When Did the Geneva Motor Show Get So Ugly?

The “design motor show” got hit by the fugly stick this year.

byJonathan Schultz|
Culture photo

Geneva: What the watch-winding, chocolate-tempering, particle-accelerating fuck? You’re supposed to host the design motor show, an annual forum for carmakers large and small to flex their most photogenic muscles. You gave us the gorgeous Ferrari 360 Modena in 1999, the Bauhaus-fresh Audi Nuvolari in 2003, and, last year, the knee-wobbling Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept. You also served up a Jaguar in 1961 called the E-type. But, save for a few outliers, your 2016 edition fell down on its obligations. Hard.

Bugatti Chiron? Its rear light bar would cheapen a Lincoln MKZ. Lamborghini Centenario? Those louver-y, rear-diffuser-y slats evoke nothing so racy as rudders on a dinghy. And O, woe unto the Maserati Levante. Not for nothing did The Drive's Brendan McAleer coin, and should probably patent, the term of non-endearment “Quattroportly.” Call it elegant if you must, but the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a perfunctory exercise in downscaling and makes a Buick Cascada look all the more viable—no easy thing. Slap some Abarth badges, a matte black hood or some rally lights on a Fiat 124, and you still get a Miata with bad orthodontia. The Volkswagen T-Cross is trend-hopping at its most craven, and we hadn’t exactly hopped aboard the Evoque Convertible’s bang bus. Geneva 2016 presented a study of inexplicable, unpardonable strakes, bulges and other baffling aesthetic choices that besmirch the reputation of the “pretty” show—the show that, in its best years, feels like the world’s most expensive candy shop.

The list of offenders could go for a while, but you’ve got better things to look at. Like the bonkers Opel GT Concept:

Chesnot/Getty Images

Or the Pininfarina H2 Speed concept:

Fresh off its acquisition by India’s Mahindra Group, the Italian design firm came out swinging and swaggering. With a shape as clean and pure as a whittled bar of Ivory soap, the stark-white H2 Speed puts us in mind of a Jaguar XJ220S—had that hypercar been developed to the present day and fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell. Kudos to chief designer Marek Reichman and his crew of clay carvers in Gaydon, too. Their Aston Martin DB11 iterates beautifully on Henrik Fisker’s essential DB9 design. Aston’s trademark wide maw has been given a proper snout to sit on, giving the GT an elongated look, while the squared-off shoulder line is Savile Row as worn by Jason Statham. As Brett Berk notes, praises are due to the marketing department, who allow the roof pillars to be body-color-matched; the DBX-like silver runners do the car’s sense of cohesion no favors.

And bless up the Morgan massive for taking a contrarian conveyance like the 3-Wheeler and making it even weirder and more lovable. The EV3 just might be the missing link between the streamliner locomotives of the Thirties and Wall-E. Did we know we needed such a link? Well, now we do.

Associated Press

Overall, though... Geneva Motor Show, we love you but you’re bringing us down. To its exhibitors, we ask that before returning in 2017, you go back to the show archive, lovingly thumb the pages and linger over a few photos. Meantime, by all means visit CERN, take in the lovely lake views, pop a Lindt bonbon or two; your bosses may tell you that you’ve earned it. We’re telling you that you didn’t.