For a country that despises fast cars even more than Victoria, Switzerlandís 2016 Geneva Motor Show was a mecca for speed. MOTOR made the pilgrimage
WITZERLANDíS army Ė more famous for knives than actual fighting Ė has been on a national pedestal ever since Hitler cheekily threatened the countryís neutrality by asking what itíd do if he put a million men in the field against 500,000 Swiss. The army replied that each of them would simply have to shoot twice.
Itís not purely a defensive force, either, because a fully armed patrol accidentally marched into the heart of Liechtenstein about a decade ago. Invading countries without declarations of war clearly breaches its own Geneva Conventions.
But for the most part, Switzerland is about fence-sitting and money. Or fencesitting with money, which brings us to the Geneva Motor Show. The rise of the Asian shows might threaten traditional shows, but not the Geneva salon. The French and S Germans like being on neutral ground, so they keep coming even though the Swiss government hates cars, and every carmaker with pretensions to greatness starts its march, in March, here.
Thatís why Volkswagen launched a China-only car here this year, why the Chinese companies are here with cars that will never see European roads, and why BMW turns up expensively even though it never shows anything.
If the Geneva Motor Show has a theme, itís about power and speed and sportscars. Crazy, low-volume sportscars.
Some of which are so ďlow volumeĒ the one on the stand is the only one they will ever build.
Every year at Geneva you wonder how the specialty makers have stayed afloat since last yearís show, every year some bankrupted mob makes a comeback (it was Apolloís turn this year), and every year aftermarket outfits Mansory and Kahn can be relied upon to create images that responsible parents donít let their children see.
Bespoke Michelins measure 285/30 R20 at the front and 355/25 R21 at the rear. Giant carbon ceramic rotors all íround, with eight titanium pistons in the front calipers; six pistons down back Chironís cabin is the highest form of luxury.
Customers are encouraged to customise the cabinís materials and colours to their liking. At AUD$3.6million, youíd want it to be perfect!
T WAS while standing as casually as you can between the Koenigsegg Regera and the Bugatti Chiron that a very senior executive from a very wellknown car company (German, from Stuttgart, but not Porsche) sidled up beside me.
A tall chap, he pointed to the Chiron, bent over and quietly but almost despondently whispered: ďI was hoping for something more. Itís a dinosaur.Ē
And heís right. The Chiron seems a bit like a facelift, with the same core powertrain and a wheelbase just 1mm longer than the Veyronís. There are new bits, like a sandwich floor and a carbonfibre engine cradle, but you still have to ask.
My whisperer was hoping the Chiron would take the hybrid-for-speed philosophies of the Porsche 918 Spider, the Ferrari LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 and do to that what the Veyron did to petrol power.
But the Chiron doesnít do that. It doesnít blaze a trail for all other hybrid supercars to follow. In fact, right next to it sat the Regera, whose brave engineering and uniquely electrified powertrain could instead be the I one to do that. (The Regera would struggle with the easiest of the validation tests the Chiron must waltz through, but the point remains.)
It might just be a dinosaur, but while the dinosaurs were wiped out the Chiron and its 8.0-litre engine exist. With 367kW more than the Veyron had in 2005.
And a drift mode.
If the dinosaurs hadnít been wiped out and we co-existed in a Ken Ham-ish way without considering each other to be sport or dinner, I have no doubt some of them would be in the private zoos of the worldís wealthiest people, so all might not be lost for Bugatti.
There are others whoíd argue that pure petrolpowered hypercars are a non-issue for emissions because the cars are bought by collectors who park them under blankets, or by people who drive them maybe 5000km a year. Thatís like saying the super-rich can have all the guns because they donít shoot people very often.
Another thing they wonít do often is hit the 420km/h top speed. Even with the limiter removed, itís not likely to whack its speedo needle around to its 500km/h mark, but 420 is only to be sniffed at by Andy Green and Ken Warby.
The engineís an upgrade of the 8.0-litre, quad-turbo W16. Now, in an effort to give it a more linear delivery, it only uses two of the turbos until it spins to 3800rpm.
Doesnít matter. With 1600Nm of torque from 2000rpm, you can afford to mess around with the output curve as long as it still eventually reaches up to 1103kW.
Getting the fastest 0-100km/h numbers is now a war of diminishing returns, but the Chiron still uses launch control to knock it out in under 2.5 seconds.
