UPDATED: IF YOU can’t afford the ticket to fly to Switzerland for next month’s 85th Geneva Motor Show, don’t fret – Wheels has it covered.
Here’s a run-down on the hot hatches, high-riding SUVS, sensual supercars and more we expect to wow us.
Audi Prologue Avant concept
A shooting brake joins the two-door Prologue Coupe concept as a study on the patform for what may one day roll out the next-generation A8 large sedan. It has the same front profile as the coupe, but adds two doors and a tailgate. No word as to what's under the bonnet, but the coupe concpet used a twin-turbo V8.
Audi RS3 Sportback
Audi doesn’t currently have an answer for Mercedes-Benz’s manic A45 AMG boy-racer, but that’s about to change with the arrival of the hottest hatch to date from the Quattro skunkworks. Expect a 2.5-litre turbo five-pot dishing up 270kW and 465Nm to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Due in Australia late this year.
Second generation of Ingolstadt’s sleek two-door supercar prepares it for a shift from traditional hydrocarbon-based power to a raft of new technologies including e-tron, Audi’s term for its electrification program. We’ve already seen sneak images showing how the mid-engined coupe will evolve, but all the power options remain a mystery. It should stick with its V8 and Huracan-derived V10 engine options, though. Could be in Australia from 2016, if all goes well.
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Sir likes racing, but the road-going Aston Martin sitting among the other cars in his garage isn’t quite up to race speed. No worries, the luxury British marque has gone to all the trouble of developing a lean time-attack animal strictly for the track. We’re guessing it will be special order only, chaps.
Aston Martin Vulcan
How to outdo the One-77? If the scuttlebutt is to be believed, it's by building the most track-aggressive Aston yet, setting a production target in the low multiples of 10, and asking the crush of platinum card-waving ultra-high net worth individuals to form an orderly queue. What it looks like is anyone's guess.
Bentley Sports GT concept
Bentley is tipped to stump up a a two-seat sports car concept at Geneva that isn't just a Continental GT with two seats stripped out to save weight. Which isn't really a two-seat car. Anyway, it should feature a twin-turbo V8 driving the rear wheels, and introduce the platform that will also underpin the next-generation Porsche Panamera.
BMW 1 Series facelift
Somewhat polarising to start with, significant tweaks to the snub-nosed city-car’s looks should make it a little less “smashed crab”. We’re not expecting major changes inside as part of its mid-life crisis, although European models are expected to add equipment previously reserved for the options list. Expect similar gains in fit-out when it arrives here late this year.
BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer
Parents seeking a premium badge to take young Rupert and his mates to junior rugby practice are firmly in BMW’s sights with this one. Featuring front-wheel drive, seven seats and a compact form, it’s a city-friendly people-mover the German brand hopes families can grow up with. Not on BMW Australia’s radar yet, though.
Bugatti's last Veyron
The sun is setting on one of the world’s most iconic production cars, and the French brand plans on going out with something special. Number 450, as it will be known, refers to the number of Veyrons the offshoot of Volkswagen said it would build, so with this one the job is done. The big mystery now is what will replace it.
Mon dieu! No Citroen badge on the most style-driven Citroen to come out of the Citroen-owned Citroen stable at Citroen? The lack of the historic name is a shift in focus for the flagrant Frenchie, which has endowed the new look DS flagship with styling and technology tweaks - including a button-culling touchscreen.
Ferrari 488 GTB
Ferrari’s 300km/h turbocharged successor to the 458 Italia is faster than any other vehicle to roll out of Maranello. But anything wearing the Prancing Horse badge should be as beautiful as it is fast, and we’re not sure this one fits that brief. Still, when it arrives in Australia in late 2016 you can be sure buyers will be lining up for it.
Ford Focus RS
How fast? How powerful? These and more questions will be answered when Ford finally reveals all about its European-developed Focus-based hot hatch. Its turbo four-pot is expected to have similar poke to the 235kW unit in the traditionally V8 Mustang pony car, but sent to all four wheels that will carve corners using electronically assisted torque vectoring. Might be a while before it lobs here, though – expect it in 2016 – giving you plenty of time to save up for it.
