GENEVA MOTOR SHOW: Top six fleet cars and the top six concept cars
08 March 2011
An array of new metal was on display at Switzerland's annual extravaganza, but what were the six most interesting production cars, and, over the page, the six most important concept cars? Paul Barker and Rachel Burgess report
Having launched in summer 2009 with the saloon, Chevrolet is finally adding a hatchback variant to its lower medium Cruze model.
Seen as a chance to push the Cruze into fleets and user choosers, the new hatchback will arrive at the same time as the Cruze range gets an additional engine option in the form of the 163hp 2.0-litre diesel that was first seen in the new Chevrolet Orlando people carrier.
On sale: Summer 2011
Priced from around £20,000, the new upper medium i40 will be launched in estate form first, before a saloon follows early next year.
Aimed at fleet, the car will launch with premium equipment including heated folding rear seats and a system that automatically detects when the windscreen is fogging up. Emissions will start at 113g/km for the 1.7-litre diesel.
On sale: Late 2011
3. Kia Rio
The new Rio supermini carried one of the surprises of Geneva when Kia announced CO2 of just 85g/km from the 1.1-litre 69hp diesel with the firm's stop-start system. Unlike the previous Rio, there will also be a three-door car next year, which will take the same engine range of four engines - two petrol and two diesel. Kia is also looking to more than quadruple European volumes to around 90,000 per year.
On sale: September 2011
4. Mercedes C-class Coupe
The C-class Coupe replaces the CLC that disappeared at the end of the last year and gives Mercedes further scope with fleets. A spokesman said the C-class has been particularly popular with retail but the C-class Coupe gives another reason for fleets to consider the range, especially with an engine line-up similar to the saloon and estate, and which includes a business-friendly 117g/km CO2 C220 CDI.
On sale: June 2011
5. Saab 9-5 Sportwagon
The next stage of Saab's revival is the new 9-5 estate, which arrives this September to join the saloon launched last summer.
It will share the four-door's engine line-up, but gets increased practicality with elements such as a multi-load floor, under-floor stowage and a wet storage compartment, as well as an optional programmable powered tailgate. Boot capacity is 527 litres.
On sale: September 2011
6. VW Golf Cabriolet
The VW Golf Cabriolet, the first of its kind since the olden days of the Mk4 Golf, will go on sale in the summer, with around a third of volume going to the business world with buyers predominantly being user choosers. While it will be priced well below the brand's hard-top Eos, with prices expected to start at an estimated £20,500, VW naturally expects the car to take captive sales from its more expensive brother.
On sale: June 2011
1. Ford B-max
Coming late next year, Ford's B-max is the firm's new supermini-MPV and comes with a sliding surprise.
The rear doors are on runners rather than hinged, and when they slide back and the front ones are opened, there's no pillar in between, creating a 1.5m aperture for easy access.
Although it's a concept, very little should change before it makes production, and that includes those doors. The B-max name should also transfer to production on the vehicle that's 11cm longer and 11cm higher than a Fiesta.
The Fusion, the vehicle the B-max nominally replaces, will go off-sale by the end of this year, and has already been reduced to a petrol-only range due to Euro5 emissions legislation ending the diesel offering.
Mazda's Minagi concept is the precursor to a smaller CX-branded off-roader to sit below the CX-7 in the company's line-up.
Coming early next year, the new model will be the first to benefit from Mazda's new Skyactiv series of engine, chassis and body developments aimed at cutting emissions by 30% across the company's car range. For the new small off-roader that will mean sub-120g/km CO2 emissions from a 2.2-litre diesel model. Future developments will also include Mazda's first-ever automatic gearbox for a diesel model.
The company also showed a concept car called Shinari, designed to be a long-range preview of the next Mazda 6, which is targeted for CO2 emissions of 105g/km.
Renault's Captur concept will loosely become a production crossover in 2012 or 2013. Sized between the Clio and the Megane, and fitted with a hard convertible roof, it can be "a coupe or a convertible, an urban vehicle to an off-roader", says the firm. The Captur also debuts the carmaker's Visio system, which uses a camera to read road conditions and alerts drivers to potential dangers.
Captur uses a twin-turbo engine concept, developed from the new 1.6 dCi, Energy dCi 130, which "fits perfectly with Renault's strategy with downsizing as a key element to meet its declared objective of being Europe's leading automaker with regard to CO2 emissions". Paired with a dual-clutch auto gearbox, the car will have CO2 emissions of 99g/km.
4. Seat IBX Concept
Seat is late arriving to the crossover game, but its latest concept, the IBX, points in that direction, although the likelihood of production is still in discussion.
Created by ex-Lamborghini design chief Luc Donckerwolke, it is said to combine compact SUV with sports coupe. A resemblance of the concept could well create a small Tiguan-based crossover for the Spanish brand in the future, with Seat saying it could envisage the car as a "possible expansion of its product portfolio". Despite being a three-door concept, any production version is expected to be five-door. As a hybrid, it would be capable of up to 28 miles on electric in cities. It is yet to be decided whether it would be powered by a petrol or diesel engine.
5. Skoda Vision D
The Vision D signals the all-new design direction for Skoda and also showcases its new corporate identity, which drops 'Skoda' from the badge and introduces a refreshed laurel leaf in a different tone of green, aptly named 'Skoda green', to be seen on all of its cars by next year.
Vision D is a five-door hatch that is likely to represent a lower medium car, falling in size between the Fabia and Octavia, but could also strongly resemble the new Octavia, due in 2013. There is also ample space with a long wheelbase meaning optimum room for passengers and luggage, and impressive technology including a tablet computer that doubles up as the touch-screen display and can be removed at the end of a journey.
6. Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
The third generation of the Vauxhall Zafira was previewed at the Geneva motor show in the form of this concept car, which externally is just about the finished design.
Arriving around the end of this year, the new Zafira will once more be a three-row seven-seater, although Vauxhall has enhanced the Flex seating system from that found in the new Meriva, so the second row of seats can be moved to create 'captain's chairs' complete with armrest by folding the centre seat.
Unlike the Meriva, with its rear-hinged rear doors, the Zafira Tourer Concept's doors open conventionally, which is expected to follow through to production. We'll find out when the final version is unveiled at September's Frankfurt motor show.