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The 2017 Geneva Motor Show had more impressive metal than you could shake a stick at, which points to rebounding market sentiment. We pick out the top three cars seen at the show, and as a cherry on top, tell you why you should care about their entries into the market.
1. Range Rover Velar
Taking its name from the pseudonym adopted by the first Range Rover prototypes from 1969 comes the fourth member of the rapidly expanding Range Rover family. The Velar will join the eponymous flagship model, the Sport and the Evoque. Sharing a platform with Jaguar Land Rover Group sibling’s F-Pace, the Velar will slot in between the Range Rover Sport and Evoque, providing a mid-priced, mid-sized alternative. Styling-wise, the Velar also sits between the aforementioned pair. Its rising shoulder line, falling roofline and crimped rear window mark out its sporting intentions, though its tall silhouette is more traditional SUV. The Velar will also see the debut of a new two-screen infotainment system with the ability to flick information between each screen, and a touchpanel centre console. The Velar’s door handles fold flush with the body when not in use and burnished copper accents can be specified on the exterior. Interestingly, for all its premium pretensions, a wool-blend and synthetic suede upholstery is available, though Land Rover does well to quell any low-rent fears by calling it a “Premium Textile" finish.
Why it matters: Aside from its promise to make fabric upholstery great again, the Velar could finally be the first populist Range Rover (for a given value of populist), and not just because it’ll be priced beneath the Sport variant. There are some who don’t have a need the behemoth proportions of a full-sized Range Rover, find the Evoque too small and won’t stoop to buying a Land Rover Discovery.
2. Mercedes-AMG GT Concept
Not to be confused with the two-door GT, the GT Concept is a petrol-electric hybrid that promises a little over 800bhp (courtesy of Mercedes-AMG’s familiar 4-litre twin-turbo V8 and electric motors), has a 0-100km/hr time of under three seconds, plus has space to ferry around the brood and their luggages. The four-door, four-wheel-drive fastback also has the ability to offer torque vectoring independently on each wheel, ostensibly with lessons gleaned from the limited-run SLS AMG Electric Drive. It comes with a modular, scalable battery system that allows for differing outputs/capacities, depending on the car it’s destined to go into. In the case of the GT Concept, Mercedes-AMG says it’ll be able to operate completely on electric power alone (though its electric range is undisclosed), which points to it being a plug-in hybrid.
Why it matters: If the Bentley above wins the award for most convoluted name, the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept wins the one for most boring. Rather dull (and confusing, because it sounds so similar to the production GT) name aside, when it reaches production, it will be the third model developed in-house by Mercedes-AMG. When it hits showrooms, it will bear “EQ Power+" branding that its F1 cars also bear, marking it out as a performance hybrid. While this is certainly big news for Mercedes-AMG, being the marque’s first hybrid concept, the bigger news will come during the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year, with the F1-inspired 1,000bhp Project One hypercar, a fitting 50th birthday present to itself.
3. Bentley EXP12 Speed 6e
The Speed 6e is the soft-top companion to the fixed-roof EXP10 Speed 6 concept car exhibited in Geneva two years ago, and is the clearest sign yet Bentley’s driver-focused fifth product line is imminent. It’s also a clear sign that Bentley wants to go electric, something it has shied away from hitherto to now. That’s possibly down to how to current technology isn’t able to “provide a range sufficient for grand touring requirements", or more specifically, around 350km on a single charge. Bentley’s first electric concept car also shows off a new interior similar to the one seen on the hard-top Speed 6 concept, though the copper-coloured accents (an allusion to its electric nature) are unique to it, as is the flight yoke-style steering wheel.
Why it matters: Bentley’s sporting model line is fast taking shape, and if the pair of Speed 6 concepts is anything to go by, it’ll comprise a diverse range of drivetrains, from internal combustion, hybrid and all-electric. The Speed 6 concepts are also a clear attempt at building a car for a younger audience, which, if received well, could pave the way for a smaller, sportier junior Bentayga.