March is an exciting time for drivers. The new registration change, to the ‘16’ prefix, comes into force, prompting the busiest month for the motor trade. And the razzmatazz of the Geneva Motor Show ramps up, where many of the most significant cars of 2016 will be revealed.
This year has been one of the busiest shows in memory. New cars of all shapes and sizes were revealed, and regardless of whether drivers are on the hunt for a stylish new SUV or mind-blowing supercar, the show offered something for everyone – and all the cars will be going on sale in Britain soon.
Here are the six most exciting cars of the Geneva Motor Show.
The funky family SUV: Audi Q2
SUVs are Europe’s best-selling type of car for the first time, so it’s no surprise that car makers are rushing to create models of different sizes and prices. Audi already has three of its own, the Q7, Q5 and Q3, and now comes the not-quite-pocket-size Q2, which will go on sale in Britain in the summer, priced from around £21,000.
The Q2’s price sees it compete with the likes of the hugely popular Nissan Qashqai. It’s a good looking SUV, and borrows a neat trick from Audi’s R8 supercar, by having a contrasting ‘side blade’ on the rear pillar which helps its stand out of the increasingly large crowd. A largely digital dashboard will also help give the Q2 the wow factor.
There will be a choice of petrol and diesel engines, and front-wheel drive and ‘quattro’ four-wheel drive, as well as an ‘off-road’ operating mode that, let’s face it, few owners are ever likely to call upon. This is a funky family car for the suburbs, rather than a rough and tough go-anywhere workhorse.
Eye-wateringly fast; eye-wateringly expensive: Bugatti Chiron
Let’s get one thing about the new Bugatti Chiron out of the way, shall we? This may be a dream car but the price will come as a rude awakening: roughly £2.2 million.
Still, there’s no harm in dreaming. The Chiron features an 8-litre, quad-turbo W16 engine that pumps out a dizzying 1,476bhp. That is more than twice the power of a Ferrari 488 GTB sports car.
Needless to say, it goes a bit quickly. Bugatti claims it can accelerate from 0-62mph in under 2.5 seconds. The top speed? Well, that depends which key the driver uses. Yes, that’s right; each Chiron comes with two keys, one that ‘limits’ the car to 236mph, and another that allows it to run to 261mph. Yikes.
The supercar is built around a new carbon fibre monocoque, and its four-wheel drive system is said to incorporate a new ‘drift’ mode, which allows drivers to pretend to be Colin McRae.
A classic case of excess all areas, just 500 Chirons will be built and the price doesn’t appear to be deterring buyers. A third of the production run has already been sold, says Bugatti.
Is this the most stylish estate car money can buy? Volvo V90
Large estate cars and Volvos go together like antique furniture and beeswax. Now the Swedish car company is adding a contemporary twist to estate cars, with the new V90, which looks seriously stylish for a car that should swallow a chest of drawers without breaking a sweat.
It’s a more distinctive looking rival to the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate. But there is a catch; the boot won’t hold nearly as much clobber as you could shove into an E-Class.
The backbone of the new V90 range is a family of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines in various states of tune. But perhaps the stand-out model is the T8 version, a plug-in hybrid said to be capable of 134mpg. The range goes on sale in the autumn, priced from about £34,000.
The affordable family SUV: Seat Ateca
Have you heard of Seat? It’s the Spanish off-shoot of Volkswagen, and sister company to the popular Skoda brand, and it needs to pull its socks up if it’s to attract discerning British drivers. The Ateca is the part of that sock-pulling exercise; an affordable, family-friendly SUV that will be priced to compete with the Nissan Qashqai and Vauxhall Mokka.
That means it will cost from around £18,000 when it goes on sale in September. Strip it back to its essential components and the Ateca is a Volkswagen Tiguan at its heart. So it offers cabin space for five, a large 510-litre boot and a driver environment that will is littered with parts from VWs.
The engine range will span three- and four-cylinder petrol units and four-cylinder diesels, and some models with be offered with four-wheel drive.
It’s a handsome enough looking SUV, but the stand-out feature doesn’t appear to be the design or the components: it’s the price. If Seat can undercut competitors, SUV buyers might well take notice of the Spanish car maker.
Britain’s sports car success: Aston Martin DB11
Lately, Aston Martin hasn’t been firing on all cylinders. The British sports car maker has been left standing by rivals from Italy and Germany, whose cars have been sharper looking, better to drive and crammed with tech.
So the new DB11 needs to set the record straight and reaffirm that Aston can hold its own against Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.
The DB11 is a 2+2 coupe that is designed to propel the jet set from London to Monaco in the utmost comfort and style and make an impact wherever it goes. Needless to say, it doesn’t come cheap: prices start at £134,900, but that does buy drivers an awful lot of style, performance and tech.
It is built around a new aluminium chassis and the first models will be powered by a twin-turbo, 5.2-litre V12 engine. With 600bhp, it’s no slouch: 0-62mph is claimed to take 3.9 seconds, and the top speed is a hair-raising 200mph. Although, if Aston has got it right, the DB11 won’t stand a driver’s hair on end – rather, it will ruffle it, playfully.
Reinventing the original people carrier: Renault Scenic
It’s not all that long ago – the late ‘90s – that Renault’s Scenic was the family car of choice for Britain’s drivers. But since drivers have been seduced by the SUV, the practical people carrier has required a major rethink. The result is this, the 2016 Scenic which, surprise surprise, has been designed to look like a cross between an SUV and a people carrier.
But you know what? To these eyes at least, it works a treat. And moreover, Renault says that it’s bigger inside, both for seating space and boot room. And as ever, the Scenic is crammed with cubbies. The back seat is now a bench that folds flush into the floor, which Renault says is a more convenient solution to the old model – which required owners to literally remove seats from their car to gain maximum cargo lugging space.
A range of Renault’s proven petrol and diesel engines will be joined by a diesel-electric hybrid, which is a first for the Scenic. The new model will go on sale later this year, priced from around £21,000.