Time for part two of PetrolBlog’s Geneva Unconventional – searching out the good, the bad and the ugly of the Geneva Motor Show 2012.
If you missed part one, you can find it here. If not, read on for the next ten awards.
Warning, this update contains images of the Fiat 500L, which some readers may find distressing.
11. The ‘surely it can’t look as bad in real life as it does in the photos’ award: Fiat 500L
In part one, I spared you the sight of the Fiat 500L, but this time I’m going in for the kill and giving it to you straight. The Fiat 500L not only looks awful, but it represents all that is wrong when a marketing department starts making the decisions. I suppose it’s natural to look at something successful and think ‘just how can we milk this for all it’s worth’, but that doesn’t make it right. Clearly Fiat looked at the success of the MINI and in particular, the various model extensions of questionable taste. It’s just a shame that Fiat didn’t look at the MINI Countryman and say ‘no, we’re not going to discredit an icon in such a way’.
I like the Fiat 500, particularly the basic, frugal models. They seem in keeping with the original 500 spirit and I’m looking forward to testing a TwinAir for PetrolBlog in a few weeks time.
But I’ve got no love for the 500L. It looks bloated, heavy and clumsy. Apparently L stands for Large, but it could just so easily stand for Lard. Or Laughable. Or Loathsome.
And not even a pair of beautiful models can hide its hideousness. The sign for the toilets behind the Fiat stand seems rather apt.
12. Favourite New Small Family car: Skoda Citigo
This was the first time I’d had the chance to get up! close and personal with the VAG New Small Family (NSF) range of cars. Volkswagen has the up!, SEAT has the Mii and Skoda has the Citigo.
They’re fundamentally the same. Based on the same platform and available with same engines and three and five-door configurations, but each has its own unique identity. I suspect that the up! will be the most popular, with the VW brand and marketing budget helping to give it the highest profile of the three.
I loved Volkswagen’s up! display. The range of different options were a joy to behold and gives a clue as to how successful the car will be. The success will be through personalisation and Volkswagen may just have the makings of a profile rivalled only by the MINI and the Fiat 500.
The sense of fun surrounding the up! was completely lacking on the SEAT stand. Once again SEAT seems to have drawn the short straw, with the Mii looking the least cheeky and least interesting. SEAT is supposed to be VAG’s youthful and exciting brand and yet, with a couple of exceptions, has a range of cars devoid of interest. Shame.
Which leaves the Citigo. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the range of options on display were less adventurous than the up!, but they were no less interesting. I especially loved the white five-door version, complete with black foil stripes and aftermarket black alloys. It’s a personal opinion, but I also think Skoda’s corporate ‘moustache’ suits the car more than VW’s corporate look. It looks more comfortable, whereas the VW’s feels a little more ‘crowbarred’.
The Citigo’s look and positioning seems totally in tune with the promise of a fun and frugal city car and I can see it being very successful for Skoda. It gets my vote, but I still adore the up!.
13. Taking inspiration from Goodwood: Mazda
At last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Audi took the bold step of filling their stand with nothing more than white cars. It divided opinion, but I wasn’t a fan. I even blogged about it.
I’m guessing that Mazda liked it though, as they did exactly the same thing at Geneva. But for me, it highlighted one thing – a range of cars that it’s difficult to get excited about. It’s probably no coincidence that they only car of note was the Takeri. And that was finished in red.
14. Car of the day: Citroën C6
Did I mention that the Citroën C6 was my car of the day? I have a feeling I may have done, but just in case I didn’t, let me say it again. The Citroën C6 was by far and away my favourite car of the day. I want one so much.
Any excuse for another photo, eh?
15. Question most overheard in the Geneva press centre
The good people of the Geneva Motor Show were kind enough to lend me a Swiss plug adapter to charge my iPhone. As a result, I was sat next to the lady in charge of the press centre for an hour. Within that time, I lost count of the number of times the lady was asked one of two questions.
One of which was ‘why is the wifi connection so slow?’. There was no real answer to this, other than the fact that they increase the capacity every year and it’s never enough.
The other question was even more popular – ‘what’s the name of the wifi to connect to?’. The answer was ‘motorshow 2012’, although I’m pretty sure it will change in 2013.
