Guest post by Richard Green of Plan
With European car sales in decline, it should come as no surprise that many manufacturers are increasingly focused on growth in China and the US. Couple this with the fact that many brands now opt for CES as a showcase for their latest connected car technologies, and this year's Geneva Motor Show was never going to be the showstopper of old.
To save you the trip, we've pulled together our highlights from the show—a selection of some of the finest design executions and some food for thought on an industry going through some massive changes.
The Crass Italian Super-cars
The mass drooling over this year's pin-ups—the Ferrari LaFerrari and Lamborghini's eccentric Venero—is perhaps an indication of what is wrong with the car industry. Testosterone prevails and with price tags of €1.3m for the LaFerrari and €3.12m for the Venero, it's also clear to see that the global recession is having little impact on high-end luxury purchases—if anything it's spurring on ever more ostentatious forms. Lamborghini no longer even seem concerned with aesthetic coherence, a frenzy of hard facets being 'complemented' by confused looking softer forms. Ferrari's counterpart, although slightly more refined, is plain awkward looking, a common result when attempting to flex F1 credentials too literally on consumer cars.
Mixed Fortunes for British Luxury Brands
Over at Aston Martin, the Rapide seems to have lost a little of it's predecessors' understated elegance. The deeper, more aggressive face gives the car a burly presence that you might not usually associate with the brand, but it is a measure that will surely increase its appeal in China, a key market for the brand if it is to survive in the future. At a cool £250k, Rolls-Royce's Wraith Coupe had what was probably the most sophisticated interior on display. With a nod to modern boating materials, the 'Canadel' wood options are named after the South France cove where company founder Sir Henry Royce and team spent time developing their wares in the 1910s—nice story and nice execution.
Last and perhaps least, Bentley looked every bit a manufacturer in transition while new studio boss Luc Donckerwolke begins his task of reinventing the brand. The new Flying Spur looked unconvincing from many angles, though especially the rear—a duller and more slab-sided take on Maserati's distinctive derrière. It was hard to pinpoint exactly, but it just seemed to be lacking character—something Donckerwolke brought to Lamborghini in spades. Let's hope he can do the same with Bentley moving forward.