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Best Cars of the 2019 Geneva Motor Show: MotorTrend Favorites

Editors pick their favorite hypercars, concepts, and SUVs from Switzerland

Editors pick their favorite hypercars, concepts, and SUVs from Switzerland

Every year, you can count on the Geneva International Motor Show to deliver the latest and greatest supercars and hypercars, along with a mix of exclusive, ultra-luxe cars and SUVs, and sky’s-the-limit concept vehicles. This year was no different, but we also got a number of debuts more relevant to us common folk, including the Mazda CX-30 and Alfa Romeo Tonale crossovers and the likely-to-be-built Volkswagen ID Buggy electric weekend toy.

After two days scouring the Geneva show floor, the MotorTrend team has picked their favorite debuts of this year’s show. Read on to find what which cars made the cut.


Pininfarina Battista

At a Geneva show where the old automotive world order looked somewhat shaky—having abandoned Europe, GM had no reason to be there, and Ford, JLR, and Volvo were also absent—the Pininfarina Battista is perhaps a fitting metaphor for the industry’s future. The Battista combines the iconography of a storied automotive brand with state-of-the-moment electric vehicle technology from a little-known Croatian automaker with the bustling vibe of a Silicon Valley startup.

Founded by Battista “Pinin” Farina in Turin in 1930, Pininfarina designed dozens of Ferraris, as well as cars for automakers such as Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, and even Cadillac. Rimac Automobili, which not only designs and builds high-performance motors and battery systems but is also developing its own hypercar, the C_Two, is barely a decade old. But 31-year-old Mate Rimac’s company has already attracted serious attention from industry heavyweights, with Porsche recently taking a 10 percent stake.

The Battista combines classic, powerfully elegant Pininfarina design cues with the shattering performance of the Rimac hardware, whose four motors, mounted in a Rimac-designed carbon-fiber monocoque, deliver a staggering 1,874 hp and 1,696 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough, claims Pininfarina, to get the Battista to 60 mph in a Chiron-shaming 1.9 seconds and to a top speed of 218 mph (350 km/h).

It’s all being financed by Indian automaker Mahindra, which owns a majority share of Pininfarina SpA and 100 percent of newly founded Automobili Pininfarina, which aims to make and sell 150 Battistas, with one-third of them destined for the U.S. The first cars are scheduled to arrive in 2020. An Italian hypercar with Croatian electric vehicle technology, made by an Indian-owned company: Welcome to the brave new world of 21st century automaking.—Angus MacKenzie


Fiat Centoventi Concept

The resident technerd was utterly smitten by the cleverness and innovation invested in this tiny, affordable EV. From the modular, expandable, rentable battery packs that offer 60 to 300 miles (97 to 483 km) of range as needed to the clever 4U color and trim personalization scheme to the marketing and distribution model of downloading and 3-D-printing accessories at home, this fetching Fiat points to a future I’m eager to experience.—Frank Markus


Aston Martin Vanquish

Aston Martin showed not one but three mid-engine cars at Geneva. An impressive rollout for a company that, apart from the chunky Bulldog concept shown in 1979, has never before built one. Top of the Aston mid-engine lineup is, of course, the fabulous Adrian Newey–designed Valkyrie. Next is the AM-RB 003, itself a Geneva debutante, which will feature a lot of Valkyrie technology but won’t be quite as expensive or extreme.

The new Aston Martin Vanquish won’t be as fast as either the Valkyrie or the RB 003, but in many ways it is the most important car of the three in terms of securing Aston Martin’s future. The Vanquish will be Aston’s front-line weapon in taking the fight to Ferrari’s F8 Tributo, McLaren’s 720S, and Lamborghini’s Huraćan in the brutally competitive mid-engine supercar segment.

The Vanquish will be powered by the same twin-turbo V-6 as in the RB 003, though tuned to deliver slightly less power and performance. Given the output of its rivals, that still means somewhere in the region of 700 horsepower, however. The new V-6 is the first all-new engine designed and engineered in house by Aston Martin since Tadek Marek’s iconic V-8, which debuted in the Aston Martin DBS in 1969 and stayed in production for 32 years.

The production version of the Vanquish, the last of the seven cars planned as part of Aston CEO Andy Palmer’s “Second Century Plan,” is expected to appear toward the end of 2021.—Angus MacKenzie


Koenigsegg Jesko

The Koenigsegg team made the odd decision to launch the Jesko in white. Not a great auto show color, says me. All the cool curves and peaks and valleys get smoothed out, and, in the press photos at least, the Jesko looked like a blob. It ain’t. What it is, however, is an incredible guns-blazing hypercar. After you stand there and gawk at it for 45 minutes like I may or may not have done (could have been an hour), you start to think, “Yeah, $3 million USD seems about right.”

