Geneva Motor Show 2013
To the casual observer, the 83rd International Geneva Motor Show was all about the showdown between supercar makers, a high noon face-off played out with vast engines, yards of rippling carbon fibre and every technological trick in the book. With international debuts from McLaren, Ferrari and Lamborghini, each vying to outdo the other in terms of sheer outlandish techno-brilliance, the rest of the industry had to take something of a back seat.
As a result, outright innovation was thin on the ground, especially galling at a time of sluggish sales, lost jobs, factory closures and general industry gloom. The job of a motor show is to banish the vicissitudes of everyday life and project a shiny, happy image of progress, brilliance and buoyant optimism. To that end, most manufacturers succeeded, even if excitement was a little thin on the ground.
The luxury sector is still buoyant, and Geneva is a traditional showcase for the more esoteric manufacturers and tuning houses, hell-bent on upping the power output and visual appearance of the major car-makers with exotic limited editions - Startech, Techart, Carlsson, Mansory, AC Schnitzer, Kahn and Hamann were all there demonstrating varying degrees of tastelessness. There was also a raft of boutique sports car and SUV builders on show, all clamouring for a small but lucrative market driven by money from China and the Middle East.
The vaguely patrician attitude that Europe is still the design centre of the world is starting to topple. Geneva saw the world debut of Qoros Auto, an entirely new Chinese brand set to take on the European mass market, with no care whatsoever for the absence of heritage or brand longevity.
So high end or low: take your pick. The ultra cheap car isn’t going to go away and burgeoning markets like India, China and South Africa take millions more budget vehicles than they do luxury steeds, even if the latter garner all the attention. We can only hope that the same levels of ingenuity and expertise are applied to making world cars for the masses.
Electric propulsion is slowly seeping into the mainstream, even if sales still aren’t where they should be. The focus has shifted to tricks and gadgets, such as in-car internet, which appeared to finally come of age. Bentley’s app-enabled Flying Spur, which allows owners to control satnav, temperature and other rear seat amenities from their smartphones, was countered by Ferrari’s newly Siri-integrated FF model, complete with integral iPad minis. Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall all offered internet on the move and better integration for smartphones, Siri and - in the case of Volvo - with Spotify.
Click through the gallery to see our selection of cars and concepts from the 2013 show.