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Geneva 2017 - PH liveblog

Collected musings from the showfloor at Geneva from Matt and Dan

By Dan Trent / Sunday, March 12, 2017

Geneva is always a big show for us here on PH but even by past experience 2017 would seem to have more precious metal than usual - an 800hp naturally-aspirated V12 Ferrari, all-new McLaren and 'ring record breaking Lamborghini are but the headlines. The full info on all and more will be appearing on the homepage as the show unfolds, our

being the one-stop shop for all the stories.

Here you'll find the more informal musings on what we encounter at the show, an event where people watching can be as interesting as looking at the cars. How long before we spot pink mohawk man? Or a millionaire staring at a supercar with a little dog in a handbag over his shoulder? These important questions and more will be answered here over the coming days!

Keep an eye on social media too - we'll be Tweeting on PistonHeads, Trent_Dan and PHMattB and pictures and clips will be going up on our Facebook page andPistonHeads_Speedmatters Instagram feed too. All posts will be searchable under #PHGeneva2017

Geneva airport, 1300h

As I wait for my flight home I'm just going through pics, vids and other stuff from the show and found these pics of a rather interesting Golf R. Now, I've sometimes felt like a bit of a lone voice in calling out the R for being a somewhat over-hyped and yet ultimately rather underwhelming compared with the lighter and more agile GTI variants, especially the hotter ones with the VAQ 'diff'.

This one, however, looks like it might be enough to have me confronting my prejudices. When I walked past it yesterday I took a snap of it based on it being the facelifted 310hp version and in a rather fetching colour, reminiscent of the Austin Yelllow of my old BMW M4 long-termer. Matt and I were walking past it again earlier today and stopped for a closer look. And, yes, on closer examination those are Akrapovic exhaust tips. And Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres. Enough to make a Golf R interesting? Steps in the right direction, for sure!


McLaren, 0930h

I was lucky enough to get the 'deep dive' on the

before the show so came here perhaps less 'surprised' by the styling or (frankly still astonishing) stats than most. I say surprised, there were plenty of leaked pics so it wasn't that hard to get a sense of what it looked like.

Shortly before the covers were officially removed - with help from Kate Silverton, slightly bizarrely - I got a quick chat with R&D boss Mark Vinnels where there was a car hidden backstage. It's a challenging looking thing but I rather like the cab-forward stance and Zonda-like 'cockpit' glasshouse. It's really cool when you're sitting in it too with glass everywhere, Vinnels pushing how important visibility is to being able to fully exploit that performance.

He was a little cagey about how whether it treads on the toes of the LT as the figures suggest it does, saying the 675's (relative) rawness and track focus mean it has different character. We'll see. He was also keen to emphasise how accessible and unintimidating it is to drive. But shouldn't a car with 720hp - 720 horsepower! - be a LITTLE bit scary? Vinnels says it's not the McLaren way. It'll be interesting to find out though.

Porsche stand, 0800h

Full disclosure - yes I'm hosted by Porsche at the show this year. File your conspiracy theories here but, frankly, if it means breakfast and coffee here on a nice peaceful stand then consider my soul sold.

Interesting reading the comments to the various Porsche stories from yesterday too - there seems a lot less interest in the GT3 itself than there is the supposed realities of being granted the right to buy one by your local Official Porsche Centre. Not a problem I'm ever likely to have myself but I know at least one friend who is 'in the system' and I'm interested to find out if the reality is anything like the wild claims being made about how you get on the list.

I've also been catching up on comments for a few of the other big stories, with a mind to follow up and actually go and have a look at some cars today. I know, shocking idea right? The Civic seems to have prompted a lot of ... comment about its looks and whether the supposed shame of the styling is as crippling as being beaten off the line by an all-wheel drive Focus RS.

The McLaren also seems popular - or at least talked about - and I need to go over my notes after a chat with R&D boss Mark Vinnels. And I want to go and sit in an Alpine. This probably won't help my mood about the lack of a gearstick between the seats though.


Aston Martin, 1600h

Before I'd wandered over to Aston Martin I'd been hearing about the

. First thought when I saw the Vantage version was 'crikey, that's going to annoy people who

', given it seemed like a similar proposition. But more so, with 500hp and a hint of Zagato to really twist the knife. Seems they won't have to worry - only seven Vantage AMRs will be built and they're track only cars. So kind of your daily knockabout Vulcan if you will.

I also wasn't sure about the AMR Line treatment to the Rapide, the whole 'running shoes with a suit' schtick from Marek Reichman rather smacking of something that treads a fine line between cool and laughable. Seemingly there was similar concern within the company before a general 'sod it, we'll give it a go' and the car was built. With the engine from a

and a 210mph top speed it does at least pack the necessaries to live up to the look. That top speed informs the production run too, the limited run indicative of the kind of numbers we can expect from these AMR cars.


Geneva, 1500h

I've now had my second encounter with a manufacturer one might tactfully describe as offering rival product to Lamborghini and - off the record - angrily calling BS on the Performante Nurburgring lap time. Various conspiracy theories about sped up film, inconsistencies with speed and distance travelled were offered from a number of sources before the show but that's always the way with these things, over and above the standard stuff of 'it must have been on slicks/running nitrous/using a race engine' and all that. But the anger of people in the same business saying a Huracan has no right to be putting in a lap time like that howsoever tweaked is really quite surprising.

Will Lamborghini be bothered? I rather doubt it. I think this is probably exactly what they wanted - job jobbed, however quickly Mapelli pedalled that car.