The press centre was a hive of activity, with journos frantically uploading images and copy to ensure they were first with the scoops. There must have been a lot of Germans there, as even a few minutes into the day, many chairs were ‘reserved’ through the use of jackets and bags. Sadly I didn’t spot any towels though.
Oh, is it me, or does the Geneva press centre look like something out of the X-Files?
16. The ‘oh my god, this is the new Note’ award
This is the Nissan Invitation. I’ll openly admit that I didn’t know much about it before I went to Geneva and really only stumbled across it by accident. After seeing the Juke and the barely visible Micra, I chanced upon this permatan-coloured wonder. Turns out it’s called the Invitation and it’s Nissan’s concept for a new city car. As a British petrolhead, it’s significant for two reasons.
Firstly, it’s going to be built in Sunderland, with the creation of 400 new jobs. Good news.
And secondly, it’s rumoured to be the replacement for the Nissan Note. Yep, the car we spend the most time stuck behind on our favourite B-roads is going to be replaced by this chiselled and rather dramatic hatchback. Now I could be wrong, but I can’t see many Note owners finding this appealing, so the Invitation may attract a new breed of drivers. Hopefully those capable of driving at speeds of more than 22mph and without the need to straddle the middle white line.
17. Most bizarre giveaway of the day
It’s two years since Ford revealed the B-Max concept at the Geneva Motor Show, so it’s no surprise that they chose Geneva 2012 to unveil the production car. You get the impression they’re rather proud of it, especially its clever combination of hinged front doors and rear sliding doors to provide a 1.5 metre access point. It’s achieved by integrating the b-pillars into the doors themselves. Nice one, Ford.
The company calls it ingenious and is keen to express this at every given opportunity. In fact, with every press pack, they gave away a rather large button that, when pressed, exclaims “INGENIOUS” in an excitable voice. It’s a bizarre thing and I get the impression my view of it is shared by the good people of the Ford press team. When I requested a press pack, I was presented the device with an apology and was told that ‘you probably don’t want this, but I have to give it to you anyway’. Quite.
Still, it might fetch £2.50 on eBay in a couple of years time.
18. The ‘best opportunity to look at the back of people’s heads’ award
I didn’t pay much attention to the Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston Martin or Ferrari stand. Sacrilege perhaps, but I was more interested in the obscure and the mundane.
The supercar stands were busy of course. It was virtually impossible to get a good look at the cars, let alone be allowed on to the stands. This was the view of the Ferrari stand at a quieter moment. It was the closest I got to the prancing horses.
19. The ‘how on earth did this beauty pass me by?’ award
The Renault stand at Geneva was both vast and full of interest. I’ll comment further on this in a future update.
But it was the Laguna Coupé that stole the show for me. You may or may not know that the Laguna is no longer available new in the UK, marking the end for a car that has been a stalwart of the Little Chef car park for nearly 20 years.
Perhaps it’s me, but just how good does the Laguna Coupé look? In Monaco GP spec with gleaming white paintwork, the Coupé is a rather sexy and svelte animal. If you squint a little, it looks like the lovechild of an Aston Martin and a Fiat Coupé.
It may not be a precision instrument in the same way as as Renaultsport car, but with four-wheel steering and a competent chassis, it’ll be no slouch. And being a big Renault, the residual values will be appalling, meaning the Renault Laguna Coupé will be appearing on PetrolBlog’s radar sooner rather than later.
20. The most unfortunate female model of the day
The Geneva Motor Show is like going back to 1970s Great Britain. Back then, the London Motor Show featured an array of big-haired and big-busted women parading in front of Triumph Stags and MGBs. As Leslie Phillips may have said, ‘ding dong’. In 2012, it’s like nothing has changed, with an array of long-legged, bronzed beauties being paid to stand in front of some of the world’s most beautiful cars.
I could imagine many of the girls being delighted when their agent informed them that they’d be working on the Aston Martin or Maserati stand. Or perhaps the Alfa Romeo or Jaguar stand. Their beauty would reflect the profile of the brand they were chosen to represent.
Sadly for one girl, her job was to stand in the back of the SsangYong Actyon Sports. Poor girl. The last I heard she could be seen crying into a G&T in a back street bar in Geneva. Her dreams ruined. Her hopes crushed.
You’ll no doubt be disappointed to learn that there’ll be third and perhaps final Geneva Unconventional update shortly. In the meantime, I realise must get on with announcing the PetrolBlog Car of the Year 2011…