We join the Volkswagen Group for a sneaky preview of their new cars ahead of the Geneva Motor Show.
The world’s motoring press – and most of the world’s car manufacturers – are in Geneva this week, for the city’s annual International Motor Show. It all kicks off today, but last night crankandpiston were guests of the Volkswagen Group for a sneaky peak at what we can expect.
Two cars stole the headlines – the new 750hp Lamborghini Veneno, of which only three will be made, and the new Porsche 997 GT3, of which more will be made and will likely sell like hot German cakes.
The event saw around 1000 people cram into a swanky tent erected specifically for the purpose, and then wait around for quite a while before the show began. And a show it was, with the first big starring role going to professional balloon-faller Felix Baumgartner (on the right, above). The Red Bull athlete is a Volkswagen brand ambassador, and described how being a parachutist from space is a lot like driving VW’s eco car, the XL1. We can’t quite see the connection, but the XL1 does at least look rather cool and very technically impressive. And it’ll help save the planet, so hurrah.
Journos aplenty then watched as Skoda unveiled the new Octavia and much talking was done about how dealers around the world can do a better job. Of particular interest were tales from other markets – in Japan, the salesperson visits your house to do a deal, while in Turkey you can sit on a sofa and watch as a mechanic fixes your Audi in front of you, explaining what he’s doing at each step.
Then there was a new Bugatti Veyron. This is a one-off, painted by French artist Bernar Vernet, and called – imaginatively – the Grand Sport by Bernar Vernet. The design is of complicated mathematical formulae to do with the car being able to go very fast. It looks to us like someone drove very fast through a high school maths class. We shall henceforth call it the Bugatti Algebra.
Here’s a new concept from ItalDesign Giugiaro, called the Parcour (presumably after the runny-jumpy extreme athletes). Think of it as a Lamborghini for all-terrain, with a jacked up suspension and high ground clearance, but with a mid-mounted 5.2-litre V10 capable of propelling it to 100kph in 3.6 seconds from standstill. It looks to us like a Lambo and a Lancia Stratos had a baby, which decided to go rallying. Thinking about it, that’s no bad thing.
Then we sat through the introduction of a new three-door Seat Leon SC…
…before things got really interesting. First, this rolled up (bonus points if you know what it is)…
…and then this was revealed – the new 997-generation Porsche 911 GT3. With 475hp from its rear-mounted 3.8-litre boxer engine, it promises to be a complete weapon, both on the roads and the track.
Porsche says the new 911 GT3 will lap the Nordschleife in less than 7min 30sec, and will hit 100kph from standstill in 3.5 seconds. Drool.
Lastly, Lamborghini sprung this on us – the Veneno. All three cars that the Italians will build have been sold already, at around $4 million a pop. The lucky new owners will get insane speed for their cash though, with 0-100kph taking just 2.8 seconds and top speed coming in at 355kph, thanks to the 750hp 6.5-litre V12. Check out the Audi R18-like tail fin. Awesome. We’re not quite so convinced by the extremely busy front end, but nevertheless it looks better in the metal than pictures. And either way, we still want a go.
Right, on with the show!