As always, the niche manufacturers and tuners really helped to get the blood flowing groin wise at Geneva.
Wild with desire
As always, the niche manufacturers and tuners really helped to get the blood flowing groin wise at Geneva. And none more so than bike manufacturer KTM’s first venture into the car world, the awesome-looking X-Bow, which took its bow in Switzerland.
An epic mass of carbon-fibre and muscle, this miniscule car is destined for big things in the hobby car market. It’s about as practical as a chocolate fireguard, thanks to the lack of real bodywork, luggage space or even a windshield, bar a 70mm deflector, but then that would be wilfully missing the point.
This car is built for trackdays or that sunny weekend blast when the police have the day off, and with 220bhp from the 1.8T Audi engine powering just 700kg of car, that’s something you’d better check first. It will hit 60mph in 3.9s, but that will feel like an epicentre of pure violence in a car that is so open to the elements.
And this car will corner as well, if not better than the near infamous Radical and should show a clean pair of heels to the supercar clan. It’s as basic as a prison cell, but that’s the appeal.
For the man or woman that has everything, Italian firm Stola has the answer – the haute couture sportscar.
Clients will not only be able to specify their own interior, and exterior, working closely with the designers at Stola, they will even be able to name it.
Only 25 of these cars will be made and will be produced in association with Mercedes tuner Brabus, tyre giant Pirelli and automotive supplier Alcar.
The cars will be built around Brabus’ 6.3-litre bi-turbo engine, with a simply daft 750bhp and more than 1000lb/ft of torque. That’s more than pretty much anything on the market and despite the car’s substantial size it will still be good for 200mph and will do it in abject luxury.
These cars will go to the Middle East, Russia, Japan and America, markets with more money than sense. Stola don’t discuss prices, they consider it crass, so if you’re counting pennies then just forget you ever saw it.
For those that like their kicks a little moe visceral, TechArt, the legendary Porsche tuner, brought the next generation GTStreet to the show.
Based on the 997 Turbo this beast comes with 630bhp and 604lb/ft of torque, which is more than enough to overpower all four wheels. This piece of inspired genius will hit 60mph in 3.2s, burst through the 214mph mark and leave the standard Turbo for dead in any gear.
This one came with a stunning orange paint job, matt black bonnet and matt wheels with orange details. It’s a stunning car and if it feels half as violent as the last GTStreet then it will sell like overly warm buns despite a price tag in excess of €250,000.
Brabus came in full effect, too, with an arsenal of cars, including its Widestar based on the ML63. Tuned SUVs have proved big business and the biggest Brabus was in major demand all show.
Now the wider track probably will help the ML’s handling, but let’s be honest it’s all about the looks and the broader stance gives the Mercedes a much more aggressive look. And the new front facia, with three inlets and a smooth, badgeless front grille give this big, black bohemoth real impact with just a hint of Russian gangster.
With 550bhp and 650Nm of torque it’s only slightly more powerful than the stock model. But the finished article will still romp past 60mph in 4.9s and all the way to 170mph, which isn’t bad for a miniature bus with attitude.
Brabus brought its CL600, too, which is a far more enticing prospect for those of us that like their sports coupes. The base car oozes sporting sex appeal and with a few aesthetic touches the Bottrop tuner has dragged 630bhp and 543lb/ft of torque from this beast with the T13 Powerkit and it will now hit 60mph in 4.3s or less, with a claimed top speed of around 200mph.
The Brabus car, though, paled next to Lorinser’s CL. It’s not as powerful, or fast, as it can muster just 580bhp, but on pure visual impact then this is the automotive equivalent of a punch to the face from an Ultimate Fighter. Lorinser knows only one volume, 10, and its kit takes the classy CL and turns it into a dragstrip hooker.
Vented front wings, fighter-style side skirts and square-tipped exhausts combined with turbine-style wheels all add up to a vision of sheer ferocity.
And continuing in the vein of over the top indulgence were the fine folks at Mansory.
The tuner always does something special for the show and this time they surpassed themselves with a personalised Rolls-Royce Phantom with a matt black finish and 24” wheels. That’s just the start of the madness, of course, as inside the car has been transformed into a Blingtastic affair that would shame J Lo’s Christmas party. The delights include folding down tables, replete with DVD player, in the rear and so much leather and polished metal that an armchair factory could well be left wondering who robbed them in the night.
Unsurprisingly this example is headed to the Middle East to an exceptionally wealthy owner, but Mansory has already sold 10 of them and will be making more. We have the invite in our hand to go and sample one of his delights for ourselves, so we’ll tell you how it feels when we get there, and despite the test happening in Germany we’ll be packing our shades for when we’re inside.
It’s a cosmetic makeover rather than a big power boost, but then the car does look stunning in its own special way – even though purists went away from the big Rolls trying to wash their eyes.
Swiss firm Rinspeed generally takes a kicking when it comes to these reports, after all its concept cars generally have about as fine a point as a broken pencil. But the eXasis was actually pretty cool, in its own special way. The transparent plastic shell and obviously lightweight design, combined with a 750cc, 150bhp engine, could be an insight into the future of cars. If engine capacities must be cut, then this kind of car could still be fun. It runs on Bioethanol anyway, so this is a truly environmentally friendly machine.
The cigar-shape is reminiscent of the Auto Union racers of years gone by and Rinspeed claims there is room for two sat line astern. There’s only one small problem, the rear passenger doesn’t have space for their legs, but we’ll forgive them this small oversight.
Proving that the Swiss firm hasn’t gone completely eco-mad was the Le Mans 600, a tuned-up 911 Turbo that should be a match for anything the Germans have to offer.
There were other cool tricks, including the Audi TT done up to look like an R8 from Caractere. In fact, and this should be whispered, the modified TT looked better than the range-topping machine from Audi thanks to more natural proportions and a front end that doesn’t look like an angry giant has smashed it into the ground.
But these were the standout cars of Geneva and we hoped you liked it. We’ll be back next year and once again we’re looking to the minor marques to truly send us wild with desire.