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Our top 5 Geneva showstoppers

2009-03-11 11:14
Amid dissipating demand and chronic oversupply, the global automotive industry has put on a brave face at the Geneva auto show this year.

A brace of performance cars and environmentally aware concepts were shown, with plenty of clever thinking and innovative design going around.

Though nearly impossible, Wheels24 has decided to whittle down our most influential and important cars shown at Geneva to a top five. Here they are:

Audi TT RS

We are quite familiar with the second generation TT shape, so in terms of visual appeal, the RS, with its fixed rear spoiler and ornate front grille, is hardly elegant.

From an engineering perspective though, TT RS is a tribute to legendary Audi turbocharged cars of the past. Claimed performance figures are startling (0-100km/h in 4.6 sec, 280km/h topspeed) yet unsurprising considering the drivetrain.

Powered by a 2.5l, in-line five cylinder engine producing a mad 250kW and driving through a manual six-speed gearbox, TT RS has gone all traditional in Audi’s centennial year – which we think is quite a refreshing change.

The TT range always had oodles of style, now it has some serious street cred too…

Aston Martin One-77

Still awaiting an official model name, the limited edition (they’re only building 77 units, surprise, surprise) top-line Aston is a ridiculously expensive car (£1 200 000) which looks essentially like a tarted-up DBS.

At Geneva, Aston removed some of the One-77’s bodywork to show off a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, Cosworth fettled 7.3l V12 and inboard, horizontally actuated, pushrod balanced suspension. These are the kind of features 007 can only dream of on his DBS…

It’s very trick then, and considering the stupendous Aston Martin styling and traditional front-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, One-77 can nearly be price justified. Well, nearly…

VW Polo

Not a supercar, but a super important car, especially for South Africans, who seemingly cannot help but buy VW’s junior hatch in alarming numbers each month.

Styling of the fifth generation Polo is evolutionary, with the car’s proportions set to render as capacious an interior environment as possible. It’s grown quite a bit and now looks like a slightly miniaturised Golf 6 – which is hardly a bad thing.

In contrast, engines are downsized and employ the VW’s latest TSI direct injection technology to blend performance, economy and low environmental impact. We especially like the idea of VW’s seven-speed DSG gearbox partnering with the 77kW, 1.2 TSI engine.

The Polo is important to local GDP too, with the new range set to be built at VW’s Uitenhage plant.

Infiniti Essence

It might be very conceptual, and powered by a hybrid electric drivetrain (with primary power sourced from a twin-turbo 370Z V6) yet the Infiniti Essence simply wowed show-goers at Geneva.

From its exquisitely proportioned, flowing shape to the intricately detailed chronograph/digital blended interior with wood accents, it showed off everything good and unique about Japanese auto design.

Infiniti, Nissan’s premium division, has promised a hybrid car for sale by next year. It won’t be the Essence as shown at Geneva, yet if a few of the styling details flow into future models the concept would have been well worth the trouble.

We quite like the 320kW, twin-turbo, 370Z based engine too, which hopefully finds its way into a Nissan badged car soon…

Hyundai ix-onic Crossover Concept

South Korea’s premium automaker, Hyundai, showed there is still promise in the SUV market with its ix-onic (pronounced 'ik-sonnik') crossover concept.

The work of Hyundai’s German designers based at Rüsselsheim, ix-onic has a distinctly Eurocentric feel.

Ix-onic is also the first Hyundai to mount the company’s 1.6l GDi powerplant in its engine bay.

Featuring direct injection and turbocharging to power up 125kW, the GDi’s frugality is aided by idle, stop and go technology. Distributing drive to all four wheels is a contemporary six-speed, dual-clutch transmission.

Though the interior design, with its dirt mark prone white leather seats and scratch at will chrome accents, is hardly SUV durable, it does have a neat, futuristic feel.

Best of all though, considering the ix-onic’s functional drivetrain, is that it will be the technology base for the next generation Hyundai Sante Fe, which bodes very well for the South Korean company’s prospects in the SUV market.


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