DROP WEIGHT LOOK GOOD AND BE HIGH TECH IS THE MANUFACTURERS MANTRA AT THE 2014 NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW IN DETROIT
THE COVERS COME OFF OF THE NEW BENTLEY GT V8 AT THE NAIAS
If the buzz at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit’s Cobo Hall is any indicator, Happy Days are here again for the auto industry. Sales are up, new models are rolling out at a record pace, quality is as good as it ever has been and cars are as safe as ever with all of the anti-collision systems that are available. More and more autos are undergoing a transition from transportation to a personal computer that can take you where you want to go.
One thing that really struck me as I went from display to display…design and style are as prevalent now as it was in the fifties. Not in the way of chrome and fins but in interiors especially. Two tone motifs, contrasting stitching, sweeping lines that flow from dash to doors, material combinations and displays that tell you everything from where you are to how green is your drive do everything to make your ride pleasureable.
Some companies are also venturing into new areas like Audi with an entry level luxury sedan the A3, Kia with the Stinger 4, a smart looking sportscar that might be dubbed the mini Corvette, and Chevy/GMC with a smaller pick up truck the Canyon/Colorado.
Here are some of the cars and trucks that impressed me while walking through the show…
KIA STINGER GT 4 CONCEPT
The surprize of the show for me as well as one of the most impressive cars on the floor was the Kia Stinger GT 4. A small sports car in the mode of the 240Z. I couldnt stop thinking of the similarity to the Corvette in stance and lines and how much it reminded me of the Opel GT of the early 70's also known as the Mini Vette. Designed in Kia's Southern California Studios the rear wheel drive concept (for now) sports the same 4 cylinder engine that is kicking some butt installed in Optimas on the racing circuit. The 315 horsepower is delivered to a six speed manual transmission. 235/35R-20 Pirelli P-Zeros nestle beneath the front fenders, ensuring loads of corner-carving grip. Custom 20-inch aluminum center-lock wheels feature carbon fiber inserts for strength and weight reduction. Tucked inside the massive wheels are Brembo Gran Turismo two-piece 15-inch cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers that will insure the GT 4 can stop what it starts. Just a concept for now, the Stinger GT 4 could cause more traffic in already crowded Kia showrooms.
JAGUAR CX17 CROSSOVER CONCEPT
The Aluminum CX17 Crossover had folks crowding around the Jaguar stand
Jaguar's CX17 Crossover concept looks to bring the brand's sports car and luxury heritage to the utility vehicle market. The stunning lines and avant garde 4 seat interior make the Jaguar luxury statement while the aluminum unibody, sports car suspension, proposed V6 engine and low center of gravity could give it quite a enthusiasts ride. A unique Jaguar system, Torque Vectoring by Braking, in which the car intelligently uses its brake system to balance the distribution of engine torque to the wheels during cornering, reducing understeer and maximizing grip could make the CX17 one of the best handling crossovers on the market.
FORD F-150 PICKUP
Ford has lightened its 2015 F-150 by 700 pounds
Just minutes after I arrived at Cobo Hall in Detroit for the show I ran in to old pal, Ford CEO Alan Mullaly who had a smile on his face a mile wide. As he put out his hand to shake mine the first words out of his mouth were what did you think of the truck?As I told the big man: It looks good but you have some catching up to do with Ram and Chevy/GMC. Most of the catching up with the 2015 F150 is going to be done by slimming down. A mostly aluminum body could shave as much as 700 pounds off of the weight of the truck and with the eco boost engines Ford offers could just put the gas mileage into the stratosphere. If you are not so worried about gas mileage the 5.0 liter V8 should be the top engine option. A lot of maybes but also a lot of promise.
Maybe the most improved nameplate at the show the 2015 Chrysler 200
The long in the tooth Chrysler 200 nee Sebring will finally be fully revamped for 2015. This is a car that needed something and it looks like it is getting all that Chrysler can pull out of Alfa Romeo. A little longer and a little wider than the model it replaces the design in and outside really catches the eye. Under the hood several Chrysler engines should be available married up to a 9 speed automatic. Look for this one to have Chrysler dealers smiling as people come to take a look!
CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06
Does it get better than the Corvette Z06?
As if the new Stingray wasn't perfect enough Chevy decided to put the cherry on top of the sundae with the Z06. 625 Supercharged Horses, widened fenders, gigantic steel rotors, a reconfigured nose to keep the body down, this is the ultimate American driving machine. Magnetic Ride Control is carried over from the standard 'Vette and Michelin Pilots are added for shoes. This car is one of the reasons GM was my 2013 Manufacturer of the Year.