Geneva Motor Show 2014 Roundup: What America Should Care About

By Jacob Brown | March 06, 2014
There's a lot to digest with the Geneva Motor Show, arguably the most important auto show in the world. Placed on neutral territory where few cars have ever been made, the Geneva show is where all of the world's major automakers go to show off just what they have. This year's Geneva Motor Show is no different than any other. There are plenty of vehicles that will never reach the U.S. And there are plenty that will never reach most showrooms: Boutique vehicles with outrageous power and soaring prices. But in the middle of all of this, there are some important cars to note--cars that will be sold in the U.S. and cars that will make their way here eventually. Here are the Cliff's notes on the 2014 Geneva Motor Show from an American perspective.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

It has been brought to our attention that the 237-horsepower, 1.8-liter Alfa Romeo 4C is coming to the U.S. this summer. That's a good thing. Chopping the top off the little sports car is even better. This is where we make some Dustin Hoffman allusion and talk about driving down the California coast, but can you imagine doing that in much of anything but an Alfa Romeo? Weighing a little more than a ton, the Alfa Romeo 4C promises to live up to our wildest expectations in a way few other cars can. Alfa Romeo keeps delaying its return to the U.S. We just hope we can see--and drive--this car sometime before the end of this decade.

2015 Audi TT

Since 1998, the Audi TT has graced us with its Bauhaus styling and spunky driving dynamics. Now in its third generation, the 2015 Audi TT returns with more of that good ol' fashion charm. It is powered by one of three engines: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 230 horsepower; a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 320-horsepower, and lastly, a 184-horsepower, 2.0-liter diesel engine that we're not likely to get. Expect a convertible model later. As with the current-generation car, a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission will be available across the board.

2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe xDrive

Long has BMW worked with a small German coachbuilder named Alpina to deliver specialized models with more luxury and features. Alpina's cars have often come too close to BMW's own M cars in the U.S., so Alpina withdrew from selling its more luxury-oriented vehicles here. But recently, Alpina has committed to bringing the U.S. the B7 Alpina, a hopped-up version of the 7 Series sedan. Along with this model, the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe xDrive is now also making its way to the U.S. Starting at the low, low price of $118,225, including $925 for destination and handling, the 540-horsepower four-door coupe will send power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, it will allow discerning customers an even greater level of customization when it arrives in the U.S. this April.

2015 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW will likely be joining the fray of sub-$30,000 luxury cars when it introduces its 2 Series Active Tourer to the U.S. The first front-wheel-drive BMW ever, the 2 Series Active Tourer is a European-focused tall wagon that will cater to older shoppers and those who might be turned off by the idea of a similar Mini Cooper. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will come to the U.S. with 136 horsepower in 218i guise and 231 horsepower in 225i form. Based on the same UKL architecture as the Mini Cooper, this is the first of many front-drive vehicles from BMW to hit the States. Get used to it; the BMW X1 will be the next.

2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Let's set the record straight. BMW's bread-and-butter sedan is the 3 Series. Its coupe model is the 4 Series. In transforming its coupe into a four-door "Gran Coupe," it has stuck the name 4 Series on the back of the car. Confusing? Sure. Illogical? Perhaps. But this hatchback will illicit the the best giggles possible from style-conscious BMW faithful. Expect it to come in 428i and 435i guise--in the same fashion as the regular two-door coupes.

2015 BMW X3

With a mild mid-cycle freshening that has given the 2015 BMW X1 a new nose and slightly nicer interior, there's not much to see on the surface. But there is something to note underneath it. Given BMW's recent success with diesel engines in the U.S., the 2015 BMW X3 will be available with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine from the 328d. It makes 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which should be more than enough to send shivers down the spines of the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec and Audi Q5 TDI. Is diesel the next big thing in the U.S.?

2015 Ford Focus

This one is an oddity. Shown as a hatchback and wagon in Geneva, the U.S. will certainly only get the 2015 Ford Focus hatchback. That's not what's so odd about it. What is is that Ford most often charges a premium for its EcoBoost engines. Standard in the U.S. Focus is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower. But for 2015, the Focus is getting the same 123-horsepower, 1.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the Fiesta. We're not sure what it'll be priced like, but we assume less money. Or we hope so. Overall, the 2015 Ford Focus looks cleaner and sharper than the model that preceded it. Well done, Ford.

