The super-fast and super-costly newcomers each promise something very special. Photo Gallery
An outrageous crop of dream machines signals the start of spring in Europe this week.
Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce and McLaren each brought something special to the Geneva motor show, proving that worldwide economy gloom has not taken the shine off the motor industry.
The super-fast and super-costly newcomers each promise something very special, but even the Ferrari and McLaren supercars now have a green tinge thanks to hybrid technology imported from Formula One racing.
Geneva 2013 is one of the best motor shows for more than a decade, thanks to the previews of the LeFerrari, Venento, Wraith and P1. But there is plenty, also, for ordinary car buyers to get excited about.
Renault unveils its Captur compact crossover, Hyundai updates the ix35 SUV and adds a hybrid, Kia has new C'eed models, Peugeot has the 2008 crossover, Toyota takes the roof off the 86 sports car and has fun with RAV4 and city car concepts, and Chevrolet shows its Corvette convertible.
It's impressive stuff and proof that the new year is going to be a big one for the car world. But there is still plenty of talk around the stands about the global economic crisis, over-production and factory shutdowns, and the huge cost of developing new models.
It takes Carlos Ghosn, one of the smartest men in motoring and head of the Renault-Nissan alliance, to give some perspective and to help understand why something as outrageous and out-of-reach as the LaFerrari - with 698 kiloWatts and a top speed beyond 350km/h - is still so fascinating.
"Our industry is not an industry of rationality, it's also an industry of emotion. It's about cars, it's about power, it's about handling, it's about status," says Ghosn, in an exclusive briefing attended by Carsguide.
"I'm not surprised that even in a period of time when people are struggling … they still go and look at more expensive cars and very attractive cars. It's a little bit normal."
But there is nothing remotely normal about LaFerrari - it's name means The Ferrari - which is the replacement for the company's Enzo and a new supercar flagship. Don't expect to see many in Australia as, just like the McLaren P1, it is only being built in left-hand drive.
"We chose to call this model LaFerrari because it is the maximum expression of what defines our our company - excellence," says Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo.
That means an F1-style kinetic energy recovery system linked to a 6.2-litre V12 petrol engine, a full carbon fibre chassis and body, active aerodynamics and a full-loaded cabin. Ferrari says it will slingshot to 100km/h in less than three seconds.
The story is similar for the McLaren P1, also the company's flagship, but is heavier and more clinical than the Ferrari. It has 665 kiloWatts and, like the Ferrari, a 350 top speed and 0-100 time better than three seconds.
The Lamborghini hero car at the show is just silliness, and funded by the three owners who are each paying $1.4 million for a Veneno, but the Rolls-Royce will be a major seller for the British brand and also points to the design direction for its next Phantom.
There is a massive amount to see at the Geneva show, which has far more fizz and sizzle than Detroit in January, from the new generation of European crossovers to - of all things - a fully-electric Land Rover Defender.
All of the newcomers are headed for Australia, even if the supercars will cost more than $2 million and cannot be driven legally on local roads.
So Geneva points to lots of showroom action and the fuel to drive another down under sales record, even if Europe's sales are already down by 10 per cent through the first two months of 2013.
This reporter is on Twitter @paulwardgover