2020 Geneva motor show preview: officials ‘observing’ coronavirus spread

Organisers still planning for biggest motor show of the year to go ahead; several key cars set for launch

The organisers of the Geneva motor show, one of Europe’s premier motoring events, say they are “carefully observing” the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus – but the event is still due to take place as scheduled.

Concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which originated in China, led to the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress technology event that had been due to take place in Barcelona earlier this month. That decision came after a large number of exhibitors withdrew, citing health concerns. 

After that event was cancelled, Geneva organisers insisted the motor show would go ahead starting on 2 March, but there have been fresh concerns due to a spate of Covid-19 cases in northern Italy and other countries outside of China.

In new a statement, event organisers say they are “carefully observing the situation and its possible implications for exhibitors, visitors, partners and employees” and have encouraged visitors from at-risk areas to check staff have not shown any symptoms for 14 days prior to arriving in Switzerland.

Organisers are also in contact with Swiss health and medical bodies to develop a “sanitary action plan”, which will involve a “programme of cleaning, disinfection and prevention”. This will include a cleaning and awareness campaign, along with new signage reminding visitors about personal hygiene.

The statement concluded: “Please take note that the current situation in Switzerland is rather reassuring; none of the samples tested so far has been positive for the novel coronavirus.”

The Geneva motor show is arguably the most important of the year, and a number of major reveals are due to take place in Switerland.

We’re expecting to see the hot GTI version of Volkswagen’s new Golf, its platform-sharing Audi A3 rival and the facelifted Mercedes-Benz E-Class, while there are certain to be a few surprises, too.

Not every major manufacturer will have a presence at this year’s show, however. Lamborghini has confirmed it won’t be attending, instead choosing to focus on bespoke events for its new models, while the PSA Group (Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Opel/Vauxhall) and Jaguar Land Rover are also taking a rain check. 

Here’s a full list of the cars set to appear:

AIways

U5

Chinese manufacturer AIways will debut a European market-ready version of its U5 electric SUV at this year’s Geneva show. The Volkswagen Tiguan-size SUV delivers 313 miles of electric range on the NEDC test cycle and is set to be sold online, exclusively on a lease basis for less than €400 (£346) by 2021. The larger U7 SUV is also expected to appear, alongside a U6 concept vehicle.

Chinese firm Aiways to show Europe-spec U5 EV at Geneva

Apex

AP-0

British sports car maker Apex is keeping its cards close to its chest with regard to its new AP-0 electric hypercar, but we know it will weigh just 1200kg, feature a pure-carbonfibre central tub and offer ‘rapid’ acceleration.

British firm Apex to reveal electric hypercar at Geneva

Audi 

A3 Sportback

The new Audi A3 will follow hot on the heels of the fresh-faced eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf with similarly evolutionary styling and a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The five-door hatchback will arrive first, followed in 2021 by a new liftback variant, but we’re not expecting the cabriolet to make a comeback. As with the Golf, there won’t be an electric version, because Audi is developing a standalone compact entry-level EV for launch in 2021, but the S3 and RS3 hot hatches will be brought back with more power and wilder styling than their predecessors. 

First drive: 2020 Audi S3 prototype​

BAC

Mono 2

The Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) is gearing up to reveal a successor to its Mono single-seater lightweight sports car at Geneva this year. Little is known about the car, but it will be joined by the Mono One (pictured above), a run-out version of the original Mono restricted to just three examples. All feature exposed carbon bodywork and are painted in each of the firm’s signature colours: black, red and white. They retain the standard car’s 2.5-litre Ford four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, which produces 305bhp and 227lb ft – helping propel the 580kg machine from 0-60mph in 2.8sec. 

First-gen BAC Mono bows out with celebratory final edition

Bentley 

Bacalar

Last year, Autocar reported that Bentley’s in-house coachbuilding arm Mulliner was at work on an ultra-exclusive, £1.5 million roadster with styling influenced by the striking EXP GT 100 concept, and it looks like we’ll see the finished product at Geneva. A preview video gave little away, but its name – inspired by a Mexican lake with bright blue waters – and the company’s claim that it will represent “the future of coachbuilding” suggest it will be one of the most luxurious models yet to come out of Crewe. 

