Geneva 2012: The Spectacle Of Volkswagen Group Night

The night before each major European show Volkswagen Group rents out an arena and brings each of its world debut vehicles to show off to executives, football players, European celebrities, and the media. This year Volkswagen showed 10 debuts to about 1300 VIPs.

My early favorite at this year’s show is the Lamborghini Aventador J. If convertibles are cool, removing the top entirely, along with most of the engine cover, is even cooler. Stephan Winkelmann claims only one will be built for a customer, so it hardly qualifies as a production car, but the sound of the V-12 and the fury of 700 hp make this the coolest Aventador. You have to see this car in person to fully appreciate how menacing it is.

Porsche unveiled its newest Boxster with surprisingly little fanfare. It seems the brand is still in the naughty chair at the VW Group table because the unremarkable Skoda Citigo was unveiled right after the Boxster. Luckily Porsche won’t need VW’s blessing to move Boxsters from dealerships. With 10 more horsepower and a 15% reduction in fuel consumption, the Boxster makes good use of the parts it shares with the 991 generation 911. Lighter, faster, and more fuel efficient are terms thrown around at most vehicle introductions these days, but they mean more when the outgoing car was also pretty light, plenty fast, and didn’t guzzle gas. I get to drive this car on Friday and really look forward to it.

Bugatti showed off the Veyron Gran Sport 16.4 Vitesse and this car didn’t do a whole lot for me. I’ve had the pleasure of driving a Veyron before, but this car seems like a real dinosaur when the rest of the presentation centers on reducing the carbon footprint of the brand (including manufacturing processes) and creating more sustainable energy sources. I suppose Piech gets a pass for the Veyron’s huge carbon footprint because he’s also furiously working on bringing a car like the Volkswagen XL1 to market. And you know the XL1 will be driven a lot more than a Veyron, anyway.

Audi showed off a smartly redesigned A3 hatchback. This car cannot come to the U.S. quickly enough. The current A3 looks horribly outdated compared to the rest of the Audi lineup and the Volkswagen GTI has offered a much more refined interior than the A3 for years. Look for the new MQB platform underpinning this A3 to reduce weight and increase fuel economy without giving up a good driving experience. Even if you’re not an Audi fan, the debut of the A3 is good news because the VW Golf is arriving shortly after the A3.

Volkswagen decided to show off the Cross Coupe again and let the crowd know the MQB platform underpins this mid-size crossover. Volkswagen fans looking for something between the Tiguan and Touareg will likely want a closer look at the Cross Coupe. Personally, I’m more interested in the inevitable GTI and Golf R applications of this new platform.

The Bentley EXP 9 F Concept looks just as awkward in person as the name does on your screen. I see a bit of Range Rover, a bit of Bentley, and a whole lot of excess in the design. It really reminded me of the Aston Martin Lagonda concept from 2009. Why? Because it looks ungainly and shouldn’t be built.

For more on the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our 2012 Geneva Motor Show homepage.

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