Thursday, March 4, 2010

Salon de Geneve 2010

The Geneva auto show has long held a place at the pinnacle of venues for unveiling new cars. Despite the lack of any car industry to speak of, Switzerland has always been one of the prime spots to show the latest and greatest, and while the world economy isn't exactly going gangbusters at the moment (you may have noticed...) there's still plenty of cool stuff on display. Here are a couple of favorites from the first few days of show coverage:

We'll start out with something decidedly not-green since my next few choices all involve some sort of enviro trickery. A decidedly out there car, the Bentley Touring Superleggera Flying Star could possibly be my new dream car. It's a bit like a VW R32, two door hatchback with all wheel drive and plenty of power, turned up to 11....billion. 560hp should get you to Aspen with plenty of time to exercise the Amex Black card at Cache Cache before a good night's sleep and a day at Highlands Bowl.

Apparently only around 20 will be built each year and if you have to ask the cost you can't afford one.

Next up is Kermit the Ferrari. This is actually Ferrari's first ever 'hybrid' drivetrain, but before you think the prancing horse has gone all pious let me explain. Integrated into the 7 speed dual clutch gearbox of this monster is a road going version of the F1 team's KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) that will kick in a 100 extra electric horsepower on top of the 600+ the V12 already makes. Thank goodness. Conversely, if you're simply nipping down the block to pick up a frappucino and you don't want to wake the neighbors, you can cruise around in golf cart mode with none of Enzo's finest so much as touching drip of bezino.

I'm tempted to call shenanigans on the actual numbers Porsche is claiming on this one, but if they can pull it off it would be damn impressive. The 918 Spyder concept packs a 500hp V8 to go along with two eletric motors which create another 218hp between them. The German's are saying it'll do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, top out at 198mph, and (actually, I'm pretty sure that should be an 'or') get 78mpg. All I can say is that if Porsche can suddenly make a 200mph car get 80mpg the rest of car industry might as well give up. I mean, if all Toyota (the front runners in hybrid tech) can manage is a car that'll hit 100mph and get 50mpg, how does Porsche suddenly double it?

Last, smallest, slowest, but not least, the Audi A1 e-tron. This car is undoubtedly the most pertinent to most people. Audi has been bringing an e-tron concept to the last few auto shows and in my opinion they are getting better and better. First off it was an E version of the R8, but really, something loud and gas matches that car much better. Then it was a TT sized car which was pretty cool, but this A1, which runs in the same manner as a Chevy Volt, is a perfect application for the technology. What makes it even cooler than the Volt is that instead of a standard gas engine generating power for the electric motor, they've used the brilliant Wankel rotary engine. Wankels are light, compact, simple, but until now pretty fuel INefficient. That's the brilliance of using it in this application. Since computers, not someone's foot, control the rotary engine it can be tuned to run at maximum efficiency, aka wide open, for only as long as it needs to be. Very cool.

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