Geneva offers new metal from smaller niche brands

Day two at the motor show and time to catch up with some of the less headline-grabbing new cars on display

Wed, Mar 5, 2014, 13:05

Amongst a sea of sore feet and heads over-stuffed with acceleration data and launch dates, day two of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show is in action and it’s time to catch up with some of the stories from the show floor which you may have overlooked yesterday.

Ssangyong is here with its new seven-seat SUV concept, the XLV, which we’re told stands for eXciting Lifestyle Vehicle. Oh dear.

Likely to make production next year, the XLV on the show stand uses a 1.6-litre diesel engine backed up by a battery electric hybrid drivetrain. With seven seats on board, it’s very likely a good hint as to what the next-generation Ssangyong Rexton is going to look like.

Another four wheel drive specialist with something new to show was Subaru. Much of the hoopla on the Subaru stand was reserved for the return of the WRX Turbo saloon, which looke dsuitably mean and lairy with its classic combo of bright blue paint and gold alloys. It will be officially imported into the UK which means a few will trickle in here to die-hard rally fans.

Of rather more import was the Viziv 2 concept, which behind some spangly lights and silly Lamborghini-style doors is a pretty good idea of what the next-generation XV crossover will be like, including the 1.6-litre flat-four-diesel hybrid.

Meanwhile Suzuki was hammering home the small-car-theme of the show with the unveiling of the new Celerio, a city car which will replace the current Alto. Like the Alto it will be built in India and it’ll come with a new 1.0-litre petrol engine with stop-start that emits a claimed 85g/km of Co2. Expect it to be very, very cheap to buy and to be on sale before the end of the year.

Also small, but not very cheap to buy and certainly not emitting 85g/km of Co2 is the new Fiat Abarth 500 695 Biposto. While it’s true Fiat’s stand was a little light on all-new metal, this is the lightest, most powerful and fastest Abarth road car ever built and all those words mean very good things indeed. It’s been on a rigorous diet to trim its kerb weight to just 997kg, while the 1.4 MultiAir engine has been at the gym to expand its musculature to a whopping 190hp. Fiat claims that it’ll crack 5.9secs while sprinting to 100kmh and go on to a top speed of 230kmh. It gets racing-style fixed polycarbonate side windows and a special racing-style gearbox that Fiat says is so well balanced, you don’t need to use the clutch for upshifts. You can even get it with a digital data logger if you like. Prices will likely be astronomical, but if you think of it as a quarter-scale Ferrari, perhaps it’s not so expensive.

Also pushing the boundaries of power and performance is the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge. Named after the famous flat-out, uphill corner at the Spa Francorcahmps Grand Prix circuit, the Eau Rouge is meant to underline Infiniti’s sponsorship of the Red Bull F1 team (world champion Sebastian Vettel had a hand in the chassis tuning) and also to give Infiniti a weapon to take on BMW M and Mercedes AMG. That weapon is truly nuclear-spec too; the Eau Rouge will use the same 568bhp twin-turbo V6 engine from the all-conquering Nissan GTR.

Finally, at the far more comfortable and refined end of the scale, we find the new Rolls-Royce Ghost. The smallest car Rolls-Royce currently makes (don’t worry, it’s still massive by most standards) has been given a minor mid-life nip and tuck (as doubtless many of its clinetle also have) with new headlights, some slightly revised styling and a gearbox that uses the sat-nav to anticipate upcoming corners, junctions and hills. It’s also the first Rolls to have the famous Spirit Of Ecstacy mascot on the inside; you’ll find a miniature version of the winged lady etched under the crystal glass cover of the Ghost’s infotainment controller.