See which companies hit a home run or struck out at the Geneva Auto Show

The Geneva Auto Show is to the automotive industry what the Consumer Electronics Show is to the world of tech. It’s a huge — and hugely important — gathering where companies from all over the planet vie for the limited attention span of journalists, consumers, and enthusiasts.

Geneva stands out from other stops on the auto show circuit such as Detroit, Paris, and Tokyo. There are no major car manufacturers based in Switzerland, so every company is on equal footing. And it has historically been the venue of choice for brands that want to unveil powerful and/or luxurious models that cost as much as a small, late-model Cessna plane. Porsche, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin have all skipped various auto shows in recent years, but none of those brands would even consider sitting out Geneva.

This year’s show was a little bit smaller than it’s been in the past because big names like Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, and Koenigsegg were among the brands sitting on the sidelines. Still, we counted at least 40 global debuts in the sprawling Palexpo convention center. These are the ones that stood out — for better or for worse.

Best in show: McLaren 720S

McLaren 720S

The 720S replaces the 650S in McLaren’s Super Series lineup. It’s faster and lighter than the model it replaces, but that’s what you typically expect from the second generation of a sports car. We don’t need to tell you that it has more power, either. What’s truly surprising is the effort McLaren put into making its core model easier to live with on a regular basis.

The trick butterfly doors aren’t there just to look cool. They make getting in and out of the car a much less awkward process. Natural light penetrates the cabin through glass panels built into the top parts of the doors, and seethrough C-pillars facilitate the ferociously nerve-racking task of maneuvering the 720S in tight spaces. There’s even a small storage space right above the engine compartment that can hold a messenger bag or a purse.

All told, the 720S is a big step forward compared to the 650S, which was already a formidable car. We can’t wait to see what McLaren has in store as it gradually replaces the other members of its lineup.

Our favorite coupe: Lamborghini Huracán Performante

Lamborghini Huracan Performante

Too often, new variants of existing cars receive a specific paint job and, if we’re lucky, a redesigned front bumper. The Performante is not one of those. Instead, Lamborghini sent the Huracán to the gym before giving it comprehensive updates.

The newest Raging Bull is built around a naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V10 engine dialed up to 640 horsepower. Lamborghini relied on groundbreaking active aerodynamic technology to add downforce without creating excessive drag, which limits the top speed a car can reach on a track. The Performante is also lighter than the standard Huracán thanks to a new, patented type of carbon fiber named Forged Composite.

Our favorite SUV/crossover: Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60

The XC60 is the next chapter in Volvo’s ongoing renaissance. Getting it right was crucial; crossovers are in hot demand all around the globe, and the current-generation model is the Swedish company’s best-seller by a long shot.

From a design standpoint, the new XC60 is a smash hit. It retains a few of its predecessor’s defining styling cues, like the slanted D-pillar, and blends them with the elegant design language that Volvo introduced on its bigger 90-series models. The interior is markedly improved, too; the materials used are perceptibly nicer, and the XC60 brings Volvo’s intuitive infotainment technology to a new segment. We’re confident it has what it takes to retain the best-seller crown.

Our favorite concept: Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT four-door concept

It’s been a wild ride for AMG. The company started out as an independent tuner before becoming a partner, a subdivision, and now a full-blown sub-brand with enough independence to develop its own cars from scratch. The GT concept is the first sedan designed entirely by AMG, and a direct product of the company’s newfound freedom.

It may look like a four-door variant of the GT coupe, but it’s built on an evolution of the platform that underpins the recent additions to the Mercedes-Benz lineup like the E-Class. A twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine and an electric motor join forces to put a stunning 805 horsepower under the accelerator pedal.

Many concept cars are design studies built for the auto show circuit — but not this one. AMG stresses the GT will morph into a Panamera-punching machine that’s expected to arrive early next year.

Our least favorite debut: Audi Q8 Sport concept

Audi Q8 Sport concept

The Audi Q8 concept isn’t new; it was presented in January at the Detroit Auto Show. It received a coat of orange paint and a redesigned front end on its way to Switzerland. It also got an electric-powered compressor, which is a nifty piece of tech that already equips two production models (built by Audi and Bentley, respectively) in Europe.

The Q8 concept is the automotive equivalent of the leftover casserole lingering behind the milk jug in your fridge. It’s no secret that it will soon join the Audi lineup, and we understand that the company wants to flaunt the show car in front of as many eyeballs as possible, but billing it as a world premiere was misleading.

You might be wondering, “Why pick on Audi? What about Jaguar and Bentley?” It’s true, the i-Pace concept turned red as it traveled from Los Angeles to Geneva, but it was honestly and humbly presented as a European premiere, not a global one. And while Bentley dusted off the EXP concept, this time around it was topless and fully electric.

Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.