Palexpo, 1200h

There's a funny little patch of the Geneva show where a lot of the tuners congregate, giving you exposure to the weird, wonderful and wild of the aftermarket. Every year it surprises, and 2017 is no different.



First shock? The Kahn Vengeance Volante doesn't look all that bad. I might even like it. Must be the early start. Certainly blacking out the grille has helped, and blue seems to suit it, but the proportions of the DB9 were always pretty good and obviously they haven't changed. Still not exactly my cup of tea, though I can imagine plenty being sold.

Shock number two? Mansory continue to raise the bar of bad taste, if that's the right phrase. Rolls-Royces with what look like kitchen marble on bonnets, an orange Levante, the G-Class from hell and Ferraris with modifications that should never be done to Ferraris. There's clothing now, too. It's so bad you keep looking just to find new style crimes.

Just metres away in space but miles in ethos is Alpina, showcasing a B7, new B5 and a lovely D3 Touring. Liberty Walk continues to bemuse as well - are they geniuses? Are they mad? Still not sure. The 800hp Gemballa Avalanche definitely qualifies as the latter, though I think I still want a go.








Pagani, 1045h

Two Pagani roadsters on the stand here at Geneva. I know I should be excited by the

too. But to me the relative simplicity of the Zonda S also on show just seems so much more appealing. See also the fact it has a naturally-aspirated AMG V12 and not a turbocharged one. I'd say it hasn't dated at all either.


Porsche stand, 0930h

A quick run around the 'top' end of the show where the VW group are based reveals the following; some surprisingly indiscreet senior suits at Porsche don't believe the Lamborghini's lap time either and regard the Performante as rather muscling in on ground they consider theirs. The off the record response was ... punchy. And the looks on their faces when they clocked me suggested they rather wish they hadn't been speaking in English. The official one will be interesting.

Meanwhile at Audi the new 450hp twin-turbo V6 RS5 has been unveiled and is my next one to write up. Looks amazing in dark blue with black window surrounds and pretty awful decked out in a combination of chrome and carbon tat. The exhausts look big enough to seek refuge in if the show all gets a bit much too.

And there's a proper scrum at Bentley. I'll report back on that shortly...


Geneva, 0630h

So Group Night has changed somewhat, now lacking the catwalk style parade of new cars and deferential welcome to Dr Piech and his lovely wife as they gazed, steely eyed, over their empire. Now just Matthias Muller playing it straight with a more humble keynote speech nailing all the on-trend buzzwords about connected driving, autonomous driving, electric mobility and the rest. All of this was embodied in a VW Group concept called Cedric - an important distinction that as it wasn't actually a VW concept. Made me think of those Heathrow pods, I'm guessing with a wider scope of operation than popping between T5 and Business Parking. That or Johnny Cab from the original Total Recall.

Hello Cedric!

Hello Cedric!

After huffing on Twitter that I wasn't going to be able to shoot the

to replace the awful press shots I then walked to the other side of the room and found it there in all its glory. R&D head Maurizio Reggiani and boss

were there and on mischievous form, having about them the air of rebellious teenagers turning up to a serious gig about future mobility with a bright orange supercar conspicuously lacking in any hybrid assistance or anything resembling the more modest corporate mentality shown by Muller and the rest of the VW suits. Good on 'em. And the car looks superb too. Bronze wheels on orange shouldn't work but does, the gloss finished Forged Composite on the front splitter, wing and rear diffuser looks ace and the whole thing just looks angry. Can't wait to have a go.

Now to the show proper...


VW Group Night, 1800h

So, the Huracan Performante is official! You can read the stats on the homepage story and there's much to enjoy on paper, not least the 640hp naturally-aspirated V10 and 40kg weight saving over the LP610-4. I'd like to say it looks great in the metal too but you'll have to take my word on that because the press shots supplied ahead of the show are, I think THE WORST I've ever seen. They look like a sub-standard Gran Turismo screen grabs that I'm guessing were rendered from the stills of the disguised car at the Nurburgring. Complete with Tuscan villas cut and paste to the Eifel hillside to, y'know, make it look more Italian. Tsk.

Even with the awful pics it looks mega though - what's not to like about big wings, bronze wheels and the little flashes of Italian tricolore along the flanks. I'm reasonably confident it'll go alright too, and make a decent racket doing so.

Rant over I'm off to sharpen my elbows and attempt to get some proper pics of it...


Geneva, 1530h

Hello Geneva! My first glimpse of the city - before the inevitable traffic jam - was this rather pleasant view out of the window of the 1050h SqueezyJet out of Manchester, having spent the flight tapping out stories in readiness for tomorrow's press day. "That Porsche sounds interesting," said the nosey parker beside me who'd obviously been reading the embargoed story I'd been finishing on my laptop. It's OK, they'll never find the body - given the scariness of the NDA I'd signed it was going to be him or me.

It does relate to a car I'm rather excited about seeing, even if I can't tell you about it right now. Indeed, there's a lot of stuff at Geneva I'm really excited about. Sure, sure - there will be diamond-encrusted Rollers, hideous G-Wagens and bloated Bentleys from Mansory and the like and plenty of hypercar launches from brands we're unlikely to ever hear from again. But I'm pegging some hopes on the slightly more realistic end of the market too - the Alpine A110 sounds right up my street, though if it does indeed turn out to be dual-clutch only I'll be disappointed.

First up though it's VW Group Night. These have been scaled back somewhat and are now rather more businesslike affairs than they were in the pre-emissions scandal days. But you'll want to be near a computer and with the PH homepage on refresh around 6pm...


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