVR coupe and convertible boast a 575-hp supercharged 5.0L V8, 200-m.p.h. top speed and 3.5-second 0-60 time. It’s the first vehicle from Jag’s new special vehicle operations engineering group. An optional carbon-fiber package reduces weight 110 pounds compared to the regular F-type. U.S. sales begin this summer. Prices start at $125,950.
- Lexus: Look for a hybrid version of the LC 500 luxury coupe that starred at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Lexus promises improved driving dynamics as well as fuel economy. Sales should begin following the gasoline model in 2017.
- Mercedes-Benz: The four-seat C-class convertible will debut. It features a fabric top that should save weight and benefit dynamics compared to hard-top luxury convertibles.
- Porsche: The eagerly awaited 718 Boxster convertible debuts. The 718 name harkens to historic race cars Porsche made from 1957-62. The Cayman coupe and Boxster roadster both add the 718 name this year. The Cayman is expected to debut at the Beijing auto show in April.
- Toyota: The production version of the C-HR compact SUV debuts. Toyota initially planned to sell it as a Scion in the U.S., but this funky looking Nissan Juke competitor switched badges and jumped to the mothership when Toyota axed Scion earlier this year.
- Volkswagen: An unnamed subcompact SUV that will share its architecture with the Audi Q2 and compete with the Opel Mokka X. Expect the styling to follow the Tiguan concept SUV VW showed recently in Detroit.
- Volvo: The V90 is the station wagon version of the elegant S90 large sedan Volvo unveiled at the NAIAS in Detroit last month. True to its history, the Swedish brand plans to continue to offer station wagons, in addition to a growing family of SUVs.
Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.
86th Geneva auto show
Press conferences: March 1-2.
Open to public: March 3-13, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday (US$16.18)
Palexpo conference center, Geneva, Switzerland
Cost: Adults CHF16 (US$16.18); Children 6-16, pensioners and disabled CHF 9 (US$9.10)