Geneva Motor Show 2013: How hypercars stole this year's show

Ferrari's 'LaFerrari', the McLaren P1 and the deliberately outrageous Lamborghini Veneno were the undoubted stars at Geneva - the one motor show which makes even bankers feel poorly paid.

You wait years for a hypercar to come along and then suddenly three turn up at once - from Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini.

All include ballistic power levels and top speeds that would see you locked up if even approached them, but all appeal to the car-mad child in many of us.

The fact the daftly named Ferrari 'LaFerrari', the more logical McLaren P1 and the deliberately outrageous Lamborghini Veneno – which meant poison in my Spanish dictionary last time I looked – aren’t as fast as Bugatti’s Veyron didn’t seem to matter as the stands disappeared under swathes of humanity.

Technically speaking the Ferrari is a hybrid, in that it has both petrol and electric power, but the electric motor is there to boost performance and all 499 cars to be built have already all been sold, so there’s no point mugging your bank manager for a million quid.

The McLaren is slightly more restrained, with more fluid lines and an exquisite finish, though the obvious mechanics of that rear wing jar in comparison.

Ferrari's 'LaFerrari', which does 0-62mph in under three seconds (Russell Bray)

The Lamborghini Veneno, on the market (one of three) for a cool £2.6m (Russell Bray)

McLaren say they only plan to make 375 of their P1s (Russell Bray)

McLaren says it will make only 375 P1s, but has double that number of people wanting to buy.

"You really need to control supply. If it doesn't have a degree of exclusivity you can undermine the whole cache,” said Mike Flewitt, chief operating officer of McLaren Automotive.

The Lambo? Well, how the edges on the car pass pedestrian safety regulations rather than slice them into pieces is beyond me, but only three of the £2.6 million cars are being made, and the owners might have their own race track which would suit the car better than the road.



It’s worth remembering fantasy cars like this are capable of such brutal acceleration (zero to 188mph in around 15 seconds) that unless you are as fit as Triathlon specialist Jenson Button, the performance is not just frightening but physically unpleasant.

If you have a soft spot for hand-built cars of character, and around £100,000 in your piggy bank, the Spyker Venator was the surprise of the show for me.

It wasn’t as timeless as Alfa Romeo’s 4C, now production form, but I would be prepared to bet there will be less of these outside swanky hotels in Europe over the next five years that LaFerraris.

Geneva is well known for its special edition cars with stratospheric price tags (Russell Bray)

Rolls-Royce’s owners, with their eyes on Volkswagen-owned Bentley, seem to have woken up to the performance possibilities for the brand and are showing the 624bhp Wraith, but it's clear the styling needs works.

Volkswagen’s XL1 is no fireball, but could be the world’s most economical ‘car.’ The tandem two-seater betters 300mpg in official laboratory tests and should manage 127mpg in the real world with its combination of diesel and electric power.

From the wacky side of the road was the Toyota i-Road. Toyota suggests the two-seater, three-wheeled electric city car, which leans like a motorcycle in bends, is the future of urban motoring; which could be true if they decide to put the Renault Twizy rivaling vehicle into production.




Best concept car I thought, even though it would need some changes for practicality, was ItalDesign’s Parcour, but its slightly odd dimensions are because under its skin it uses the mechanicals of the Lamborghini Gallardo, a car finally due for replacement next year.

It seems you can’t escape supercars at Geneva, even if you are trying to.

But further afield than the Swiss city, sales of cars in Europe are continuing to plunge, down 3.3 million in 12 months, though the UK continues to buck the trend.

“I can't envisage Europe hitting 17 million cars a year within the next five or six years. After that, who knows?” one analyst told me.