Geneva 2018: What we saw from Audi, BMW, Porsche, and more

Every year, Geneva hosts one of the biggest and most important car shows in the world. The Geneva Auto Show is where companies from all over the automotive spectrum convene to flaunt their latest and greatest creations. Anything goes: supercars, electric commuters, rugged SUVs, humble econoboxes, and futuristic concepts. We’ve even seen machines that run on liquid salt – no joke.

Part of the show’s appeal is that it’s held in Switzerland, a nation known for making watches, cheese, and chocolate … but not cars. The brand-neutral nature of the event places everyone on equal footing, something we can’t say about the trade shows held in Germany, France, China, or the United States. Here’s a recap of this year’s action-packed show.

2019 Audi A6

2019 Audi A6 live
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Audi digitally remastered the A6. Now in its fifth generation, the sedan receives evolutionary styling updates that bring it in line with the company’s most recent design language. If you ask us, the changes are subtle but they work. Inside, the A6 gets state-of-the-art technology like the triple-screen setup also seen on the stylish A7 and next-gen handwriting recognition software.

The European-spec A6 will launch with a turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 engine tuned to send 340 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission and, of course, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. The six-cylinder gains a trick belt starter alternator (BAS) linked to a lithium-ion battery pack to form a fuel-saving mild hybrid system.

Smarter and cleaner, the new A6 will go on sale in its home country of Germany this summer. Audi will release information about the U.S.-spec model in the coming months. The performance-flavored S- and RS-badged models will follow later in the production run.

BMW M8 Gran Coupe concept

BMW M8 Gran Coupe concept live
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

The BMW 6 Series is dead; long live the 8 Series! Actually, the 6 Series isn’t entirely out of the picture. It recently morphed into a hatchback-sedan cross. Its sporty spirit will live on in the 8 Series, a nameplate BMW will soon resurrect after a nearly two decade-long hiatus. We got an early taste of the 8 Series coupe last year, both as a concept car and as a race car. In Geneva, we saw a preview of a four-door 8 Series with a fastback-like roof line. It will take the torch from the 6 Series Gran Coupe.

Attending auto shows all over the world has taught us that, with the notable exception of the stunning Villa d’Este show cars, BMW rarely builds a concept just for kicks. If you see it on the show floor, odds are it’s already well on its way to production behind the scenes. The M8 Gran Coupe is no exception. It will join the 8 Series family before the end of next year.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

2019 Jaguar I-Pace live
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Jaguar’s first regular-production electric car, the I-Pace, showed its face in Geneva. The crossover stays fairly close to the eponymous concept unveiled at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. It wears a bold, daring design that resembles nothing else on the road. It’s all about packaging. Its electric motors take up considerably less space than a comparable gasoline-powered engine. Stylists took advantage of that to sculpt with a bigger emphasis on sport than on utility.

The I-Pace impresses on paper, too. It’s equipped with two electric motors that deliver 394 hp and 512 lb-ft. of torque, enough for a brisk 4.5-second sprint from zero to 60 mph. Its 90-kilowatt-hour battery pack delivers up to 240 miles of driving range, a figure which places the Jag between the 75D and 100D variants of the Tesla Model X.

Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo concept

Porsche surprised everyone at the Geneva Auto Show with a concept car named Mission E Cross Turismo. Entirely electric, it’s an evolution of the Tesla-baiting Mission E concept introduced in 2015. It’s one step closer to production, both in terms of design and in terms of technology, but it takes the form of a station wagon instead of a sedan. Power comes from a 600-horsepower drivetrain made up of two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. Floor it at a stop and you’ll reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

So, is Porsche actually making an electric station wagon? We asked and the answer is “maybe.” The Cross Turismo is based on a production car so the chassis and the technology already exists. From what point, making it a reality is just a matter of designing and building the body. Porsche will do it if there is enough demand from buyers.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe

Mercedes-AMG GT sedan
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

The star of the Mercedes-Benz display in Geneva was the GT 4-Door Coupe, AMG’s first standalone sedan. The GT-inspired model takes the fight directly to the Porsche Panamera. The top-spec model uses a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 engine that provides 630 hp. We heard it running on the show floor and it sounds every bit as good as it looks.

