Geneva's three hottest cars

Audi, Honda and Maserati are showing sports cars that are especially desirable, but each for different reasons

Three carmakers have tightly kept their stars for this year’s Geneva motor show wrapped till the last minute just before the curtains were raised last week — never too late for car lovers, though.

Audi gives the TTS a more powerful 310hp turbo engine and has previewed a madder 420hp concept potentially for the next TT RS.

Audi has unleashed the third-generation TT and continues to tell the world of luxury cars that mild design evolution holds the key to success.

By being an iconic compact 2+2 sports car that helped transformed Audi’s image among the young generation of car buyers in the past decade, the all-new TT is hoped by the Germans to further underscore its sporty mission in global markets.

The most notable changes include the hexagonal front grille and the brand’s new LED matrix lights. As revealed in Las Vegas earlier this year, the interior has evolved with even tidier ergonomics than ever.

By using more aluminium in its body construction, the most basic TT now weights 1,230kg — around 50kg less than in the second-gen model. While the overall dimensions remain basically the same, the wheelbase has grown by 37mm, to 2,505mm, yielding shorter front and rear overhangs.

The range-topping TTS — as pictured here on this page — comes with a 310hp 2.0-litre petrol-turbo engine helping propel the car from 0-100kph in 4.7sec. That’s a good 0.8sec faster than the previous 272hp TTS, and just 0.2sec slower than today’s 340hp TT RS.

Other engine variants include 184hp diesel and 230hp petrol, both using 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motors. Expect a less powerful and smaller petrol head to follow, which will help keep the TT’s price around the 4 million baht mark due to the 220hp tax barrier, unless Thai enthusiasts don’t mind diesel when sales of right-hand-drive cars start toward the year’s end.

Also joining the TT at Audi’s stand is the Sport Quattro Concept, which is merely a sportier version with aero add-ons. The concept previews a 420hp version of the same EA888 2.0-litre engine that could be used in the next TT RS.

Honda, meanwhile, is reinforcing its Type R spirit by unveiling a hot version of its European Civic hatchback in concept form. Outlandish exterior features inspired by its WTCC racer include all-round skirts, rear spoiler, flared wheel arches housing 20-inch alloys and four tail pipes. The body is 30mm lower than the regular Civic.

Honda says the Civic Type R comes with a 2.0-litre petrol-turbo engine pumping out at least 280hp. No details about the transmission have been revealed. While a six-speed manual is a cert for Europeans, the car’s global appeal can only be boosted by an automatic gearbox of some sort (Honda has dual-clutch automatic know-how).

The production-ready model is most likely to launch in 2015, which is a crucial year for Honda in invigorating its sporty image. Next year, the all-new NSX supercar goes on sale and Honda returns to F1 racing by supplying engines to McLaren.

Maserati, on the other hand, is using its 100th anniversary this year to host the world premiere of the jaw-dropping Alfieri concept car.

Named after one of the marque’s founding brothers, the looks of 2+2 coupe has been inspired by the 3000/5000 GT models of the late 1950s and is claimed by Maserati to influence a future sports car.

The Alfieri is based on a shortened platform of today’s GranTurismo MC Stradale and uses the same 470hp 4.7-litre V8, six-speed automated manual gearbox and carbon-ceramic disc brakes of the donor car.

The Italians haven’t mentioned whether the new coupe will directly replace the GranTurismo or would it be a new smaller model positioned a rung below.

About the author

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Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor