Hope speeds eternal
Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley debut new models at Geneva Motor Show 2018
The world is changed. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.” Such goes the opening lines in The Lord of the Rings films, but applicable to the automotive world as well.
With electrification, autonomous driving, and car-sharing looming over the horizon, what does the traditional car industry have in store?
For the Germans, market leaders in the premium car class, many new offerings for this new world are on their way, and they will no doubt fight to keep their lucrative segment.
But here and now, the focus is still on what they do best: fast, handsome, and solidly-built.
The Geneva Motor Show is the first major European auto show of the year, and the premium brands are raring to race from the gate.
Porsche is celebrating its 70th year with the most powerful road-legal sports car and its naturally-aspirated engine. This is the 911 GT3 RS, packing 520 hp from its 4.0-liter flat-six engine.
The RS is a faster version of the GT3, going to 100 kph in just 3.2 seconds, 0.1 second faster than the previous 911 GT3 RS. Top speed is 312 kph.
The 911 GT3RS follows in the venerable tire tracks of the 356 Roadster, Car No. 1 from Zuffenhausen, which was registered in June 1948.
The 911 GT3 RS is difficult to ignore, with its wide body topped with a large fixed wing.
The sports car features revised aerodynamics and a chassis tweaked for lightness.
Front trunk lid and fenders are carbon fiber, and the roof is magnesium.
Front and rear fascia are made of lightweight polyurethane.
NACA ducts in the front trunk lid feed cool air to the brakes without increasing drag.
Together with larger side skirts, the size of the front spoiler lip has been increased to increase downforce.
The large rear wing works with the rear underbody diffuser. The result is a car with twice the downforce of the “regular” 911 GT3 at 198 kph.
Inside, the RS gets full bucket seats with carbon fiber backrests, lightweight rear window, and rear side windows.
Door panels are also lightened with door opening loops and reduced sound insulation. There’s fun for only two now, as the rear seat has been removed as well.
The steering wheel is trimmed in Alcantara.
The 4.0-liter engine gains 20 hp over both the previous GT3 RS and the current 911 GT3. Engine enhancements include plasma-coated cylinder liners, central oil suply through the crankshaft, and larger connecting rods. This allows the flat-six to rev to 9000 rpm.
Exhaust components are made of titanium. The engine is mated to a retuned seven-speed PDK gearbox.
The Weissach package, fitted by the Porsche motorsport department, cuts weight further with the use of more carbon components and magnesium wheels. Curb weight is pared down to 1430 kg.
Audi launches its latest sedan, the A6. The eighth-generation A6 is now in the full-size class, and promises numerous innovations.
A new multimedia interface, MMI touch, has been designed for intuitive operation.
The A6 MMI touch features a customizable operating system, with drag-and-drop of icons similar to the familiar smartphone interface.
Shortcuts and favorite buttons allow easier access to the menu system. A6 also has a voice-command function with natural-language control, ala Siri or Alexa. It functions with both stored data and cloud access. Feedback is enhanced with haptic and acoustic feedback.
The vaunted Audi virtual cockpit gets a wide 12.3-inch display, with additional dual screens, a 10.1-inch screen for navigation and 8.6-inch screen for the climate control. There’s also a head-up display.
Premium audio is by Bang & Olufsen, with 3D-type sound.
The Audi connect key system allows an Android smartphone to lock and unlock the car, and start the engine. The owner can pass the access data to five people or smartphones.
Parking can be done automatically, even with the driver outside of the car. There’s adaptive cruise control that monitors lanes and surrounding sensor data. Five radar sensors, five cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner all keep watch around the A6.
All A6 engines come with mild-hybrid technology. This means that the engine can automatically shut down even when at a standstill or during coasting.
A lithium-ion battery powers the starter to instantly start up the engine when needed.
Advanced aerodynamics allows for greater fuel efficiency and a quieter cabin. The A6 body uses aluminum and steel construction to decrease weight.
A larger interior gives more legroom and shoulder room than the previous model. Front seats have cooling and massage functions.
A large 530-liter trunk can swallow two golf bags horizontally, and its lid opens with a hands-free kick motion.
The A6 promises a sportier drive, thanks to improved suspension. Rear-wheel steering reduces the turning radius while reportedly giving a more stable demeanour at speed.
Available engines are a turbocharged 3.0 gasoline V6 with 340 hp and 500 Nm, and a 3.0 turbodiesel with 286 hp and 620 Nm.
The diesel pairs with an eight-speed automatic, and the gasoline engine with a seven-speed auto. The brand’s trademark quattro all-wheel drive is available.
Matrix LED headlights and tailights give the exterior a more high-tech flair.
For the ultra high-performance end, Lamborghini will update its Huracan Performante.
The current Performante, launched at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, already holds the production-car lap records on eight international circuits.
The Huracan Performante uses carbon composite construction and active aerodynamics.
The 5.2-liter V10 with 640 hp and 600 Nm goes with an all-wheel drive system. The sports car is capable of the 0-100kph sprint in 2.9 seconds, and a top speed of over 325 kph.
Bentley will debut a new version of its super SUV, the Bentayga, at Geneva.
The Bentayga has opened up a new segment for Bentley, and already counts for a significant portion of its sales.
The Bentayga will be offered with a V8 engine: a new 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged gasoline engine, pumping out 542 hp and 770 Nm.
The Bentayga V8 can power to 100 kph in 4.5 seconds, on to a top speed of 290 kph.
The Continental GT will also be at Geneva with its 6.0-liter W12 turbocharged engine.
So much raw power on display, yet future Geneva shows could be very different.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much had happened?
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