But itís more impressive as the speed builds. 0-200km/h is rolled over in less than 6.5 seconds and 0-300 passes by in less than 13.5 seconds Ė a full 3.2 seconds quicker than the Veyron did it. And the Veyronís 0-300km/h time was jaw-dropping. There is the same aero giggle of stretching out to 380km/h in its normal mode, then hitting 420km/h only when you stop and switch on the second key so it can drop the ride height and shrink the aero resistance.
It doesnít rely on whisper-light weight reductions to get speed, either. At 1995kg, itís 155kg heavier than the Veyron was, and thatís despite a new sandwich floor and a carbonfibre engine cradle in place of the alloy one in the Veyron.
For a two seater, itís a huge car. At 4544mm long, itís 82mm longer than the Veyron and also 53mm higher at 1212mm. Critically, its 2038mm width is 40mm wider, with the extra space for head- and foot-room.
It retains the all-wheel drive set-up, now with an electronically-controlled multi-plate centre differential with torque vectoring. The seven-speed dual-clutch is a development of Veyronís Ricardo-built unit and thereís now electro-mechanical steering.
Air suspension improves its high-speed body control and delivers adjustable ride height, and it all sits on bespoke 285/30 ZR20 front and 355/25 ZR21 tyres. And donít ask what the rubber costs, because youíll replace it every 5000km.
Production of the 500 Chirons begins in October, at a pre-options price of Ä2.4million (AUD$3.6million est).
Almost 200 people have already put down deposits.
FFICIALLY, the Centenario is Lamborghiniís celebration of founder Ferruccio Lamborghiniís 100th birthday.
Unofficially, itís a slightly contrived opportunity for Lamborghini to rebody a handful of Aventadors and charge a shockingly large amount of money for them.
Theyíve done this before, of course, with the Murcielago-based Reventon as the most obvious (and profitable) of them, but this time the Centenario arrives just as the boss, Stephan Winkelmann, leaves.
Winkelmann was shocked to learn (via a certain Italian-based Australian journalist... cough, cough) that he was being moved to Audiís quattro GmbH division to make room for ex-Ferrari Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali.
Now, Iíve heard people tell me Winkelmann never saw a first-class seat he didnít like, or a pair of pants he thought too tight. The truth is somewhat deeper, and Winkelmann husbanded Lamborghini through the financial crisis masterfully and fought to deliver it a third model line, with the Urus slated to come on stream in 2018. Heís the brandís longest-serving President (at 11 years) and not coincidentally gave Lamborghini more stability than it has ever had.
But itís not just Winkelmann saying goodbye to O SantíAgata, because the Centenario is also the last Lamborghini designed by Filippo Perini, who has moved to Italdesign Giugiaro in Turin.
And itís so aggro that it makes the V12 Aventador donor car look a little bit insipid, especially from the front and the back. And the sides. And above.
At 4924mm long, the two-seat Centenario is almost as long as an Audi A8, though itís only 1143mm high.
Itís an unashamed bit of dramatic sculpture, Perini said, and he wanted to deliver the shapes that volume sensibilities restricted on the Aventador.
The front is aggressive, you can see the rear diffuser on Google Earth and it looks like the air coming out of it at v-max (the good side of 350km/h) might change weather patterns.
Of course, the engine gets grunt and even though it still only uses multi-point injection theyíve eked another 50 horses out of it by ramping the power peak up from 8350 to 8600rpm.
Sure, in the shadow of the Chiron, 566kW seems puny, but the Centenario is only 1520kg (mighty big engine and all-wheel drive offset the carbonfibre chassis) so it gets to 100km/h in 2.8sec and to 0-300km/h in 23.5sec. It also introduces rear-wheel steering to make it easier to live with around town.
It will only build 20 of them, plus 20 convertibles later on. The coupes will start at Ä1.75million (AUD$2.66m est) a pop, but good luck trying to find one.
It may be a birthday present for founder Ferruccio Lamborghini but, err, he died in 1993.
Still, it marks 100 years since the great manís birth
T HE LEAST defensible thing about the DB9 was that its 6.0- litre V12 used the same bore centres as the Ford Mondeo.
Especially when Astonís engine plant sits inside the Ford factory in Cologne.
So Aston Martin has built the DB9ís replacement with an all-new 5.2-litre, twinturbocharged V12 powerplant. But it still has the Mondeo 3.0-litre V6ís bore centres.
Nevermind. While the next Vantage will share the AMG GTís 4.0-litre biturbo V8, the V12 is the engine of choice up in DB-Land, so the DB11 gets 447kW of power (up 62kW). Torque is the key, though, because where the DB9ís naturally aspirated powerplant had 620Nm at 5500rpm, the new motor has 700Nm (which you can assume to be dialled down) and it comes along at only 1500rpm.
