Red carpet cars

The 83rd Salon International De L’Auto- the much-awaited automobile exposition held in Geneva each year – presents over a 100 new cars in addition to exciting new technologies encased in breathtaking sleek designs that promise to electrify the roads. Qurratul-Ain Haider reports from Geneva

The red carpet awaits an estimated 700, 000 avid car lovers and curious tourists from all across Europe and beyond as the 83rd Salon International De L’Auto (International Motor Show) in Geneva opens to the public. The 11-day (March 7 to March 17) annual extravaganza – hosted in a country that does not have an automobile industry of its own and amidst global economic gloom – promises to accelerate the adrenalin with world and European premieres of several gleaming designs.
In deference to the global concern for the environment, most leading car manufacturers have included at least one alternative-fuel vehicle in its range. In fact, a positive change from last year’s show is the display of alternative fuel vehicles in the main halls, which has been extended for this year’s exhibition.
However, it is the fantastic supercars that, yet again, steal the show. With carbon-fibre bodies and amazing aerodynamic designs, the Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren, for instance, exude an aura fit for a super hero and, unfortunately, only the ultra-rich. But that’s the thrill of the Geneva auto-expo – you get a feel of these wishful speed and style statements.
LaFerrari is the first ever Ferrari to integrate the dynamic control systems with active aerodynamics and the hybrid system.  The Italian company’s fastest-ever road car (top speed over 217 mph) has a hybrid system goes into regenerative braking mode, which guarantees that the batteries are recharged even under very hard braking with the anti-lock brake systems or ABS active. Production is limited to a mere 499 models.
However, for those who pride exclusivity, Lamborghini beckons with its Veneno, of which only three will be built. Of course, they have already been sold at around Euro 3 million per piece.
Like its show-stopping predecessor, the Aventador, this year’s scissor-door supercar has also been named after a famous fighting bull. However, Veneno has the exclusive position of being the company’s 50th-anniversay supercar.
From the Formula 1 stalwart McLaren Automotive comes the McLaren P1, making its debut at the Geneva expo in production form. According to the company’s website pricing starts from £866,000 on the road. Another exclusive gem – production of this UK-manufactured car will be limited to 375 examples. The P1 speed is electronically limited to 350 km/h (217 mph), with the 0-100 km/h standing start acceleration taking less than three seconds.
Famed Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini was the Guest of Honour at the Maserati stand of the Geneva show to witness the European premiere of the new Maserati Quattroporte. With a 307 km/h top speed, it is also as fast as most two-door supercars. Of course, slip behind the wheel and the interiors offer the quintessential Maserati waft of luxury.
Also celebrating a 50-year anniversary and a world premiere here in Geneva is the Porsche 911 GT3.The two-seater is powered by a 3.8-litre flat engine with direct petrol injection yielding 475hp. Top speed is 315 km/h.
The spotlight is on Volkswagen Golf VII for having won this year’s ‘Car of the Year’ award. The new Golf has been recognized by the jury for its overall balance and its outstanding achievements in safety, fuel efficiency, dynamics and comfort. Golf VII was chosen from a list of 32 most significant new models of the year. Priced around Euro 29, 000, the Golf VII offers active safety items, such as active braking in the event of an accident, driver fatigue detection, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control.
Amongst the concept cars on display is Italian design company Pininfarina’s Sergio, which celebrates the life of the brilliant Sergio Pininfarina, who passed away last year. “My father would be proud of this concept car,” said chairman Paolo Pininfarina, who added “because it expresses the aesthetic values that always inspired him: the purity of the lines, the harmony of form, and balance. Furthermore, he would be happy with this latest concept on Ferrari base, a brand to which we are related by a history that has helped define the most beautiful cars of all time in an evolution that has lasted 60 years and shows no sign of ending”.
Adding to the heady ambience are the snazzy audiovisuals as enclosure backdrops such as the ones of Honda and Volkswagen; and the as-sculpted-as-the-cars, slender, leggy models perched alongside the exhibits. A variety of music wafts across the halls – a distinctive James Bond score drawing the crowd to the 007-favoured Aston Martin on display at car styling company Bertone’s enclosure.
Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Chinese entry Quros GQ3, Chevrolet, Toyota, Cadillac, Mini, Citroen… the 83rd edition of the Geneva International Motor Show with over 130 world and European premiers and around 260 exhibitors parked across the 110,000 square meters of the seven well-illuminated in indoor Palexpo exhibition halls is a treat for the ‘carnoisseur’ and the wide-eyed alike. (TWF)