Apple CarPlay

Apple is using its software expertise to get in bed with automakers and expand its presence with infotainment technology. Using Siri Eyes Free and a whole heap of iPhone technology, CarPlay will make accessing phone apps from the car oh-so much easier. Expect it to roll out in Honda models using the new HondaLink system later this year, and about a dozen other automakers have already signed on for it in 2014 and 2015.

2015 Honda Civic Type R

This might be the best worst thing to come out of Geneva this year. It's the best because it's a Honda Civic that aims to be the sportiest one ever put on the road, complete with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 280 horsepower available. Speaking that the most powerful U.S. Civic has had an engine sitting right around 200 horsepower for going on a decade while competitors have gotten considerably more powerful, that bodes well. Honda says it wants to set the Nurburgring lap record for a front-drive vehicle. So what's the downside? While Honda says it will be introducing more turbochargers to the U.S., the chances we're getting a 280-horsepower Civic sedan sometime soon are slim to none. Pity.

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept

While this concept originally debuted at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, it had no engine. Well, it had an engine, per se, but Infiniti said it wouldn't be receiving motivation from one of its own engines. Wait two months, and now we know what the company's officials were talking about. Shoehorned into the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge is a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 from the Nissan GT-R, now with 560 horsepower and 493 lb-ft of torque. Using a conventional seven-speed automatic instead of the GT-R's dual-clutch unit, the Eau Rouge sends its power to all four wheels. If ever you wanted a Nissan GT-R sedan, this is the closest most of the world will ever get to that. A concept now, look for it to head into production sooner than not.

Jaguar XE preview

The last time Jaguar sold a supposedly BMW 3 Series-rivaling sedan, we got the Jaguar X-Type. It really was nothing more than a Ford Mondeo, nee Ford Contour, bedecked with the finest wood and leather in the class...and not a whole lot more. But at the Geneva Motor Show, Jaguar previewed its next-generation XE, which will slot underneath the XF and XJ. Expected to be made largely of aluminum, the XE will be the next entry-level car from Jag and should give the Germans, Japanese, and Cadillac a run for their money.

2015 Jeep Renegade

We love this one, and we think it's going to be an international superhit. In the U.S., this Fiat-based, Italian-made 2015 Jeep Renegade will come powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder producing 170 horsepower or a 2.4-liter engine making 184 horsepower. The former engine will have either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; the latter will have a nine-speed automatic exclusively. In the top-range Jeep Renegade Trail Hawk will be red tow hooks, a 20:1 low-range crawl ratio, and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. We can't wait to drive it.

Maserati Alfieri concept

With a wheelbase nearly 10 inches shorter than that of the bigger Maserati Gran Turismo, the Alfieri is important for two reasons: 1) It shows Maserati's styling direction evolving into something more sinister, and 2) it shows that Ferrari isn't going to have all of the fun when it comes to building upscale sports cars for the Italian company. Powered by a 460-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8, the Alfieri is aimed almost directly at the Jaguar F-Type. If a production model happens, you can expect it will go toe to toe with the standout Jag, potentially launching with an entry-level turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 found in the 2014 Maserati Ghibli.

Mazda Hazumi concept

Previewing the 2015 Mazda2, the Hazumi concept looks like a sharp interpretation of Mazda's Kodo design language, scaled down of course. Powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, this subcompact car is now within spitting distance of the 2015 Honda Fit and promises to provide more of that good ol' zoom-zoom feeling. Scheduled to be manufactured in Mexico later this year alongside the next-generation Toyota Yaris, we're eager to see how much of the Mazda Hazumi will make it to production. This one looks like a winner.

2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

Mercedes-Benz sells maybe a few thousand of these mighty coupes around the world each year. Yet, it's a very important vehicle for the brand, both from a perception and a price standpoint. Starting in the mid-$100,000 range, the S-Class coupe, which replaces the CL-Class for 2015, will come powered by the same magnificent 4.7- and 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engines. Gracing the world with a stylish stance and sweeping lines, the S-Class coupe is the most extravagant production vehicle Mercedes-Benz sells. It bridges the gap between something like an S-Class sedan and a Bentley. When the 12-cylinder S600 and S65 AMG models come out, they will swell up beyond $200,000. For the opulence and class they provide, that might almost be a bargain.

