Ahhh, motor shows. They do bring out the occasional nut-job of a vehicle. I say occasional, but I could’ve easily filled this space twice over. Read on if you’re interested in the best of the bizarre, brilliant or simply outrageous debuts at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show.
If the 100th-anniversary Bugatti Veyron Bleu Centenaire had been blessed with the 1,350 horsepower rumored before the show, it would almost certainly have made our supercar pick here in place of this Ferrari. But as it is, the Bug is just a particularly tasty one-off special edition. And the 599XX is utterly mental. Even the extreme looks don't quite do this car justice. A track-only special that will be offered exclusively to hand-picked Ferrari faithful, the 599XX is packed with advanced, Formula 1-derived technology, and can lap the Fiorano test track in 1 minute 17 seconds. That's seven seconds faster than an Enzo. Whoa.
Compared to this car, the Rolls-Royce 200EX concept looks like a positive paragon of virtue and prudence. Say hello, plutocrat, this here is the limited edition, $564,699-plus Maybach Zeppelin. It has a 640-horsepower twin turbo V12 and a back-seat perfume dispenser. What more could you possibly ask for? Based on the existing Maybach 57S and 62S, the company reckons it can sell 100 of each of them. Special features include the unique two-tone exterior finish, Zeppelin badges everywhere – including on the standard champagne flutes – and more streamlined mirrors. The name comes from the airships, Maybach having supplied the originals' engines.
If there's one thing you can rely on at the Geneva Auto Show, it's that Swiss coach builder Rinspeed will always have something completely ridiculous on display. Last year it was the sQuba – a bizarre, amphibian, modified Lotus Elise. This year it's the iChange, a concept car that adapts its body shape depending on the number of passengers onboard. This is really quite a bright idea, reflecting the reality that most cars are single-occupant vehicles for most of the time. So when there's just the driver, the iChange adopts a streamlined teardrop shape. Need more space, and the back pops up to accommodate two additional passengers. An electric motor provides the power.
Ford iosis Max
Is this the most aggressive people carrier you've ever seen? Kia reveals its new No 3 concept by suggesting that it's “the first beautiful MPV” — and Ford turns up with the iosis Max, a concept so angry-looking it probably eats pretty little Kias for breakfast (especially given that the Koreans appear to have adopted Ford's design language, but that's another story). With downforce-generating c-pillars, an enormous rear wing and grab handles influenced by aircraft vortices, we've never seen a people carrier quite like this. But despite the visual stroppiness, the iosis Max is really a big softy at heart. Powered by a 1.6-liter “Ecoboost,” it debuts Ford's new family of environmentally friendly turbo engines.
You could argue – and many people do — that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is outrageous enough upon leaving the factory. A 550-horsepower 2.5-ton SUV that can do zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds doesn't really need any help in this regard. Still, you can't fault specialist tuner Mansory's effort when trying. This is the Mansory Chopster. It has 710 horses under the hood. The revised bodywork is crafted entirely from carbon fiber. The roofline has been lowered 2.4 inches — hence the name — and the suspension dropped by 1.8 inches. The alloy wheels are a ridiculous 23 inches in diameter, and you could literally fit your head in the exhaust. It's awful. But we really, really want one.
Citroen DS INSIDE
You want outrageous? We'll tell you what's outrageous — Citroen turning up with a new, near-production concept surprise in the form of the new DS Inside, and then not bothering to display it prominently on the front of the stand. Even privileged members of the press had to be “invited” to view it. No strolling up and pressing your greasy fingers all over this one — the DS Inside is hidden away in a glorified cupboard. We can only assume that this is some kind of misguided ploy to build up mystique around the forthcoming “Different Spirit” (DS, geddit?) Citroen premium brand. Oh boy.
Bentley Continental Supersports
What we like particularly about the Bentley Continental Supersports is that Bentley is pitching it as the first stage in the company's new environmental commitment. OK, it uses biofuel. Fine, but the Continental Supersports is also the fastest, most powerful Bentley ever made. Somehow the two aspects don't quite compute. Then there's the genius of having a car as big as a Bentley Continental, and fitting only two seats in it. The Supersports develops 630 horsepower, for crying out loud. It does zero to 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 204 mph. Would the extra weight really have made that much difference?
There's a word for this car. And we're pretty sure it's wacky. Meet the next Nissan supermini – it's called the Qazana, and it apparently comes on stilts. That is some kind of crazy ground clearance going on there. Speed bumps and curbstones aren't exactly going to trouble this baby. The Qazana is officially just a concept. But Nissan is dropping big hints that it represents a big clue to its next-generation small car – one that's clearly going to be a crossover like its hugely successful Qashqai big brother. Distinctive looks on the outside, and an awesome, motorbike-influenced interior. We love it.
Koenigsegg NLV Quant concept
What the ...? Seriously, sitting just next to this on the same stand was yet another Special Edition version of the fabulous Koenigsegg CCXR – a car that's as dramatic as it is unaffordable. The Koenigsegg Quant, on the other hand, looks like an extra-large, super-ugly, upside-down bathtub. Still, the attempt to create a solar-electric supercar with space for four is virtuous enough, we suppose. And the projected statistics make intriguing reading: twin electric motors, rear-wheel drive, 512 horsepower, zero to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds, and a theoretical 310 mile range. The bodywork is covered in solar cells, and the aerodynamics reputedly excellent.
Frazer-Nash Namir by Giugiaro
Proving that eco-friendly supercars don't have to be hideous is this concept, the Frazer-Nash Namir by Giugiaro. Yes, the Frazer-Nash in question is related to that famous British motor-racing marque. The company is now involved in the design, development and manufacture of hybrid systems, and that's what is showcased here. Cloaked in a car designed and built by Giugiaro, the Namir's hybrid drivetrain uses a tiny 814cc rotary combustion engine to provide power to four electric motors. The result is claimed CO2 emissions of less than 60g/km. It also runs from zero to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a 187 mph top speed, potentially making this the fastest hybrid ever.