The world's richest consumers will soon have a greater wealth of choices when it comes to high-end sports cars.
Several new supercars, vehicles costing more than €100,000 (HK$1.08 million), have been vying this week to upstage one another at the Geneva International Motor Show, which ends on Sunday.
The wave of horsepower-heavy models, including Bugatti's €2.18 million Rembrandt, underscores the return of performance cars following years in which some producers held back. Lamborghini headlined the trend by debuting the 610-horsepower Huracan, which replaces the Gallardo - the Volkswagen unit's all-time bestseller.
Ferrari may beg to differ. The Fiat unit lifted a red shroud from the 560-horsepower California T, which accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds. Reflecting the effort to improve efficiency even for elite racers, Ferrari boasted that it reduced the model's emissions by 20 per cent versus its predecessor.
"I like competition, particularly when we win the competition," says Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo. "In the last three years, we introduced three key innovations: four-wheel drive, the first hybrid and now a new turbo engine" in the California T.
Global deliveries of high-end sports cars may increase to 15,200 in 2018, 14 per cent above 2014 sales, helped by the Huracan, California T and other new models in the pipeline, technical publisher IHS forecasts.
Lamborghini had more than 1,000 orders for the Huracan, even before the March 3 premiere, when white, yellow and dark grey models slinked across a stage in Geneva. Winkelmann says deliveries of the car next year should exceed the 1,800 peak sales of the Gallardo in the US, China and a rebound in some European markets.
British sports car maker McLaren Automotive unveiled coupé and convertible versions of the new 650S, which is promoted as a supercar with the ride comfort of an executive sedan. Drivers can choose between "normal", "sport" and "track" suspension settings for the 641-horsepower model. Underscoring the importance of the Asian market, the car was also unveiled in Hong Kong on Tuesday, just days after its global launch.
Meanwhile, Sweden's elite Koenigsegg marque unveiled the One: 1, billing it as the fastest street legal car in the world. The One: 1 weighs just 1,400kg and boasts 1,400 horsepower.
VW's Bugatti showcased a model named after the brother of the brand's founder, who was a sculptor. The Rembrandt Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse features a platinum logo on the exterior and a bronze model of a dancing elephant designed by Rembrandt Bugatti. The car is the fourth in a line of so-called legend editions, which are limited to three cars per model. All three have already been sold, Bugatti chief Wolfgang Schreiber says.
Jaguar Land Rover introduced a sportier, 281-brake-horsepower Evoque Autobiography Dynamic to appeal to performance-oriented customers. A super-fast version of its popular Evoque SUV, it also offers more luxury and performance as well as sharper handling. Its top speed is limited at 225km/h.
The market for small SUVs is growing across the globe, with young people and downsizing baby boomers alike attracted to the high drive position, big cargo area and manoeuvrability. Jeep will offer its new Renegade and Citroen is rolling out the C4 Cactus - a one-time funky concept car which has been given a shot at the roads while promising to revolutionise car interiors.
Plug-in hybrids were another trend in Geneva. A regular hybrid pairs a conventional engine with an electric one to increase energy efficiency. Plug-in versions have batteries that don't rely solely on the combustion engines to recharge, but can also be plugged into the power supply - giving the car the ability to make short trips using only its electric power. Volkswagen will be unveiling the Golf GTE, which has a range of nearly 50 kilometres in all-electric mode for a theoretical driving range of 939 kilometres when the full engine is in use.
European carmakers are taking their bread-and-butter small cars to a new level, focusing on fun and styling, not just economy. It's a road already travelled by Fiat, which will offer an updated version of the Fiat 500. A joint venture between Peugeot Citroen and Toyota resulted in a trio of premieres of small cars on the same platform from the same factory that are helping the carmakers achieve better economies of scale: the Peugeot 108, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo. Meanwhile, the Renault Twingo has been given an update, resulting in an edgier look.
Bloomberg, Associated Press