GENEVA 2013: RIK’s GOOD, BAD & UGLY

Ferrari LaFerrari

There’s no denying the fact that this was the ‘Star of the Show’ this year. Measured alone by the amount of people per square meter on the Ferrari stand and the paths around it: Totally packed all the time! Ferrari’s marketing machine got it right again: Throwing in their
heritage, competition history, state of the art technology and Manzoni (rather
than Pininfarina) design into a car that seems scarcely pretty but extremely
performance orientated. It’s a pity that all engineering work and test miles
that have been invested in the car will never pay off. Most of the planned 499
LaFerrari’s (sold out, with some 250 down payments on the waiting list, praying
madly for some bankruptcies) will be bought and stored in private collections,
never to see a circuit or even the open road……

LaFerrari

Alfa Romeo 4C

For true Alfisti this is important news: Their favourite brand isn’t dead yet! After seeing the 4C concept 2 years ago, first impression of the production car is that it has stayed remarkably close to design intent. Okay, a second look reveals a somewhat kit-carlike appearance (especially front bumper with chicken wire grilles), and those front lamp clusters are really not OK. It remains a pretty impressive package though; carbon fibre all over the place, including chassis, keeping the car below the tonne. A 240 bhp mid-engine should guarantee excellent dynamics. And all this at a fair price which means I will be able to afford one in about 4 years. Seeing the car on the Alfa stand left a few things to be desired. In the evening we saw one on the road, waiting to take off, between some Mito’s and Giulietta’s. It really showed how compact, low slung and roadhugging this little car is. It convinced me that I desperately need to have one! As opposed to the Ferrari, this is a car that can and will be enjoyed by driving enthusiasts……

Alfa Romeo 4C

Toyota i-Road

Innovation is the word that springs to mind, but not while looking at the static display
of this car. The concept comes alive when one sees it moving. That Toyota was
fully aware of that, was proven by the fact that the i-Road was showcased
driving around the stand to demonstrate its advanced nature. Front wheels that
move vertically to allow for leaning in the corners, steering and electric drive
on the single rear castor wheel ensure a turning circle of just 3 meters.
Steering on the rear wheels can only be done with the aid of computers to level
out its inherent instability. In that respect this car is way up there with
modern day fighter planes; made deliberately unstable to max out on agility.
Whether one wants to look at this vehicle as the bastard son of BMW’s C1  and Piaggio’s MP3, or as a minimalistic ‘car’ is beside the point. This is a new sort of (inner-city) mobility with minimal footprint and its own driving dynamics, it renders the Renault Twizzy totally ridiculous
and utterly redundant.

Toyota i-Road

VW XL1

A surprise to myself, not having been a big fan of VW’s earlier 1 liter prototypes, this
one actually makes a serious impression. This is a ‘green’ (or should we say ‘blue’) car that is really sexy. Sitting in it, this feeling is further enhanced. Only thing VW has to do is scale up to a more fundamental production number than the 250 cars they’re talking about. This shouldn’t die as a Marketing exercise.

VW XL1

Pininfarina Sergio Concept

The prize for prettiest (concept) car of the show was easily fetched by Pininfarina. Amazing how they can deliver this level of quality in these difficult times. For comparison one only has to glimpse right next door at Bertone’s struggle with the Aston Rapide Shooting Brake. The 1965 Dino concept, that was also on display on the Pininfarina stand, was totally endearing and shows how far concept cars have come these days.

Pininfarina Sergio

The not so good, the bad & the ugly

Lamborghini’s Venero looked like someone had thrown the content of an 80’s ‘Kamei’-catalogue
at an Aventador….from about a 100 yards. The McLaren F1 LM stole the show at the McLaren stand, although the new P1 was also present. VW’s e-Co-Motion Concept: How did this slip Walter’s attention? Spijker’s B6 Venator; or how to make the least out of a basically good package (Artega GT), BMW 3GT; Proportion mishap. People talked about ‘Alfa 4C’s croissant’ in a demeaning way. How did it end up on this cars front fender? MB CLA; what a limp rear end, Audi A3 e & g-Tron; WTF? And then Marchione’s latest mental alienation: Bringing all accessory-lines of Alfa/FIAT/Lancia under the Mopar brand, huh? Blasphemy for fans of Italian and US cars alike.

