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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-11-2006, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Geneva Review - In Brief

WCF Geneva Review - In Brief
by Nick Hall
Photos by Frank dLvW & Brian P.
edited 03-08-2006

Switzerland is a country that has banned motorsport and has specialised in avoiding major conflicts. It’s perhaps ironic, then, that this year’s Geneva Motor Show was packed with hardcore sportscars and more latent aggression than a gangland shootout.

It’s hard to start anywhere else: it has to be Ferrari.

Maybe it was a case of managing expectations, but the first pictures of that car were about as sexy as an Oprah Winfrey swimsuit calendar. In the flesh, though, the Ferrari is more Olsen Twins and it just defies belief that a photographer could make such a beautiful car look so bad.

The front end is taut, the aerodynamic buttresses are invisible from the front and the whole car has a muscular stance. And the V12 that started life in the Enzo doesn’t need much of a sales job, it’s got 620bhp and 448lb/ft of torque for God’s sake.

But the most entertainment to come from the Ferrari will undoubtedly come from journalists pretending to understand the magnetorheological (MR) fluid suspension system. Now it all involves electromagnetic fields, ferrous particles in the damper fluid and computers. Beyond that, this might as well be nuclear Physics, but apparently it’s an improvement and that’s all that really matters.

Congrats go to Ferrari for the £160,000 price tag, though, maybe being around precious metal has removed all sense of worth. But you can’t help thinking they could have added £50,000 without too many complaints.

Pagani, meanwhile, could charge what they like for the Zonda F Roadster and, really, they already do. Still, a coat of paint would have been a good idea for the show car as the ‘naked carbon’ look is not the best option on this list.

Apparently it’s back at the shop every other day for stone chip repairs, and as the owner comes from Switzerland he could spend his life on a never-ending return trip. Still, there are worse ways to spend your life than with a 602bhp, 7.3-litre AMG engine venting its furious anger all over the road just inches from your head.

The Zonda F is one of the finest legal experiences in this world and, roof off, it might just overtake a night in a hotel room of drugs, money and disease-free high-class hookers.

Lamborghini, too, tried to hide its finest work to date under a shade of grey that is normally found on beaten up 70s Chevys, or nondescript Fords - commonly called Primer Grey. God knows what they were thinking, but the car is just awesome.

The exhaust, wider than Mick Jagger’s mouth, should make this car this 6.5-litre roar like a mythical beast. At 1665kg it’s not too heavy and with the four-wheel drive a shaved monkey should be able to hit the 60mph mark in 3.4s.

As for the 212mph top end speed, I’ll never be allowed to hit that on the next trip to Santa’Agata, but something about this car suggests that test driver Moreno Conti will have to force my foot off the gas with a crowbar.

This is the Lamborghini of old, wild, dangerously fast and addictive to the eye. A 640bhp Murcielago is the stuff wet dreams are made of and the Italian marque, tired of losing the horsepower battle with Ferrari, has taken the Audi-branded reigns off the Raging Bull. The Murcielago was fantastic, like double chocolate ice cream, but now triple chocolate is here and my God it truly is creamy.

Spyker’s D12 Peking-to-Paris, meanwhile, left that slightly sickly taste that occurs when you’ve crammed too much sweetness in at one sitting, but there’s no such thing as too much for some hedonistic money trees.

This Super SUV, with a W12 engine, 500bhp and €235,000 price tag was a weird idea, and the execution was well over the top. Somehow, though, anything else would have been disappointing.

All Spykers are window-licking, riding the special needs bus, talking to themselves in the street crazy. If they were people, they’d need a crash helmet to go outside, but there’s a market for such things. And as customers include Busta Rhymes and Middle Eastern Sheikhs, taste and decency are pretty much irrelevant.

That’s a good thing, as this car looks like a home brewed royal carriage made from a 911. Full on suicide doors, couches instead of chairs and a 185mph top end speed just don’t seem to mix, not in the real world, but Spyker has taken 90 solid orders and the Royal family of Abu Dhabi have injected massive resources, buying a 20 per cent stake in the company.

Spyker is really working, believe me, and you’ll see plenty more of this Dutch marque as the C8 Laviolette has taken a starring role in the next Basic Instinct. Considering how rough Catherine Tremell is looking these days, the car might even make it to the sex scenes. This is fun, boutique motoring, and if you try and make sense of it all you’ll end up licking the window yourself.

Then there was Tramontana, a fantastic looking, needlessly powerful car with F1 aspirations. Completely impractical it may be, but they only need to sell 12 of these €550,000 creations a year, which kind of implies a healthy profit margin.

With 720bhp from the 5.5-litre, though, and what look like reasonable aerodynamics, it should be a laugh riot to drive. Sub four second 0-60mph dashes and 200mph top ends tend to work well.

And they’ve put such thought into the quality of each individual component that the badge is fashioned from white gold. So park it up, even for a second, and it will be found hanging from some wannabe rapper’s neck.

Porsche’s new GT3, on the other hand, is a car we need to have on government issue. It’s sexier and more hardcore than the fat man’s 911 Turbo. Yes it comes with ‘just’ 415bhp, but the more track-focussed machine that has been hammering round Grand Prix tracks for a whole year in the Porsche Supercup, is the one for real drivers.

It comes with traction control, but that is swiftly disabled, and switches comfortably between road settings and bone-shaking, track set-up, at the touch of a button. It may cost almost £80,000, but that’s cheap in this company and given the chance could well leave these hypercars in its wake.

So could the Lotus Europa, a two-litre, sub-1000kg machine that will give Lotus a whole new customer base. It’s a grown-up Elise, one that doesn’t require a contortionist’s skill to get through the aperture that passes for a door, and it even comes with a proper boot. This car will be anathema to Elise fans, and will polarise the entire Lotus flock – mostly people that think back pain is a badge of honour.

But for people that wouldn’t have considered an Elise, or the ferocious looking Exige, this kinder, more mature machine will bring huge bangs for buck without breaking their back.

Elsewhere, Rolls-Royce stayed determinedly out of touch with the real world with its 101EX concept. Yes the 6.75-litre engine sounds cool and this ‘sporty’ relation to the Phantom is probably enough to make Director’s wives horny, but why did they think it would be cool to recreate the night sky inside the car?

Yes, with all the possibilities, they decided to add stars to the roof lining with hundred of optic fibres. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…

And the same goes for Saab. Not because its 400bhp, bio-ethanol fuelled Aero X concept doesn’t rock, it really does. The problem lies with the fact that this car makes every other Saab on the planet look like dogmeat. If they made exciting cars they could wow us with exciting concepts, but showing us machines they’ll never build in a bid to cash in on their jet fighter connections just isn’t smart.

Finally the Rinspeed ZaZen, truly the most over-rated car of the whole show. Yes the body was moderately sexy, but strip away all the rubbish like giant Swarovski crystal light clusters and this car was really designed to demonstrate tinting plastic.

If you want a materials lecture, go to fashion school, as a car this machine was about as sexy as a new Japanese city car, which I didn’t go and see, because I didn’t care...
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Last edited by Storm; 03-11-2006 at 09:38 AM.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-11-2006, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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