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Driving the New Fiat 124 Spider and Abarth!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Geneva Motor Show: A Reader's Report

Peterjerome, a reader and well known contributor to this blog, has sent us a report on the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The Geneva show is traditionally where many new concepts are launched and premiered. It is one show that shouldn't be missed. Peterjerome takes us for a tour of it:

I was lucky enough to get to the Geneva Auto Show this year. It is a distinctive show for a number of reasons. For one. it is the first show of the year and usually includes a lot of concepts and new model introductions. Geneva is geared to the press, so it is less showy than most automobile expositions. The French manufacturers have a big presence but no one can claim Geneva as their home show. Big and small exhibitors are on a more even playing field than most shows where the local boys are front and centre. Switzerland includes some of the wealthiest enthusiasts and some the most environmentally aware consumers in the world , all in one small market. The show reflects this dichotomy with single passenger electric three wheelers displayed not far from 700 horsepower road rockets. The show is very well attended. We were there on the final Sunday and 90,000 people were vying with us for photograph locations..

The FIAT Group was very evident. Dodge had a booth with a Hemi Challenger getting a lot of attention. Ferrari and Maserati had a very large display with the Ferrari FF making its debut. Alfa Romeo was showing off the 4C Concept but also had Quadrifoglio Verde versions of their MITO and Giulietta models on display. The Giulietta looks to be a worthy competitor for the Golf and new Focus. Lancia was showing the early signs of the FIAT-Chrysler connection. Amidst their regular Italian line up was a Chrysler 200 convertible called Fulvia and a new 300 badged as a Thema. It will be interesting to see if Europeans take to these cars.The Fiat booth started and finished the day with all their young employees dancing to some fun loud music. I can't say I've seen that at any other show.

The FIAT presentation showed the Freemont which like the Lancias, is a Chrysler crossover with different badging. The display was dominated by 500s. Gucci had a corner to themselves, and I have to say the Gucci 500 has an interior that looks quite well finished. The Zagato 500 show car was at the front of the booth. It is very distinctive, but there was no word about production, Still it is good to see that storied Milanese coach builders name on a modern FIAT.

All the other 500s were 85 hp TwinAirs including the cabrio. There were a few other FIAT models present, but unfortunately there were no Pandas. I was hoping to see the Multijet diesel with four wheel drive. I read somewhere that it could end up as a mini Jeep on this side of the Atlantic. Jeep was there as well of course.

The display where I spent a fair bit of time was Abarth. They were in a different hall than FIAT and were neighbors to Alfa Romeo. Abarth had four cars on display: an open wheeled racer, a Punto Esse-esse and two 500s. One was the new 500C Abarth with an ESSE-esse conversion, while the other was the 695 Tributo Ferrari. I got to sit in it, and it seems awesome. The proof would be in a drive but at a price in Switzerland equal to $48,000 US dollars I doubt I will get that chance.

The folks at Abarth asked me to tell whoever I thought might be interested that their website store orders will start in April at I was really excited about the products from Abarth, and can't wait until we see them here in America. Gucci models are fine. but if the 500 is going to be put up against the MINI in a serious fashion, we need the spirit of Mr.Abarth to take on the spirit of Mr. Cooper.

In keeping with the manic nature of the show, not far from the Tributo was a display put on by a natural gas / bio gas firm in Switzerland. They had a TwinAIr 500 converted to run on either regular gasoline or a natural gas/bio gas combination. Bio gas is a methane like gas produced from garbage. In Switzerland biogas is used at a 10% rate with natural gas and is available at fairly numerous filling stations.

There were a lot of concept cars and It was great to see Bertone, Pininfarina and Giugiaro (now owned by VW) with displays of their own. There was a time when Torino was the big spring fashion show, but Geneva has taken that spot. If you are traveling Europe in early March and have a craving for cheese or chocolate (or a new watch) zip over to Geneva for a great car show as well.

View full size pictures here

Thank you Peterjerome for sending us this report.

Photos: Peterjerome
Video and still shot: Fiat on the web


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report. I can't wait for to go live.

The Lancia folks must be equally thrilled about the new Fulvia (ha) which the Chrysler 200 C will be called.

Near said...

I definitely agree that Alfa Romeo are really giving the Golf and the Focus a taste of competition, but in my opinion, the Giuliett has the Italian upper hand. I really like the look of both the exterior and interior, combined with its reasonable (for a <a href="”>luxury car</a>.) price tag.