Geneva Motor Show 2017: Day 3

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The sun is shining in Geneva as we bring you our last day of coverage from this year’s motor show. Would today’s discoveries be able to keep pace with the high standards set yesterday? We pass you over to Ben Armstrong for the details.

TGIF. The sun has blessed the city early and many will be taking a long weekend off work in order to come to the motor show on a less busy (but still bustling) Friday. I spent my morning walking down by the lake to take some pictures for our next edition of the 12V Review magazine – out later this month – and I can only hope more people commuting to the show managed to do the same. The Palexpo, though impressive, is fastened to the airport and so it’s possible to fly in, visit the GMS, and fly out. Convenient? Yes, but Geneva is a beautiful city and travelling into its centre completes the experience, for me at least.

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Back to it. French stalwarts Renault occupy one of Halle 4’s prime locations; they’re right by the escalator and as such, are unmissable. The slow descent provides a great viewing location down the whole length of their stand which is adorned with a large LED screen and pulsing ‘mood bubbles’ which rise and fall from the ceiling in time to the neutral yet innately dance-able soundtrack. This year, Renault feel focused on electric, and although their space more than accommodates every type of vehicle in their arsenal, this is the most front and centre, the most vocal, element here. Amongst the highlights are the Kangoo ZE, the cooler-than-cool ZOE E-Sport Concept and, of course, the absolutely outrageous Twizy which somehow manages to look a little bit alien, even after everything I’ve seen here. To up the ante and strengthen their electric tech theme, Renault also included charging ports for phones and cameras in their seating area – a nice touch for those in need of power.

Mazda are up next, and the Japanese are seeking to woo the Geneva crowds with a stylish, sleek aesthetic, reminiscent of the DS’s and BMW’s also present here. A robust string section – played loudly over the PA, inspires me inside the brand new CX5, Mazda’s flagship compact crossover SUV, and I’m immediately impressed. The build quality in the interior is superb, with high quality leather, metal and plastics used throughout. Even the switches to operate the air-conditioning lock with a satisfying clack, and its large form factor and boot space will make it useful for many real life applications. In many ways, it’s the perfect vehicle to complement the feel of Mazda’s stand this year; high quality, detail-oriented craftsmanship. Then, in true Geneva fashion and out of nowhere, the entire Mazda team begin a coordinated dance routine and I can’t help but watch. It’s a train-wreck and it’s supposed to be. People are hooked, and crowds linger long after the dancing subsides. Great marketing.

I finish up Halle 4 with Toyota. Their slogan ‘Always A Better Way’ guides me towards their expansive stand. For Toyota, Geneva presents an opportunity to debut two new vehicles, the Yaris GRMN Hot Hatch and i-TRIL Concept, and to promote their much publicised partnership with energy drink giants Red Bull. Their ‘Gazoo Racing’ tunnel proves to be an exciting addition and USP for showgoers, with quirky footprints in the sand underneath the floor, several Red Bull powered vehicles and a Cockpit Experience which proved popular to those seeking more than just visual thrills.

The most interesting stand layout of the day so far must go to Ford, who aim to make the visitor part of the very infrastructure of their display. Many sit on the stairs running through the centre, alongside the cars which teeter adjacent on ramps, and giant open spaces are left open to give a sense of calm in amongst the madness of the show. A ‘headphone garden’ even encourages people to interact and become an attraction themselves. It’s the perfect environment for Ford to debut their ‘next generation’ Fiesta, certain to be one of the year’s best selling vehicles worldwide. Fans of muscle also have something to celebrate as two Mustangs make an appearance to turn heads. Top marks for inventiveness and variety.

Speaking of best-selling, the Swedes at Volvo have chosen this show to debut their replacement for the original XC60 – which sold nearly 1,000,000 units globally – to an expectant crowd. Although it’s not going to garner as much attention as the cars on neighbouring Ferrari, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce booths, the humble XC60 will definitely be more popular in a real world environment and Volvo accentuate this point with homely wood-finish detail across their display.

As I get up to leave, it’s hard to ignore the advert playing on Volvo’s big screen. It’s in aid of a new system where delivery drivers can access your boot with a one-time key when you’re elsewhere and leave your parcel there for you. It’s a look forward to a more progressive world led by progressive nations; one in which we can trust each other and use technology, no matter how simple, to the fullest. I walk out of Geneva Motor Show this year with this at the forefront of my mind: wouldn’t it be better if we all just got along? Geneva 2017 has been a true testament to the power of doing so.

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There has been a lot I haven’t had time to cover in this two day review, such is the sheer size and scope of an event like Geneva. To see more, please visit www.connects2.com and download the new issue of the 12v Review, out late March. Thanks for reading


Words/Images: Ben Armstrong

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