Honda Civic Type R
The McLaren Formula One car will use a Honda turbocharged V6 when it takes to the track in a few weeks, but the hurry-up-and-wait Civic Type R will lop off a couple of cylinders and sort them in-line for its application. The first forced-induction Civic Type R will serve up 216kW and rocket down the road to a top speed of 270km/h. Despite this, a slow start out of the blocks means we’re likely to see the hybrid-engined NSX supercar land before the hot hatch, the arrival of which could push out to 2017.
Hyundai i30 facelift
As well as a nose job to give Hyundai’s city hatch more European flair, one big improvement expected is a new-generation dual-clutch automatic to supplement the default six-speed auto paired with the four-cylinder engine. Hyundai is also believed to be showing a turbocharged version of the i30, but whether it comes to Australia is still in the balance. We should see the fresh look within the next few months.
Hyundai i20 coupe
Hyundai’s tiddler gains a fastback three-door look at Geneva that adds a bit of spice to what has been rather bland fare so far. Looking a lot more youthful and a little less retirement home, the coupe is expected to use a 1.4-litre four, with an option of a 1.0L three-pot to help it bend around ever-tightening European emissions caps. Unhelpful exchange rates may make it a long wait for an Australian market debut.
After years of building up the “ix” prefix for its baby SUV, Hyundai is ditching it in favour of reviving the retired Tucson badge as it moves to a global naming convention. We’d initially only seen sketches of the car so far, but the real-world version shows edgier styling that could help it further extend its lead in Australia’s small-SUV segment. It could arrive here before the end of 2015.
Nissan’s luxury arm is yet to fire on all cylinders in Australia, so a new compact luxury SUV will be a welcome addition to Infiniti’s showroom. Underneath, it’s a reskinned Mercedes-Benz, and is likely to share the German luxury marque’s engines and drivetrains. The QX30 isn’t yet confirmed for production, so it could be well into next year before we see it in Australia.
Jaguar XJ facelift
Jag last tweaked the XJ formula in Australia in 2013, clawing back prices and making the equipment list a bit richer. Although it’s not yet confirmed, Geneva is expected to mark the arrival of a fresh look for the big saloon, with styling tweaks to the front and rear profiles. Jaguar is also working on some far-fetched tech, some of which we could see roll out on its flagship model.
Kia Optima wagon
Mainstream wagons have lost a lot of appeal to high-riding SUVs, so Kia’s decision to develop one for its second-generation Optima is a bold one. A selling point that could make it stand out from the faux-roader set is the introduction of a frugal diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain, which may make an appearance here. If it does, expect to hear some noise about it around the middle of this year. Oh, and then they reveal this. Ermegherd.
Kia Picanto facelift
A baby hatch has been on Kia’s Australian radar for a long time, but once again dealing with foreign currencies has shot holes in any business case that’s run a pencil over the numbers. However, with the Australian dollar plumbing years-long lows, this nip-and-tuck model is a firm favourite to make it a viable addition to the showroom, sometime later this year if it happens.
Koenigsegg Agera RS
First, some numbers. How about trumping 0-300km/h in 14.5sec, 300km/h to whoa in 6.7sec, 0-200mph in 17.7 sec, 200-0mph in 7.3sec. And it will be built in right-hand drive. Dubbed a "hypercar" to distance itself from the supercar riff-raff, the king of the Koenigseggs features a removeable hardtop roof – great for feeling the wind rip out your hair as Vmax approaches its claimed 440km/h. Also penned to make an appearance is the Ragera, whatever that is.
Yet another "hypercar", the Regera is rumoured to feature a camless engine that allows on-the-fly adjustments to the valves for faster acceleration.
