2009 Geneva Auto Show – What Recession?

Anytime Aston Martin has not one but four debuts, you know you’re in a high-end setting. At Geneva, the British automaker unveiled its DBS Volante and its V12 Vantage (thus erasing the last differentiators among its three model lines, all of which now offer coupe or convertible body styles and a V-12, although the V12 Vantage isn’t coming to the United States). A styling mock-up and a cutaway chassis of the One-77 were on display; the chassis is nearly all carbon fiber and features horizontal dampers, which may tempt buyers to pony up £1.2 million (roughly $1.7 million) to reserve one of the seventy-seven cars to be built. Aston also resurrected the Lagonda nameplate, on a four-seat, V-12, AWD crossover concept. . . . Porsche continued the rollout of its revamped 911, with the GT3 ; its larger, 3.8-liter boxer six now makes 435 hp. . . . Mercedes-Benz has elevated the implied prestige of its new mid-size two-door by scrapping the CLK designation in favor of E-class coupe . Available as an E350 (268-hp V-6) and an E550 (382-hp V-8), the B-pillar-less hardtop goes on sale in late June, just ahead of the new E-class sedan [see page 76]. . . . Bentley surpassed its Continental GT Speed with the new Supersports , which increases the output of the W-12 engine to 621 hp and 590 lb-ft while also stripping 243 pounds – the rear seats are gone, and the wood trim is replaced with carbon fiber. The result is an extra 2 mph at the top end, now 204 mph, and a quicker, 3.7-second 0-to-60-mph time. . . . Lamborghini likewise increased the Murciélago’s extremism, and inflated its nameplate, with the new LP670-4 SuperVeloce . A healthy dose of carbon fiber – in the floor, transmission tunnel, seats, and all exterior body panels except the roof and doors – helped shed 220 pounds, while power reaches 670 metric hp. Revised front and rear bodywork shout “super veloce!” to the world, as does the fixed rear wing – your choice, small or large, but know that the latter drops the top speed from 212 mph to 209. . . . The Ferrari 599XX is tricked out for track duty, with a 700-hp V-12 that spins to 9000 rpm, upgraded brakes, and major aero mods. It isn’t street-legal and is intended for Ferrari-organized events only. . . . Maybach, which is rumored to be one glass of champagne away from departing the party for good, displayed the rather pointless but awesomely named Zeppelin sedan . Limited to 100 units (which should easily meet demand) and available as a 57 or a 62, the Zep gets an extra 28 hp for a total of 632, lambskin carpet, and diamond-quilted leather. Buyers will want to budget a few thousand dollars extra for the car’s most special feature, a built-in perfume atomizer. . . . Bugatti, however, showed some restraint. Unveiling the one-hundredth-anniversary Bleu Centenaire two-tone matte and gloss blue special edition – with the same 1001-hp engine as a standard Veyron and priced at ¤1.35 million – Bugatti boss Franz-Josef Paefgen said that the company understood these were tough times, and in response it was launching its most limited production run ever: just one car.