Weekly round-up: Geneva fever, breaking budget news and we drive the Volvo V90 Cross Country

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Author: | Updated: 10 Mar 2017 03:21

Cheese, chocolate and watches is what Switzerland is best known for 11 months of the year. But every March it hosts the world’s biggest extravaganza of new cars.

Yes, it’s fair to say our attention has been somewhat Geneva-centric this week, but there’s also the Spring Budget to consider, and let’s not forget that Vauxhall has been sold to Peugeot…

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We’ll kick off with the most important stuff, and that is of course the goings-on in Geneva. In a vain attempt at round up the plethora of new launches, we’ve already picked out our favourite cars of the show AND had an inside view courtesy of our man on the ground Phil Huff, but here’s some info on some key new models…

The Volkswagen Arteon is the company’s first all-new model for a while, and this flagship saloon takes off where the CC left us. It looks fantastic, features an all-new frugal petrol engine, and it’s got that all-important German badge. It’s guaranteed to be a popular choice, especially considering it undercuts the A5 Sportback AND looks better.

Volkswagen Arteon

If we’re talking about good-looking saloons however, the prize at this year’s show goes to the Kia Stinger GT. Badge snobbery aside, this is a car that’s just as good as any European competition. With its rear-wheel-drive layout, it really does have the Germans in its sights. Watch out 3 Series, that’s all we can say.

But what if you just can’t justify that budget badge over the prestige of a BMW? Well, the 5 Series line-up has been extended with the new Touring. With more room and the same clever new autonomous tech as the saloon, it’s set to fly out the showrooms.

Mercedes-X-Class

If our site stats are anything to go by, you’re as excited for the X-Class pick-up as we are! As Mercedes-Benz’s first ever ‘executive pick-up truck’ the X-Class will combine the hallmark strengths of a pickup – tough, functional, strong, and with off-road capability, but it’s also set to be more luxuriously appointed than many cars.

The Honda Civic Type-R had a lot of tongues wagging when it was revealed at the show, and if looks and performance are anything to go by then hot hatches will struggle to get any hotter than this. Using the new 10th-generation Civic as its base, the styling is as extravagant as ever featuring an air curtain at the front, massive rear wing, central three-pipe exhaust and all offset by 20in alloys.

Honda Civic Type R

Though there wasn’t much left to reveal after a media blitz from Land Rover in the week preceding the Geneva Motor Show, seeing the Velar up close and personal certainly made our excitement levels rise.

Tasked with filling the space between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, this mid-size luxury SUV aims to deliver new levels of refinement, elegance and technology from a brand that excels at such things.

Range Rover Velar

If you want to see some other models, all our Geneva news is here

So that’s Geneva over and done with, but what about the other two big news stories of the week? Well, the Spring Budget turned out not to be of too much note for the average motorist. Aside from a new fund to help encourage electric vehicle uptake and the upcoming changes to VED from April, there’s little to worry about.

That said, the full budget report said the government will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles, and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017. So changes may be afoot.

Has diesel become a dirty word?

Commenting, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “The chancellor has fired a warning shot to diesel drivers. This uncertainty is bound to be of concern to private and business motorists alike, who will be wanting urgent clarity on just what the government plan to do.”

With ‘evil diesel’ now hitting the headlines as the cause of much local pollution, we considered whether it has been devalued, and what this means for drivers of diesel.

Peugeot has bought Vauxhall, but what will it mean for its UK production facilities?

Elsewhere, the start of the week saw PSA Group (the owners of Peugeot, Citroen and DS), confirm that it was in fact buying GM’s long-suffering European arm, which includes Vauxhall here in the UK.

So what lies ahead for the loss-making brand? Well its immediate future is secure, with Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port and Luton plants set to fulfil their contracts until 2021. Beyond that, things are a little less clear, although we can expect future Vauxhalls to be based on PSA’s latest platforms.

We drive Volvo's mud-plugging V90 variant, the Cross Country.

To end the week on a high, we took Volvo’s latest iteration of the V90 – the off-roading Cross Country – for a drive. With ambitions to take on the Audi A6 Allroad and the upcoming E-Class Alltrack, it’s an impressive piece of kit.

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