As a newbie to the Geneva Motor Show, I was really impressed by just how much effort goes in to launching or showcasing a new vehicle at the event. From a European-perspective, it's arguably one of the most important events in the motoring calendar (although I would argue that Le Mans is where most of the real technology is developed for the real-world and thus more "important") and this means that getting your car in to the spotlight is essential.
So here is my little spotlight on those who I think have made the biggest impact at the show - think of it as the biggest commendation that I could offer in recognition of the hard work that goes on - as well as a bit of a rant about "Car of the Year" towards the end of this blog post.
Firstly the positive. Aston Martin are one of the companies who continue to push boundaries in my eyes, both from an innovation perspective and also culturally. There were three big moments for the company at Geneva but before I come on to those, I want to take a moment to explain why Aston Martin as a company are significant.
It's 2017 and most companies are feeling the shift in pace that globalisation and competitive profit margins are having on everything they do. Many car manufacturers achieve this by being efficient, ruthless and focussing inwards to achieve better results. There's a great academic who once said "when everyone else Zigs, you need to Zag" and that's exactly what Aston Martin have done. They're a company that I would define as respectful, open and modern; three great values to have in British business. Rather than focussing on themselves, they've been open to collaborate with others, most noticeably Red Bull. Rather than look inward at cost saving, they've looked outward to nature and wildlife to achieve their latest vehicle designs. And rather than building their wall higher they've built their table wider by introducing the Aston Martin Art of Living collection, a group of breaks and trips which mean that you now don't need to own an Aston Martin to experience one. I would go as far as saying that every interaction I've had with Aston Martin has been a collaborative one based on the three values I've mentioned above and if that's the culture of the company, imagine how well-crafted their products must be.
Product-wise we saw three impressive set pieces from the British manufacturer. Aston Martin Racing is a new sub-brand focussed on the performance versions of their vehicle range and Geneva was chosen as the stage to launch this new venture from. Under the Aston Martin Racing (AMR) badge will sit two vehicles, the AMR Rapide and the AMR Vantage Pro, the latter being a track-only version of an already outstanding car. The final set piece was the naming and European launch of a collaborative project with Red Bull code-named until Geneva as the AM-RB 001. This incredible looking hypercar is now to be named the Aston Martin Valkyrie, a nod to the Greek God of - presumably - Awesomeness and a car that will no doubt give you goose bumps as it passes you in 2018.
So that's my shine of the torch on something that I have an incredible amount of respect for and something which will undoubtedly set the benchmark for hypercars going forwards. Speaking of respect, let's now turn our attention to the other side of the coin and talk a little about the "Car of the Year" award.
The "Car of Year" award should - I'd imagine - bring attention to vehicles that are set to define the 365 days that are due to commence, a pinnacle of what the industry has achieved, much like the Nobel Peace Prize of the automotive sector. Tesla's Model X has technology within it that allows for it to drive itself, reducing road deaths in the process. The Aston Martin DB11 has reinvented and reimagined the Grand Tourer category with its attention on human skill, craftsmanship and science-bending aerodynamics. Plus we have fully electric supercars hitting the market with times around the Nurburgring faster than their combustion-engined predecessors. Car of the Year should be a tough decision due to the renewed focussed on innovation and technology. Yet here we are, in 2017, with a car topping the list that almost made me believe that I was reading President Trump's favourite "fake news". I won't disclose which car won "Car of the Year" in this blog as the video above will give you a full rundown of the finalists but I will now stand-by a fresh commitment to always describe "Car of the Year" with the quotation marks that it deserves. "Car of the Year", roll on 2018.