Top 10 Debuts of the 2016 Geneva Motor Show

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Where the Rhone exits Lake Geneva, you’ll find the second most populous city in Switzerland. The second most populous city in Switzerland isn’t just the worldwide center of diplomacy. Other than being the headquarters of the United Nations and the Red Cross, Geneva is an important place for the automotive industry.
The Salon international de l’automobile Genève first opened its doors in 1905. French automaker Clement stole the show that year. 59 companies exhibited in 1955. From there on, the Palexpo center was the place of debut for an indeterminable number of iconic cars.

Some of my favorites Geneva debuts are as follows: Chrysler Airflow, Fiat 500 Topolino, Mercedes-Benz 540K, Jaguar E-Type, Lancia Fulvia, Ferrari Dino, Maserati Bora, Lamborghini Countach, Ford Capri, Porsche 928, Audi Quattro, Volkswagen Scirocco, Honda S2000, Range Rover Evoque, McLaren P1, and many others.

It’s no wonder that the Geneva Motor Show is considered the poshest and well-heeled automotive show in the calendar. Exciting as they were, past shows won’t hold a candle to the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. For the 86th edition of the automotive event, the worldwide premieres are as plentiful, beautiful, and varied as the tulip flowers scattered along the Flower Route in The Netherlands.

Each appearance is important in its own right, be it production or concept car. The thing is, some of these cars are, just like that old saying that my grandpa always told me, first among equals. In this regard, let’s get down to business. Here are ten of the most important cars we’ll see next week at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show:

Alpine Vision Concept

Alpine Vision Concept
Photo: Renault Alpine
For real, Renault? It took you four years and two concept cars (except the Vision Gran Turismo) to get to this. As if the wait wasn’t excruciating enough, the 2016 Geneva-bound Vision is still just a concept. Admittedly, 80 percent of its exterior design will be carried over to the production version of the rear-wheel-drive sports car.

The road-going version of the Vision Concept will be built at the Dieppe plant in France, in the same factory that built Alpines a long, long time ago. The turbo four-cylinder engine and lightweight philosophy will throw the all-new Alpine in the same ring with the soon-to-presented Porsche 718 Boxster and the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Aston Martin DB11

Aston Martin DB11
Photo: Twitter user Rudy Benjamin
James Bond would like you to forget the DB5 from Goldfinger and take a look at his future ride. The Aston Martin DB11 is an all-new chapter for the British manufacturer. This car isn’t just a long-awaited replacement for the DB9 grand tourer. It’s the car that will sever Aston’s technical legacy from the Ford era in favor of Daimler.

You’ve heard that right. Daimler AG subsidiaries Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG helped Aston Martin make the DB11 happen. And yes, the 5.2-liter V12 hiding under the hood is a twin-turbocharged monster developed with the help of Affalterbach’s finest engineers. 600 horsepower is probably a breeze for this 12-cylinder.

Audi Q2

Audi Q2
Photo: Audi
It took the German manufacturer a legal battle with Fiat to get the naming rights for this model, but it was worth it. The carmaker’s smallest crossover will be slotted below the Q3 and will employ the MQB platform from the A3 hatchback. FWD will be the norm, albeit quattro ultra AWD will be available on higher-specification models.

The five-door subcompact crossover is rumored to receive a hotter SQ2 model after the normal Q2 goes on sale this summer. Young professionals and moms who do the school run will buy the regular Q2 right after it hits the dealership. The Audi Q2 has what it takes to become an instant hit in Europe because it’s cool like that.

Bugatti Chiron

Bugatti Chiron \(concept pictured\)
Photo: Bugatti
Without any shadow of a doubt, the Bugatti Veyron will steal the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The all-new nameplate will have to walk in the shoes of the Veyron, which was the most powerful and the fastest production car in the world. Don’t worry, though, for the Chiron will be more powerful and faster than its awe-inspiring predecessor.

