Pocket-lint's been at the international motor show in Geneva this week, where countless new production and concept cars have been unveiled. As car manufacturers increasingly use technology as a key selling point, we pick out some of the stand-out cars we saw that will (and some that certainly won’t) be appearing in a showroom near you soon:
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept
What is it? BMW’s latest ‘Vision’ sports car concept – showcases the company’s latest ideas around technology and connected-ness in the car.
Coolest bit: Too many to mention, but how about the gestural-touch surface built into the dashboard ahead of the passenger which allow him or her to pass info into the driver’s environment?
Tech: The car is a moving tech-fest. LED Lighting system runs around the car’s seats and interior. An augmented reality head-up display, gestural interfaces, real-time traffic-based navigation routing and an ‘emotional browser’ which captures what’s happening around the car all feature. The car has three modes – safety, comfort and infotainment, each given their own lighting colour.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 4/10. Not previewing a real car anytime soon, but many of the ‘connected’ ideas will feature in future BMW’s, particularly the recently announced ‘I’ cars.
Verdict: BMW cements its position as number one when it comes to technology ‘vision’.
VW Bulli concept
What is it? A spiritual successor to the free-spirited Microbus of the 1960s, but smaller – this is based on the Polo platform.
Coolest bit: Bench seats that fold down into a double bed.
Tech: iPad-based interface: docks onto a cradle that’s fixed to the dashboard on a swiveling arm rather like the one from the previous iMac.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 8/10. Looks like a concept car, but it’s actually almost ready for production. iPad on the dash doesn’t comply with crash regulations, but VW might build the slot to allow you to fit one as an ‘accessory’.
Verdict: The next must have fashion vehicle.
Saab PhoeniX concept
What is it? The first new car from Saab that’s been designed since the company nearly went under and became independent from GM. But everyone’s questioning whether it looks like a Saab should.
Coolest bit: Aerodynamic ‘Flying buttresses’ – a signature of the car’s designer, Jason Castriota – he used to design Ferraris and Maseratis.
Tech: Uses an Android-based digital interface, which has been confirmed for production in the next 9-3.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 5/10. Built on the platform of the next 9-3, but don’t expect quite such flamboyant design in that car.
Verdict: Saab dares to be different, again, but with questionable results.
What is it? The Murcielago replacement: Lamborghini’s biggest, baddest, most powerful car.
Coolest bit: Surfaces and shut-lines around the rear of the car resemble a stealth fighter jet.
Tech: Uses a hidden structure made out of carbonfibre to reduce weight. Interface is the latest MMI system from parent company Audi, meaning it’ll work with a logic and level of reliability that old Lamborghini’s never did.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 10/10. Production car – goes on sale soon.
Verdict: The raging bull goes stealth-fighter.
Mini Rocketman concept
What is it? A mini-Mini. Only slightly longer than the original 1960s Mini, it has a similar style to the new Mini but is built to take on cars like the Smart.
Coolest bit: Double-hinged doors make it easy to get in and out in tight spaces. Uses paper in the doors to reduce weight.
Tech: Keeps the trademark Mini round shape in the centre of the dash, but it’s not a speedo this time – instead it’s the hub of the Mini’s digital environment – the speedo’s on an OLED display infront of the driver.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 8/10. Sadly it’ll lose those door hinges, but Mini is going to build a compact city car like this very soon, make no mistake.
Verdict: Daft name. Smart car.
What is it? An indication that Alfa’s planning to build a mid-engined sports car to take on Lotus and Porsche. Styling continues where the 8C Supercar left off.
Coolest bit: ‘Sparkling Rosé’ paint is a matte finish with sparkling flecks in it that are like nothing we’ve seen before.
Tech: Motorbike-inspired interior means there’s a spine, with digital gauges in it between passenger and driver. Lots of carbonfibre and a split analogue/digital set of dials in front of the driver. It’s for driving, not tweeting in.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 7/10. A sure sign Alfa’s going to build a new small sports car. Likely to loose lots of the cool bits as it becomes ready for the road though.
Verdict: Another analogue Alfa to tug the heartstrings
Nissan EsFlow concept
What is it? An electric sports-car concept, which uses the battery technology from the Leaf.
Coolest bit: Billet of aluminium gear selector.
Tech: Old-school switches and buttons remind us of the computers from our childhood, give a real retro feel alongside the modern, Leaf-inspired digital gauges and screen.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 6/10. Signals the styling direction of the next Nissan 370Z. Nissan wants to lead when it comes to electric cars, so are likely to build an electric sport car.
Verdict: Proves electric cars needn’t look like milk floats.
Renault R-Space concept
What is it? One of two orange-coloured Renault concepts in Geneva – it represents Renault’s thinking about the future of the family MPV.
Coolest bit: Bonkers ‘cubic’ seating in the back represents idea that kids should be having fun in the back of the car, while parents get a cool modern lounge up front.
Tech: Cube seats in the rear have digital screens integrated into them for kids to play games and watch video on.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 3/10. More a set of ideas about what the future of the MPV could be like than an indication of what your next Scenic will look like.
Verdict: If only the back seats of cars had been like this when we were kids.
Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Tourer concept
What is it? Forget the word ‘concept’; this is the new Zafira bar a few details.
Coolest bit: Seats modeled on airline business class units, complete with headrests that can turn to cradle your head when you nod off.
Tech: iPads hooked onto the back of the front headrests seems much more 2011 than an integrated headrest unit.
Likelihood they’ll build it? 9.5/10. This is the next Zafira, bar a detail or two.
Verdict: Vauxhall upgrades to business class