Geneva show stoppers

The stars of this year’s Geneva Motor Show were the models that oozed their brand’s essence, says Ben Holland

A trip to the Geneva Motor Show is a must for anyone with an interest in cars, as my visit with HN editor Topy Waller earlier this week proved yet again. There are always some truly amazing concepts and new models on display that take the breath away, with the crowds constantly clamouring to get a better look. Another certainty is the unhappy sight of stands full of new cars, but bereft of visitors. More of that later.

Two brands at opposite ends of the affordability scale really stood out for me, revealing production models that embody beautifully the essence of their respective brands: Abarth and Aston Martin.

Abarth’s new 124 Spider, a handsome and affordable sporty two-seat cabriolet, was one of my favourite things about the show. It perfectly re-imagines a model from Abarth’s past, feeling utterly modern, yet with hallmarks of the mid-1970s, rally-bred Fiat Abarth 124 Rallye. It’ll go like stink and sell like hotcakes, partly because it is clearly a car that is full to the brim of the Abarth spirit – light, sporting, fun cars.

Aston Martin’s DB11 was the other corker, though on a somewhat different budget. The British brand is going from strength to strength, and its confidence in the new car was palpable – bolstered by the queues of folk desperate to get closer to what is destined to become an iconic car. Graceful, powerful, beautifully designed, the DB11 is a natural heir to the DB9 that reinvigorated Aston Martin, and is a fitting tribute to what Aston Martin represents in the 21st century.

Two stands down from the hubbub at Aston Martin, the more subdued Honda stand had the new Civic concept spinning away unwatched at the back. A rather clumsy-looking hatchback, with little to suggest ‘The Power of Dreams’. Sad to see from a brand that was once so brilliant, and that still provides so many UK jobs at its Swindon factory. I hope Honda can regain its mojo to be brilliant again. But the contrast with the confidence of Aston Martin and Abarth couldn’t have been more acute.