Video: SEAT's flash in the Ateca SUV

CarsBy Paul Keown
The new SEAT Ateca
The new SEAT Ateca

Geneva Motor Show 2016

The glitz and glamour of motor shows attract the world’s media as new models are fondled and drooled over. For years, cars like the Bugatti or Ferrari drew crowds like flies round… well, you get my drift.

The thing is, I feel motor shows have lost their sparkle.

Yes, there are hyper cars like the Lamborghini and McLaren and luxurious land-yachts like the Rolls-Royce and Bentley, but the days of cars getting world exclusive reveals has gone.

There isn’t anything that hasn’t been seen weeks prior to motor shows and, for that reason alone, motor shows have lost their wow factor.

Still though, having seen most of the cars in print, it was nice to get up close and personal with them.

Geneva is my favourite show, simply because it’s compact enough to get around a couple of times in one day.

The shows usually have an underlying theme, with car-tech featuring highly last year and hybrids the year before.

This year it was cars for families and the explosion that is the crossover/SUV segment.

The early figures for 2016 show that Ireland is favouring the compact SUV and worldwide demand for these soft-roaders has seen new manufacturers entering the segment.

The Volkswagen group showed a strong hand with the new VW Tiguan delivering a more stylish look then the outgoing model.

Audi has delivered a new Q2, which is bigger than the pictures would have you believe – it has a beautiful interior.

Skoda wouldn’t be overshadowed and their Vision S concept seven-seat SUV looked stunning in the flesh.

The design looks like it should be competing against much more premium brands and the interior was mind-blowing.

The last to join the party in SUV land from the VW group is SEAT. They have been screaming out for a crossover and their new Ateca couldn’t come quick enough.

The Ibiza and Leon models have been really strong and I still think the Alhambra is pound-for-pound the best proper seven-seater available. 

The Ateca is probably one of the more spacious crossovers and if SEAT can get the price right, they are on to a winner.

It will compete against cars like the Hyundai Tuscon, Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar.

The Kadjar has done well, being one of the cheaper options, but the SEAT Ateca is rumoured to be around €25-26k (its only €20k in Germany) for the entry-level 1.0-litre MPi.

If SEAT can deliver a mid-spec Ateca for around €28k with a diesel engine, then they’ll have a bigger slice of the crossover pie than expected. 

Toyota showed of its C-HR concept – a wildly different design to their more conventional style of car. The coupe-like styling has me worried about interior space in the rear, but Toyota say it has as much interior space as the Qashqai.

The recently-launched Bentley Bentayga and Geneva reveal of the new Maserati Levante are posh SUVs – it’s just a pity that they are aesthetically challenged.

Stepping away from the en vogue crossover/SUV category, there was a lot of metal on show. Cars like the Vingale models offered by Ford, including the new Edge, looked good on the stand – the face-lifted Kuga gets here later this year.

Cars like the new Fiat Tipo and Suzuki Baleno offer value-for-money motoring, and while both are decent cars – the Tipo is quite nice and the Baleno spacious – they both lack the interior quality offered by many of their rivals.

I really liked the look of the Honda Civic prototype, which shows how the new Civic could look.

It’s bigger than the current model and the rear end doesn’t divide opinions as much.

Fiat also showed off their 124 Spider, and although I do like it, I can’t hide my affection for Mazda’s MX-5.

A curve ball is the Abarth edition of the Spider, which grabbed my attention. Anything with a scorpion badge makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Two stars on the Kia stand were the Optima Sportswagen and the Niro.

I love estates and Kias looks really well. I still think they need more choice in the engine department to add to the appeal of the range.

The Niro is a hybrid that sits just below the Sportage and will be seen in showrooms later this year.

Over on the Peugeot stand, the new 2008 is tweaked to make it more appealing and I like the new face it wears.

There wa also the new Traveller on stand, available in three sizes, it’s a great option for larger families with eight seats and decent boot space.

With only the Mercedes Vito, a much more expensive option, Peugeot’s Traveller will do well.

Renault proudly showed off their new Scenic and they have finally made MPVs look good.

Taking style cues from the Captur, the new Scenic is going to shake things up for brand that has been used to making practical people carriers.

The new one looks great. One thing – it has sacrificed a bit of the interior space with rear legroom minimal and the boot capacity below par. 

Opel showed of the updated Mokka X model which improves with styling tweaks.

It was slightly overshadowed by the GT Concept, a futuristic look at what’s down the line for Opel

There was a lot of concepts on show and the usual sprinkling of the fast and the furious but the concept that stood out for me was Mazda’s RX Vision.

It was stunning to look at and the promise of a front-engine rear-wheel drive set-up makes it a mouth-watering concept.

Of the more ridiculous motors on show, the Bugatti Veyron replacement, the Chiron is just bonkers.

A quad turbocharged eight-litre W16 engine with almost 1,500bhp and 0-100kph in just 2.5 seconds is unfathomable.

Who would have thought the Veyron wasn’t fast enough?

The Lamborghini Centenario, costing €2m, looks like a real poster car and that’s all you get if your interested, as all 40 versions have been sold already.

Now that I’ve got the feeling back in my feet, my reflection on the Geneva motor show flagged two things.

Firstly, Crossover/SUVs will continue to dominate sales, especially in Ireland and, secondly, orange is the new black.

There was so much orange paint variations at the show that I thought I’d been tangoed.

Under the lights many looked great, but after six months it would hard to live with.
If I had to give my car of the show I would have to juggle a few. Money no object, it would probably be the new Porsche 911 R, without the stupid stripes.

In the real world, I absolutely loved the new Volvo V90. I’ve always appreciated  a Volvo estate, even the boxy ones, but the new V90 is sleek with a high-tech interior and acres of space.