It was a big show for Mercedes. We also saw the updated C-Class, Maybach’s revised S-Class, and AMG’s take on the first new G-Class in nearly 40 years. The all-electric EQC we were expecting to encounter ended up being a no-show, but it’s still right around the corner. Don’t forget there’s an auto show in New York in just a few short weeks.

Toyota GR Supra Racing concept

Toyota Supra concept
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

We’ve spent years waiting for the born-again Toyota Supra. We have bad news if you’re in the same boat: It’s not quite ready. It’s almost here, though. Toyota showed what it calls a “modern racing concept” which signals its “commitment to bring back to the market” one of its most iconic sports cars. The term “concept” hints the production model is still at least a few months away from breaking cover, but the design study shown in Geneva gives us a better-than-accurate look at the next Supra.

Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion concept

Volkswagen Vizzion Concept live
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Volkswagen stopped selling a flagship sedan in 2016 when it ended production of the Phaeton, though the model left American showrooms much earlier than that. The brand still has its eye on the segment, and the I.D. Vizzion concept hints at what it has in store.

It’s a long, low-slung sedan with a rakish roof line reminiscent of the Audi A7. It’s built on the MEB platform, the modular architecture developed from scratch to underpin every model that emerges from Volkswagen’s soon-to-launch electric car offensive. Don’t look for a V6 or a turbo four here; this is all battery power, all the time. And, befitting of its flagship status, it’s capable of driving autonomously. Volkswagen pledged to launch the Vizzion before 2022.

The rest

The list of debuts held in Switzerland also includes the second-generation BMW X4, Aston Martin’s vision of a future luxury car, Ferrari’s track-ready 488 Pista, Hyundai’s electric Kona and next-generation Santa Fe, the entry-level Lexus UX crossover, and Volvo’s newest station wagon. We saw the first two-door Range Rover in decades and the updated Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It’s the current model’s swan song.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS live
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

That’s not all. The Geneva show is like an iceberg. There’s the part we write about and photograph, the one that’s relevant to the American market. The Euro-centric portion doesn’t receive nearly as much attention but it’s considerably bigger. This year, Renault’s Alpine division showed two new variants of its exciting, Porsche Cayman-fighting A110 coupe. One is a lighter, more driver-oriented model; the kind we dream of taking to the track. The other is a more upmarket variant with a long list of creature comforts and amenities; the kind we’d love to blast down the French Riviera in.

Peugeot unveiled the next-generation 508, a Passat-sized sedan that buyers have, up until now, either not noticed or ignored entirely. That’s set to change. The new model looks drop-dead gorgeous. And, with Peugeot’s plans to return to America taking shape, we could see it here sooner or later. Watch this space for more details on the brand’s comeback.

Smaller companies were out in full force, too. Swiss start-up Elextra showed a 670-hp electric sedan with a zero-to-62-mph time of just 2.3 seconds. GFG Style (a company founded by Italian design master Giorgetto Giugiaro)  revealed an electric sedan, too, though it’s not quite as powerful. And, tuner TechArt displayed its take on the Panamera Sport Turismo. David Brown Automotive’s resto-modded Mini Remastered turned more than a few heads on the show floor. You can buy one in America, too.

David Brown Automotive Mini Remastered
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

We hear you: “What about the Americans?” Good question. Geneva is not where you typically go to ogle the latest concepts and production models from Detroit’s Big Three. Here’s why.

General Motors all but left Europe when it yanked Chevrolet out of the market and sold Opel to Peugeot. Cadillac is still there but it’s even smaller than low-volume brands like Lamborghini. Chrysler’s European division raised eyebrows with the broad scope of its failures, so it makes more sense to let better-established brands like Alfa Romeo, Jeep, and Fiat represent its parent company. Ford headed to the show with European-spec models like the Ka+ in tow. It’s a small, cheap city car that has never turned a wheel in Michigan, the Blue Oval’s home state.

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