What was Geneva’s star car?

The Geneva Show is always rammed with supercars. Some are serious and wonderful, even if just as many others are the work of egoistic men in little sheds who you’ll probably never hear of again.

This year it was Lamborghini and McLaren and Ferrari’s turn to do the wonderful bit, with the Huracan and 650S and California T respectively.

But this was actually a show mostly about normal cars for normal people, and many of them were well worth the price of admission.

I can’t wait to have a go in the rear-engined Twingo. And it’s not only technically interesting, it’s a great design. It doesn’t try to be cute, which is why it’s cute as a button. I love the manga look of the Toyota Aygo, even if its Peugeot 108 relative is a bit timid.

Talking of timid design, what about the new TT then? It’s nice enough but where’s the progress? Luckily there’s lots of helpful tech underneath, so it ought to be good to drive. And chief engineer Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed what we’ve known off-record for two years: there will be an RS and it will have the five-cylinder engine.

The little Jeep Renegade seems like a proper 4×4, well differentiated from what the mechanically somewhat related Fiat 500X will be.

My pick, though, is the Citroen C4 Cactus. Mechanically conventional, but full of very fresh and honest thinking.

Among the concept cars, most are fluorescently obvious hints at coming production metal, and encouraging they are too. The Maserati Alfieri, Civic Type-R, Mazda Hazumi, VW T-Roc, Volvo Estate (that really is its name), Mini Clubman… something for almost everyone surely.

But I’m more intrigued by the Hyundai Intrado, because of its carbon-skeleton body structure and fuel-cell power.

Unlike many recent shows, there isn’t too much hype about Geneva this year. The industry isn’t in bad financial shape, so they don’t need to rely on silly distraction tactics.

Ford and Vauxhall and Fiat, who’ve all had toxic financial times in Europe, simply showed facelifts and variants at Geneva and haven’t bothered with concepts. They’re busy just sticking to their knitting, and making steady progress.

Not like Alfa Romeo, sadly. The 4C Spider is lovely but irrelevant to Alfa’s big picture. It’s otherwise treading water.

Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the show there’s an entirely new plan for Alfa on the way. He sounded sincere in committing that, two months from now, he would unveil a completely revised plan for the marque.

He said they’d be made in Italy, rear-drive, light, powerful and incredibly beautiful. At times he sounded almost poetic about it all. Trouble is I’ve asked him this question every time I’ve seen him for years, and the answer is always jam tomorrow.

BMW showed how much catching-up Alfa has to do, by unveiling exactly the sort of car Alfa should be making, the swish 4-Series GranCoupe.

But BMW also made history in another way that will have less predictable results for the world’s perception of the brand. Geneva is the first public outing for what’s not just the first front-drive BMW but, heck, also an MPV. Hello, 2-Series Active Tourer. The first great-driving tall wagon, or a Picasso for snobs?

But then, I remember the fuss 15 years ago when BMW made its first SUV. Now 40 percent of all BMWs sold are X1 or X3 or X5 or X6. With yesterday’s reveal of the X4, that proportion can only rise. BMW’s greatest corporate skill is to change while remaining the same.

What’s your vote for the most significant car of the show?

Written by Lewis Shaw

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