Here comes the good bit. Aston says the rear-drive coupe will hit 100km/h in 3.9 seconds (sure, nothing special in this day and age, but quick enough to be entirely credible) and stretch up to 322km/h.
The DB9ís V12 had so much internal inertia that its throttle response was pretty poor anyway, so itís not like thereís much to be lost in turbocharging the powertrain, and it also delivers around-town driveability and, of course, a big jump in fuel economy.
Each bank manages its own turbocharger and, cleverly, the Aston switches off a full bank when itís on light throttle to save fuel. Thatís not the clever bit.
Keep it on light throttle and it changes banks every 20 seconds or so, back and forward, to keep the catalysts hot until you need to hear the V12 get angry again.
It looks, as all Aston coupes do, stunningly gorgeous, with perfect proportions and an evolutionary style. It might have an all-new powerplant, but Astonís equally chuffed with its all-new aluminium architecture, which can be expected to host all of its future sports cars, including the Vantage replacement.
Itís sleeker in its proportions than the DB9, thanks in part to a wheelbase thatís 58mm longer. The body is 40mm longer, 77mm wider and 28mm lower, so itís a meaty footprint.
That explains why an all-new bonded aluminium architecture delivers a car just 15kg lighter than the one that rode on Ben Hurís chariot frame Ė thereís just more car now, plus turbocharged engines weigh more than naturally aspirated ones.
More technology, too, and thatís not a thing youíve read too much about in past Aston Martin stories.
Itís the first Aston to get electric power steering and thereís even torque vectoring, joining the limited slip differential and the multi-link suspension in managing the back end.
There is enough familiar stuff here for the traditionalists, including a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission stuffed into a rear-mounted transaxle (which might explain why thereís ďonlyĒ 700Nm when AMGs are pulling back their reins at 900Nm) that helps weight distribution.
Itís the first Aston to make a big step towards Mercedes-Benzís electronic architecture (Benz owns five per cent of Aston), and it doesnít hide it very well. While it uses the touch- and gesture-sensitive multi-media control unit as the higher-model Benzes, the most obvious bit of Benzing is the single multifunction stalk that does both indicator and wiper duty. Yeah, nobodyís falling for that.
Look to the last quarter this year for Australian deliveries, and expect the prices to be quite a bit higher than the slow-selling (at the end) DB9.
Plaque reads: ĎHand-built in England. Final inspection by Matt Robbinsí. Each engine is individually ticked off (above); 20-inch alloys are shod in plump Bridgestone S007 Potenzas (below)
B UGATTI called the Chiron the most powerful production car in the world. And it was for about seven minutes, until the mad Swede Christian Koenigsegg showed the production version of the Regera.
The figures are 1119kW of power and 2000Nm of torque; how do like them apples, he said to Bugatti, whose Chiron sat less than 10 metres from his own Regera in Geneva.
The Regera is so quick Koenigsegg claims it still needs traction control to stop wheelspin at 280km/h in the dry. Compared to the Chiron, itís a technical powerhouse, driving electrically all the time and claiming a top speed limited by gearing to 400km/h.
There are 3000 changes from last yearís Regera show car, including new battery technology and smaller 4.5kWh lithium-ion battery cells to cut weight and improve its packaging. The rear-drive Regera is claimed to punch to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds, to 200km/h from rest in 6.6 seconds, and will cost something around AUD$3.1million apiece. And it will do all of this with just a single-speed, direct-drive transmission that was developed in-house.
Sit back, as this takes time to get your head around.
The Regera has a 5.0-litre, dry-sumped, twin-turbo V8 capable of 820kW at 7800rpm and 1280Nm Ė and it has three YASA-developed electric motors.
Most powerful production car ever steals the show
On its own, the V8 has at least 1000Nm available from 2700rpm, which is why Koenigsegg is confident it can do the job, with electric gristle where needed, without the hassle of gear changes.
There is a 160kW/300Nm electric motor attached to the crankshaft of the V8, then another two, each with 180kW of power and 260Nm, mounted to drive each rear wheel. The crankshaft-mounted motor acts as the carís generator on one hand and its reverse gear on the other. It does most of its work below 30km/h, while the V8ís turbochargers are gathering speed. The wheel motors deliver instant, direct drive for added brutality and then torque vectoring for fine nuance.
Koenigsegg is claiming 520kW and 820Nm of continuous electric propulsion for the rear-wheel drive car, and a lot of front and rear aero features that deliver 450kg of downforce at 250km/h. And it only weighs 1590kg, which is good going for a car that technically has four motors.
