TCC's Auto Show
by TCC Team (2/23/2003)
of the world's major auto shows, year to year.
73rd International Geneva Motor
With the cold and snow of Detroit behind them, the top
brass of the world’s automobile industry are preparing for a trip to more
pleasant surroundings. The first week of March will find them in Geneva,
Switzerland, for the most cosmopolitan of the European auto shows. The economic
and political situation in Europe isn’t at its best at the moment, and it’s
likely to get worse if an invasion of Iraq sets off during the show, but there’s
still a full program of new cars scheduled for a debut in Switzerland.
2003 Pininfarina Enjoy concept
With the demise of the Turin event,
Geneva has become even more important for the Italian design houses because it
is effectively their local show. Both Pininfarina and Bertone, long-time
supporters of Geneva, have already issued sketches of concept cars they will be
unveiling. Pininfarina’s offering is a ‘research prototype’ named Enjoy
, which combines the form of an open-wheeled racer
with two seats. Mechanical details have not yet been given.
The Bertone car is a modern
view of a classic GT, using BMW mechanical components including the Munich
company’s 400-hp V-8 engine. Among its unique qualities will be an onboard
‘tender’ that can be used as in-town transportation when the car is parked.
Whether it is a two or four-wheeled machine will not be known until the wraps
come off on press day, March 4, when Pininfarina, Bertone and Italy’s other
great design consultancy, Giugiaro’s Italdesign, all launch new concepts in one
45-minute segment of the show’s hectic round of press conferences.
2003 Opel GTC concept
The U.S.-based majors all concentrate on Detroit to
show their concepts, but GM Europe will have a smart coupe concept based on its
Astra compact sedan. GM Europe
has issued pictures of the coupe concept it will be showing at next week’s
Geneva Auto Show. The GTC Concept is seen as a strong indication that the
products of Opel and Vauxhall will in future have a more sporting feel to their
design. The coupe, which is sized in the same class as the Ford Focus, has a
sweeping roofline and big (19-inch) wheels that hint at extra performance, and
these features could easily make it through to production. Not so likely to make
it to the showroom floor is the GTC’s full-length glass roof, which covers a
passenger space that GM stresses provides comfortable accommodation for four
Another new car that will be making its debut in Geneva
is the latest iteration of the Mini. This version is equipped with a 1.4-liter
four-cylinder diesel developed by BMW in collaboration with Toyota. The engine
features the latest ‘common-rail’ injection technology and is fitted with a
turbocharger and intercooler, giving it 75 hp and ample torque at low engine
speeds. Fuel economy is the big attraction of the diesel engine for European
buyers, and thanks to the power unit and a six-speed manual gearbox similar to
that used on the high-performance Cooper S version, the Mini One D, as the new
car is known, scores well on that level. It gives over 70 mpg (US) and the car
will cover around 600 miles on just 13 gallons of gas.
2003 MG Express
One vehicle that will not be appearing at Geneva is the
latest from MG. The reason is that Geneva is strictly a car show, and the new MG
is a van! Designed for businesses that want something a little special about
their delivery services, the MG Express
is based on MG Rover’s smallest sedan
range and offers three power options. The most powerful has a high-set rear
wing, a 160 hp engine and a top speed of 135 mph — sufficient to ensure that the
pizzas it carries will never get cold.
2003 Subaru concept
Subaru will be showing its B11S concept coupe
, a car that is said to signal the
way that new Subaru designs will follow. Apart from the classic SVX coupe of
1989, which was designed by Giugiaro, Subaru has not been a company noted for
the looks of its cars. And yet its practical approach to styling has led to the
Impreza rally cars and the Forester, both of which have started design trends.
Now, however, the company is taking a more design-led approach.
