Though automakers are increasingly turning their backs on auto shows, the annual Geneva Auto Show remains one of the most significant dates on the calendar. Historically, the industry’s elite have chosen Geneva to unveil their latest and greatest models. In recent years, the event has expanded to give companies big and small a venue to showcase their efforts in the fields of electrification, connectivity, and autonomy. Performance and tech will again collide during the 2019 edition of the event — we might even hear an announcement or two about 5G.
From the dune buggy of the future to a Kia with bionic eyes, here are the cars we’re looking forward to seeing in person at the Geneva Auto Show starting on March 5. Spoiler alert: most of them are electrified to some degree.
Audi Q4 E-Tron
Audi’s product plan calls for the launch of no less than 12 fully electric cars by 2025. The concept that the firm will introduce in Geneva sheds insight into what one of them will look like. Called Q4 E-Tron, it’s a high-riding model with a softer, more rounded design than what we’re used to seeing from Audi. That’s what the sketches suggest, anyway. Its cabin is brimming with tech features, including a driver-configurable digital instrument cluster, and an evolution of the MMI Touch Response infotainment system.
Though it’s presented as a concept, the Audi Q4 E-Tron will reach production in late 2020 or early 2021.
Honda E Prototype
The E Prototype is the kind of car we would have expected Apple, not Honda, to build. Urban, electric, design-led, and minimalist yet advanced, it’s a close-to-production car that previews the final evolution of the Urban EV concept we saw in 2017. Every part of it is new, including a triple-screen infotainment system that looks surprisingly intuitive to use, rear-view camera technology that sends conventional door mirrors the way of the carburetor, and an electric powertrain which places the motor over the rear wheels. Honda promises about 124 miles of range.
Production will begin in 2019, but there’s a catch. Honda confirmed the E Prototype will not be sold in the United States. Its design and tech will influence the EVs the company plans on offering here in the early 2020s.
Kia electric concept
Kia isn’t saying much about its electric concept car yet; even its name remains a secret. However, it released a trio of teaser sketches that reveal the model looks like nothing else it has ever made. We’ll let you judge whether or not that’s a good thing. LEDs give its front end a high-tech look, and it seems to inaugurate the next evolution of the Kia logo. Inside, the South Korean company installed no less than 21 screens neatly arranged one behind the other to display the infotainment system, as well as vital information about the car and its surroundings. Why 21? It’s “a humorous riposte to the industry’s current obsession with ever-increasing dashboard screens,” according to Kia.
Volvo decided to sit out the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, but sister company Polestar will attend the event to introduce its first mass-produced car. Named 2, it’s an electric sedan-SUV mash-up aimed directly at the Tesla Model 3, and it has the power, the tech, and the looks to back up its aggression. Polestar quotes 400-horsepower, all-wheel drive, about 275 miles of range, and a cutting-edge Android-based infotainment system. Pricing will start at approximately $60,000, which is on the expensive side for a car of this size, but the Model 3 has proved the market is there.
Could the Nissan IMQ concept preview the Leaf-based crossover we’ve heard about since 2010 but never seen? It’s difficult to tell without seeing it in the metal, but we know the Japanese firm wants to add more electric cars to its portfolio, and entering the crossover segment would make sense because it’s booming in every global market, including America and Europe. The teaser sketch released by Nissan shows a Hot Wheels-like design with oversized wheels, an unusually tall belt line, and tiny windows. It’s electric, and odds are it’s autonomous. It could come to a driveway near you sooner rather than later, according to Nissan.
Volkswagen ID Buggy
Volkswagen will demonstrate the nearly boundless flexibility of its MEB vehicle platform by unveiling a modern-day dune buggy in Geneva. The design study takes the form of a battery-powered, two-seater dune buggy that channels the spirit of the original, Beetle-based Manx sold between 1964 and 1971 without completely copying it. While it looks like merely a styling exercise for the auto show, British magazine Autocar reported executives are actively considering approving the model for production to show the fun side of going electric.
Who else is in Geneva?
The cars mentioned above are some of the highlights of the show, but the list of planned introductions includes dozens of models from companies positioned all over the automotive spectrum. Mercedes-Benz will introduce the facelifted GLC, and insiders claim the firm will also reveal the CLA Shooting Brake. It’s a family-friendly version of the CLA sedan that’s not sold in the United States. Mitsubishi and Subaru will each have a concept car to display, and Smart will show a follow-up to the Forease concept it unveiled in 2018. Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model, which will likely be an SUV positioned below the Stelvio.
What about the supercars?
Switzerland is better known for delicious chocolate than for ultra-quick supercars. It has almost no automotive industry, so it’s a neutral ground where high-end manufacturers from Europe, Asia, and America come together to fight for the attention of enthusiasts — and for the wallet of shoppers — on equal footing. Geneva normally puts on an impressive supercar show, and 2019 will be no different.
Here’s what we know so far: Ferrari will reveal a brand-new model named F8 Tributo which will replace the 488 GTB. It packs a twin-turbocharged, 3.9-liter V8 engine that delivers a monstrous 720 horsepower. Aston Martin will attend the event to preview a gasoline-electric hypercar code-named Project 003 (pictured), and its Lagonda sub-brand will show us an electric SUV concept that could turn into a Rolls-Royce Cullinan competitor.
Credible rumors point to a one-off, heritage-laced Bugatti model that has allegedly been sold for approximately $18 million. Finally, industry underdog Koenigsegg will unveil the successor to the Agera RS. It will have a lot to live up to; replacing the world’s fastest car is easier said than done.
That’s not all; automakers can reveal a new model days, hours, and even minutes before the show opens its doors to the press. There will be several surprises this year, but we can’t talk about them yet. Check back on March 5 for live images, videos, and stories of all the action happening in Geneva.