We're expecting to see the hot GTI version of Volkswagen's new Golf, its platform-sharing Audi A3 rival and the facelifted Mercedes E-Class, while there are certain to be a few surprises, too. Not every major manufacturer will have a presence at this year's show, however. Lamborghini has confirmed it won't be attending, instead choosing to focus on bespoke events for its new models, while the PSA group (including Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Vauxhall) and Jaguar Land Rover are also taking a rain check.
A new addition for the event in 2020 is 456m indoor test track for alternatively fuelled vehicles. Set to allow visitors to test 48 different electric, hydrogen and hybrid cars over a few laps of the Palexpo venue's Hall 7, the track comprises sweeping turns, tight bends and a long start-finish straight. There will also be a lounge-style meeting room in the centre of the circuit, with space for 300 guests.
Let's take a look at the most important new models being unwrapped:
The new Audi A3 will follow hot on the heels of the fresh-faced eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf with similarly evolutionary styling and a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The five-door hatchback will arrive first, followed in 2021 by a new liftback variant, but we're not expecting the cabriolet to make a comeback. As with the Golf, there won't be an electric version, because Audi is developing a standalone compact entry-level EV for launch in 2021, but the S3 and RS3 hot hatches will be brought back down the line with more power and wilder styling than their predecessors.
Another icon tipped for rebirth is the fashionable Fiat 500 city car, which will gain a globally available electric option. Spy shots reveal that the new car will bear a strong resemblance to the retro-influenced current model, but company boss Olivier François has revealed that it will sit atop a brand-new bespoke platform and has even hinted at the possibility of a feisty Abarth version.
Honda Civic Type R facelift
Honda recently revealed a facelifted version of its Civic hatchback, featuring subtle design tweaks and an upgraded interior, and Geneva will mark the debut of the updated Type R. The 316bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine remains, as do the fan-favourite triple tailpipes, with significant changes limited to infotainment upgrades and a revamped front end. Spy shots of the model wearing a Nürburgring silhouette decal indicate that a limited-run special edition could soon go on sale in celebration of the model's lap record at the German circuit. Like the Renault Mégane RS Trophy-R, this is likely to offer performance and handling advantages over the standard model.
GT 73 4-door Coupé
With its hybridised twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8 pumping out in excess of 800bhp, the new GT 73 will not only be AMG's most potent model yet but also the world's most powerful four-door grand tourer. It isn't yet confirmed for a Geneva debut, but a recent preview video suggests the wraps are soon to come off. Despite its near-200bhp advantage over the GT 63, the new model is also set to be the performance brand's most economical yet, with its electric motor offering a zero-emissions range of around 31 miles.
CLA and GLA PHEVs
Following the recent unveiling of the new A-Class and B-Class PHEVs, Mercedes looks set to roll out a new plug-in hybrid option for the latest CLA and GLA. Both the compact saloon and its platform-sharing crossover sibling will use a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 101bhp electric motor for a combined output of 215bhp and an electric-only range of around 35 miles.
Spotted testing for the first time in 2018 and possibly appearing at Geneva, the facelifted E-Class will come into line with the new CLA, A-Class and GLA. That means the current rounded front end will adopt a more angular look, light clusters at both ends will be reshaped and the interior will feature the latest generation of Mercedes' MBUX infotainment software. The more rugged All-Terrain estate version will return as well, taking the fight to the Volvo V90 Cross Country with plastic body cladding and jacked-up suspension.
718 Cayman GTS
The range-topping GTS variant of Porsche's entry-level sports car has made a return to form with a naturally aspirated flat-six motor based on that found in the top-rung Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder. The new motor option comes in response to calls for a more potent and characterful 718 in the US, where the four-cylinder current model has been underperforming.
We've had the 2S, 4S and the Cabriolet, but the new 911 Turbo is yet to be revealed. Prototypes have begun shedding their disguise, suggesting an imminent unveiling, and we can see that the range-topper will sport a model-specific rear diffuser, reconfigured air intakes and redesigned lightweight alloy wheels. More significantly, the 3.8-litre flat-six will be boosted courtesy of a pair of sizeable turbochargers, while stiffer bushings and suspension tweaks will offer keener handling characteristics.
Set for a full unveiling in late January, Seat's answer to the Ford Focus will make its public debut in Switzerland two months later. The 2020 Leon will take styling influence from the recently revealed el-Born electric hatchback with a full-width rear light bar, angular LED headlights and Seat's new grille design, as well as gaining its first electrified variant and featuring a significant technological revamp inside. It's said to be "the biggest step forward in the model's history" and will be available in five-door hatchback, estate and crossover forms.
The hottest version of Skoda's new Octavia saloon and estate is set to receive a public debut at this year's Geneva show. It will be the brand's most comprehensive line-up of Octavia vRS models ever, with a plug-in hybrid joining the existing petrol and diesel engines. Outright power is expected to match the petrol, with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and electric motor working together to deliver nearly 250bhp and up to 300lb ft of torque. It should get manual and dual-clutch automatic gearbox options, along with front and four-wheel drive.
Toyota's new Yaris supermini will make its first public appearance at Geneva, displaying the results of its ground-up redesign ahead of an on-sale date later this year. There's an entirely new platform underneath, while powertrain options include a bespoke new three-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid. It's also more compact and dynamically focused than the outgoing model, with Toyota claiming a minimal interior space deficit as a result of the shrinkage.
Hot on the heels of the standard Mk8 Golf's unveiling, the new GTI will bring its trademark blend of performance and practicality to the Geneva show. We're expecting the usual sporty styling embellishments to cloak a 242bhp reworking of VW's EA888 2.0-litre turbo motor, which will push the hot hatch from 0-62mph in less than six seconds, and on to a top speed of 155mph.