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Geneva round-up — VW Phideon, Aston Martin DB11, Fiat Abarth Spider

Geneva round-up — VW Phideon, Aston Martin DB11, Fiat Abarth Spider

VOLKSWAGEN Group chief executive officer Matthias Mueller has signalled a greater push towards electrification and autonomous technologies, pledging to establish a chain of “future centres” to develop vehicles for the digital age.


Speaking during the unveiling of the Phideon large premium sedan for China only (replacing the Phaeton), Mueller emphasised the massive impact electric vehicles and digital tech will have on the industry.

“Electro-mobility and digitisation – the two large topics of the future – will change the fundamentals of our business to a degree that many have not realised,” he said.

“Our business will undergo a similarly radical transformation as has happened in media, retail and consumer electronics.”

Describing digitisation as a “game-changer”, Mueller announced that VW Group would open three “future centres” in Europe, America and Asia “ where designers and digital experts will work hand in hand to develop the car of the future”.

Mueller also said the company would put far greater emphasis on autonomous technology, and he predicted that the group would bring the tech to market ahead of its competitors, with full autonomous vehicles on the roads by 2025.

The Phideon “four-door coupe” will replace the ageing Phaeton sedan and eventually be offered with a plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain.

Volkswagen says it was developed in Germany with the assistance of its Chinese manufacturing partner, SAIC, adding that it can act as a “sports saloon” and a “chauffeur-driven limousine”.

The Phideon, whose range is topped by a 295hp 3.0 TSI 4Motion all-wheel drive model, is the first to use the Group’s MLB (Modular Longitudinal Matrix) platform that underpins the new-generation Audi Q7, A4 and forthcoming A8 as well as the Bentley Bentayga.

It will be powered by a pair of petrol engines – no diesel powertrain will be made available – including the 295hp/440Nm 3.0-litre V6 and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI engine from front-wheel drive variants, while a yet-to-be-detailed plug-in hybrid version is also planned.

It also has air suspension, five selectable driving modes, electric soft-closing doors, head-up display, a camera-based night vision system warning of people or animals on or near the road even in pitch-black darkness or fog, a surround-view monitor, adaptive cruise control, park assist, a range of active safety features and access to Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink.


ASTON MARTIN unveiled the DB11, the first product launched under the company’s ‘Second Century’ plan.

The DB11 showcases a fresh and distinctive design language, pioneering aerodynamics and is powered by a potent new in-house designed 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine.

Built upon a new lighter, stronger, and more space efficient bonded aluminium structure, DB11 is the most powerful, most efficient and most dynamically gifted DB model in Aston Martin’s history.

Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andy Palmer said: “… we have worked tirelessly to ensure that DB11 combines both exceptional design with the latest technology throughout.

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“A brand new bonded aluminium platform, clever aerodynamics, a new characterful twin-turbo V12 and class-leading infotainment systems are just a few aspects which make this the sports car that will proudly spearhead Aston Martin’s second century plan.”

Innovative aerodynamics play their part in the new-look, with clever management of airflow both over and through the bodywork aiding stability while preserving the DB11’s uncluttered surfaces.

Front-end lift is reduced by the gill-like Curlicue which releases high-pressure air from inside the wheel arch via a concealed vent within the redesigned side-strake. Rear-end lift is reduced by the Aston Martin AeroBladeTM; a virtual spoiler fed by discreet air intakes located at the base of each C-pillar. Air is ducted through the bodywork, before venting as a jet of air from the aperture in the rear decklid.

The 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 600hp and 700Nm of torque, making DB11 the most powerful production DB model ever — a top speed of 320km/h a 0-100km/h time of 3.9sec1. Thanks to intelligent bank activation and stop-start technology that potency is matched by greatly improved efficiency.

Driver assist technology include multiple driver-selectable dynamic modes – GT, Sport and Sport Plus – progressively intensify the response of the engine, 8-speed automatic ZF transmission together with the new electric power steering and Torque Vectoring by braking while increasing the firmness of the adaptive damping for a greater sense of agility.

A newly implemented auto-park assist feature and 360-degree birds-eye view camera helps provide safe maneuvering at slow speeds and is also operated via the car’s infotainment system.


Fiat’s Abarth 124 spider was developed with input from the Abarth Racing Team, to provide performance, craftsmanship and technical excellence.

The Abarth 124 spider is equipped with a sports mechanical Limited-Slip differential for sure-footed grip.

Much of the weight is concentrated between the axles and the engine is installed behind the front axle to guarantee agility and superior driving feel foor the 1,060 kg car.


An active bonnet system was developed in order to comply with the strict passenger collision standards without damaging the weight coefficient or balance of the car. By using sensors on the cross-member and two pyrotechnic loads in the engine compartment, the system recognises danger and deploys in a few milliseconds to guarantee a safety gap and attenuate the collision against the bonnet.

The suspension of the 124 spider has a high double-wishbone layout in front and a five-link set up in the rear, specifically tuned for greater braking and cornering stability. Steering ensures a great driving feeling with the use of a dual pinion electric power assist system.

The Brembo braking system, with aluminium front callipers, guarantees very short braking distances and excellent resistance to brake fade, making the pedal always feel pleasant and safe.

Powering the spider is a four-pot 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo engine — 170 HP and 250 Nm of torque. It has a top speed of 230 km/h and goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8-seconds. Furthermore, the sound of engine really matters in an Abarth car, so the Record Monza exhaust come equipped as standard, generating a beautiful growling sound.

The spider is available with a six-speed manual or the automatic Sequenziale Sportivo gearbox. The first is characterised by quick and accurate shifting with a short-throw, direct lever.


About Nigel Andretti

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