Break Check – The Inside Is What Counts – Geneva 2014

It’s been a long and hard winter. A winter of unending snow, relentlessly low temperatures and Olympic disappointments at the hands of America North Canada. Truthfully, between that and the seemingly unending torture of the mundane hell that is your job, I think it seems like the time for a trip. A week away from the shackles of the egg-shell colored walls, grey cubicles and the incessant humming of those damn tube lights. ( Also acceptable back story for this is that you finally managed to team up with Jerry from accounting and figured out a way to embezzle a sizable sum of money from this company that is plainly deserving of such an attack.) Either way, I would say that Switzerland may be the answer. Land of pristine vistas, breathtaking slopes to ski, an amazingly vague definition of “financial criminal”, damn fine time pieces and … oh yes, the Geneva Motor Show.

Being one of the major shows of the year, Geneva plays host to a plethora of exciting new releases in the automotive world. This year’s show has been one show stopper after another. Since there is a solid chance that you are reading this at your desk and that your vacation wasn’t approved, (Thanks to that bitch Jenny from management) I figure it seems like the best time for a little Break Check.

Geneva Run Down

Nothing Like A Great Pair of TT’s

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Audi has spent the last 15-20 years going from the shadow of BMW and Merc, to possibly being the biggest dog in the ring. The perception and brand recognition is something that will probably be studied along side the works of Ogilvy in marketing classes around the world within 20 years. That said, of the large and ever more impressive line up boasted by the German giant, few models are more recognizable or associated with the brand as the TT. The tiny 2-seat roadster/coupé has been a hit and a main stay in the Audi line up since 1998. In those long 16 years, the model has shockingly only seen two iterations … until now.

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Welcome the Audi TT MkIII. If you are thinking that the styling is somewhat reminiscent of the Quattro concept we have been seeing for a year now, you would not be totally wrong. The styling cues from that concept are clear as the signature LED lighting fixture above the headlamps and are arguably indicative of a coming line of next generation face lifts for the current line up. The Audi TT and TTS will also serve, as they have in the past, as the largest jumps forward in Audi technology. Serving, internally at least, as the spiritual successor to the legendary Audi Quattro, the TT is the ideal platform for showcase the next generation of the brand.

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The specs are interesting to say the least. Though the bumper-to-bumper dimensions are the same, that is about where the design similarities end. A whole new body is the wrapping for an all-new interior. Also new to this generation is the suspension, engine options and even the newest incarnation of the legendary Audi Quattro AWD system, that will now turn off two wheels during launch and quick accelerations, in order to translate that suddenly heavy foot to the road faster.

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What is perhaps the most interesting of the major overhaul is not under the hood or shaped in metal, but in fact the all new dashboard. Rarely do we spend more than a couple inches of column space talking about the interior of a car, no matter how nice. Still, this new dash getting more buzz than anything else. Previewed at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year, Audi is showing us the first execution of their brand new Audi Virtual Cockpit. This one is a game changer. Gone are the days of buttons and toggles surrounding and dominating the center console and dash. At first glance this dash seems devoid of almost anything except the exceptionally styled, turbine-shaped air-con vents. Then you push start and the car comes to life. E-Ink displays are subtly placed in logical locations to control the HVAC systems and everything else is controlled right inside the instrument cluster. The 12.5″ instrumental panel is now an all LCD touchscreen display. This will display everything from traditional information like speed and revs, to the GPS and infotainment systems and controls. All of this can be controlled with Audi’s next generation voice command system. If you are the passenger, fear not, you have not lost all control. The control system also comes with an accompanying LCD tablet powered by Google’s Android mobile OS. The brushed aluminum tablet will serve as the passengers control mechanism for the infotainment systems and is also a fully standing Android tablet, complete with Google Play Store access and a WiFi connection sourced from the car itself, via AT&T wireless. I’ll being going further into detail on this this Friday as we take a look into the emerging blend of cellular and automotive technology coming out of Geneva. Suffice to say for now that the TT is a crowd pleaser and has many of us looking at our wallets and asking … “how much”?

