Supercars muscle their way to centre stage
They have fighter jet-type accelerations, custom-made interiors and seven-figure price tags: "supercars" are centre stage at the Geneva Motor Show, even as one of its legendary stars is bowing out.
The last Bugatti Veyron ever to be made has pride of place at the show for auto enthusiasts to bid farewell after the brand announced last month that it had sold the 450th and final model of the car with its 16-cylinder monster engine that produces up to 1,200 horsepower.
"With the Veyron we created a modern icon, and this show is an opportunity to put the car on a pedestal and celebrate, and say thank you to everyone involved, and close the chapter," Stefan Brungs, Bugatti's head of sales, told AFP.
Two million dollars
Since the Veyron was unveiled to the world at the beginning of the 2000s, competitors have rushed to carve out a place in this exclusive world of cars that only the ultra-rich can afford.
Sweden's Koenigsegg, for instance, boasts it makes not "supercars", or even "hypercars", but full-blown "megacars."
The company is presenting its Regera at the Geneva show, which opened to the public on Thursday.
The car comes with a hybrid powertrain that produces 1,500 horsepower, capable of accelerating from 0 to 400 kilometres (249 miles) an hour in 20 seconds.
That's roughly twice the horsepower of a regular Formula 1 car, though the Regera is much heavier.
"Now it seems to be pretty normal to have almost 1,000 horsepower," says Jens Sverdrup, the brand's head of sales.
The cost? Around $2 million (1.8 million euros), or more depending on what you want added.
That's the amount the thrill-seeking rich will also need to fork out for McLaren's P1 GTR.
Like Aston Martin's Vulcan, which also premiered in Geneva, it is a car destined for "gentlemen drivers" that can only be used on special tracks, and the price tag comes with piloting lessons included.
But Dave Eden, spokesman for the brand made famous by its Formula 1 success, warns that the P1 GTR will only be made available to those who already own the P1 road car — a hybrid supercar unveiled in 2012 that already costs more than one million euros.
And orders for the GTR have been limited to just 40, a figure almost attained, he said.
"We've got people flying in from all over the world to see the cars," Eden added.
Bugatti 'striking back' -
While the stalls of more generalist brands are open to all, those of the "supercar" manufacturers are surrounded by glass barriers and entrances are guarded by imposing security men.
In front of the stalls belonging to Italy's Ferrari and Lamborghini, men gather in quest of selfies — and also photos of models in figure-hugging
dresses posing next to the vehicles of their desire.
Some brands, like Italy's Pagani, make an effort for the vast majority of visitors who will never have the means to pay for such "supercars" by giving out posters.
"We sell cars but we give as a present dreams to car lovers all around the world," says Luca Venturi, spokesman for Pagani.
"We are the kind of guys who used to have a Lamborghini Countach poster on the wall."
The brand manufacturers the "Huayra", a carbon fibre Batmobile look-a-like whose interior is made of leather.
The price? 1.3 million euros, VAT not included.
As for Bugatti, its Veyron may be bowing out but the brand owned by Volkswagen has no intention of leaving it without heirs.
Bugatti still holds the speed record for a production car at 431 kilometres an hour, and its next vehicle "will be fascinating and even better than what you see here," says Brungs.
"The car will come most probably next year," he says.
"We love competition, and if someone tries to beat us, we'll take this as a challenge, and we enjoy striking back."
The motor show, which opened to the public on Thursday, continues until March 15th,