The AOL Cars team is currently battling the crowds at the Geneva motor show to bring you the latest developments and product unveilings as they happen.
> Almost all of the world's major carmakers are out in force, vying for attention with glittery stands and scantily-clad showgirls. With so much metal on display, the real gems are often concealed behind a fog of gaudy 'styling updates' and out-of-touch concept cars.
So, to make things easier, we've rounded up the most exciting and important cars from this year's show:
For a long time the Twingo was a likeable but otherwise plain supermini, boasting chic French looks and not much else. Now, however, Renault has re-invented its smallest car, making it rear-engined and with rear-wheel-drive, just like a Porsche 911. This new layout is likely to affect practicality somewhat, but it promises to be an accomplished – and affordable – driver's machine when it reaches UK showrooms in September. We can't wait to have a go.
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Economy and power, without resorting to a clattery diesel engine. The Golf GTE promises all the performance of its peppy GTI hot hatchback, but with much lower running costs thanks a plug-in hybrid capability that allows it to be driven up to 31 miles on battery power alone. Quite whether the weight of the battery pack will affect the car's handling is yet to be seen, but for performance car fans fed up with high fuel prices, it's certainly a step in the right direction.
In the time it has taken Lamborghini to launch this successor to its best-selling Gallardo, arch-nemesis Ferrari has released three separate models, all of which have moved the game of mid-engined V8 supercars further into the stratosphere. It looks as though Lambo's riposte has been worth the wait, though. Not only does it look utterly gorgeous, but its performance potential is guaranteed by a shattering 5.2-litre V10 engine that develops 602bhp, and a new lightweight hybrid carbon fibre and aluminium construction. It's the Italians doing what they do best.
Honda Civic Type R
A welcome return by the Japanese brand into the hot-hatch market, the Civic clearly showcases Honda's opinion that such compact performance cars should be as lairy and in your face as possible. Certainly, the huge wing and quad exhaust pipes fitted to the Concept version shown at Geneva make the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Seat Leon Cupra look positively apologetic. Rumoured to sport 300bhp, a customer version will be ready next year.
A grey Hyundai saloon car might not be the right thing to get your pulse racing, but it may well give the bosses of Audi and BMW a few sleepless nights. Having proved its worth in the big-selling hatchback and family car markets, the Korean brand now has its sights on the premium executive saloon sector. It will initially be sold in tiny numbers in the UK to test the waters, but could well become a more permanent fixture in the luxury sector. Stranger things have happened.
Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake
Fast estate cars are all well and good (very good, in fact), but if you're bored of the styling direction taken by Mercedes and Audi then there was little else you could choose from, until now. Unveiled today at the Geneva motor show, the Sportbrake effortlessly combines stunning estate styling with the brand's fire breathing XFR-S saloon to create a car that will get the neck hairs of even the most jaded family man stood to attention.
You can read our exclusive first drive of the XFR-S Sportbrake HERE.
In the face of the vastly more upmarket Volkswagen Up, the rather tinny first generation Toyota Aygo was never going to win the hearts of UK car buyers. Toyota recognised this and the all new version, unveiled today at Geneva, is aimed at a younger, more demanding customer. As such, it sports a radical redesign, a higher quality interior and a range of customisation options. They've not thrown the baby out with the bath water, however, and the peppy, frugal three-cylinder petrol engine remains.
From offering just the hallowed F1 supercar in the early nineties, Woking F1 team McLaren's road car offerings have swollen in recent years. The 650S is the latest offering, which has been shown in Geneva in both coupe and 'Spider' convertible guises. The 641bhp supercar will sit between the 12C and P1 in the model range and will cost from around £195,000. First deliveries are due later in the spring.
Volvo Estate Concept
Volvo's transformation from fuddy-duddy to desirable has been rapid and intriguing. This latest Estate Concept is set to continue this change. With crisp exterior lines and a futuristic interior, it is worlds away from the dog-hair-encrusted car you used to go to school in. While officially just a design study for now, we have it on good word that the front-end styling will make it unchanged onto the forthcoming XC90 SUV.
The hugely popular Audi TT has now reached its third generation and, in keeping with its maker's 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' philosophy, boasts some trick new kit. Key amongst the highlights is a new TFT instrument display, which can display the normal clocks, or a huge sat-nav display at the flick of a switch. On top of that, the styling has been made crisper, with hints of the brand's flagship R8 supercar showing in the front-end design. Watch it walk out of showrooms.