Bentley previews ultra-exclusive coachbuilt Bacalar for Geneva

Continental GT Mulliner Convertible

The Continental GT Mulliner Convertible is a limited-run version of Bentley’s flagship grand tourer aimed at “customers wanting an even greater focus on beautiful details”. As such, it features a bespoke Double Diamond front grille, new 22in wheels and unique interior elements. 

Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible revealed

BMW

M340d

The new BMW M340d xDrive is the most powerful diesel-powered 3 Series yet, packing just slightly less power than the hot M340i at 335bhp. Available in both saloon and Touring estate forms, it’s also equipped with mild hybrid technology that boosts power and saves fuel. 

BMW to launch hot M340d 3 Series at Geneva

Fiat

500e

Another icon tipped for rebirth is the fashionable Fiat 500 city car, which will gain a globally available electric option. Spy shots reveal that the new car will bear a strong resemblance to the retro-influenced current model, but company boss Olivier François has revealed that it will sit atop a brand-new bespoke platform and has even hinted at the possibility of a feisty Abarth version.

New Fiat 500e: electric city car seen inside and out in new shots

Honda

Civic Type R facelift

Honda has revealed a facelifted version of its Civic hatchback, featuring subtle design tweaks and an upgraded interior, and Geneva will mark the public debut of the updated Type R. The 316bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine remains, as do the fan-favourite triple tailpipes, with significant changes limited to infotainment upgrades and a revamped front end. There’s a lightweight Limited Edition variant on offer, too, offering performance and handling advantages over the standard model. 

Updated 2020 Honda Civic Type R gets two new variants​

Hyundai

i20

The new i20 represents the start of a “revolutionary and ambitious” new design language for Hyundai. It will arrive in dealerships in May, boasting sportier styling, more interior space and enhanced connectivity over its predecessor. 

New Hyundai i20 arrives with new styling and mild-hybrid engines

i30 facelift

Hyundai will bring its i30 family hatchback into line with the rest of its line-up with more aggressive front end styling, restyled bumpers and new LED headlights. Inside, the Volkswagen Golf rival will gain a new digital instrument cluster and the option of a 10.25in infotainment touchscreen, but there’s no word yet on whether the car’s mechanicals will be altered.

New Hyundai i30 facelift teased ahead of Geneva reveal​

Kia

Sorento

Kia has released official images and technical data of its new Sorento, but we’ve yet to see the third-gen SUV in the flesh. The Skoda Kodiaq rival sits atop an all-new monocoque platform, which allows for shorter overhangs and enhanced interior space. There’s also a hybrid option for the first time. 

New 2020 Kia Sorento detailed ahead of Geneva debut

Mercedes-AMG 

GT 73 4-door Coupé

With its hybridised twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8 pumping out in excess of 800bhp, the new GT 73 will not only be AMG’s most potent model yet but also the world’s most powerful four-door grand tourer. It isn’t yet confirmed for a Geneva debut, but a recent preview video suggests the wraps are soon to come off. Despite its near-200bhp advantage over the GT 63, the new model is also set to be the performance brand’s most economical yet, with its electric motor offering a zero-emissions range of around 31 miles.

800bhp+ hybrid Mercedes-AMG GT 73 4-door Coupé detailed

Mercedes-Benz

CLA and GLA PHEVs

Following the recent unveiling of the new A-Class and B-Class PHEVs, Mercedes looks set to roll out a new plug-in hybrid option for the latest CLA and GLA. Both the compact saloon and its platform-sharing crossover sibling will use a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 101bhp electric motor for a combined output of 215bhp and an electric-only range of around 35 miles. 

E-Class facelift

Spotted testing for the first time in 2018 and possibly appearing at Geneva, the facelifted E-Class will come into line with the new CLA, A-Class and GLA. That means the current rounded front end will adopt a more angular look, light clusters at both ends will be reshaped and the interior will feature the latest generation of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment software. The more rugged All-Terrain estate version will return as well, taking the fight to the Volvo V90 Cross Country with plastic body cladding and jacked-up suspension. 

New 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate facelift spotted testing

Polestar

Precept 

Volvo-owned electric performance brand Polestar will unveil a bold new concept that will hint at the design of a future model. Called the Precept, the car will feature the brand’s trademark LED headlights and wraparound rear light bar. It’s likely to feature the same 402bhp twin-motor powertrain as the firm’s new 2 fastback. 