ďIn the beginning, I came up with an idea to remove the traditional gearbox from the equation due to novel battery and electric motor technology,Ē says Koenigsegg. ďIt has become so compact and light that in combination with our combustion engine we have all the power and torque we need at any speed without a transmission.
ďThis way we could remove the transmission and have as few components as a series hybrid, but with hybrid drive, so we donít convert the engineís motion into electricity and then to propulsion. Instead the energy goes straight to the wheels with the support of the electric motors.Ē
The battery weighs only 115kg (though it all adds up) and eats up 67 litres of space in the transmission tunnel. The 620V battery pack can punch out up to 500kW in short bursts and can recover energy at up to 150kW under hard braking.
ďThe biggest change from the concept car to the production car was a giant leap forward in brake regeneration and battery technology,Ē Christian Koenigsegg explained.
It can do all that as a coupe or a convertible, with a removable hard top that can be tucked away under the tiny bonnet, and all of its doors and covers can be opened remotely via a smartphone app Ė as if its very appearance was insufficient theatre.
It will ride on carbonfibre 19 x 9.75-inch front wheels and larger 20 x 12.5-inch rear wheels. There are Michelin Supersport Unidirectional tyres stuck to them, with 275/35 Y19 front tyres and 345/30 Y20 rubber at the rear.
With a total production target of 80 cars, Koenigsegg has set the Regera up to be built in batches of six or seven cars at a time, based around an in-house carbonfibre tub. Itís smaller than the Chiron, at 4.56 metres long, and has genuine presence, sitting at 2.05 metres wide and just 1.11 metres tall.
Smaller, lighter, more powerful and, on paper, faster.
Utilising special titanium alloy, Inconel, and stainless steel, the unique ďfish tailĒ exhaust was envisioned by Christian von Koenigsegg and brought to life by Akrapovic
For when all your friends drive Pullmans BENTLEYíS turned to its in-house coachbuilder Mulliner to make the enormous Mulsanne a metre longer and 79mm taller.
Itís done this primarily so it could fit a pair of rearfacing seats behind the front pews Ė and itís done this for a private commission, not for something Bentley wants to put into full production.
The entire cabin is unique to this car, complete with its own trims, its own soft-drink cabinet, its own champagne flutes and frosted-glass bottle cooler. The windows are all chromatic, dimming (like Benzís Magic Sky) from clear to opaque with a jolt of electricity.
Thereís also an intercom, so editor Campbell can talk to the commoner tasked with ferrying him from coffee appointment to Wang Chung collectibles auction and back to the coffee appointment. toWang
Ideal supercar for the weekend getaway FOR ALL the brilliance and easy, progressive agility of the 570S, McLaren was still stumped for company cars the executives could use for holidays. Enter the 570GT.
Unusually, the 570GT has a new luggage area right on top of the mid-mounted engine that offers 220 litres of luggage space to go with the 150-litre slot beneath the nose. You can now take your McLaren road tripping without worrying about where to put the third pair of undies.
The over-engine luggage area is both leather-lined and covered by a side-hinged glass deck. You can put luggage in by either reaching over the side Ė sure to scratch the paint for anybody wearing a belt buckle Ė or by folding the seats forward.
It runs the same powertrain as the 570S, so the same 419kW, twin-turbo V8 powerplant and sevenspeed dual-clutch tranny, and itís two-tenths slower to 100km/h (3.4 seconds) because itís 37kg heavier.
Itís a softer all-round device to live with, too, with the dampers dialled back 15 per cent at the front and 10 per cent at the rear, and it uses steel brake discs.
RS4ís baby bro reveals its fangs THIS WASNíT Audiís biggest news of the show. That was the A3-based Q2 crossover SUV. But for Q-Car lovers, it was the best news.
Sure, the S4 sedan was shown at last yearís Frankfurt Motor Show, so we know the details.
The new 3.0-litre V6 petrol motor, with direct and indirect fuel injection and force feeding to deliver 260kW and 500Nm.
It will hurl the load lugger to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, so itís only two-tenths slower than the sedan and far from disgraced in this company, even though itís governed at 250km/h.
Itíll do until the RS4 arrives early next year. The e n e all-wheel drive machine wonít even hit Germany until the middle of the year and it will get there for around AUD$90K.
For that, you get a rear-biased torque split (usually around 60 per cent, though it can shuffle 70-odd per cent to the front or 85 per cent to the rear, depending on the demand), and an eightspeed transmission (not a dual-clutch). The sedan ekes out 7.4L/100km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), so the slightly heavier wagon should be within a tenth or two of that.