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3/1/2005

2005 Geneva Auto Show

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 11:09 am

Life is full of strange quirks of circumstance and one of mine has been many times to be only a couple of days away from being in the same city as a major auto show. This has happened in New York, Chicago and the cruelest of all, Geneva. Five years ago I missed the opening of the 2000 Geneva Auto Show by three days. Of course I only had a little less than 24 hours to spend there, but looking at the posters for the show I certainly would have liked to have extended my stay and gone to the show. But as the Dread Pirate Roberts says to Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, “get used to disappointment".

Well, it’s time for the Geneva show once again and you can see all the most relevant production and show introductions at AutoWeek’s show page. The selection tends to reinforce the change in direction for the industry that has already been seen at Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago this year, that is, a new focus on passenger cars as opposed to SUVs, crossovers & trucks. Not that there aren’t still a lot of those coming down the pike, but it’s been years since our guys have paid much attention to sedans and coupes and it seems like all the European, Japanese and Korean automakers have been tripping all over themselves to get a truck or SUV launched in every size category. It’s so bad out here in So. Cal. that I see more trucks in Santa Monica than I did back in Tulsa!

Just a few thoughts on individual models:

Alpha Brera — This was a knockout show car a few years ago and the production version keeps much of the concept’s visual themes. Loses the V8 though, and in the process of going from a $100K sports car to a $35K hatch, much of the panache is missing, at least from the photos. Still handsome, I just miss the feeling of that beautiful concept vehicle. Doesn’t matter as we won’t be getting it here anytime soon, if at all.

Cadillac BLS — Big goal for a little car, “Revive the Cadillac brand in Europe". Not bad at all. Carries the new Caddy look down a size from the CTS and has a nicer interior to boot. Shares a platform with the SAAB 9/3 and Pontiac G6 and will be built in the SAAB factory in Trollhattan, Sweden. Like the Brera, we won’t be getting this one here either.

Honda Civic Concept — Wow! Very Japanese and very clean at the same time. If they build this, just like this, there won’t be any more complaints about boring looking Civic coupes.

Ferrari F430 Spider — Making its premiere at Geneva, and it looks great topless! Too bad it takes an income comparable to the economy of a small country to afford one. At least we can look.

Dodge Caliber — Want to know what the next Neon will become? Here it is. No more Neon sedan for Dodge, just this 5-door small crossover. Developed in concert with Mitsubishi, this platform will underpin the next Lancer, and if earlier reports are correct, the next Chrysler PT Cruiser will be based on it as well. (Wouldn’t you just hate to be on the design crew that has the task of redesigning the PT? How do you redo retro design that has no past presence? At least the next Mustang could possibly be a redo of the Mustang II — NOT!) The Caliber will help relaunch Dodge as a brand in Europe and will use Smart and Mercedes drive trains there.

BMW 7-Series — Hey! They toned down the bustle butt and cleaned up the front a bit. Take that Chris Bangle! Also made chassis upgrades and some interior changes as well, although you still have to suffer through the “I Drive” control interface. Too bad the Internet bubble popped in the late ’90s cause those guys & gals had lots of dough and really got off on all that computer interface stuff.

Audi RS4 — It’s a good thing for Audi that their new face looks better on the street than it does in these pics, and it does! Like the S4s before, this will be a screamer!

‘06 VW Passat — One step closer to Audi, both outside and in. More visual presence and a great interior, but what’s going on at VW? Doesn’t anyone learn the hard-knock lessons of GM on overlapping model proliferation?

Mazda MX5: 3rd Generation — Bigger all over and a much refined interior. The little roadster is losing some of its classic cuteness, but I guess we all have to grow up sometime, especially with the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky coming out in the same price range. Let the $20K roaster wars commence!

That’s all for now. There’s much more to see and read, so go over there and check out all the great photos and stories from this year’s Geneva show. (db)

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