The Geneva Motor Show opened its doors to the press earlier this week ahead of the public opening tomorrow, and already there's been a whole slew of announcements, many leaked in the days leading up to the show. As with so many events these days, manufacturers try to trump each other and gain maximum exposure by getting their news out first – even if it means pre-empting the launch event itself!
The Geneva Salon International de l'Auto is one of the oldest car shows in the world – its first exhibition was held back in 1905 – and it's become synonymous with the launch of new cars and automotive technologies. As a country with no real motoring industry, Geneva is seen as neutral ground for a lot of the manufacturers and some of the most famous cars have been launched at the Salon over the last century, including the Ford Model A, Ferrari Dino, Ford Capri, Lamborghini Countach prototype and Audi Quattro.
Geneva will see over 140 World and European debuts for new cars over the week-and-a-half that the show is on for, and almost 750,000 visitors are expected to come through the doors and see all the new metal up close.
This is where the concept sketches become flesh, and the European audience get their chance to see models like the GT86 for the first time.
There have been plenty of regular, popping-down-to-the-shop cars released at Geneva, and far too many SUVs still being churned out (Bentley? 100 lines and detention for even thinking of making the EXP9F), but we'll concentrate on the more exotic cars on show.
Not only is it the platform for car-makers to show off the models that will soon be on the forecourts, Geneva is also awash with concept cars, where the manufacturers can go a little off piste and display models that for some companies are well outside their normal comfort zone.
Leading the way on this front are the Italian styling houses – Giugiaro, Bertone and Pininfarina for instance – who continue the luxury coach-building tradition almost single-handedly. These companies continue to supply bespoke design skills to both the sportscar producers and hyper-wealthy individuals – the latter responsible for commissioning some of the one-off cars that appear at the Salon.
The more mainstream supercar companies are close behind in the extreme aesthetic race, with a range of offerings from the brutal Lamborghini Aventador J to the slightly more rounded NSX.
Geneva is also a shopfront for the smaller, boutique manufacturers to show their latest developments: Koenigsegg have introduced a one-piece carbon-fibre wheel for the Agera R.
The tuners were also out in force, presenting a whole raft of reworked saloons and coupés – some cars that you'd expect, and others you wouldn't necessarily have foreseen as being ripe for modding. Three different takes on the MP4-12C for instance? I wouldn't have thought McLaren would have allowed it!
Green technology is getting ever stronger in the marketplace, and the car makers are at great pains to both promote their environmental credentials and make their eco-cars attractive to the general public.
Over the following days we'll round up the new releases and feature some of the impressive highlights from this year's show. There are some incredible cars coming our way!