Mini Clubman concept

Not so much a traditional Clubman as it is a lower Mini Countryman, the all-new Clubman concept previews what will now be the six-door successor to the quirky stretched Mini Cooper. Longer, wider, and carrying some trick interior features, the Clubman should usher in some cool features that make it to production. Expect it to come powered by the same three- and four-cylinder engines as the standard Cooper. Electrification somewhere down the line is also possible.

2015 Nissan Juke

So far, we don't have details on what changes are coming for the U.S. engine lineup. But we can tell you with refreshed styling, updated electronics, more cargo space, and revised torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, the 2015 Nissan Juke will be able to soldier on for a few more years until its eventual replacement arrives. With the 2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS having just arrived in U.S. showrooms, we're eager to drive that before we even think about this updated model.

2015 Renault Twingo

Here's a weird one. Most subcompact cars have front engines and front-wheel drive, shifting all of the driving gear ahead of passengers to create more space. The other way to do that is how the new Twingo is set up: Everything in back. Not only does this lend itself to a vastly different driving behavior, but it is also the only other car besides the Porsche 911 and Smart Fortwo to currently have such a layout. Powered by a turbocharged 1.0-liter engine with 90 horsepower, the Twingo will share much of its running gear with the next-generation Smart Fortwo, which we've seen running around Los Angeles occasionally. That should make the Twingo quite a bit peppier than the current Smart and us much happier.

Subaru Visiv 2 concept

A more production-ready version of the vehicle first previewed at this year's Tokyo Motor Show, think of the Visiv as what would happen if the XV Crosstrek met the WRX and the two got along rose pedals, Barry White, Chianti, and chocolates sort of getting along. Subaru says the Visiv 2 is a look into what the future might hold for its crossover lineup, and it comes powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. To us, it looks like an excuse to enter a new small car into World Rally Championship racing again.

2015 Vauxhall Adam S/Adam Rocks

The Opel/Vauxhall Adam is a premium small car that most closely competes with the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper, and Volkswagen Polo in some ways. While it's been on sale for a while, Geneva ushered in production versions of the 150-horsepower Adam S and crossover-like Adam Rocks. The S has a new 1.4-liter engine, while the Adam Rocks will introduce a new turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder to the fray. While neither has yet been confirmed for the U.S., the Adam will go on sale later this year as a Buick. In fact, Buick's higher-ups have asked for the Adam to come to our shores, too. Most certainly, if nothing else, the Adam's new three-cylinder engine will serve duty as the next-gen Chevrolet Volt's range-extending generator.

Volkswagen GTE concept

Volkswagen is marketing the GTE as a plug-in alternative to its GTI and GTD sport compact hatchbacks. But it originally experimented with the plug-in hybrid technology in prototypes called twinDRIVE Golfs. Now, the production models are rolling out with 201 combined horsepower, 30 miles of all-electric range, cylinder deactivation from its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, and a 135-mph top speed. While the GTE will not be coming to the U.S., this drivetrain is likely to show up in a plug-in Passat or SUV eventually.

Volkswagen T-Roc concept

Kinda ugly and powered by a diesel engine and electric motor, the Volkswagen T-Roc is the future for VW in so many ways. First, that styling is likely a good indication of what the next Tiguan will look like, T-Top not included. Secondly, Volkswagen has been teasing a plug-in hybrid configuration for a while, including on the CrossBlue concept and we've heard rumblings of it arriving in our Passat eventually. Based on VW's ubiquitous MQB architecture, the Volkswagen T-Roc is very buildable. But when it does get the green light, it will have a traditional crossover body style and more practicality than today's Tiguan--not less.

Volvo Concept Estate

Yes, please. The last of three designs indicating the future of the Volvo brand, the Concept Estate takes elements from Volvo's past, such as the two-door wagon shape and large glass rear hatch, and modernizes them. In the process, the Volvo Concept Estate also shows off a new IKEA-like interior design, the Apple CarPlay infotainment suite, and many, many more features that will undoubtedly show up in future models. Drop-dead gorgeous, we can't wait to see how much of it translates to the new crop of Volvo vehicles, starting late this year.