The biggest and most important motor show in Europe, Geneva is heaven for people who are into their cars and even for gadget and tech-lovers. We were too focussed on helping our customers with car insurance to physically be there in Geneva, but if you’ve got a couple of minutes, get stuck into our roundup of the stuff that caught our attention.
Let’s start with something ridiculous…
Aston Martin used Geneva to introduce Valkyrie, their new hypercar developed with Red Bull Racing. Set to cost £2-to-3 million each, meaning it’ll even be hard for loaded young footballers to get hold of one, upto 175 will be built in Warwickshire with most of them rolling out of the factory in ‘road’ spec. Valkyrie looks like something out of a Batman film and will be powered by a 6.5-litre V12 engine helping the lightweight car to reach 62mph in under 2.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of over 200mph. Carrot Insurance is a big champion of road safety, as regular readers of The Root will know, but it’s still amazing to read and dream about incredible cars like this that none of us will ever be able to afford.
What’s small but very funky?
Carrot specialises in car insurance for young and newly-qualified drivers so it’s no surprise that most of the cars we cover are smallish in size. The trend at the moment is for car firms to build high-up SUVs and crossovers, so we reckon some of the customers we’ll insure in 5+ years’ time will drive one of these – the new Citroen C-Aircross. Replacing the current C3 Picasso, this chunky, cute and futuristic-looking car will be on sale by the end of this year with insurance-friendly 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines. Don’t sob when we say that the interior won’t be quite as wacky in real-life, but it’ll still be pretty funky with plenty of technology, and the way the rear seats slide back and forth, and the back doors open the opposite way, will make it great for young families with a baby or two.
Happy birthday, Fiat 500
At Carrot we’ve always been big fans of this adorable little Italian city car, and to celebrate its 60th birthday Fiat revealed a limited edition version which will only be available as a 500C convertible. Called the Sessantesimo, which takes a bit of practicing to roll off the tongue, the lower half will be white and the top half pastel ivory, with splashes of chrome in various places. Only 560 will be made, complete with unique alloy wheels, and the ivory leather seats will have contrasting burgundy seams. The Fiat 500 Sessantesimo will get rear parking sensors and automatic climate control as standard, along with a 7-inch touchscreen and a leather steering wheel.
Kia’s new Picanto
Traditionally driven by grannies and gramps, the all-new version of this compact Korean car will go on sale in May and has younger drivers in its sights thanks to GT-Line and GT-Line S trims with sporty bodykits, very cool front and rear lights, bits of red trim fitted here and there, a large touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Diesel won’t be offered, which is probably what will happen with more and more cars because of air pollution rules, so the new Picanto will get 1-litre and 1.2-litre petrol engines to start with, followed by a turbocharged 1-litre petrol towards the end of 2017. Available with a two-tone blue leather interior, optional automatic gearbox, plenty of airbags, and automatic emergency braking, the word on the street is that it will also handle much better on the UK’s fairly rubbish roads.
Tyres that ‘talk’ and ‘think’
Everything’s becoming ‘smart’ and ‘connected’ these days, from fridges to entire cities, so it’s no surprise that smart car tyres have been showcased at the Geneva Motor Show 2017. Sure, tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) have already been around for several years but some of them kind of function on guesswork. The new breed of smart tyre systems use sensors inside tyre treads that directly and accurately measure the rubber’s temperature, pressure and wear, sending the information to the cloud and telling drivers exactly when one or more of their car’s tyres need looking at and when they’re likely to need replacing.
While we’re on the subject of tyres, Goodyear presented a tyre called the Eagle 360 Urban, which isn’t a black circle but rather a sphere like a football, which senses the road, the surrounding environment and its own condition in real time. Connected to the ‘Internet of Things’, it’ll share this data with other vehicles and their individual tyres, and an artificial intelligence ‘brain’ will enable the spherical tyre to morph its tread pattern and depth to suit any situation. This is possible thanks to using a bionic skin that behaves like human muscles and will even be able to heal itself, making punctures a thing of the past.
Getting from A to B, the near-future way
We’re living at a weird time in history, where most people still drive fairly ordinary petrol, diesel or hybrid cars, but behind the scenes, loads of different companies, organisations and even governments are pushing for self-driving vehicles, partly because they’ll eventually put an end to congestion, could eliminate road deaths entirely, and will help older and disabled people stay mobile. Volkswagen used Geneva to show off Sedric, its upmarket electric driverless ‘pod’ with four seats that face each other like on a train. As soon as 2025, VW believes that more and more people won’t own or even lease cars any more but will summon vehicles like Sedric using their smartphones.
Cleaning up our cities
There’s been a lot of talk in the news about air pollution and emissions lately and London Mayor Sadiq Khan seems keen on removing as many diesel vehicles from the capital’s roads as quickly as possible. Of course, it’s buses, lorries and taxis that are a huge part of the problem, so it’s good news that the London Taxi Company went to Geneva to tell the world about its new range-extender black cab. Needing just one electric recharge to be able to travel upto 200 miles in one day, mostly in slow, stop-start conditions typical for taxis, London’s cabbies will have no choice but to switch to this greener version because tough environmental laws kick in from the start of 2018.
So, there you have it – Carrot’s hot picks from the Geneva Motor Show 2017. While it’s clear that there will always be a market for crazy off-the-scale hypercars for the super-rich, it’s also fair to say that everyday smaller cars still matter a lot, and it’s also very obvious that the environment and public health are influencing the car world like never before. We live in exciting times and the vehicles our customers’ grandchildren will drive or get driven in may not even have wheels. Who knows, they could even fly, autonomously.