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My day out at the Geneva Motor Show

Posted by Bob on Wednesday 12th March 2014

They weren't looking at me :(Last week I took a wee soiree to the land of cuckoo clocks and milky chocolate, Switzerland. Mainly for a little break, to try a bit of skiing (but more often the apres ski to be honest), but I'd also managed to wrangle a ticket for one day at the 84th annual Salon International de l'Auto, or for the language-deficient (and those who didn't even bother to read the title), the International Geneva Motor Show. Though I spent a great deal of the day with wide eyes and overactive saliva glands, I did manage to jot down some notes on what I was looking at and what I thought of it, utilising a handy Toblerone as a writing implement, and today I attempt to transform my chocolate-y scribblings into some sort of readable account. You may want to stop reading now.

I got up early in the morning on Tuesday 4th March and headed off to the Motor Show via train. No driving for me, as I predicted correctly that there would be plenty of free booze being offered to us auto nuts, and I don't know of many that can resist. It was just three minutes from the train station, so no problems there. I arrived around 9 in the morning, but had already done my reading as to what was expected, including all the big reveals I should go and see. These included the Audi TT, Porsche's Le Mans car, and a new Lamborghini. Yes, you can say I was excited.

First of all though, and the first exhibit to interest me was Apple's CarPlay system. Essentially Apple's attempt at integrating it's forever-updating iPhone more and more with vehicular systems, it was being pushed with great fervour by companies such as Volvo and Ferrari. It attempts to utilise the same swipes and pinches that tablet and smartphone users are getting familiar with, like strange technological crabs. As well as telephone calls, interactive maps and music playing, the CarPlay system is also attempting to unlock a world of apps to be accessed via car controls. It looks like smart cars (no, not those smart cars!) are just around the corner.

The next thing that caught my eye was the new Lamborghini Hurcan. Tipped as Lamborghini's replacement for it's popular Gallardo, the Hurcan sports a wonderful looking carbon-fibre chassis, and a V10 engine powers it from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, pumping out a huge 610 bhp. With a top speed of 202 mph, the Hurcan certainly has a lot to live up to - the model it is replacing was Lamborghini's most successful model ever, shifting more than 14,000 units. Think it can make it?

And now I was in heaven. I'd found the new Audi model - it's new TT. My knees turned to jelly and my Toblerone scribbling became even more erratic. What can I say about the new TT that I haven't already said to anyone I know a thousand times? It's sporting a sharper look, and the chassis has been lightened, and it's pretty much going to be in the showrooms for a maximum of 24 hours I would say. You'll fall in love with the Virtual Cockpit, which eschews analogue dials and replaces them with a TFT screen that can also display your satnav information. Air vents give you a digital readout of the temperature, and you end up feeling like you're in the Audi you always dreamed of.

I my notes I seem to have drawn a sketch of some of the show girls with the help of my chocolate bar. That is not a euphemism.

Next I sidled up to the Volvo section and took a look at the upcoming XC90 SUV. Like many others, Volvo was showing off the new touchpad technology it is using for its interfaces, being used in new models. It does the job of removing a score of buttons and dials from the dashboard of the XC90, and shows Volvo's usual style, or lack of. A straightforward utilitarian look it what you get - the Ronseal of car manufacturers. All the information you need is there, including speed and even a rev counter. In this day and age of hybrids and electric powered vehicles, drivers are more likely to need to see rev counts again. How times change.

The next vehicle to catch my eye, mainly thanks to the booth girls beckoning me over, was the new Jaguar XE. Previously called the X760, though this was just a code name, the Jaguar XE is a small saloon which is pegged to cost below £30,000, and is expected on the market in 2015. Due to be built north of Wolverhampton, it will also utilise Jaguar's new engine technology, the 'Ingenium' engine. Also due to be used in various Land Rover models, it features four cylinders and is part of the company's iQ(A) architecture. I didn't get to see much of the car except the grille, but it is supposed to be unveiled fully in the autumn at the Paris motor show. I wonder if I'll manage to get a ticket for that.

The rest of my notes seem to have been smudged by my huge wrist. I'll make sure to take a pen next time, or at least use a darker chocolate.

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