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The new Lamborghini Veneno is seen during the first media day of the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show, Switzerland, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (Laurent Cipriani/AP)
The new Lamborghini Veneno is seen during the first media day of the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show, Switzerland, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

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Spectacular supercars sizzle at Geneva auto show Add to ...

The Geneva auto show is outdoing itself this year in automotive supercar extremism: a trio of hard-core, racer-resembling road cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren all debuted there this week.

And though Ferrari hasn’t confirmed the price of its oddly named LaFerrari, the successor to its legendary Enzo V-12 mid-engine exotic, it seems likely to join the Lamborghini Veneno and the McLaren P1 supercars in commanding more than one million dollars each.

The LaFerrari will be the Italian sports-car maker’s first road-going hybrid, offering a mid-mounted 6.3-litre V-12 engine that turns out a maximum of 800 hp, and an electric motor helps add immediate torque to the screamer of an engine that redlines at 9,250 rpm. Total output: 963 metric horsepower (about 950 in North America), and more than 664 lb-ft of torque, all sent through a dual-clutch transmission to two massive rear Pirelli 345/30ZR20 PZero tires.

Only 499 examples will be built, with the car’s hybrid system dubbed HY-KERS, as it is conceptually based on the Formula One team’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS.

The LaFerrari hybrid cannot move on battery power alone, although company president Luca di Montezemelo confirmed that future Ferrari road cars will use similar but full-hybrid systems that can move the car for “a few kilometres,” but also keeps revs up while cornering to ensure quicker acceleration upon exit, storing the excess power in the battery.

The LaFerrari has a CO2 rating of 330 g/km and a fuel economy rating of 14.2 litres/100 km, on the optimistic European cycles. Far more exciting is the new level of performance for Ferrari, with 0-100 km/h times of less than three seconds, a top speed of more than 350 km/h, and lap times of less than one minute and 20 seconds around the Fiorano circuit, three seconds faster than the Ferrari F12.

The Lamborghini Veneno is even more of a collector’s special, with only three units being produced, all of them spoken for, at a lofty €3-million each (or slightly more than $4-million Canadian). The 750-hp V-12 Veneno is the most powerful Lamborghini road car, built to celebrate the firm’s 50th anniversary, with a wildly scooped and winged body that makes the Aventador it is based on seem like a timid wallflower at his first dance.

It seems a stretch to call such a limited and outlandish vehicle a production car, as its unveiling was obviously timed to steal the attention away from Ferrari’s new hypercar, and perhaps even extend that production run by a few units. But its 0-100 km/h time of 2.8 seconds and a claimed top speed of 355 km/h puts the more romantically named Veneno right there with LaFerrari numbers, even with about 250 hp less.

Also in this rarefied mix comes McLaren, which debuted the final production version of its P1 hybrid super-car. It released some similarly astonishing performance figures for it: 903 hp, 664 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-100 km/h time also quicker than three seconds. But all this power will come from a smaller 3.8-litre, turbocharged V-8, with a larger battery that can power the P1 along on its own for up to 10 km, says McLaren, providing near-silent operation in its fully electric mode.

The McLaren P1 is estimated to cost $1.15-million (U.S.), with only six to eight planned for sale in Canada, and is scheduled to arrive in January, 2014, an official said this week. It didn’t get nearly as much buzz in Geneva because a prototype version displayed at the Paris auto show was nearly identical, but it could turn out to be the most technologically advanced of this trio.

All three of these hypercars feature active aerodynamics, and each seems destined to wallpaper the rooms, devices and dreams of performance car enthusiasts globally.

Electrified concepts

While some Euro-only production-ready plug-ins were also unveiled in Geneva, a few electric oddball concepts also made it to the show.

The most out there, or advanced if you like, was Toyota’s three-wheel i-Road, a fully electric, tandem-seat, two-person vehicle that’s meant to offer the same manoeuvrability in dense traffic as a motorcycle, but in an enclosed vehicle that means riders/drivers don’t need a helmet.

The vehicle may look like a rolling phone booth, but this concept offers up 50 km of near-silent and emissions-free driving. It uses what Toyota calls Active Lean technology that prevents it from tipping over in corners or over rough surfaces, and allows a weatherproof body that doesn’t need the rider to keep itself upright at red lights. The tall i-Road can therefore offer interior features similar to a car, such as heating, Bluetooth and a stereo.

Sliding back to a more realistic, yet still far from production, scale of concept, the Mitsubishi CA-MiEV is a fully electric compact car with a much larger battery and a promised 300-km range. Mitsu is dubbing the concept a “suburban EV,” suggesting that the promised range is enough for drivers outside the city to commute in and out of town everyday. For typical Europeans who average 14,000 km a year, Mitsu estimates that these buyers may not have to charge their car for a full work week, although the Concept CA-MiEV does offer wireless charging capability. It’s not intended for production, though some of its features are being studied for the medium- and long-term, the company said.

Mitsubishi also showed a diesel-hybrid pickup study it called the Concept GR-HEV, a compact one-tonne pickup that would offer a less costly way to save fuel than a full or plug-in EV. It uses full-time 4WD, as well as four doors, in what Mitsu calls a “sport-utility hybrid truck.” Its body also suggests it is far from production-ready, although it would qualify as the most realistic of the three here.

More realistic convertibles

It wasn’t all mega-dollar exotics, luxury cars and spacy concepts unveiled in Geneva, as the long list of world debuts included two notable convertibles: a production-ready version of the Scion FR-S, and the full-on production Chevrolet Corvette.

Toyota hasn’t officially committed to producing the Toyota FT-86 Open Concept that it premiered at the show, but the elegant glass rear window, maintained if still tight rear seats, and little-affected cargo space strongly suggest the company did not design this eye-catching number strictly as eye-candy for auto show attendees. The firm does admit that the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S was designed with a production droptop in mind, however, but the company is working on ways to minimize weight gain over the coupe.

GM is also using the show to unveil the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible, the droptop version of the car that starred at the Detroit show in January. Unsurprisingly, it is equipped with the same 450-hp V-8, but its lack of rear fender air intakes makes it more stylistically sedate than the coupe. That soft top will soon work at up to 50 km/h, and will no longer need to be manually unlatched.

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