Europe’s biggest motoring event returns for 2020 with groundbreaking launches planned in every segment
With less than two months to go until the doors open at Geneva, Europe’s biggest and most important motor show, manufacturers are already dropping hints at what’s set to appear.
In something of a break from convention for motor shows of late, electrification and combustion look to share the limelight in Switzerland, with new electric models roughly equal in number to their conventionally fuelled counterparts. Fiat will give the 500 supermini a new electric version and Land Rover will give us a look at two very important new hybrid models, but Honda’s acclaimed Civic Type R retains its buzzy 2.0-litre turbo, while Audi and Seat will offer their new family hatchbacks in a range of petrol and diesel guises.
Let’s take a look at the most important new models being unwrapped:
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 down the line with more power and wilder styling than their predecessors.
New Audi A3 seen undisguised ahead of early 2020 launch
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
Civic Type R facelift
Honda recently revealed a facelifted version of its Civic hatchback, featuring subtle design tweaks and an upgraded interior, and Geneva will mark the 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. Spy shots of the model wearing a Nürburgring silhouette decal indicate that a limited-run special edition could soon go on sale in celebration of the model’s lap record at the German circuit. Like the Renault Mégane RS Trophy-R, this is likely to offer performance and handling advantages over the standard model.
Facelifted Honda Civic Type R receives handling and interior upgrades
F-Pace and XF facelifts
Jaguar’s saloon and SUV flagships will be brought into line with the latest F-Type and XE with slimmer front and rear lights, a reconfigured interior and a raft of technological upgrades, and we’re expecting to get our first look at one or both at Geneva. Both models have lost out to respective rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in recent years, but it’s hoped that the updates – as well as a new range of RDE2-compliant diesel engines – will help to restore their competitive edge.
New Jaguar F-Pace facelift seen testing ahead of 2020 release | New Jaguar XF: 2020 facelift tests in Sportbrake form
Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque PHEVs
Land Rover’s entry-level Range Rover Evoque and its platform-sharing Discovery Sport sibling are set to receive plug-in hybrid versions to strengthen their appeal. Both models will make use of a 197bhp 1.5-litre petrol three-cylinder engine paired with a 107bhp electric motor for an electric-only range of around 40 miles – significantly more than most PHEV SUVs.
Land Rover reveals Range Rover Evoque PHEV details
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.
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.
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
718 Cayman GTS
Porsche’s entry-level sports car is set to make a return to form with a naturally aspirated flat-six motor based on that 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 GTS review
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.
Porsche 992 911: The road test
Set for a full unveiling in late January, Seat’s answer to the Ford Focus will make its public debut in Switzerland two months later. The 2020 Leon will take 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 will be available in five-door hatchback, estate and crossover forms.
New 2020 Seat Leon previewed ahead of January reveal
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’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
Fancy a taster? Here’s everything we saw last year: