Five new cars save 2024 Geneva show from being a non-event

By dpa | 27 February 2024

GENEVA: The stage was set for a grand birthday gala yet the car show to mark the 100th anniversary of Geneva's annual horsepower parade failed to generate much advance interest.

After three cancellations and a guest appearance in far-off Qatar, the Geneva International Motor Show is finally back in Switzerland but the winds of change blowing through the industry have left their mark.

Big automotive names stayed away just as they have been avoiding the IAA in Munich and the Paris Salon.

Organisers struggled to fill the gaps with shows of historic vehicles and fancy seating areas but maybe they need not have bothered.

Geneva remains a significant show because the few remaining exhibitors are making a virtue out of necessity and are making a big splash. This allows them to bask in the attention that, for once, they don't have to share with industry giants such as Mercedes, Volkswagen, Stellantis or Japanese makers.

And the Palexpo exhibition centre is not completely devoid of premieres either.

In fact five Geneva innovations are well worth a closer look.

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Renault R5 : Big comeback for the little car

It is perhaps the most important Renault innovation of the decade and has what it takes to bring electric mobility to the masses as a successor to the Zoe.

Renault is reviving the spunky little R5 from the 1970s and elevating it into an electric beacon of hope. The car gets launched in late summer at prices starting at around €25,000 and has the potential to redefine entry-level mobility.

There are two battery options with 40 or 52 kWh for a range of up to 400km and a top speed of 150 km/h. The styling is retro, with lots of nods to the past but the car also has a modern look and four doors all in a package standing at 2.5 metres. Modern families may want more space but it's great for nipping around to the next baguette shop for some crispy loaves.

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MG3 : Greetings from the old world

Most of the new cars in Geneva are electric and many of them come from China, home of MG, the most successful Chinese brand in parts of Europe. The heirs of one of motoring's most famous badges are bucking the trend and showing a new combustion engine.

The MG3, which, at 4.11 metres, will be in the same league as the VW Polo or Opel Corsa, is heading for Europe with a 1.5-litre petrol engine turning out 75 KW/102 PS. However, the four-door model also has a 100 kW/136 hp electric motor on board and a 1.83 kWh battery, which makes it a hybrid and reduces consumption to 4.4 litres (CO2 emissions 100 g/km). MG has yet to name a price, but speculation here is that it will be well under €25,000.

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Lucid Gravity: a streamlined SUV

Lucid has made a name for itself with the Air luxury saloon. A good six months after its European debut, the American start-up is now following up with the Gravity, which is set to compete against models such as the Mercedes EQS, the Tesla Model X and the BMW iX.

This pretty thing with a streamlined face and slippery bodywork will arrive by the end of the year. Lucid is advertising it with up to 588 kW/800 hp, an expected range of 700km and enough charging power to provide enough fresh electrons for 300km within 15 minutes. There are no prices yet, but since the cheapest Air already costs €85,000, the price for the Gravity is likely to be six figures.


Yangwang U8: The SUV that turns into a boat

There is no mistaking the Chinese origins of this oddly-named car from BYD. The company has been shaking up the market with the Tang, the Dolphin and the Seal but now the Chinese are aiming higher. They offered a first glimpse of their flagship Yangwang U8 in Geneva.

Visually a cross between the bullish Land Rover Defender and boxy Mercedes G-Class, it comes equipped with a range extender for over 1,000 electrickm.

The 882 kW/1200 hp off-roader is already being sold in China for the equivalent of €140,000.

Social media users have been swooning at its amazing "emergency flotation" function that ensures the U8 can bob on on water for up to 30 minutes. That's right folks, this tank-like SUV can morph into a boat.

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IM L7 is a brazen Tesla copy

The latest new brand is on hand in Geneva and of course it comes from China. For all those for whom MG (Morris Garages) sounds too much like merry old England, the SAIC Group offers the moniker IM which stands for Intelligent Mobility.

There is naturally lots of new technology in what some pundits have called the boldest Tesla copy so far, including largely autonomous driving features.

The sensors are hidden in the humps above the windscreen of the individual models.

The IM is due to be launched in Germany next year.

On the shores of Lake Geneva, the Chinese are fielding the 425 kW/578 hp L7 all-wheel-drive version, which is reminiscent of the VW ID7 and designed to travel around 500km on a 90 kWh battery.