Automotive

Speed machines and family rides among Geneva show highlights

GENEVA: Family-friendly, practical SUVs rub elbows with exotic and fearsomely expensive sports cars at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show. Here are five eye-catching vehicles from among the 120 world and European premieres as the show prepares to open to the public Thursday. It runs through March 13.

BUGATTI CHIRON

Volkswagen’s supercar brand seeks to raise the bar set by its predecessor, the Veyron, for massive horsepower, speed and eye-catching styling. The first thing you notice are the dramatic metal semicircles sweeping along the sides, bold styling that sets it apart from other supercars. Then there’s the signature Bugatti grille in front.

Under the hood in the back is a monstrous 16-cylinder, 8-liter engine putting out 1,500 horsepower, 25 percent more than its predecessor. For comparison, a run-of-the-mill hatchback might have 150 or 200 horsepower. The car’s technology limits its top speed for street driving – to 420 kph.

To offset the increased weight from the bigger engine, Bugatti used more lightweight – but expensive – materials such as titanium and carbon fiber. That helped push the price to 2.4 million euros ($2.6 million). Even at that, a third of the production run of 500 vehicles has already been reserved.

Inside, there’s luxurious leather lining and a high-end sound system.

Put on “Ride of the Valkyries.”

McLAREN 570GT

High-end sports cars can have spartan interiors but this McLaren moves in the opposite direction. The British company wanted this one to be more suited for daily use, long drives and weekends away.

There’s a side-opening glass hatch in the rear of the two-seater, offering added luggage capacity and interior light. Custom Pirelli noise-canceling tires aim to quiet the ride. A glass panoramic roof creates a bright, open feeling inside while a lower doorsill makes it easier to get in and out. The 12-speaker sound system aims to immerse the occupants in the music.

But fear not, it’s still a McLaren. With a 562-horsepower eight-cylinder engine, the 570GT has a top speed of 204 mph. Prices start at $198,950, and orders are being taken for delivery later this year.

RENAULT SCENIC

Forget the horsepower. Here’s a car for the rest of us.

This Scenic is a new version of the minivan that Renault introduced in 1996, pioneering an oft-imitated category dubbed MPV, or multipurpose vehicle. In other words, it’s a van on a small-car platform with lots of room for groceries, bikes and sports equipment, or kids.

There is a 2.8-meter stretch of loading space when the front passenger seat is folded down, and 63 liters of nooks and crannies to tuck stuff behind or between seats, or in the doors and dash. It’s also gotten a technology update: An onboard computer helps keep the car from drifting at high speeds and has a fatigue detection system.

A price has yet to be set for the new Scenic, which will go on sale before the end of the year. The current version is relatively popular in Europe and costs under $20,000.

AUDI Q2

With this new model, Audi is offering a small SUV with the luxury that its brand has become associated with.

Drivers can enjoy a high riding position and ample storage room while knowing they can still park in the city. The Q2 could be considered an up-sized hatchback as much as a small SUV, but comes with Audi interiors: The rear bucket seats are plush and cradle the seated passenger – even if knee room is a bit lacking for an average-height adult.

Audi is aiming to attract younger buyers with the new model and is the first of Germany’s luxury carmakers – the others being BMW and Daimler, the owner of Mercedes – to have a small SUV.

Prices have not yet been set for the Q2, which is due to go on sale globally at the end of the year.

MASERATI LEVANTE

The century-old sports-car maker, owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is now in business with its first sport utility.

The Levante’s tapering rear window and big haunches underscore the company’s heritage as a producer of high performance vehicles; the sides carry the three little vents that are a Maserati signature. Though it’s a big SUV, the Levante hardly lumbers, reaching 100 kph in a respectable 5.2 seconds for the version with the bigger, 430-horsepower engine.

Top speed is 264 kph. For a price, there’s an optional interior outfitted with premium leather and Ermenegildo Zegna silk.

The Levante, which debuted in Switzerland, will begin selling in Europe in May, Asia in July and North America in September at a starting price of $72,000.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 04, 2016, on page 13.

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