It’s fitting that organizers of the Geneva International Motor Show announced it would be canceled—for a fourth year—during Monterey car week, the annual gathering of motoring enthusiasts on the foggy peninsula region two hours south of San Francisco.
Each August, the coastal town hosts the world’s biggest live car auctions, most prestigious concours, and increasingly, its most important luxury auto debuts. This year, from Aug. 15-20, more than 20 new vehicles made their first global or North American appearance, while executives from Europe and Asia spent hours with journalists, car dealers, and VIP clients.
The consensus? This felt like a new kind of auto show.
“We don’t want to be involved in these old [-fashioned] car shows,” says Hildegard Wortmann, a member of the board of management of Audi AG. “It’s much better for us to be here.”
See also: End of an opulent era
From $3.65 million hypercars such as the Koenigsegg CC850 to McLaren’s big Gran Turismo video game car debut to tiny new electric dune buggies from Meyers Manx, there’s something new for many taste levels and pocket books. Bugatti announced a breathtakingly handsome new roadster; Lamborghini unveiled its highest-performance SUV ever. Bentley debuted another multimillion-dollar bespoke car.
Covid-19 permanently changed the automotive landscape when it comes to selling cars. If this week along the Monterey Peninsula is much indication, high-end automakers are genuinely leaving auto shows behind.
“Pebble Beach is a much more modern way of getting in touch with your people,” says Thomas Ingenlath, the chief executive officer of Polestar. “Traditional auto shows? That’s so over.”
See also: Car collecting and showbusiness
Detroit, Los Angeles, New York? Fuhgeddaboudit. This year, all the best new-car debuts are in Carmel. Here’s a rundown of the most exciting luxury car launches.
Alfa Romeo Tonale
Aston Martin DBR 22
This roadster honors the Aston Martin DBR1, which finished second at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1959 and won the Nürburgring 1000 KM the same year. (That DB stands for David Brown, who owned Aston Martin from 1947 to 1972.) The DBR 22 has 705 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque; it’ll go to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, with a top speed of 198 mph. It joins the Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster as the best from James Bond’s favorite brand this year in Monterey. The company will sell 10 of them.
Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron
Bentley Mulliner Batur
BMW M4 CSL
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Bugatti W16 Mistral
Czinger 21 CV Max
Gordon Murray T.33
Hennessey Venom F5 Roadster
Lamborghini Urus Performante
Lincoln Model L100
Maserati MC20 Cielo Spyder
McLaren Solus GT
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Range Rover SV Carmel Edition
Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II
RUF Project RBS, aka the Bergmeister