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The Motorists Guide

2020 Geneva motor show preview: officials vow event will run

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2019 Geneva motor show - atmosphere Bentley, Ferrari, Volkswagen, Skoda and others are set to unwrap some of 2020's most important new cars

The organisers of the Geneva motor show, one of Europe’s premier motoring events, have said the event is set to go ahead as planned, despite reports suggesting otherwise due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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

But a spokesperson told Autocar that the Geneva show is still set to go ahead on 2 March, adding that event officials were “observing the situation and its possible implications for its employees, exhibitors and visitors”.

A number of precautionary measures will be put in place as part of a “sanitary action plan” to ensure the health of visitors, including several cleaning and disinfection steps and an awareness campaign.

There have been no positive cases of Covid-19 in Switzerland, and the spokesperson said none of the exhibitors had cancelled at the present time.

Confirmation that the event is set to go ahead will be welcomed by the industry, with a number of big reveals set to take place.

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 (including Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Vauxhall) and Jaguar Land Rover are also taking a rain check. 

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

AIways

U5

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Chinese manufacturer AIways will debut a European market-ready version of its U5 electric SUV at this year's Geneva show. The Volkswagen Tiguan-sized 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

Audi 

A3 Sportback

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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

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The Briggs Automotive Company 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 2.8 seconds. 

First-gen BAC Mono bows out with celebratory final edition

Bentley 

Bacalar

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Last year, Autocar reported that Bentley's in-house coachbuilding arm Mulliner was at work on an ultra-exclusive, £1.5m 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

Ferrari 

Roma

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Maranello is yet to confirm that it will be attending the Geneva motor show, but the event seems a likely stage for the public debut of the firm's new Roma grand tourer. Sharing some underpinnings with the slightly softer Portofino convertible, the new 2+2 packs 612bhp from a front-mounted 3.9-litre turbo V8, and features a bold new design language aimed at attracting new customers. It will arrive in UK dealerships in summer, priced from around £175,000. 

Latest details on new V8-powered Ferrari Roma

Fiat

500e

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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

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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

Hyundai

i20

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Hyundai's i20 supermini will enter its new generation at this year's show, with official sketches (and unofficial spy images of the car undergoing testing) hinting at a more aggressive front end and styling inspired by the recently updated i10. Little is known about the new car, including whether or not a three-door bodystyle will return from the current generation, or if Hyundai plans to introduce electrified powertrains to help reduce its fleet emissions.

New 2020 Hyundai i20 confirmed for unveiling in March

i30 facelift

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

New Hyundai i30 facelift teased ahead of Geneva reveal​

Kia

Sorento

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Kia will unwrap the next generation of its Sorento mid-sized SUV, and has confirmed that it will sit atop an all-new purpose-built platform, and be available with a hybrid option for the first time. Preview sketches show off a more angular design than the previous model, with lighting designs and trim shapes inspired by the firm's US-market Telluride seven-seater. 

New 2020 Kia Sorento to be unveiled at Geneva motor show

Mercedes-AMG 

GT 73 4-door Coupé

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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

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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

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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

Porsche

718 Cayman GTS 4.0

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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

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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

Rimac

Two

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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 – all 150 examples have already sold for £1.5 million. 

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

Seat 

Leon

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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

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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

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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

Volkswagen

Golf GTI

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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. A diesel-powered Golf GTD is also set to appear alongside the GTI.

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

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