Oh, Geneva, you are one expensive place. Perhaps that is one reason why I have never stepped foot inside Palexpo…
But, for those who work this show know that it takes a shift in overall perspective to understand why this spring European show is important. Because of the money that fuels Geneva and Switzerland, you do see a lot of supercar reveals and other things that could be considered vulgar. Mansory's creations are the first thing that come to mind.
However, if you sift through the multi-million Euro debuts and fantasy concepts, there are a few gems that are worth talking about.
For one, Mazda debuted a crossover that will fit between the CX-3 and CX-5. The CX-30 has a sleeker shape than either SUV, which should distinguish it for the intended purpose it appears to be developed for.
From what I know, it appears that we will see the Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter engine as standard for the CX-30 in North America. There is a mild hybrid system Mazda is developing, called M Hybrid that will be attached to the 2.0-liter engine, as well as the Skyactiv-X motor featuring Spark Controlled Compression Ignition combustion technology. Expect all-wheel-drive to be featured prominently in this new model.
Considering the upmarket aspirations of Mazda, one has to question whether the CX-30 is an exercise in making a better competitor for the likes of the BMW X2 or that it would be relegated to matching up to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Subaru Crosstrek, Jeep Compass, and Nissan Rogue Sport/Qashqai. Mazda will most likely tell you that the CX-30 should stand alone, but that will depend on pricing and market location.
The main prospect for the Mazda CX-30 is the fact that its size is right for a trending customer base looking for a vehicle that matches its aspirations and location – mainly urban areas. In other words, this could be potentially a hit for Mazda, as it augments the new Mazda3 on showroom floors.
Also in Geneva, Mitsubishi unveiled the latest version of the ASX crossover. The ASX is better known in the USA as the Outlander Sport and in Canada as the RVR.
The new ASX/Outlander Sport/RVR is a major update to the current model sporting a new front end that puts it in line with the current design language of the brand. New rear lighting and an update to the infotainment system also round out the updates to the ASX.
Which leads us to ask further questions about how the new ASX will arrive in North America as the Outlander Sport and RVR. Will we see the same 1.5-liter turbocharged engine seen in the Eclipse Cross? Will we also see some of the improvements in infotainment, driveline and suspension also currently seen in its larger brother? And, is this the final round of updates for a model that has been around since 2010 worldwide?
Obviously, we will wait for further details in the months to come – perhaps, the New York International Auto Show. If not, any updates to this popular small SUV will definitely help its cause until we see the first fruits of the alliance with Renault and Nissan arrive at Mitsubishi showrooms.
Lastly, I have to acknowledge a vehicle that may never make it to North America – and, honestly, it should. Volkswagen announced a performance version of the MQB platform-based (read: Golf) T-Roc crossover with the heart and soul of the Golf R. The T-Roc R gets the same driveline as its global sports compact hero – a 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI engine with an estimated 300 horsepower, the seven-speed DSG gearbox, and 4Motion all-wheel-drive.
The fact that the T-Roc is fighting within a segment that has traction in Europe. The size is right, and the power of the R is definitely over the top. It does compete with a small group of performance SUVs in its size class, including the BMW X2 M35i and the Audi SQ2 – both models not available in North America, as well.
It brings up the perpetual question of "why can't we have nice things?" That should be a question asked not by us, but of the brass at Herndon, Virginia – the home of Volkswagen of America. They should be the one asking their Wolfsburg minders with an argument on why the T-Roc makes sense to North American consumers.
The spotlight on Geneva is very bright. However, there was a side light that popped out of the sky from Seoul. Maybe it was designated for a debut at Palexpo, but Hyundai unveiled the next generation Sonata to the world – albeit quietly.
The design itself is compelling and definitely class-leading. The Sonata offers a curvy, sleek fastback design with intriguing front and rear ends. Although, I am waiting for Honda to call Hyundai out on the taillight design. If not, I have a feeling there will be some new customers coming Hyundai's way.
As with the Outlander Sport/RVR, we should wait until we see what Hyundai has in store for drivelines and advanced technology for the new Sonata. Maybe in New York next month? I hope so!
There is one thing that came out of Geneva that left an impression upon me even as I was reporting on it remotely. One comment on a colleague's social media feed compared Geneva with the North America International Auto Show in Detroit that was held back in January. The translation was simple: Geneva is what NAIAS should be.
Yes, but what about Chicago? New York? Los Angeles? Shanghai/Beijing? Frankfurt/Paris?
To go to Geneva in March is to go to a fantasyland, where you do get all of the very expensive toys that transcend taste and fashion. Us common folk still have to sift through all of this to get to what we would rather buy. That, in a nutshell, is Geneva.