First of all, it’s got the hypercar bona fides. That $19 million USD one-off Bugatti makes 1,500 horsepower? Pshaw, bro—the Jesko’s got 1,600 ponies. Well, 1,600 hp if you fill it up with E85. Regular gasoline gives you only 1,280 hp. Boo hoo. Whatever the gas, the Jesko produces 1,106 lb-ft of torque. That mega boomerang wing creates 2,200 pounds (998 kg) of downforce and creates enough drag to limit the top speed to 298 mph (480 km/h). The big wing is part of the track package. Opt for the top speed Jesko, and you get a smaller wing that only creates 1,100 pounds (499 kg) of downforce but are now free to go 314 mph (505 km/h).

Then there’s that transmission. It has nine speeds, three gears, and seven clutches, and it’s 66 pounds (30 kg) lighter than a conventional dual-clutch. The oil-bathed clutches open and close to combine the three gears into nine ratios. Brilliant, innovative, and parked right in front of Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, and Bugatti. Kinda perfectly rubs it in VW Group’s face.

The Jesko also comes brimming with an attention to detail that’s just not seen on many other cars. Every part is fascinating and different from what you see on other hypercars. Although cynics might say that it’s just a refresh of the Agera, time spent eyeball-feasting on the Jesko leaves no doubt that Koenigsegg has built another legend.

*The Best of Show is actually the Aston Martin Valkyrie Verification Prototype 001. And although it’s the first production-intent car to ever look better than the show car it replaces, we did see the prototype last year, so a shady lawyer could argue that the Aston isn’t new. Fine, I’m giving Best of Show to the Koennigsegg. But I’m giving best car of the last 25 years (if not longer ) to the mind-shattering Aston Martin Valkyrie. It’s just so wonderful.—Jonny Lieberman


Imagine By Kia

With Luc Donckerwolcke now head of design at Hyundai-Kia following Peter Schreyer’s retirement, the relentless tide of sophisticated and well-executed designs for Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis vehicles shows no sign of abating. Imagine by Kia is a dynamic, well-proportioned take on a sporty crossover. More important, though, it previews Hyundai-Kia’s all-new battery electric vehicle architecture.

This new architecture follows the now-familiar skateboard format, with room for motors at the front and rear axles and the battery pack located between them in the floor. The architecture is flexible and scalable, enabling Hyundai-Kia to build electric vehicles that are smaller or larger than the Imagine concept, with different size battery packs, in large volumes. Think of it as Korea’s answer to VW Group’s MEB platform. A Hyundai concept on the same architecture will be revealed later this year.—Angus MacKenzie


Volkswagen ID Buggy

This is the kind of concept you instantly want but write off as pure fiction. But VW is seriously considering making it and has even got a contract manufacturer that could make 5,000 to 10,000 of them a year, likely starting in 2021, so I am psyched. It’s Kermit green and electric, has an old-school Beetle face, no doors or roof, and weatherproof cloth seats, and it drains throughout to hose it down or expel rainwater. It’s simple, pure motoring pleasure for weekend romps on the beach. Hoping VW follows its instincts and adds this to the portfolio.—Alisa Priddle


Alfa Romeo Tonale

This is so not a concept car. Everyone knows Alfa Romeo needs to expand its lineup beyond its compact Giulia sedan (2018 COTY winner) and its compact Stelvio crossover (2018 SUVOTY finalist). From the outside, the Tonale looks incrementally smaller than the Stelvio, and perhaps back-seat passengers might be a bit cramped. But would you look at this thing? Keep that same wondrous 280-hp 2.0-liter engine or make an optional electric version, and this thing will fly. I never thought I’d say this about an SUV, but this thing is sexy.—Mark Rechtin

This had me at the headlights. This concept, named for an Italian mountain pass, looks production-ready and is a striking take on the cookie-cutter compact SUV segment. There is little info so far on what seems to be a plug-in hybrid with electric power to the rear wheels. With it being an Alfa, we fully expect the power and agility to be baked in. And I’m sold on the stellar styling alone.—Alisa Priddle


Mazda CX-30

Never mind the weird break-of-form naming for this not-quite-compact SUV. (CX-4 is already used for the Chinese market for a different car.) Never mind that you think it’s just a CX-3 redesign or that it will sit too close to the CX-5. (It isn’t, and it won’t.) As the industry slices the crossover segment into ever thinner slices, Mazda has created something with decent back-seat space for a 6-footer, yet it feels racier than the larger CX-5. Take the Mazda3 platform and throw in Mazda’s new Skyactiv-X engine, and the CX-30 could redefine the compact SUV segment in terms of packaging, performance, and efficiency.—Mark Rechtin


1955 Golden Sahara II

Using George Barris’ customized 1953 Lincoln Capri as a starting point, Ohio genius Jim Street set out to make a 21st century idea car, adding radar for forward collision braking; by-wire joystick control of acceleration, steering, and braking; and even a rudimentary attempt at voice-command control. Don’t overlook the translucent Goodyear tires lit from within, which were envisioned to change colors to indicate acceleration, coasting, and braking (green-yellow-red). And finally, the fact that the car appeared on MotorTrend’s May 1955 cover earns it bonus points in this, our 70th anniversary year.—Frank Markus