BBC Autos

Top 10 debuts of the Geneva motor show

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.


  • The cream rises

    The Geneva motor show has always been a designer’s showcase, a venue for the outlandish and the improbable. And although there was plenty of outlandishness and improbability on display this week during press previews, there was also plenty of reality – production vehicles with dazzling looks and dizzying performance to spark the enthusiast’s imagination. What follows is a survey of the 10 most notable debuts observed by BBC Autos this week. (Newspress)

  • Lamborghini Veneno

    The Veneno seemed to exist, at least in part, to steal thunder from a certain red Italian supercar at the other end of the Palexpo convention centre. This street-legal but track-ready rendition of the mighty Aventador was beyond exotic, with fittingly eye-popping performance stats and a seven-figure price tag. Like it or not, the coachbuilt Veneno will be remembered for a long time. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Subaru Viziv Concept

    If the Geneva show had a sleeper hit, it was Subaru’s handsome Viziv, which offered glimpse into a potential (and very appealing) future for the Japanese automaker. The diesel-electric powertrain and re-imagined all-wheel-drive system are undeniably clever, but the artfully sculpted Viziv’s greater value to Subaru may be a new, and laudably fresh, design direction. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Land Rover Defender All-Terrain Electric Test Vehicle

    The Advanced Engineering Team at Land Rover ditched the Defender 110’s diesel engine and fuel tank for an electric motor and a 300-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The motor produces 94 horsepower and a stout 243 pound-feet of torque, and a full charge will carry passengers 50 miles, or deliver sufficient energy for eight hours of low-speed off-road exercises. And yes, the electric Defender is a real Land Rover, able to ford three feet of water or haul a 12-tonne load up a 13% gradient. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Volkswagen XL1

    It is impossible not to be impressed by the XL1’s calling card: 261mpg. The philosophical antithesis of its corporate cousin, the Bugatti Veyron, the fastidiously engineered and hand-crafted XL1 is a similarly impressive flex of the Volkswagen Group’s engineering muscle. VW is starting small, putting just 50 XL1s on German roads this year – leased to their drivers, not sold. But the arrival this tiny two-seater may just be the biggest news of 2013. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Rolls-Royce Wraith

    More astonishing than the imposing Wraith’s performance figures – zero to 60mph in 4.4 seconds and an electronically governed top speed of 155 mph– is that it accomplishes such feats of while staying true to everything that makes a Rolls-Royce a Rolls-Royce. Grand and great and overstuffed with opulence, the fastest model in the British marque’s 109-year history is as true to the Spirit of Ecstasy as a 1950s-era Phantom IV. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

    Pre-show teases from Chevrolet softened a bit of the theatricality of its unveiling, but the Corvette Stingray convertible nonetheless rolled out to cheers from a standing-room-only crowd. Developed in tandem with the fearsome-looking coupe (which joined the drop-top on stage, prompting another round of applause), the convertible is no afterthought. It promises to match the closed car’s athleticism and refinement. (Newspress)

  • BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

    With one visual minor glitch (an ill-considered fender vent), BMW’s 3 Series GT made a wholly appealing statement in Geneva – notably better than its bulky stablemate, the 5 Series GT. It is some eight inches longer than a 3 Series sedan, with an extra 4.3 inches between the axles, but the lithe four-door fastback wears its extra size well. The Gran Turismo – in 240hp 328i and the 300hp 335i guises – lands in the US this summer. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Toyota FT-86 Open Concept

    Much less a concept than a coming attraction, the drop-top FT-86, based on the coupe sold in the US as the Scion FR-S, is a wholly irresistible proposition. As a coupe it is handsome, but as a convertible, the FT is downright captivating. And with a spirited 4-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive and tires just narrow enough to allow a little oversteer now and then, it is the vehicular embodiment of the endless summer. (Matthew Phenix)

  • McLaren P1

    The P1 is a stunner, no question about it, and the very model of a modern classic. Photos of the car by itself tell only part of the story. On McLaren’s Geneva show stand, the true genius of the P1’s design, and the purity of its pedigree, came into sharp focus, flanked as it was by McLaren’s magnificent F1 LM prototype – the McLaren XP1 LM, painted Papaya Orange. (Matthew Phenix)

  • Ferrari LaFerrari

    The unabashed star of this year’s Geneva show, Ferrari’s 949hp, gasoline-electric successor to the vaunted Enzo supercar is a stupefying tour de force of 21st century road-car technology and the supreme expression of the Italian automaker’s Formula 1 engineering prowess. Ferrari has capped production of its million-dollar baby at a mere 499 units, with buyers already chosen from the marque’s secret society. Dreams, however, are still free. (Matthew Phenix)