Polestar to preview future model with new concept at Geneva

Porsche

718 Cayman GTS 4.0

The range-topping GTS variant of Porsche’s entry-level sports car has made a return to form with a naturally aspirated flat-six motor based on that found in the top-rung Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder. The new motor option comes in response to calls for a more potent and characterful 718 in the US, where the four-cylinder current model has been underperforming. 

Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS bring back six-cylinder power

911 Turbo

We’ve had the 2S, 4S and the Cabriolet, but the new 911 Turbo is yet to be revealed. Prototypes have begun shedding their disguise, suggesting an imminent unveiling, and we can see that the range-topper will sport a model-specific rear diffuser, reconfigured air intakes and redesigned lightweight alloy wheels. More significantly, the 3.8-litre flat-six will be boosted courtesy of a pair of sizeable turbochargers, while stiffer bushings and suspension tweaks will offer keener handling characteristics.

New 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo set for Geneva debut

Renault

Morphoz

Renault will offer an idea of what to expect from its future electric models with the new Morphoz concept. It’s described as a ‘modular vehicle’, suggesting it can be adapted to suit its users’ needs, and will feature design elements and technology destined for showrooms in the coming years. 

Renault confirms Morphoz concept, Dacia EV for Geneva

Rimac

C_Two

Revealed in concept form for the first time back in 2018, the Rimac C_Two is set to make its long-awaited production-spec debut at Geneva. The all-electric hypercar can power from 0-100mph in just over four seconds, and continue on to a top speed of 258mph. Don’t get too excited about trying it for yourself, however, because all 150 examples have already sold for £1.5 million each.

Mate Rimac on C_Two progress and opening a British R&D centre​

Seat 

Leon

Fresh from its unveiling in late January, Seat’s answer to the Ford Focus will make its public debut in Switzerland. The 2020 Leon takes styling influence from the recently revealed el-Born electric hatchback with a full-width rear light bar, angular LED headlights and Seat’s new grille design, as well as gaining its first electrified variant and featuring a significant technological revamp inside. It’s said to be “the biggest step forward in the model’s history” and is available in five-door hatchback, estate and crossover forms. 

New 2020 Seat Leon: all the details

Skoda

Octavia vRS

The hottest version of Skoda’s new Octavia saloon and estate is set to receive a public debut at this year’s Geneva show. It will be the brand’s most comprehensive line-up of Octavia vRS models ever, with a plug-in hybrid joining the existing petrol and diesel engines. Outright power is expected to match the petrol, with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and electric motor working together to deliver nearly 250bhp and up to 300lb ft of torque. It should get manual and dual-clutch automatic gearbox options, along with front and four-wheel drive.

New Skoda Octavia vRS to get more power and hybrid option

Toyota

2020 Yaris

Toyota’s new Yaris supermini will make its first public appearance at Geneva, displaying the results of its ground-up redesign ahead of an on-sale date later this year. There’s an entirely new platform underneath, while powertrain options include a bespoke new three-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid. It’s also more compact and dynamically focused than the outgoing model, with Toyota claiming a minimal interior space deficit as a result of the shrinkage. 

New 2020 Toyota Yaris revealed with ground-up redesign

Yaris-based SUV

Toyota will take on the new Ford Puma with a Yaris-based small SUV being unwrapped at Geneva. Packing four-wheel-drive and a 1.5-litre hybridised petrol engine, the unnamed new model will feature an all-new design and proper off-road suspension. 

New Toyota small SUV gets all-wheel drive and hybrid powertrain

Volkswagen

Golf GTI

Hot on the heels of the standard Mk8 Golf’s unveiling, the new GTI will bring its trademark blend of performance and practicality to the Geneva show. We’re expecting the usual sporty styling embellishments to cloak a 242bhp reworking of VW’s EA888 2.0-litre turbo motor, which will push the hot hatch from 0-62mph in less than six seconds, and on to a top speed of 155mph.

Golf GTD

Making its debut alongside the hot new GTI, the warmed-up Golf GTD will feature broadly similar styling to the petrol-powered performance flagship, but without that car’s distinctive red grille stripe and air-channeling winglets. Volkswagen claims it’s the cleanest and most powerful diesel Golf yet. 

New Volkswagen Golf GTD previewed ahead of Geneva debut

Fancy a taster? Here’s everything we saw last year:

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