Alfresco showstoppers

Taking a respite from the green and the clean, the world’s motor industry made high performance the theme of the Geneva Motor Show. Highlights included the Ferrari F50, the latest in Porsche 911s, the ‘rebirth’ of MG and similar, sporting rivals from Fiat (the Barchetta) and Renault (the futuristic Spider).

Renault is putting its striking Spider into production, and it should reach the UK (in right-hand drive) early in 1996. Early estimates suggest that it will cost between £20,000-25,000. That’s rather more than the MGF or the Fiat Barchetta, but it is more powerful. The Clio Williams-engined device will have a predicted top speed of 130 mph, and should accelerate from rest to 60 mph in around six seconds. A one-make racing series is likely to be announced, for an uprated, 200 bhp version of the car.

Not quite as nippy as either the MGF or the Renault Spider, the Fiat Barchetta may also lose out in the UK as a result of its only being available in left-hand drive. Powered by a new 1.7-litre engine, the Fiat should be available later this year, if you hand your local Fiat dealer a sum not unadiacent to £14,000. Top speed is 125 mph. Like the classic Alfa Spider, it will sell more on chic appeal than outright performance: it will accelerate from rest to 60 mph in around eight seconds. Like the Punta on whose platform it is based, the Barchetta is front-wheel drive.

It’s back! The MG lives on! Out with mundane badged saloons, in with a two-seater in the traditional MG idiom. The MGF was launched 15 years after the demise of the MGB, and it is set to take on the Mazda MX-5 and Fiat Barchetta. The mid-engine, rear-drive chassis is powered by a new 1.8-litre version of the successful K-series. The base model will have around 120 bhp on tap, the more powerful VVC (with variable valve timing) 145 bhp. The more expensive of the two models will cost around £16,000.

Ferrari’s new F50 rivals the McLaren F1 as the ultimate supercar of the ’90s. The 4.7-litre V12 is derived from the 1990-93 Formula 1 engine and develops 520 horsepower, some 110 bhp per litre. Already, the F50 laps Fiorano four seconds quicker than the F40.
Stuart Robinson, managing director of Maranello Concessionaires, predicts that a competitions model will be built if the FIA’s forthcoming GT regulations favour it. “We would like to continue the tradition and run an F50 ourselves,” says the boss.
Ferrari also showed off its two-pedal GT racer, the F355 Competizione, which made its debut at Paul Ricard on March 12. Its six-speed gearbox is controlled by a Magneti Marelli electro-hydraulic system which allows fully automated shifts, or manual shifting with column mounted paddle levers.

The return of the ‘small’ Lamborghini. Itat Design came up with this V10-engined SE30 prototype, the Cala.

Porsche’s 911 Turbo celebrates 20 years of production, but there is plenty of life in the rear-engined model. Take your choice, or place a bulk order. The new-look Turbo is already in production and will shortly reach Britain, with up to 100 cars arriving annually.
Twin turbos, 408 bhp, four-wheel drive, sensational performance… and a £90,000 price tag are the keynotes.
PCGB’s managing director Kevin Gaskell says that no more than 1,500 Turbos will be made in the next 30 months, before the next generation is launched.

The Porsche GT2, which won its class at Daytona and at Jerez, went on show as a roadgoing limited edition. Just 100 GT2s will be made at DM 268,000 each (roughly £120,000), and 65 firm orders have been received. The 3.6-litre biturbo develops 430 bhp at 0.9 bar boost.

Porsche’s 911 Carrera RS Clubsport bridges the gap between road and track. The 3.8-litre engine has bigger valves and runs to higher speeds, developing 300 bhp. This is potentially the most exciting Carrera since the legendary ’73 model ‘ducktail’ RS.

Proud to be British, the Bentley Azure effectively replaces the Rolls-Royce Corniche, which went out of production last year after a 24-year lifespan. Pininfarina helped with the design of the convertible Azure, which costs a cool £215,000.