USA TODAY US Edition
GM, Fiat Chrysler look ahead in Geneva
Hot cars in spotlight with Opel, Maserati, Alfa Romeo revving up
The world’s top automakers come to Geneva this week for the next big auto show, and automakers with close ties to Detroit will play a big role.
General Motors will be represented through its Opel division, which will show its new GT concept.
GM says it doesn’t plan to produce the GT, but building the exciting coupe would be an interesting heritage play to celebrate Opel’s return to vitality after nearly collapsing during the Great Recession.
The brand is expected to make money for the first time this century in 2016.
Opel will also show a facelifted version of its Mokka subcompact SUV that heralds changes coming to the Buick Encore and becomes the Mokka X, using a letter that will identify Opel SUVs. A station wagon version of the popular Astra compact will also debut.
Fiat Chrysler’s Maserati and Alfa Romeo luxury brands will show a pair of important new models. Maserati unveils the brand’s long-awaited first SUV, the Levante. Based on the same architecture as the Ghibli sport sedan, the Levante is FCA’s best hope to divert attention from the delayed launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulia sport sedan.
Maserati’s Levante is the first SUV from the Italian luxury brand. Based on the same architecture as the Ghibli sport sedan, the Levante belatedly gets Maserati into the white-hot market for sporty/luxury SUVs.
The Ghibli will feature air springs, all-wheel drive and an 8speed automatic transmission. Engines are likely to include 350and 430 V-6s and a 560-horsepower V-8. Several diesels are in the works for Europe. It’s unclear whether any of those engines will come to North America. A plug-in
hybrid is said to be in the works, too. The Levante was originally expected to share its platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and be produced in Detroit, but Maserati scrapped that plan when FCA decreed the brand’s vehicles must be built in Italy.
FCA’s Alfa Romeo brand, another Italian luxury-sport marque positioned just below Maserati, will show mainstream models of the Giulia sport sedan. Alfa has previously only shown the top of the line 505-horsepower Giulia Quadrifoglio model. Power for lower models of the racy Giulia is expected to come from a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and 2.2-liter diesel.
The timing of the Giulia production and sales remain uncertain.
The Fiat brand will also show hatchback and wagon versions of the Tipo, a compact car built in its Turkish plant. The Tipo is a mainstream model that doesn’t really fit Fiat’s announced plan of focusing on stylish little vehicles such as the retro-themed 500 family. Tipo body styles will include a hatchback and station wagon.
Ford is not expected to show any new vehicle or concept but will add new models to its upscale Vignale trim line.