The Geneva car show marks the end of the winter and the beginning of spring, cosmopolitan and exciting, but above all always controversial and this year was no exception!

Now! normally when I bump into a friend or colleague at the Geneva show the first thing they usually say after greetings have been exchanged is “seen anything good?”, but this year was different. The first thing on most people’s lips was “have you seen the Bentley?” normally accompanied with a look of shock followed swiftly with one of disgust.

Yes! I had seen the Bentley, the night before in fact and yes! I too was shocked. I’m sad to report it was the biggest talking point of the show. Comments I heard ranged from the funny “Looks like a large London taxi” To just plain sad “It looks like a bad Chinese copy” But the question most people asked was “How did that get approved?” when you think how all other products from the VW Empire are so carefully considered. We may never know? The Show car was beautifully made and detailed and let’s hope that Bentley can get its act together and produce a stunning production version, as we know they are quite capable of. 

Geneva 2012a

This year I only had one day to soak in the Geneva atmosphere, flying in early from Münich and back on the last flight out of town. To see the show in a day is potentially possible due to it’s compact size, but I still had to plan my schedule carefully to see as much as possible.

A quick stop at the home stand to check out everything’s in place. Yes! It’s all there, the muscular RS4 and nuts A1 quattro sit proudly near the front and our new Audi A3 is proving so popular it’s difficult to get a close look. So! It’s off to Ferrari to see if I can catch a glimpse of the brand new 740 HP F12 Berlinetta instead. Having already seen photos, expectations were high and I wasn’t disappointed. With an aggressive front and heavily sculptured flanks, first impressions in the metal are that the F12 looks stunning, but! The proportions of the rear end in side view is a bit squashed and the rear-end graphics really do look like Sid! from Ice age! and although interesting, I’m not totally convinced by the claimed extra downforce stuff about the hole in the fender thing. 

Geneva 2012c

Lamborghini not to be out done by Ferrari revealed the outrageously red Aventador Barchetta. A symphony of carbon fiber and uuuhhhh! carbon fiber. I bump into the Lambo Design team and they invite me for lunch upstairs on their newly styled stand. Although not immediately visible from the outside it’s much more spacious inside than the old one with enough room for two cars, but more importantly a bar and a larger dining area. As always the food is delicious! Parma ham, Parmigiano, risotto, fine wines and desserts all finished off with a real espresso, Fantastic! All this while admiring from above a very low, red, topless Aventador and stand girls with very low, white, dresses! Unfortunately, not topless! 

Geneva 2012d

After lunch I snuck out the back of the Lamborghini stand for a smoke and my annual inspection of the VIP parking. Rows of Bentley’s, Roller’s and Panamera’s and even a fleet of Evoques vied for my attention in the bright sunlight. After shooting a few photos it’s time to hit the show floor again.

Geneva 2012b

I’ve always been a fan of the Morgan 3 wheeler and now there was a new one. It’s been around a while now, but this Geneva was my chance to have a closer look and a close look I got! Trying to Squeeze myself into the tiny cockpit a sales assistant ran up and showed me how the steering wheel could be removed to ease entry, how embarrassing! I sat there a while admiring the handcrafted interior, imagining what it would be like to drive this minimalistic car in anger, wind blowing in my hair, engine howling as I thrashed it down country lanes. ‘Sir! Sir!’ My dreaming was broken by the sales assistant again ‘would Sir like to order one?’ I played along ‘what’s the delivery time?’ replying politely he said ‘If you order now, you can take delivery in time for summer 2013!’ I started to remove the steering wheel ‘that’s a long wait! And the price?’ I was standing up now steering wheel in hand and just scrambling out when he said ‘35000 Euros for the basic model Sir!’ I almost fell over! I composed myself quickly and carefully clicked the wheel back in place. ‘Could I have a brochure please?’ I squeaked ‘I need to think about it, you know? The colors and all that?’ That’s an awful lot of money for a car with only 3 wheels, steering wheel not included!

Geneva 2012e

Surprise of the show for me was the facelift on the Rolls-Royce Phantom. It’s a shame really, although not badly done the Roller has lost the distinctive look it once had. Having never really spent time with one I decided to have a closer look. Like a big kid I luxuriating in the rear seat, my feet disappearing in deep carpets and my head cocooned by the thick ‘C’ post. I played with all the gadgets of course and stared mesmerized at the starlight roof. Up front wasn’t bad either, with beautiful veneered wood and delicately chromed controls. The only thing letting it down? the COP column stalks from BMW! 

