Geneva motor show kicks off the European auto season image

While Switzerland is a rather small country even for the European continent and its auto industry can be seen only under a microscope, it does has the honor of debuting the region’s automotive season.

The Geneva auto show could be considered a “pocket-sized” affair compared to rivals such as NAIAS or the Frankfurt auto show, but automakers do use it as a neutral ground to bring their best models in Europe. Everything from exotic supercars and half a million dollars saloons to SUVs and minicars will be on the floor of the show early next week.

General Motors’ German Opel brand wile b there to fill the void left by Chevrolet’s untimely demise on the continent, introducing the affordable Karl subcompact hatchback. Audi comes with the next generation of the R8 sports car and also has a show stunner: the Prologue Avant wagon concept that should preview the next A6, 7 and 8 generations. Ford enters new and uncharted territories with the latest Focus RS 315-hp compact that has all-wheel drive. They will also bring the North American International Auto Show surprise – the Ford GT supercar.

Fiat Chrysler’s Ferrari brand will be the only one to feature an important unveiling – the stunningly gorgeous 488 GTB that bests the 458 Italia with its twin-turbo 3.9L V8 that churns out 660 horsepower. FCA’s other brands will be mum as they await Alfa’s long-expected return in June with a key new midsize sport sedan.

Europeans are also in love with sport utility vehicles, with automakers taking full advantage of the growth: Hyundai will bring a new generation of its best-selling Tucson (rebranded from ix35) and Renault joins the compact SUV segment with the new Kadjar – a sibling to Nissan’s Qashqai and US cousin Rogue.

The premium segment will be represented by unconventional entries: BMW continues its drive towards uncharted territories with the smaller, front-wheel-drive 1 Series and 2 Series Gran Tourer, a compact minivan. Mercedes on the other hand has set its eyes on the utterly rich with the Maybach Pullman that starts at 500,000 euros ($570,000).