Ghost of Luxury Yet To Come

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There are many types of luxury. There is the luxury of yesteryear, defined by bespoke coach builder and the value of the term “one-of-one”. The luxury of today, the blend of the finest materials and the ability of move them at impressive speeds. Finally the luxury of tomorrow, finding a way to work all of your ever expanding day-to-day technology needs into your driving/riding experience. The new Rolls Royce Ghost Series II is then truly timeless, as it embodies all three. A major bulk sales leader for the esteemed brand, the Ghost has moved the needle in a big way for the British motor car maker. The launch of Ghost Series II consolidates Ghost’s position as the most popular car in the $300,000+ class, and as a cornerstone of Rolls-Royce’s continuing success. During the press release RR seemed to know the reason for this great public reaction to the “baby Rolls”. “It exudes the timeless yet cool, modern luxury that the car’s customers – the Captains of Industry, entrepreneurs and successful business men and women who are the wealth and job creators in our economies – demand.”

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This second generation of the “affordable Rolls” sees some minor design changes to the lights and body work. The real change is to the inside. (I am starting to sense a theme here). It seems that Rolls Royce, along with the laundry list of usual world class amenities, has added some serious tech credentials to their rolling corner office on wheels.

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Its suite of technologies ensures that both business and leisure time in the car are a super-luxurious effortless experience. On-board Wi-Fi makes Ghost Series II the most connected, luxurious place in which to conduct business on the move, whilst Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT), debuted in Wraith last year, enhances the car’s dynamism – ensuring the car automatically adapts to its surroundings augmenting the drive experience. Updates to navigation systems and the car/user interface ensures accessing Ghost’s features remains an effortless experience, whilst optional Bespoke Audio – the most exhaustively engineered and finest audio system in automotive history – brings new levels of aural satisfaction to passengers.

In short, Ghost remains the ultimate choice for successful entrepreneurs around the world and the calmest place from which to run their successful enterprises on the move.

Getting The Concept

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Depending on who you ask, concept cars are the best/worst part of an auto show. While some maintain that they are incredible insights into the minds and working process of developing tomorrows automotive world, others will tell you that they are the automotive equivalent of a stripper … fun to look at, get’s you juices flowing, but probably will never come home with you. I fall into the first of the two categories, but I am an glass half full (of scotch) kind of guy. These are a couple concepts that caught my attention this show.

Honda Puts The R in Rally

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While Honda Civic isn’t what you think when you think punchy low budget sports car, for thousands of young adults it has been the option of choice. A fan favorite in the “tuning” world, Honda has long created a R Type version of their Civic for the youthful, some what performance minded Civic buyer. The next generation seems to be returning to hatchback set up, something Honda tried two generations ago to a moderate level of success. This catch this time is a striking new design. It seems that Honda has dipped into the parts bin and design influence of their racing and more specifically rallying heritage for a little inspiration. The bold wing and low body profile making for a compelling argument to take the little-Honda-that-could and find out if it will.

The Namesake

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From one end of the spectrum to the other, famed Italian luxury automaker Maserati celebrates the century mark this year. To commemorate this, the Trident brand has come out with a striking 4-door concept that seems to hint at the direction that the quickly growing brand might be going. The Alfieri, named for founder and the most famous of the Maserati brothers, is a beautiful “design exercise”, that is meant to show us how far the automaker has evolved. With an amazing line up that has seen 150% increase in sales in the last year, they must be doing something right down there in Turin.

Wrap Up

Like all good trips and vacations, this little adventure has come to an end. That said, there is so much more from Geneva this year that is worth mentioning. So much so that you might want to keep your eyes peels for a secret second post with even more great coverage of the show later in the week. (Hint: Follow us on Twitter to see if we actually get around to doing it @AutoKinesis). Beyond that, it’s a new week and maybe this will be the one where you get it together and finally get up the nerve to tell Bianca two cubicles over that you think she is beautiful. Short of that, there is tons more to read and do all over the site. Also keep your eyes open for Alex’s review of the week this wednesday. Finally our question of the day, “Do you think concept cars are worth looking at?” tell us why or why not in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter. Till next time … Hari Out

 

Words by Hari Mani

One Response to Break Check – The Inside Is What Counts – Geneva 2014

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