A glittering bumper crop of million-dollar babies are being shown at the 83rd International Motor Show in Geneva, which continues through March 17.
While mass-market automakers such as Fiat, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen are struggling in Europe with bloated inventories, falling sales and red ink, many luxury brands are reporting record sales and profits. Hence an unprecedented number of ultraexpensive new cars mixed among the 130 or so premieres in Geneva.
Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren took the wraps off vehicles priced above $1 million. Lamborghini's limited-edition supercar might set a record for vehicular excess; the Veneno is rumored to carry a $4 million price tag.
Not far behind, in terms of stratospheric prices, are new six-figure vehicles from Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin and a wide array of the boutique car builders, performance tuners and design houses that make the Geneva show an annual carnival of automotive excess.
Price, of course, does not necessarily correlate with significance. Here are some of the important, but not necessarily as expensive, debutantes that will make an appearance.
Alfa Romeo 4C: This sports coupe, which the company has called "the compact supercar," will be built at a Maserati plant and lavished with Ferrari-derived technologies. Later this year, the 4C will spearhead Alfa's return to the U.S. market after an absence of nearly 20 years. By Geneva standards, the car is somewhat of a bargain, with a price expected in the mid-five-figure range.
Aston Martin Centenary Vanquish: To celebrate 100 years in business, Aston is producing a limited run of 100 special editions of its Vanquish coupe, offering features previously available only in its $2-million-plus One-77 hypercar. Centenary versions are also planned for the Vantage, DB9 and Rapide.
Bentley Flying Spur: To differentiate itself further from the Continental GT coupe and move further upscale in presence and price, the Flying Spur sedan gets its own platform and styling treatment. Engineering advances will pump output from its W-12 engine up to 616 horsepower.
Chevrolet Corvette convertible: Something of a surprise as a European debut — especially so soon after the coupe was shown in Detroit in January — the Stingray droptop is making its first appearance in Geneva. The car will appear at the New York auto show this month and reach showrooms by December.
Ferrari F150: Ferrari's new limited-edition successor to the Enzo supercar, code-named F150 (no relation to the Ford pickup), is finally being shown in Geneva after months of teasers. If you could buy one — and you can't, because Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Group's chief executive, says the car is already sold out — you'd need around $1.3 million. Production of the 900-horsepower monster is expected to be limited to 499 cars, 100 more than the Enzo.
Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: This car began rolling off the assembly line last week in Ulsan, South Korea. Hyundai says that makes it the first automaker to offer a mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Annual production of this variant of the Tucson crossover isn't expected to hit 1,000 units until 2015.
McLaren P1: Not to be trumped by Ferrari in pricing, exclusivity or horsepower, McLaren is showing the production version of its P1 supercar with 903 horsepower, a $1.15 million price and a production run of just 375.
Qoros 3M: A Chinese-Israeli venture of Chery Automobile and the Israel Corp. holding company, this nascent marque hopes to begin selling cars in Europe this year. The Qoros 3 compact sedan is being shown in Geneva along with two concept cars, including a hybrid crossover.