Monday, 18 January 2016


The Hottest Cars at the Detroit Auto Show 2016
By Doug Newcomb,
PC Magazine, 16 January 2016.

Despite years of neglect and decay in its urban centre, Detroit is still the auto capital of U.S., if not the entire world. That’s why every January automakers from around the globe gather in downtown Detroit to unveil their latest concept and production cars at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

While a few exotic automakers sat out this year’s Detroit show, and a few major automakers like Ford didn’t debut new vehicles or concepts, with the introduction of important concepts and production cars, NAIAS showed why the Motor City still matters.

Audi, for example, showed off the h-tron quattro, named for its hydrogen technology and all-wheel, all-electric drive, while Acura had a car that scans you for a personalized driving experience. Toyota talked up satellite connectivity for its upcoming cars, and Volkswagen teased the Tiguan GTE Active Concept, which sports two electric motors and a gasoline engine.

The show, which runs until Jan. 24, comes just a week after CES (where there were plenty of cool cars). But Detroit is still a force to be reckoned with; check out below for some of our favourite cars from the show.

1. Acura Precision Concept


This concept shows off what Acura said is a "bolder, more distinctive" design direction for the Japanese luxury brand, featuring "deeply sculpted side surfaces pouring over swelling rear wheel arches," a Diamond Pentagon grille, Jewel Constellation headlights and floating taillights. The interior is just as impressive, with a curved instrument panel and a retractable screen.

2. Audi h-tron Quattro


The "h" in this concept's name stands for the hydrogen technology that powers the all-wheel, all-electric h-tron crossover. Audi said it can travel up to 372 miles, after which the vehicle's tanks can be refilled in just four minutes. The h-tron also accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in under seven seconds thanks to its two electric motors on the front and rear axles that provide 90 kW and 140 kW of power, respectively.

3. Lexus LC 500


If you can't afford but lust for the Lexus LFA supercar that costs well over US$400,000, the new 2017 LC 500 that's expected to start at under US$100,000 may be more in your price range. Under the hood is a 5.0-litre 467-horsepower V8 that propels the LC 500 rom from 0 top 60 in under 4.5 seconds, while extensive uses of carbon fibre in the roof, aluminium in the doors, and a composite trunk floor help reduce curb weight.

4. Chrysler Pacifica


Not only does the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica revive a dead nameplate for Chrysler, but the new vehicle also will try to resurrect a moribund vehicle segment, the much-maligned minivan, which the Detroit automaker is credited with inventing three decades ago. To fight for its place among the multitude of crossovers, the Pacifica will be offered in six trim levels and as a plug-in hybrid and can be packed with both kid- and parent-friendly technology like a wide-screen rear-seat video system and a built-in vacuum cleaner.

5. Buick Avista


After debuting the Envision in Detroit last year, which is now headed for production, Buick unveiled an even sleeker concept called the Avista, a performance sedan powered by a 400-horsepower turbocharged V6. General Motors won't say whether the Avista will got the same path as the Envision and make it to dealers, but the car would be a great addition to the brand's already solid line-up and is Buick's best bet to take on the BMWs and Audis of the world.

6. Nissan IDS Concept


While self-driving stole the show at CES once again, Nissan decided to skip Las Vegas and debut its IDS concept in Detroit. The autonomous driving and zero emission EV can switch between manual- and self-driving modes via a steering wheel and a display that disappear into the dash, and can be used to "convey to pedestrians and others the car's awareness of its surroundings and signals its intentions" via messages such as "After you" and "Stopping" in English, Japanese, and Chinese.

7. Porsche 911


The new 2017 Porsche 911 and 911 Turbo revealed in Detroit will be offered in a hardtop and cabriolet/convertible, and with either 540 or 580 horsepower, depending on which version of the 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged flat-six engine you choose. This allows the 911 Turbo to vault from 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds and 2.9 seconds for the "regular" 911. The base Turbo will sell for a US$160,195, while the S starts at US$189,095.

8. Infiniti Q60


Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan, wowed car enthusiasts with its 2016 S60 luxury sports coupe at the 2015 Detroit show. This year, it announced that it will see production as the 2016 Q60, which is expected to be available this fall. The Q60 comes with a twin turbo 3-litre, 400-horsepower engine in its most powerful version. Less costly versions have 300 hp engines and all models in the Infiniti line come with optional all-wheel drive.

9. Honda Ridgeline


Based on the same unibody architecture as the popular Pilot SUV, the Ridgeline is available in front- and all-wheel-drive format, and comes equipped with a 3.5-litre V-6 coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2017 Ridgeline also has an "in-bed" trunk and sound system that the automaker says is ideal for turning this truck into the ultimate tailgating rig.

10. BMW M4


The new BMW X4 M40i isn't a true M variant, but an M-tuned X4 crossover that gets more aggressive styling, a sportier interior, and a much more powerful 3.0-litre turbocharged, 355 horsepower inline-six engine that gets it from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. The BMW X4 M40i goes on sale in February and will start at US$57,800.

11. Lincoln Continental


The Lincoln Continental may conjure images of '70s gas shortages or airport car service, but the new 2017 model could change that and reverse Lincoln's long sales slide. The exterior boasts sleek lines with cool touches like LED headlights lenses shaped like the Lincoln badge and flowing door handles.

12. Chevy Cruze


The Chevy Cruze has been a hit for GM, and the automaker expects that the new 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch will successfully compete with the Ford Focus hatchback and a new Honda Civic hatchback coming this year. Available later in 2016, the Cruze Hatch has a new 1.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder turbocharged engine making 138 horsepower and it will be available in the LT and Premier trims and the sporty RS performance package. Pricing has not been announced.

13. Nissan Titan


The Nissan Titan Warrior concept combines the production model's 5.0L V8 Cummins turbo diesel with a long-travel off-road suspension, massive 37-inch tires and in-your-face LED lights. Customized full-size pickups are cash cows for established models like the Ford Raptor, so don't be surprised if this "concept" end up available as a production truck soon.

14. Volkswagen Tiguan


The Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept semi-electric sport-utility vehicle could be seen as an attempt by VW to make clean up its act after the Dieselgate scandal. But the Tiguan GTE Active Concept was likely in the product pipeline long before VW's emission cheating was revealed and is a product of the automaker's emphasis on SUVs for the U.S. market.

15. Volkswagen Beetle Dune


One of our favourite Detroit debuts was the Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept that evokes dune buggies made from the original, air-cooled VW Beetles. It's based on the R-Line version of the current Beetle, although slightly longer, wider, and taller, with two extra inches of ground clearance for an off-road-ready appearance.

Top image: Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept. Credit: Volkswagen.

[Source: PC Magazine. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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