2003 Peugeot Hoggar concept
Peugeot of France is one of the most
successful and profitable car companies in the world, and although it is said to
be looking at the possibilities of returning to the U.S., it is not present in
that market and therefore had no need to be in Detroit. That means Geneva is the
first show of the year for the company, and it has two new concepts and a new
production car ready to meet the world on March 4. The concepts are the 807
Grande Tourisme, a luxury four-seat grand tourer, and the Hoggar, an open-topped
leisure-time off-roader. The cars look good, as Peugeots regularly do, but they
don’t open up any new boundaries. The Grande Tourisme follows the example of
Renault’s Avantime — which has been in production for some 18 months — and the
Hoggar has a little too much dune buggy influence in it to be truly of the 21st
2003 Peugeot 307 CC
On the other hand, Peugeot can be proud that a car it
showed as a concept in Paris just last September will be on the Geneva show
stand as a production model. The 307 CC
is a four-seat convertible with a retractable steel roof, and it will go on
sale just in time for summer, the selling season for convertibles.
2003 Mazda MX Sportif concept
Mazda is another manufacturer that will be showing a new
production car and a concept. The production model is the Mazda2, a supermini that is being produced at Ford’s plant at Almussafes
in Spain with a sales target of at least 40,000 units. The concept is the MX
, a car that is clearly aimed at production
rather than setting extreme styling trends. The company says it “indicates the
direction Mazda will take for a new, global ‘C-segment’ vehicle” and pictures
show it to be just that, a clear expression of how the Ford-controlled Japanese
firm sees the family car future.
2003 Toyota Avensis
Another new production car making its
official sales debut in Geneva is the British-built Toyota Avensis
, which is just entering the market
segment Mazda is targeting with the MX Sportif. Toyota plans to sell 130,000
units of the car in Europe in the coming year, following its international
policy of building cars across the world for local consumption.
2003 Fiat MPV
Troubled Fiat will be showing new
super-economy cars that will be built in Poland, one a small sedan that will
eventually replace the two smallest cars in the Fiat range, the Siecento and the
Punto, and the other a Punto-sized MPV
. Both will be
powered by an extremely frugal three-cylinder turbocharged diesel of 1.3-liter
2003 ferrari Stradale
two minicars will make an interesting comparison with the other end of the
Italian car industry, represented by Ferrari’s new road-trained racer, the
, and Lamborghini’s ‘compact’ Gallardo
, both of which will be making their first
2003 Audi A3
Audi will be showing a new coupe
concept, the TC, alongside a new version of its small sedan, the A3, which won’t
make the transatlantic trip — unless oil prices force a rethink of the U.S.
Porsche Carrera GT
One German product that will be crossing the pond in limited
numbers is Porsche’s new 381-hp 911 GT3. There will also be a crowd round the
production version of the limited-edition Carrera GT
, which will be making its world premiere.
2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom
Sticking with limited production
vehicles, Geneva will see the European unveiling of the new Rolls-Royce
. The car had such success in
Detroit that production has been tripled — to three cars a week, which come with
the option of a “theatre package” comprising two separate power-operated rear
seats and a dedicated DVD-based entertainment system.
2003 Pagani Zonda
One of the special supercar
manufacturers is Pagani, based in Modena, Italy. The company will unveil its new
Zonda Roadster in Geneva. In the Roadster, Pagani combines exotic technology
with handwork. The car has been designed with innovative technology ideas and
with attention to safety and features a new carbon fiber central-chassis
structure, that reaches the highest structural rigidity level in the segment.
The Roadster has a roll bar of carbon and chrome-molybdenum alloy, which is
linked to the rear section of the chassis. A carbon fiber/carbon textile
removable roof is available for bad weather conditions. Under the hood Pagani
placed the Mercedes-Benz AMG 555-hp 7.3-litre V-12 engine, the same that was
already used in the Zonda S. Michelin developed special tires for the 19-inch
forged aluminium wheels in the sizes 255/35 and 345/35 for the front and rear
respectively. The Italian company will hand build only 40 Zonda Roadsters, and
each will be customized to match the new owner’s tastes.
Car sales are cooling across Europe, but that is
unlikely to cast a shadow over Geneva, which, because of its location in
‘neutral territory’ — Switzerland hasn’t had a native car manufacturer since the
1920s — many consider to be the best of the international shows.