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Shiny supercars still hog the headlines, but the pick of the mainstream cars are Japanese. As the big brands jostle for position, two small outfits have made waves with futuristic concept vehicles that looked forward to a petrol-free, driverless future.
Here are the most important cars at Geneva
VW Sport Coupe Concept GTE
This is designed to get people to pay more for a Volkswagen. It hints at a car that will sit above the current CC and nip at the heels of the luxury carmakers.
It is also a hint at VW's future design direction and points to a less formal, square-jawed look for the German brand. It has a bolder, more adventurous nose, with a more prominent grille that is integrated into the headlights and bumper. The GTE is a plug-in hybrid that can drive 50km on electric charge only.
Australia's top-selling car is due for a facelift midyear. New headlights, grille and front bumper give it a sleek new look. It's also tipped to get a rear-view camera as standard on every model (as with the Corolla sedan and Yaris hatch).
Nowhere near as exciting as the motor show tease. Here's hoping that changes. This is the preview to the all-new ASX compact SUV due in showrooms next year. The concept has plug-in hybrid technology but we're not certain that'll make it into production. Expect petrol and diesel engines as standard fare.
The company that invented the tiny-tot 4WD class decades ago looks set to finally join the boom in baby SUVs. The IM4 concept has all-wheel drive and modest ground clearance to get off the beaten track. It's not a Jimny replacement, it is a city-sized 4WD.
Should it get the green light for production, expect it to dip below $20,000. Suzuki also unveiled the IK2 small car, to bridge the gap between its Swift and Toyota Corolla-sized vehicles.
Honda Civic Type R
Largely absent from the hot-hatch market for more than a decade, Honda returns in stunning style. The brand claims the new turbocharged Civic Type R laps the famed Nurburgring circuit in 7 minutes and 50 seconds, beating the previous titleholder, the Renault Megane RS275, by more than three seconds.
Vital statistics: 228kW of power, 400Nm of torque, 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. On sale in Australia next year at the earliest, at a price that's anyone's guess.
Ford Focus RS
Geneva's the first motor show outing for the new Focus RS yet Ford is still keeping precise power and performance figures under wraps. It says the Focus RS will have "more than" 235kW from the 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder shared with the Mustang.
Grip from its all-wheel-drive setup will be monitored 100 times a second. It's due in Australia in the first half of 2016.
Infiniti QX30 Concept
The baby crossover is the maker's first foray into the booming compact premium SUV segment. Designed to take on the likes of the Lexus NX, Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA, the concept appears to be pretty close to a final production version, but for the massive milled aluminium 21-inch wheels. Expect the carbon-fibre inserts to disappear when it gets to Australia some time in 2016.
BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer
If you believe BMW, it has created a new niche with this compact, front-drive seven-seater but it's really just the brand's take on a compact people-mover in the same vein as Kia's Rondo and Toyota's Prius V. It is however the first premium vehicle to offer the practicality of two extra occasional seats in a body that's not much bigger than a hatch. Five new turbo engines will be available, ranging from 85kW to 141kW. The maker says the most frugal will use a Prius-rivalling 3.9L/100km.
This tiny crossover concept could become Lexus's smallest model. Smaller than a Toyota Yaris (about 3.4 metres long), the SUV has about as much room as a 2+2 sports car.
Lexus's Mark Templin says the car is an answer to growing congestion in cities, particularly in Europe, where parking is at a premium and emissions controls are strict. Templin dubs the LF-SA an "agile urban vehicle". The LF prefix suggests a sporty bent, as Lexus has been developing an F-Sport sub-brand. There are no clues as to what kind of engine will power the car.
In previous years at Geneva, Swiss firm Rinspeed has shown a submersible car, a car you stand up in, another you face backwards in and now it has a car with a periscope to keep an eye on the traffic ahead.
As before, there is next to zero chance of this car ever making it to showrooms — but it's fun to dream. Rinspeed started with a BMW i3 electric car and then rebuilt it from the inside out.
Cool touches: the steering wheel can be moved to the passenger's side so someone else can drive if you're tired. It also has iPad screens behind the sun visors, the driver gaining vehicle information, the passenger getting to watch TV. Or check email. Or watch crazy cat videos.
ROLLING POWER STATION
An affordable electric car with a range of 1000km? That's the claim from Quant, a start-up from the tiny principality of Liechtenstein (population 35,000). Quant, having once claimed to have produced a car that ran on sea water, says its Nanoflowcell technology is the answer to the age-old EV problem of range anxiety.
The on-board chemical batteries have fuel cells activated by liquid electrolytes, allowing them to generate their own electricity. The Quantino is a two-plus-two capable of 200km/h but the maker says it could be priced as low as $40,000.