It’s that time of year again, the point at which if there’s no snow about it’s hard not to turn your attention to Geneva airport as more than just a conduit to the mountains, because the automotive world is in town. That’s right, this year sees the 88th running of the Auto Salon de Genève at the Palexpo centre just a very, very short stroll from the arrivals lounge.
Get yourself an insanely overpriced coffee, pick up your laminate, prepare to be blinded by the light reflected from each and every highly polished contour of the latest cars from an extensive range of manufacturers and aftermarket tuners and take a journey into the floodlit heat of the exhibition halls.
Really, I should be trying to write a balanced overview of the entire show from the comfort of my desk here in Jersey but in reality what’s about to happen in the first instance involves gushing about one car that’s very similar to a car that I’ve gushed about before (in Gallery issue 139). It’s also one from the same, very exclusive, manufacturer that had a car on their stand that completely blew me away the last time I visited the show in actual, real life.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a phenomenally well engineered and capable vehicle, but when you break it down (figuratively) it’s also a case of function following form and you’d think that’s a bad thing. It’s a tough balance to strike, but as a petrolhead poring over a car like Ruf’s latest SCR that took centre stage in Geneva (the 4-litre green one, not to be confused with last year’s 4.2 litre red one with the duckbill moulded into the bootlid, which is technically the bonnet, of course) I’m expecting out-and-out track prowess judging by what’s underneath. But then they built an aerodynamically inferior, by today’s standards at least, 964 silhouette on top of it all. When you physically break it down though, it’s a bang up to date concotion of composites and clever components; a carbon firbre monocoque tub, push-rod inboard suspension and a screaming six-cylinder boxer engine (what else?!) with an 8,270 RPM redline. So despite that trendy looking modern-retro-esque shell, which is also carbon fibre and at least saves the hassle of the de-guttering process that they went to with the original Yellowbird for aerodynamic reasons, it’ll still crack 199mph. Impressive, although I hasten to add that the original Yellowbird could muster 210mph with around the same horsepower. That isn’t to say that the SCR doesn’t get there a lot quicker though, and I’ve no doubt that it’s an all round superior handling vehicle, of course. As in, lightyears ahead.
So, for all of the aerodynamic inefficiencies that come hand in had with looking like it’s an eighties classic it’s still an absolute weapon with a squillion foot-pounds of torque at about half way to the redline, not to mention it’s a member of the 500-plus club. You don’t need the figures, I don’t need the figures, and it isn’t laziness on my part as they’re readily available (although Alois Ruf did once famously state that the have ‘very big horses in Pfaffenhausen’ after the world realised that they had a habit of being extremely conservative when it comes to horsepower figures) – it’s just a fact that this machine is going to impress anybody fortunate enough to actually get a go behind the wheel. Because it isn’t going to be cheap. I’m guessing at around half a million or so Sterling. Like I said, you don’t need to know the details.
What you do need to know, however, is a detail that I’d originally overlooked, due to being blinded by its overall glory, until a good friend of mine pointed it out. In his words; ‘it looks as if somebody’s chucked an alcantara grenade inside it’. Yep, there is that.
Alcantara. That mythical material, as expensive as mink and oozing contemporary class, used wherever a performance oriented vehicle needs a bit of luxury. However, the reality is that despite its relatively high cost as a basic material it isn’t made by skinning tiny rare animals, it’s basically polyester, and covering almost every conceivable area inside a car with it does not ooze class. Or even utilitarianism. It just looks, well, odd. Those houndstooth clad bucket seats though, aren’t they pretty? I’ll forgive you Ruf, I’ll forgive you the excess alcantara for those seats alone.
In summary, there was a green Porsche-shaped non-Porsche at the Geneva motor show and it looked almost beyond incredible. There were, however, a whole host of other vehicles there from manufacturers big and small, and I’m about to provide a summary of those too.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE REST
On the top row, Audi debuted a new version of their A6 (1) and to me it looks like a case of meet the new A6, same as the old A6 (to loosely quote Pete Townshend).
Aston Martin unveiled the latest incarnation of their Vantage (2), which looks suspiciously like a Mazda MX-5 to me, and their sister company showed another concept that probably won’t come to fruition under the Lagonda brand (3) which was supposedly reserved for any Aston Martins with more than two doors before they brought the Rapide to market and pretended they’d never said that. It does look very, very cool though – in a kind of original Lancia Stratos concept kind of way. Plus it’s electric. The future from the seventies is here at last!
Speaking of electric, on the second row we have an electric version of Bentley’s Bentayga (4), that hideously ugly beast that has proved immensely popular with people who have far more money than taste (footballers and farmers with complex offshore tax structures, to make a sweeping generalisation) and I bet it’ll sell like gluten-free hot cakes.
Next up is BMW’s new Z4 offering (5), which in my opinion looks suspiciously like a Mazda MX-5, and unless my eyes deceive me that’s a two-door Range Rover (6), a sight not seen since circa 1981 – and it looks splendid, if I may say so.
On the bottom row there’s the Rimac Concept 2 electric hypercar (7), cleverly positioned on a slightly elevated stand with a low glass barrier (presumably to keep Richard Hammond from destroying any more of their ultra-low volume production vehicles) which looks like the front of a Hennessey Venom F5 and the back of a Pagani Zonda, with Lamborghini doors.
Next to that is a new Toyota Supra (8) that’s been developed in conjunction with BMW and looks suspiciously like a Mazda MX-5 (have you noticed a pattern developing here?) and the final shot is, of course, that beautiful Ruf SCR 4.0 (9). I was going to include an image of the new Citroen C4 Cactus purely because they’ve removed the wobbly bits on the side that make it look like a Bodum coffee cup but couldn’t bring myself to do it. You’ll just have to trust me on that. So, until next year…