Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg

Super Lightweight Supercars Dominate at Geneva Motor Show

Have luxury automakers have finally perfected the balance between elite performance and efficiency? Maybe

Koenigsegg is Swedish for "crazy." 

OK, really it's the maker of an especially exotic line of hyperfast track cars. But it feels like there should be a blanket Scandanavian term for many of the new cars this week at the Geneva Motor Show. All austerity measures seem to be called off. Consider this the year of the supercar.

Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce

The Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce.

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

For example, Aston Martin showed its 800-horsepower, $2.3 million Vulcan. Mercedes showed a AMG GT3 race car with a 600hp V8 engine that screamed like a banshee as it rolled on stage to wild applause during its debut; Ferrari unveiled the turbocharged and (relatively) efficient $223,000 488GTB; Lamborghini showed an extended version of its Aventador called the LP 750-4 Superveloce (Aventador SV for short). As if the Aventador wasn’t aggressive enough.  

The Bentley interior.

The EXP 10 Speed 6 interior, by Bentley.

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

On the more driveable end of the spectrum, Bentley surprised the world with its beautiful EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept coupe. It’s sexier—more svelte—than its beefier Continental cousins, thanks in part to a redesigned front grill and leaner sculpting throughout its body. Inside, it has quilted bucket seats and a softer, continuous design line around the cabin. At a private dinner with McLaren last night, it was the main topic of conversation among the European press who attended. (McLaren unveiled an aggressive whip of its own, the 666hp 675LT supercar.)

Audi updated its longstanding R8 line with a $250,000-plus electric variant; Porsche gave us a 911 GT3 RS. Koenigsegg showed two stunners: the 1,500hp Regera and the multimillion-dollar Agera RS. 

Photographer: Chesnot/Getty Images

Power Meets Efficiency

But while the dozen or so new luxury sports cars that arrived yesterday would make James Bond himself salivate, they differed from the supercars we’ve seen in previous years. This year automakers seem to have struck a healthy balance between attaining increasingly stupendous new levels of power—a race that was unsustainable anyway—and bolstering lightweight efficiency. 

 Porsche 911 GT3
The Porsche 911 GT3.
Photographer: Chesnot/Getty Images

It’s not enough anymore that your car of choice gets 600-plus horsepower. Now it must also learn how to subsist on fuel as lightly as a hummingbird sips nectar. 

“The car must be up to the task of delivering blistering, lightweight performance at new levels of soothing luxury,” Christian von Koenigsegg said in a press statement about the Regera. “Get the luxury but keep the weight down.”

Koenigsegg Agera

The Koenigsegg Agera.

Photographer: Chesnot/Getty Images

Ditto everyone. 

Amedeo Felisa at Ferrari, Andy Palmer at Aston Martin, and Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche, among others, all spent portions of their opening speeches bragging about the records set by their new products in power-to-weight ratios. 

“The Vulcan is the most extreme Aston Martin we’ve ever made,” said Palmer, who pointed out that at 2,976 pounds, the all-carbon-fiber coupe weighs fully 300 pounds less than the famous One-77. “It sets a whole new standard in the ultrahigh luxury supercar class.”

Aston Martin's Most Extreme Car Ever: The Vulcan

Others, such as Mike Flewitt at McLaren, reiterated promises to diversify powertrains in favor of alternative fuels. In 10 years, more than half of McLaren’s cars use hybrid energy, he said. And Zetsche committed Mercedes to offering 10 different plug-in hybrids by 2017. 

Not that it changes anyone’s appetite for speed. 

“The new GT3 is packed with potential to keep our customers ahead of the competition, with less weight, faster lap times, and more aggressive looks than its predecessor,” Zetsche told reporters. “And we are hungry for more.” 

These days, apparently, weight loss and whopping power aren’t mutually exclusive. Let’s hope the partnership lasts.  

The Mercedes AMG GT3.

The Mercedes AMG GT3.

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg


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