Lamborghini Aventador SV
“SV” stands for “superveloce”, but it could also mean “more money for less car”. It’s a simple, long-running formula that has worked well for Lamborghini’s other most extreme models; strip out everything to make the Aventador as light as possible, add more poke to the mid-mounted 6.5-litre V10, and whack up the price. Exterior tweaks are expected to concentrate on aero to keep the SV stuck to the road, as well as feeding more cooling into the brakes and engine bay.
In a case of now-you-see-it-now-you-don't, Lexus Europe posted an image they tagged the LF-SA on Twitter, and then pulled it down. Details are sketchy, but it is expected to reveal itself as a luxury-laden Toyota Yaris hybrid, potentially featuring a 1.5-litre petrol-electric drivetrain.
Lotus Evora 400
Disguising a long-overdue facelift for its V6-engined 2+2-seat Evora is the Evora 400, the fastest 2+2 from the Malaysian-owned British brand. The Toyota-sourced V6 has cranked up its huffer to produce 298kW and 410Nm, all in a package weighing 22kg less than before. The 0-100kmh sprint is now dispatched in 4.2secs, with the speedo winding out to 300kmh. After announcing, and then cancelling, development of six new models and a hybrid drivetrain five years ago, has Lotus shown it has rediscovered part of its mojo?
McLaren P1 GTR
A track-only version of McLaren’s halo model was announced mid-way through last year, so its debut has been a long time coming. You can buy one, but you can’t legally drive it on the road, so let’s move on...
...To this, the return of the longtail. An expansion of the cheap-and-cheerful Sports Series that sits below the 650S, the 675LT harkens back to endurance racers of old with a stretched, widened rear and massive diffuser to stick it to the road. Images of the 675LT leaked online ahead of the supercar’s Geneva debut, showing what could be an acquired taste.
Mercedes-AMG GT GT3
Okay, so it's another track-only special, but seeig as the road-going version one of the most anticipated models from the three-pointed star to lob this year, we can at least mention the GT3. Unfortunately, the GT3 does come with a standard ironing board on the rear bootlid.
Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman
With a name stretching almost the same length as its wheelbase, Stuttgart's finest has dusted off the Pullman badge and chucked it on the back of its new uberluxury saloon. Four passengers sit facing each other in a partitioned section cut off from the front seats, with an extra metre of stretch adding to overall comfort. The driver has a modest 390kW from the 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 at his or her disposal, and a chunky 830Nm.
Mitsubishi ASX concept
A computer-generated silhouette is the only clue we have for the upcoming replacement for Mitsubishi’s small SUV, but it appears to point to an earlier plug-in hybrid concept, the XR-PHEV, shown in Tokyo almost two years ago. Therefore, stifle a yawn and expect it to feature something like a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor.
It’s taken three years for Morgan’s three-wheeler to become road-legal in Australia, so don’t expect its all-new show-stopper to hurry Down Under. A teaser image shows a round headlight with a cluster of Alfa Romeo 4C-style lenses, and a retro Jaguar XJ120-influenced grille set inside a rolling mudguard. Think old-is-new-again.
Opel Corsa OPC
Holden has elected to ignore the smallest hot hatch in its German sibling’s showroom in favour of cherry-picking the larger Astra and Insignia performance cars for its relaunch of the rebadged Opel brand a few months from now. A 152kW/245 turbo 1.6 sends drive to the front wheels, giving it enough poke to match a Renaultsport Clio in a straight line over 100 metres. A third of Holden’s future showroom will be sourced from the Russelsheim-based brand, so Corsa could still be a big part of it.
Opel Karl hatchback
This is Germany’s version of the Korean-built Holden Barina Spark. Holden’s dip into Opel’s product line-up shows it is serious about taking the brand upmarket, relying less on the cheap Korean products that compete on price rather than quality. A rebadged Vauxhall Viva version of the Karl – see below – could be part of local showrooms by 2016.
Peugeot 208 facelift
The smallest Pug in the showroom gains a minor facelift for 2015, but the big news is under the skin. A new 56kW 1.6-litre BlueHDI diesel engine claiming fuel economy of 3.0L/100km and emissions of 79g/km CO2 – what Peugeot says is the world’s most economical internal combustion engine – joins the line-up. It also gains Active City Braking, Park Assist and a reversing camera, while styling changes include a wider grille and new LED tail-lamps. There’s also a 30th anniversary 208 GTi, oddly named "GTi by Peugeot Sport".
