Top 10 From the Geneva Auto Show:
1. Porsche 918 Spyder
The show's most stylish concept, which has a fair chance of going into production, was also its most technologically intriguing. Porsche said the team that developed the vaunted Carrera GT also worked on the 918. The company also said that the car has EV-only capability, should return up to 78 miles a gallon and deliver more than 700 horsepower.
2. Ferrari HY-KERS Concept
This green Ferrari is already an automotive icon. Not just for the symbolism around environmental responsibility, but for the knowledge that green is good. Or it can be; it's certainly less threatening to the automotive world order, when applied in such complementary ways to existing technology. In 3 to 4 years every Ferrari could offer the option of emissions-free electric-only operation in town and regenerative braking to recharge its batteries; along with better braking, traction and engine control.
3. Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style
This experimental vehicle shows there is plenty of room left to evolve the company's iconic styling. The package suggests room to install a range of powerplants. With the recent allocation of nearly $1 billion in new development spending, Mercedes may opt to try them all.
4. Audi A1 E-tron
The next generation of car buyers is not much interested in sloppy, fuel-swilling land yachts of the past. They want compact cars to fit compact lifestyles -- smart, responsible and comfortable. That generation may connect well with a package like the A1 e-Tron: Able to travel up to 31 miles on electric power alone, at speeds up to 80 m.p.h., with no emissions. Especially if it looks, handles and drives like an Audi.
5. Audi A8 Hybrid
The Audi A8 Hybrid, after development time measured in mere months, is said to be ready for production. Its 38-m.p.g. fuel economy in town is better than an A3 TDI.
6. Hyundai i-Flow
This bodacious exercise in "fluidic sculpture" is laudable; please let it herald the end of the era of forgettable Korean auto styling. The i-Flow is said to be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain; that appeals to Europeans who pay far less in pump taxes for diesel than for gasoline. Chance of production? Zero.
7. Lotus Elise
A long time coming, this redesign of the spunky little two-seater seems to put all the necessary pieces in the proper proportion. The change isn’t huge; it is just enough. In this automotive styling era of either too much or too little, that’s admirable.
8. Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The new Giulietta proves that small cars can come in shapely packages (unlike, say, the boring new Nissan Micra). This platform is meant to underpin upcoming Chrysler and Dodge models.
9. Opel Flextreme G/T-E
General Motors made a tactical error by stuffing its soon-to-arrive Voltec electric vehicle technology in a dull Chevrolet Malibu-type body. There's no reason a body this shapely couldn't be wrapped around the same drivetrain, is there?
10. Volvo S60
Volvo has long aspired to be the maker of the world's safest cars. But the competition has closed ground. Now, to survive in this changing dynamic, Volvo also needs to sell some sizzle. This evocatively styled new midsize sedan could be important in meeting that need, even as Ford's desperation to unload the Swedish automaker clouds the company's future.
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