There are auto shows, and then there is Geneva.
This is the show of the state of the automotive art, a place where car companies flex their muscles and give us a sense of what it looks like when both engineering and design are pushed to the jagged limits of present-day technology. It is, to be crass, a pissing contest.
And what a glorious pissing contest it is.
Last year, the Geneva International Motor Show gave us the drop-dead gorgeous Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6, the Ferrari 488 GTB, the surreal Koenigsegg Regera, and the very last Bugatti Veyron, just to name a few. This year's party, which starts at the beginning of next week, promises to be even more of a spectacle. It will be anchored by historically significant launches — launches your grandchildren will read about in the big, expensive coffee table books, or however it is they consume content a few decades from now. VR goggles or holograms will probably be involved, if I had to guess.
Basically, I'm freaking out at the breathtaking (and maybe even a little intimidating) list of announcements we're expecting. It's going to be a real treat to see this stuff live on the show floor starting on March 1st — but in the meantime, we need a cheat sheet.
Don't worry, I got you.
If I had to boil Geneva 2016 down to a single announcement — which, admittedly, would be a ridiculously difficult ask — the Chiron would be it.
The Chiron is the successor to the Veyron, an iconic hypercar that was explicitly designed to be excessive by every measure: horsepower figures into the four figures, sixteen cylinders, four turbochargers, a top speed that can be reasonably measured in fractions of Mach (0.33, to be exact). The Veyron was intentionally unreasonable, a rocket ship that corporate parent Volkswagen could hold up as an untouchable trophy of its engineering dominance.
Thing is, the Veyron wasn't as untouchable as anyone initially believed. Although the Veyron Super Sport still technically holds the Guinness record for fastest production car, the Hennessey Venom GT is widely understood to be faster — and Bugatti brass has even acknowledged that the Venom is helping to keep things "interesting."
In other words, Bugatti has had to double down with the Chiron in an effort to make it the hypercar to end all hypercars. It has already privately shown the car to prospective buyers, who've snapped up a large percentage of the car's entire production run — so there must be something good behind the velvet rope. We'll know much more soon.
Aston Martin DB11
Of Aston Martin's present-day models, the one bearing the "DB" moniker, the big, unapologetically luxurious GT coupe, has the most history behind it. (Think James Bond and the legendary DB5.) So when there's a new DB coming, it's kind of a big deal.
We don't have many details on the DB11 yet, apart from the fact that it replaces the aging DB9 (the "DB10" name was taken up by the Spectre concept car, of which only a single example was auctioned off to the public). It also looks like it'll have a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12, which should give the big coupe plenty of hustle.
Nothing gets the blood pumping quite like a new Lamborghini, because no one else can get away with Lambo's ridiculous design sensibilities. That's doubly true with the marque's limited editions like the Veneno, Egoista, Reventón, and Sesto Elemento — and now, we're getting another limited model to celebrate company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini's 100th birthday.
Called Centenario, Sant'Agata's latest supercar will undoubtedly be crazy, crazy limited, and crazy fast. Don't bother cashing out your 401(k), because it's already sold out — and it hasn't even been unveiled yet.
You may not be familiar with Gumpert, a boutique German supercar maker that skidded along for a while, struggling to stay afloat for years until it was bought by a Hong Kong firm in recent weeks. But after Geneva this year, you're probably going to know a thing or two about them.
Gumpert's main offering was the Apollo, a handsome track toy that had enough juice to give the world's fastest supercars a run for their money in the mid-aughts. The Gumpert name is no longer, but its successor company — Apollo Automobil — is promising that the new ApolloN will be the world's fastest road-going car when it debuts next week. That's serious talk for a company that hasn't produced a single car in several years, particularly considering that the Chiron is debuting at the same show. We'll see.
One of the stars of the Geneva show last year, Swedish supercar shop Koenigsegg is back in 2016 with the production version of the Regera, which promises to be one of the most over-the-top production cars ever to grace the road. (The company says that its latest model has undergone some 3,000 changes since its 2015 debut.) Here's a refresher: buyers will get a plug-in hybrid drivetrain with a combined 1,500-plus horsepower between the engine and electric drive units; a "fully robotized" shell with doors and body panels that motor open and closed automatically; and, yes, of course, Apple CarPlay support. Company founder Christian von Koenigsegg has never disappointed with his new models, and I wouldn't expect him to start now.
The oddly named GTC4Lusso is Ferrari's replacement for the FF, one of the more practical prancing horses in recent years — if you can really call a two-door "practical." Like the FF, the GTC4Lusso is a shooting brake, a relatively rare body style that is best described as a station wagon and a coupe smashed together into one glorious package.
Besides the design refresh and a slightly more powerful V-12 under the hood, the GTC4Lusso's big claim to fame is four-wheel steering — the rear wheels can turn slightly to aid in handling, which, when paired with the all-wheel drive, accounts for the "4" in the car's name. It's already been announced in full, but we've yet to see it up close; Geneva will be its live debut.
At a glance, the EV3 looks like was sent forward in time from the early part of the last century — but look a little closer. Classic meets cutting-edge with Morgan's latest model, which takes the British automaker's iconic three-wheeler and replaces the two-cylinder engine with a 75-horsepower electric motor. (That doesn't sound like much, but when you consider how light a tiny car like this can be, it's plenty.) The EV3 was first announced last year, but at Geneva, Autocar reports that we'll see a "near production-ready" version of it.
And that's only the beginning
There's so, so much more. We'll finally see Hyundai's Ioniq, an honest-to-goodness Toyota Prius competitor that'll be sold globally. There's the sporty Alpine Vision concept. McLaren's road-friendly 570GT. The production version of the Rimac Concept_One electric supercar. A new Bentley Mulsanne for the extraordinarily wealthy. A hybrid version of the gorgeous Lexus LC that we first saw at Detroit last month.
I could keep going. But instead, how about we just show you? Our team will be reporting live from Geneva starting next Monday, so stay tuned.