The Swiss event has always been the most sophisticated among its peers, traditionally hosting more concept vehicles and super luxury cars than any other auto show. Despite that, organizers have always managed to maintain the balance between dream cars that only the one percenters could afford and “down-to-earth” automobiles that the rest of the population (a part of it, at least) could be able to buy.
Not this year, though. The 2019 Geneva Motor Show seems to cater to the one percent more than ever — just look at the relatively small number of production car world debuts from mainstream automakers. In fairness, we shouldn’t blame only organizers for that because some manufacturers have chosen to skip the show this year. That says a lot about the future of auto shows in general, given that Geneva is the world’s most important event of its kind.
Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo are just some of the automakers that you won’t find at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Add to that an ever-increasing number of exotic car companies and you get an interesting result: a ridiculously low number of production car world debuts from mainstream brands.
Leaving aside premium marques as well as facelifted models, new variants or special editions, the list only includes the Mazda CX-30, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Skoda Kamiq, Skoda Scala, SsangYong Korando, Tata Altroz, and VW T-Cross. That’s about it.
While I totally agree that we, as individuals, should never stop dreaming, we should also be pragmatic and realize most of us will never get to own a Mercedes-Benz GLC, let alone a Ferrari F8 Tributo, a Koenigsegg Jesko or a Bugatti Voiture Noire.
The reason I made this ridiculously long introduction is to give you my top three “normal” car world debuts from the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Here they are.
#3 Mazda CX30
Though SUVs and crossovers are not my cup of tea, I can’t ignore the fact that Mazda has built a highly desirable compact utility vehicle. Bridging the gap between the cramped CX-3 and the perfectly-sized CX-5, the all-new CX-30 is the second best looking Mazda SUV in my book, right after the sleek CX-4 that’s only sold in China.
Essentially a 2019 Mazda3 on stilts, it uses the same architecture and has the same gorgeous interior as the compact hatchback. What’s not to like? Actually, there is something: designers apparently got carried away with the amount of plastic cladding they used on the CX-30. Well, at least you’ll fool other drivers that your Mazda is a serious off-roader.
#2 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake
I know I said no premium brands but I think we can make an exception for the CLA Shooting Brake which should continue to be Mercedes’ most affordable wagon and thus sits at the lower end of the luxury brand’s lineup. Plus, I’ve met many people who believe all models below the C-Class aren’t true Mercedes-Benz vehicles but compromises the brand made to get more sales and reach a younger clientele.
Well, if the second-generation CLA Shooting Brake is indeed a compromise, I don’t care because I find it flawless. It has perfect proportions and a stunning interior with the range-topping MBUX infotainment system. Add to that the improved engines, chassis, and tech, as well as the fact that it’s more practical than many similarly-sized SUVs and it’s hard to fault the new CLA Shooting Brake.
#1 Peugeot 208
While Renault played it safe with the new Clio by adopting an evolutionary design, Peugeot risked more and came up with a very attractive and modern new 208 supermini. It even has an all-electric variant called e-208 that sits on top of a new range of turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines.
Bold on the outside thanks to influences from the 508 and modern on the inside due to the i-Cockpit infotainment system, digital gauge cluster and low-set, small steering wheel, the second-generation Peugeot 208 shouldn’t have a hard time convincing European customers. At least those who haven’t caught the SUV bug yet. If the standard 208 looks so good, then I can’t wait to see the new 208 GTi hot hatch.