The design of the production model is inspired by the concept pictured above, minus the motorsport nonsense. Most publications bet their two cents on an updated 8-liter quad-turbo W16 with 1,500 horsepower and 1,500 Nm (1,106 lb-ft) of torque. Rumor has it the 2016 Bugatti Chiron will be further enhanced by hybrid technology.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso

Ferrari GTC4Lusso
Photo: Ferrari
The GTC4Lusso is an important Ferrari model because it is the ultimate expression of grand touring. The Prancing Horse embraced turbocharging for the California T and 488, yet the GTC4Lusso is all naturally aspirated wonderfulness, just like the Ferrari FF before it. I can’t help but tip my hat to the people who kept the V12 atmospheric.

And what a V12. 680 horsepower (690 PS) and 509 lb-ft (697 Nm) should do the trick. The 208.1 mph (335 km/h) top end and the 4RM-S AWD and all-wheel steering system aren’t to be taken lightly either. Can I tell you a secret? All these specs pale in comparison to a particular element of design - the return of the dual circular taillights.

Lamborghini Centenario LP 770-4

Lamborghini Centenario
Photo: Lamborghini
This year marks a century since the birth of Ferruccio, the man who founded Lamborghini after an argument with Enzo Ferrari. Cue the Lamborghini Centenario, the car that pays homage to the creator of the maddest supercar company there ever was. As you can see in the patent drawings, the Centenario will be based on the Aventador.

The LP 770-4 in its name suggests the output (770 PS or 759 horsepower) and the all-wheel-drive system that will keep this car glued to the asphalt during canyon carving. 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) will be doable in 2.8 seconds according to unofficial reports. 40 of these babies will be made at €2.2 million ($2.4 million) or so a pop.

Maserati Levante

Maserati Levante
Photo: Maserati
No, this Maserati isn’t a rebel by nature. The Levante is just a necessity. Everybody wants a crossover these days and the timing fits like a jigsaw falling into place for Maserati. The Italian company isn’t doing too great in terms of sales. Fortunately for the House of the Trident, the Levante is the goose who lays the golden eggs.

The newest rival of the Porsche Cayenne will come with a Q4 all-wheel-drive system, electronic adaptive suspension, and an 8-speed automatic regardless of model. On the powertrain front, the Maserati Levante is motivated by a choice of 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engines, with outputs ranging from 275 PS to 450 PS (444 HP).

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet (A205)

Mercedes C\-Class Cabriolet \(A205\)
Photo: screenshot from YouTube
Internally referred to as the A205, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet marks the first time the three pointed star applies the rag-top treatment to its compact executive car. The canvas roof is more elegant than the equivalent metal folding top. At the same time, it’s the lighter solution and the one that offers more space in the trunk.

Other than that, this is your typical C-Class. An AMG-fettled V6-powered C43 and a more hardcore V8-powered C63 will make their appearance after the standard model goes into production. 4-cylinder turbo gasoline and turbo diesel engines will be the norm. But please, don’t make the mistake and get an oil-burning convertible. Just don’t.

Porsche 911R

Porsche 911R
Photo: Stefan Baldauf/SB-Medien
The 718 Boxster won’t be in the limelight at Geneva because there’s a new Porsche 911 in town. Born in the same stable as the GT3 and GT3 RS, the Porsche 911R looks similar to its siblings, albeit it won’t have a rear wing. The rear diffuser is another small design detail that sets the R apart from the facelifted 911 family.

Porsche enthusiasts will tell you that the new 911R is a nod to the old Porsche 911R from 1967, which turns 50 next year. Driver feel is the focus point of the 911R. The naturally aspirated 3.8 flat-six from the GT3 and a manual transmission are the name of the game. The German automaker is expected to build 600 units of the 911R.

Toyota C-HR

Toyota C\-HR \(concept pictured\)
Photo: Toyota
Oh look, a crossover! Yawn. But hold on a second. The Toyota C-HR is late to the party, I know, but it promises to be an exciting alternative to the aging Nissan Juke. To some extent, the design of the concept will be carried over to the production version of the C-HR. The biggest contrast is the addition of 2 doors over the concept.

Slated to be initially offered as a hybrid, the Toyota C-HR is a crossover that shares various components with the Prius, including the Toyota New Global Architecture. A 1.2 turbo could be offered as the conventional alternative after the launch of the hybrid. At the end of the day, though, the nifty design will be the selling point of the C-HR.

UPDATE: Here is the 2017 Toyota C-HR.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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