Geneva 2014: 5 normal new cars you can actually afford

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Jeep-Renegade-GenevaFor the benefit of normal, everyday human car shoppers, we’re going to skip three-quarters of the Geneva auto show. We’ll ignore the one-off hypercars, zany concepts and any metal with six- and seven-figure price tags. We’ll discount any cars that don’t exist in great numbers or will never be sold in the United States. At this show — a party zone where price and value take a heated, massaging backseat to power and luxury — that means there isn’t much to write home about. (Of course, as we previewed the McLaren 650S and Ferrari California T, there’s plenty — and if you’re in the mood for complete coverage, head over to our friends at Car and Driver.)

Here are the top five debuts coming stateside.


2016 Audi TT


Automobilsalon Genf 2014

The latest TT isn’t radically altered from the 1998 original, a Bauhaus masterpiece with baseball-glove stitching considered by many car designers to be one of the very best in the modern era. There are more hardened, upright creases and edges along the front fascia — with more angular grille and headlamps that speak “mini R8” — but mostly, the smooth profile stays. It’s inside where things turn upside down, particularly the new all-digital instrument cluster that can display full-width maps and shifts Audi’s MMI infotainment system entirely to the driver’s view. A new 230-hp 2.0-liter turbo four brings a minor performance bump and can be fitted with either front- or all-wheel drive and a choice of a six-speed manual (hooray!) or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Look for a hotter TTS and a sizzling TT RS (the last one had 360 hp) to come later, along with the roadster.

Estimated base price: $42,000


2015 Jeep Renegade


2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude

This mini ‘ute is the second Fiat-based Jeep released just months after the all-new 2014 Cherokee. As far as we can tell from that SUV’s comfort, high tech and popularity on city streets, the Fiat-Chrysler marriage is off to a great start. The Renegade is a pint-size model that will be built in Italy and based on the Fiat 500L, which isn’t catching on in the U.S. (hence Fiat’s choice to make a strange TV ad with P. Diddy). Jeep has already found success with the Compass and Patriot — two smaller, less capable SUVs versus the trusty Wrangler and Grand Cherokee — and the Renegade’s boxy body should attract more people who swing towards the Kia Soul. Two engine choices, a 1.4-liter 160-hp turbo inline-four from the Fiat 500 Abarth or a 2.4-liter 184-hp normally-aspirated inline-four, are available with either a six-speed manual or nine-speed (yes, nine!) automatic. Trailhawk models deliver greater ground clearance and a true low range, while Jeep engineered this funky rig to tackle steep grades with short front and rear overhangs. Look for it here in December.

Estimated base price: $17,000

2015 Lexus RC F Sport


We fell in love with this sleek Lexus coupe in Detroit. For Geneva, Lexus went with a mid-grade choice, the V6-powered RC 350 F Sport. It’s meant to look similar to the top-flight RC F, but without that car’s 5.0-liter 460-hp V8. The 306-hp 3.5-liter V6 from the RC 350 should do just fine for most buyers, while the body kit, special wheels and new grille (that supposedly has lots of tiny “Fs” scattered in the mesh) bring it up a notch. This rollout is quite unusual. Most times, automakers space out their trims by several months to keep a new car’s momentum going for at least the first year. Plus, none of the three RC models are on sale or have been available to the media for first drives. Still, Lexus went so far as to unveil an RC F GT3 factory race car side by side in Geneva, so the RC’s bones must be no joke. Expect all three RCs later this year.

Estimated base price: $47,000


2015 BMW 2-Series Active Tourer


Unlike the 2-Series coupe, which replaces the 1-Series coupe in the U.S., the 2-Series Active Tourer is not like any BMW ever built. It’s front-wheel drive. That means BMW plans on competing in ever-lower price segments, and at the moment, the Active Tourer looks like a really nice, really overpriced Honda Fit. No models have been confirmed yet for the U.S., but expect BMW’s 2.0-liter turbo-four from the 228i to appear in some fashion, along with xDrive all-wheel drive and a litany of options to drive the price into 3-Series territory. The big question for this new hatch isn’t the price, but whether it can actually drive like a BMW — or at least the way BMWs used to drive before they got muddled with electric steering.

Estimated base price: $28,000 (expected 2015)


2015 Ford Focus


While Toyota would say otherwise, the Focus was the world’s best-selling car last year and has been on a continuous popularity streak since it was first introduced to Europe in 1998 and to the U.S. in 1999. The third-generation model’s mid-cycle update includes a new front grille that, until now, only appeared on the Focus Electric, plus new headlamps, revised taillamps and minor suspension and steering changes. The big (or rather, little) deal is the new 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine shared with the smaller Fiesta. With 123 hp, this turbo engine will be optional and may see the Focus hit above 40 mpg highway.

Estimated base price: $16,000 (in line with 2014 models and current rebates)

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Based in Connecticut, he writes for BestRide, Car and Driver, The Boston Globe and other publications.