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The wildest 911 will officially have its world debut at Geneva. Featuring a wider stance and enhanced aerodynamics, the GT3 RS is expected to stick with a free-breathing flat-six engine, and a strict weight-loss program. More importantly, the GT3 RS’s debut should also land with a new Nurburgring lap time that sits somewhere in the low seven-minute region.
Porsche Cayman GT4
This is our first look in the metal of the performance hero of Porsche’s tin-topped Boxster range, which gains wilder aerodynamics to feed in more cooling air, more poke from its 3.4-litre flat-six, and a six-speed manual gearbox. The $190K Cayman GT4 will be here before year’s end.
Quant F limousine
Europe’s sister show to the fashion-driven Paris event is known for its off-beat niche cars. Last year, Lichtenstein-based NanoFlowcell showed its Quant e-Sportlimousine electric car, and this year it advances to a concept known simply as the Quant F. It looks almost the same as last year’s silver concept, but is now a nice shade of red.
Radical RXC Turbo 500
Radical makes closed-wheel road-going go-karts that currently hold the fastest time for a production car on a loop of the Nurburgring. More slippery through the air and packing a brace of bigger turbos that bump up the volume to almost 400kW in something that weighs a little more than nanna's hanky, the RXC Turbo 500 should move a bit quicker.
Range Rover Evoque
New headlights, a nip and tuck and maybe a dash of new driver-assist technology will mark the arrival of a facelifted version of Range Rover's smallest hatchback. It should also feature the first of the new Ingenium engines that will power future Land Rover, Range Rover and Jaguar models.
A new small SUV opens Renault’s door to one of the hottest segments in the Australian new-car market – when it gets here. Sitting above the recently launched Captur baby SUV, the Kadjar is a reskinned Nissan Qashqai with some added French flair. It will go on sale in Europe late this year ahead of an Australian launch.
The design house that brought us the underwater car (sQuba), the backpacking six-wheeled hatchback (Dock+Go), a beach car with an inflatable roof (BamBoo), hydrofoil car (Splash), and a ute with a baby submarine tucked into its tray (Tatooo.com) - none of which have made it into real-world production - adds a self-aware BMW i3 electric car with a big erection on its roof to the trophy cabinet.
Rolls-Royce Wraith Drophead Coupe
The cheapest Rolls-Royce in the stables will soon add a convertible version expected to be called, in the style of its larger Phantom sibling, the Wraith Drophead Coupe. It should start to waft out of Australian driveways later this year, priced around $700K. Next up a Wraith Coupe?
A new look drawing inspiration from the Vision C concept is expected to give the biggest hatchback in the Skoda line-up a big lift in premium feel. A redesigned front end features a sharper grille, but is expected to drop the clever boot-becomes-hatchback tailgate for a conventional liftback. Due on sale in Europe mid-year, it has a good chance of landing here late this year.
This is the version of the Opel Karl we’re likely to see sold in Australia as a replacement for the Korean-made Barina Spark. At the moment, the Viva’s engine choices are limited to a 1.0-litre three-cylinder paired with a five-speed manual transmission. With Holden’s showroom about to undergo a major shake-up as local manufacturing winds down, it could be a starter here.
Volkswagen Golf GTD wagon
“Diesel” and “hot” don’t usually pair together very well. That’s likely to be the case for Volkswagen’s warmed-over GTD wagon set for a Geneva debut. Volkswagen Australia passed over the hatch variant, so we’re expecting the same lack of interest in the load-lugging version.
Volkswagen CC concept
Veedub’s cut-price take on the mightily expensive Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is already a pretty cool-looking thing. How do you improve on it? The German carmaker could give us a lead on this with an as-yet unconfirmed appearance of a concept car that takes the beguiling four-door coupe form to the next level.