People

It was a terrific bonus to have been within a 50 cm distance of greatness such as Jacky Stewart and Niki Lauda, of course the feeling must have been mutual.
Furthermore it’s becoming painfully clear that the car industry hasn’t got its focus on us anymore. The aim is on the East, starting at the Russian border and stretching well into China. The visitors become more and more ‘colourful’ over the years. We see the rich and famous out of these area’s, showing off their wealth with clothes, jewelry, Cohiba’s, bodyguards, women and other accessories:
Exotic, to give it a positive qualification.

Highlight

True highlights happen when one doesn’t expect them. We found a small garage in a dark Geneva corner where a Dino and Muira spent some quality time together; Touched us deeply.

Elio de Toro

 

8 thoughts on “GENEVA 2013: RIK’s GOOD, BAD & UGLY

  1. Michiel

    I was already in love with the Miura. The get expensive faster than I can save money. Need help here!

    Reply
  2. Geert

    There.
    You said it all.
    With a great eye for design – and beyond what meets that same eye.
    Refreshingly honest too.
    This marketing-driven circus needs more of that.

    Reply
  3. Niels

    Great review. Think alike on many topics but the 4C… It is obviously proportionally well done, but apart from that easthetically very “easy”. Where is the freshness and crispness of a modern Alfa that was so present in the Brera and 159? Where is the innovation and brand evolution that went into the 156? Alfa was always a brand of innovation, modern and cutting edge design and technology. How does the not-so-well executed 8C and heavy and fat Giulietta and now also rather mwa 4C fit in that amzingly rich pedigree? Sorry for being such an azijn pisser. But I feel it could have been so much better.
    Loved the Pinin, Toyota and XL1 too. Quite a disappointment to find out the XL1 is not made to fit Dutch guys, or at least not yours truly… When I am rich enough to buy one in 15 years I’ll just get the seat out and take place on a pillow.

    Reply
  4. huib

    R, excellent observations! Do I see G explaining some plastic fantastic on the XL1? Pls G, shall we make some Lexan 4C front lamp covers (as with the classic Spider), could this be a business case?
    The aim is on the East, and the highlight is old school Italian! What does this tell us? Ciao H

    Reply
  5. Geert Pick

    Very nice review, although I’m surprised by the lack of P1 coverage. All media here seem to believe it will have LaFugly for breakfast?
    One has to agree with your analysis of the industry. It is being lulled into the likes of luxury retail items as opposed to the pinnacle of innovation.
    I am afraid other industries such as Technology, Consumer Goods/Electronics and Financial Services have leaped light years ahead.
    Few of the last Mohikans like Geert S drive true innovation, but the % is unfortunately too small.
    I think it is telling that nothing available today, like for like, would trash my 2003(!!!) VX220 Turbo with 260 bhp from a 2.0 and handling to die for…

    Reply
  6. Rik

    @Niels: The actual existence of the 4C is just a great relief to an Alfa-addict I consider myself to be. Greatest innovation is of course the carbon chassis in a low segmant of the market (step up from Lotus and family (?)
    @ Geert P: You’ve probably noticed that there’s an Italian red line going through my story. Where MacLaren is concerned: I truly love the F1, but truly despice the P1, hardly anything good about it: The underpinnings from it’s lesser sibling, the horrible styling. Look at the big pic of the Ferrari and how Manzoni explains to Frank Stephenson how it should have been done ;)

    Reply
  7. Mattijs

    Great impressions Rik. Within one week such a pile of personal sharpened and spiced up GBU, respect! Love to see the Ferrari… best concept from my online point of view might have been the Provo. Reality check?

    Reply
  8. Geert

    @Niels: agree on the 4C. Better than 8C but still rather conservative.
    @Rik: agree on the 4C. At long last a true sign of life and love for the bella macchina from Milano.
    @Huib: industry first driver-visibility area plasma-coated fully homologated 2K side windows with integrated guide rails and mounting features. 33% Weight out too. It’s the way of the future mate! Still can’t figure out what the Alfa headlamp capo was thinking. Totally agree, as does Rik, obviously.
    @Geert P: #XL1: dubious honour to be a Mohikan, but thanks nevertheless ;) #P1: sorry but that car looks like tired old crap. And it’s old news, as it was in Paris already. (Did everybody miss that somehow?)
    @Mat: provo was very nice but missed somewhat in overall design substance. Still a potential DS3/Mini killer though.

    Reply

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