With a few years of troubles in the European automotive sector and not much preview news, I hadn't been expecting much for the 2014 Geneva auto show. But the last month proved me wrong, wrong, wrong. Almost every major automaker, and many you've probably never heard of, has something big planned for the show, from blisteringly fast supercars, to design concepts, to the kinds of new models that matter for the everyday driver.
Last December, Lamborghini released news of its Gallardo replacement, the Huracan. Not only sporting a 610-horsepower V-10 engine, the Huracan brings in high-tech features such as LED headlights and styling cues that echo the Lamborghini Aventador. It's a new car for the garages of the wealthy and the desktop wallpaper of teenagers' computers.
Geneva will host some competition in this realm, however. Last week, McLaren announced its star of the show, the 650S. Expanding McLaren's model line-up by a third, the 650S boasts 641 horsepower from its twin-turbo V-8. Active aerodynamics and suspension help this one hold the road.
If either of those cars sounds like weak sauce, Koenigsegg just announced it will show off its new One:1 model. The company calls it the Megawatt car due to its power output of 1,000 kilowatts, or 1,340 in horsepower. From Koenigsegg's early press materials, the One:1 should get above a top speed of 273 mph, putting it in the running for fastest production car in the world.
Other notable marques in this starry sphere at the show will be Ferrari, Pagani, and Bugatti, among others.
Equally as enticing will be a train-load worth of concept cars, those one-off design exercises companies use to test visual waters and propose new models. Maserati writes of the unnamed concept car it plans for Geneva, "it will give a nod to the style of Maseratis of the next 100 years," a very impressive boast.
Mazda will showcase the Hazumi concept, widely believed to be the next Mazda2 model. If it proves as good as the new Mazda3, the other subcompacts will have a hard time keeping up.
Mitsubishi promises no less than three concepts, at least two of them plug-in hybrid models, and Volkswagen will have the T-Roc, which looks like a Golf with over-size wheels.
One that I'm looking forward in particular to is the Volvo Concept Estate. I was so blown away by Volvo's Concept Coupe from last year's Frankfurt show that I can't wait for the follow-up.
Quite a number of other concepts have been announced, and CNET will be covering them all during the show.
But let's talk turkey, the kinds of cars you are actually going to buy in the future. Being a European show, some of the new models announced won't find their way to US shores; of the ones that will, I am most excited about two: the Audi TT and the Nissan Juke. Both update existing models, modernizing design and electronics.
Audi released a few sketches of the TT, showing some new angles in the bubble-shaped car, but really has my interest piqued is the Virtual Cockpit Audi had on display during CES. If the electronics are as good as the design and drivetrain, this is going to be one hot little coupe.
I admit to being a fanboy for the Nissan Juke, so of course I'm looking forward to the update. However, Nissan has released scant information, just a teaser photo hiding the juiciest bits.
Lexus plans to roll out a brand new compact SUV, the NX, available as a hybrid or a turbo 2-liter. The company previewed the new model with a concept at last year's Frankfurt show, and the finished deal promises to be a stylish, practical vehicle.
I've also been hearing rumors about a new compact SUV from Jeep, which may be called the Jeepster. This one is likely to be a down-sized Cherokee built on an Italian chassis from parent company Fiat.
One more on the radar is a big, new coupe from Mercedes-Benz, the two-door S550. Also following a concept from last year's Frankfurt show, this one will be an exquisite high-tech luxury roller.
The 2014 Geneva auto show is open to the public from March 6 to 16, but if you can't make it, check out CNET's coverage from the press preview days on March 4 and 5.