The Geneva motor show – arguably the most important automotive event on the European calendar – kicks off next month, and as usual, there’s plenty of new metal to get excited about.

Carmakers from around the world have confirmed their attendance at the show, which opens to the public on March 5th for its 85th year. Amongst the confirmed highlights are a smorgasbord of exotic supercars and performance machinery, along with the usual smattering of forward-looking concept cars. There are one or two more mainstream models in the mix, too…

Here’s our guide to the cars we’re looking forward to most.

Ferrari 488 GTB

It wouldn’t be a proper motor show without the unveiling of a brand-new Ferrari. The new 488 GTB is something of a departure for the Italian marque as it introduces turbocharging to the line-up in a bid to meet ever-stringent EU emissions regulations. Ferrari aficionados may be up in arms, but we’ll overlook this fact on account of the way it looks. It goes on sale in September.

Ford Focus RS

Ford can always be counted on to provide a desirable performance car at the more acceptable end of the economic spectrum. The latest addition to its extensive back catalogue is the third-generation Focus RS. It may wear the same aggressive uniform of big wings and gaping air vents as its forebears, but this all-new model is the first to feature four-wheel-drive – which is probably just as well as it’s developing 318bhp from its 2.3-litre turbocharged motor. Prices are tipped to start at under £30,000, too.

Honda Civic Type-R

Honda has been curiously missing from the affordable fast-car arena in recent years, after the previous generation of its iconic Civic Type-R hot hatchback failed to stimulate the senses in the way that its numerous rivals did. Now, though, the Type-R is back. Honda is annoyingly drip-feeding details, though what we do know is that it will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged motor and will be capable of reaching a heady 167mph. Oh, and it’s got a simply MASSIVE rear wing, so obviously we like it a lot already.

Renault Kadjar

Those whose motoring requirements are dictated by their children needn’t despair, as Renault is on hand with the handsome new Kadjar compact SUV. Pitched as a larger, more commodious version of the curvaceous Captur crossover, the Cadjar’s unusual styling will certainly get you some admiring glances at the school gates. It’ll share its underpinnings and engines with the hugely popular Nissan Qashqai, too, meaning its talents will be more than skin deep.

McLaren P1 GTR

If you thought that the McLaren P1 was as extreme and exclusive as sports cars get, think again. Freed from the limits of road legality, the British F1 outfit has been able to turn its manic hybrid creation up to 11, with this, the track-only P1 GTR. Styled to look like Bruce Wayne’s weekend toy, the P1 GTR will be built in tiny numbers and offered exclusively to existing P1 drivers.

Seat Leon Cupra 280 ST

Fast, practical, head-turning…we’re failing to see the catch with the latest addition to the Leon Cupra line-up. It uses the 276bhp motor from the regular Leon Cupra 280 and mates it to the more practical estate body of the ST model. Available with both manual and twin-clutch automatic gearboxes, this could be the car to put the fun back into the school run. And have you ever seen such a good-looking estate car?

Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate

The only fly in the ointment offered by the Leon Cupra ST is the potential for some eye-watering fuel consumption, particularly if you regularly make use of its performance potential. Enter the Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate, which provides a similar combination of pace and space, though with a 181bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor under the bonnet. It’s not quite as quick as petrol rivals, taking 7.9 seconds to get to 62mph, but counters with combined fuel economy of 64mpg. However, the fiery Golf R is also now available in estate form, in case your need for speed is just too great.

Vauxhall Viva

A budget city car isn’t normally the sort of thing that gets the senses racing but bear with us. The new Viva is expected to be one of the UK’s cheapest cars when it goes on sale this spring, and will rival the accomplished Skoda Citigo and Peugeot 108. Being aimed at families, it’s expected to be far roomier, however, and will be available in both four- and five-seat specifications. It’s not what you’d call offensive to the eye, either.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

BMW caused quite a stir when it introduced the 2 Series Active Tourer last year, it being both the first MPV and first front-wheel-drive model from a company normally obsessed with dynamics and ‘ultimate driving machines’. Now it is to unveil a new seven-seat version at Geneva, dubbed Gran Tourer. Priced to compete with more mainstream offerings such as the Ford S-Max, the Gran Tourer will start from £24,175 and will be available with BMW’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder motor, in both petrol and diesel guises.

Audi RS3

Once the last bastion of affordable performance, the hot-hatch market has been taken over by a raft of expensive, premium models from the German manufacturers in recent years. The latest to stick its head above the parapet is the Audi RS3. Boasting an astonishing 362bhp and Quattro four-wheel drive, the RS3 has the muscle to put the frighteners on most sports car drivers, with a 0-62mph time of 4.3 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. It’s only available in five-door Sportback guise, so it’s perfect for convincing your other half it’s a sensible(ish) family runabout.