Geneva 2012l

Other highlights?     

The Disco Volante concept from Touring, interesting sculpture around the rear end, but not much else. Oh! The 3D grille badge was nice. A missed opportunity maybe? As was the Bertone tribute to the Stratos Zero. How can you reinterpret these beautiful cars so badly, but the real question is why?

Pininfarina presented the Cambiano, a clean, nicely proportioned sports saloon with flowing surfaces and dynamic lines. On closer inspection though the quality of the concept was unfortunately not so hot! Revealed especially on the interior stitching and in particular the door panels which used huge slabs of wood recovered apparently from a lagoon in Venice and I have to say, they looked like it! 

Geneva 2012j

Ital design now integrated into the VW family showed the very Espada like Brivido. Proportions were good, but unfortunately Giugiaro had re-cycled old themes and ideas that we’ve seen on previous concepts, but you could clearly see already VW’s obsession with quality reflected on the interior. The Martini like racing version with its provocative graphics was a pleasant surprise though.

 Geneva 2012h

Trends? For me there was still a trend towards white as a major color, silver and grey’s are still popular. Red is making a major come back and it’s not predominantly the Italians who are using it now, the VW group had a lot of it’s products displayed in Red too!

Oh! And one other small thing I noticed, a disturbing trend towards red pants at the Geneva show. I don’t think they are in any way connected, but everywhere I turned I was confronted by loud trousers! There was even one guy who I met (who was actually on the plane from Münich) wearing a complete red suit.

Geneva 2012i

If you didn’t have an electric/hybrid on your stand or at least a hint of urban mobility you just weren’t hip! Toyota takes their eco image very seriously and had the FT-Bh styled under the ‘Ecomotive’ theme. Weighing just under 800kg, obviously hinted at the next generation Prius, it had some interesting design features, such as the body panels styled like stretched fabric, but ultimately ugly! Hell! Even Morgan had a plug in electric car and it’s made mainly of wood!

A strange car that looks like it’s melted under the hot lights turns out to be a concept from Valmet, makers of the Fisker Karma. No information was available, but it seems to that the Dawn EV is an electro-magnetic, hovering racecar and is supposed to showcase Valmet’s expertise in Design, R&D and electric components like batteries and drivetrains. Cool and Crazy!

Geneva 2012k

The day is coming to a close, I’m tired and I have a plane to catch, but I’ve been told there’s an after show party at SEAT, sounds perfect! It’s great, although a little short lived! But after a long day the Car Freaxsters finally meet and exchange thoughts on the show. Talk soon turns to the Bentley of course! The Ferrari and Giugiaro’s show cars, but then Mattijs shows me his photos, damn! I’ve missed so much! Panic! I look at my watch, still time to see a few more cars? I swiftly excuse myself and rush through the halls, but it’s too late! The covers are going on all around me, lights are going out and so sadly it’s the end of the Geneva show for me. I slowly make my way to the Airport, making a mental note to myself, next year I have to stay for two days.

One day is not enough! 


Thanks to Juan Perez for photos of me in the Morgan and Roller. 


  1. Geert

    Really enjoyed your writeup (& pix of course) Steve – it’s been too long! Extra kudos for the candid opinion sharing and that touch of Brit humour: Sid! Priceless. I’ll never get that image out of my head again.

  2. Mattijs

    Playful, tongue in cheek, personal, complete, crazy,insider-ish, that’Sid, Geneva in a “nuts-shell”. Thanks for the final chapter Steve.
    Love the many atmospheric people shots mixed into the compilations.

  3. Michel fantastique

    Love the ‘behind the scenes opinions’. Question how do you make those long-distance shots with yourself in them?

  4. Rik

    Nice one Steve, love your straightforward, not beating around the bush, honesty, wry humour included! Agree with most of what you say. On the Ferrari: Always have a soft spot for Italian manufacturers who haven’t got it a 100% right; sort of leaves something to be desired. Almost like a friend or a lover, there ain’t any who are 100% pretty, likeable, good or whatever: We just learn to live with them…..or not. Perfection is so overrated……. ;)
    Which pair of red clad legs belong to a certain trendsetting design-manager formerly residing in Ingolstadt?
    Very nice girl next to the Toyota by the way, or is that just by comparison?

  5. Steve Lewis

    No Red Legs from Audi or formerly related to Audi, living or dead were used in the making of this blog! The girl was actually on the Peugeot stand next to the new 209.


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