Star cars of the Detroit motor show
Some are concepts, perhaps unlikely ever to make it into production, others are road-ready. A few of the road-ready models on show in Detroit will arrive in New Zealand this year.
Mercedes-Benz GLA-and C-Class Three all-wheel-drive GLA variants will go on sale here this year, all powered by turbocharged 2.0-litre engines. The 200 CDi diesel and 250 petrol models are here in April, and the 45 AMG petrol flyer in November/December. The specially tuned 45 AMG (pictured) delivers 265kW/450Nm. The C-Class range arrives later in the year, too. It has been described as a scaled-down version of the premium S-Class, which went on sale here last year. The flagship S-Class S600 might also arrive later in the year. Power comes from 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V12 engine that pounds out 390kW/820Nm. Standard equipment is Magic Body Control, which scans the road ahead to provide the smoothest ride possible.
Subaru WRX STI The all-wheel-drive STi will arrive in NZ around the middle of the year. Whereas the standard WRX (due here in April) is powered by a 200kW 2.0-litre direct injection boxer four-cylinder, the STi gets a boosted 2.5-litre engine delivering around 225kW. The only transmission option is a six-speed manual. There are three driving modes – Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp. Power is normally split 41:59 front to rear by the centre differential. However, this can be altered by the driver by choosing one of six different presets. The front and rear differentials are limited-slip affairs, to maximise traction, and the STi also gets torque vectoring for the first time.
Lexus RC-F Coupe Lexus won’t officially say so but it has been screaming out for a compact SUV and performance coupe to rival offerings from the Germans. The SUV is called the NX and will arrive in NZ later this year. Same with the coupes, the RC 350, RC 300h (hybrid) and go-faster RC F coupes. The RC F uses a 5.0-litre 335kW V8 engine mated to a newly calibrated eight-speed automatic gearbox. Interestingly, Lexus has tuned the V8 to run on an Atkinson cycle under most circumstances, while it switches to the more typical Otto cycle when more power is required. There’s also an aerodynamic package that includes an active rear wing that deploys at 80km/h.
BMW M4 The M4 coupe replaces the old 4.0-litre M3 coupe; the new M3 four-door replaces the old M3 4.0-litre four-door. Got it? It’s just another badge switcheroo from BMW. Anyway, the M4 and M3 will be in NZ later in the year. Both are powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine delivering around 317kW/540Nm to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. BMW says the M4 is 80kg lighter than the old two-door M3, a weight loss that helps the more powerful six-cylinder unit propel the M4 to 100km/h in a claimed 3.9 seconds with the dual-clutch unit and 4.1 seconds with the do-it-yourself manual.
Porsche 911 Targa The new Porsche 911 Targa will land in NZ around the middle of the year. It features the characteristic wide bar and removeable roof section of the original 1965 Taga, but with a modern twist: the touch of a button opens and stores the roof in a theatrical fashion behind the seats. Two all-wheel-drive Targa variants will be available here. The Targa 4 gets a 3.4-litre flat-six engine delivering 257kW, 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 282km/h; the Targa 4S uses a 3.8-litre unit developing 294kW, 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds and 296km/h. Porsche claims improved town-and-around fuel consumption for both models: between 8.7 and 9.5 litres/100km for the Targa 4, and 9.2 and 10.0 litres for the 4S. Gearboxes are a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch unit.
Kia GT4 Stinger Concept Long-time showgoers will tell you it’s somewhat unusual for a carmaker to disclose the weight of a concept unless it is looking to put it into production. So why did Kia say the Stinger weighs in at 1306kg? Another clue: The 2+2 rear-drive coupe uses a detuned 234kW version of the turbocharged 300kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine used in the Kia Optima GTS racer for the Pirelli World Challenge. The Stinger’s length of 4.3m is almost identical to that of the Toyota 86, suggesting a considerably more powerful rival to the 147kW 86 and its sister car the Subaru BRZ. A six-speed manual handles the Stinger’s power, while staggered Pirelli PZero tyres provide the grip and Brembo brakes the stopping power.
Toyota FT-1 Concept The FT stands for ‘Future Toyota.’ Designed by Toyota’s California studio, the front-engined, rear-wheel drive FT-1 concept draws inspiration from the FT-HS and the Lexus LF-LC concepts from 2007 and 2012. There is certainly a bit of Lexus LF-A in the design and a hint of Formula One in the pointed nose. Toyota says the FT-1 is “merely a design exerise” and won’t be lured on talk of it being the new Supra. Whatever, you can drive it now – if you are a gaming fan. The FT-1 features as a download on Playstation game Gran Turismo 6. There’s no word on what power is underneath that bodywork, other than it’s a traditional internal combustion engine rather than a Hybrid.
Nissan Sports Sedan Concept Nissan says the concept previews “a future production sports sedan,” which has every indication of being the next Maxima. It is bigger than the current Maxima in every direction but height, and applies many of the same design elements seen on Nissan’s previous two concept show cars – the Resonance SUV and the Friend-ME hatchback – to a more conventional four-door shape. The arrow-shaped headlights are a key feature, along with the large Nissan badge in the grille, nestled within a new chrome bar. It’s a development of the design found on the new Qashqai and Micra. This concept is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine producing more than 225kW, delivering power to the front wheels through a CVT gearbox.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 While the standard Corvette Stingray was being named North American Car of the Year, GM was busy unveiling this race-bred Z06 version with around 465kW/850Nm from its supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine. There’s a choice of a seven-speed manual or eight-speed auto ‘box and three different aero packs, one specially aimed at track use. The eight-speeder is a conventional automatic with a torque converter that, says Chevrolet, executes “wide-open-throttle upshifts up to eight-hundredths of a second quicker than the dual-clutch in the Porsche 911.” The Z06, like the Stingray, will only be available in left-hand drive.
Audi Allroad Shooting Brake First impressions were that this two-door concept was a teaser for the Audi Q1 crossover due in 2016. But those in the know recognised it as a puffed-up version of the upcoming new TT. Drop the concept’s suspension a notch or two, take away the roofline backlight and, voila!, TT lines appear. Anyway, what you are looking at is a four-seat E-Tron hybrid showcar powered by Audi’s 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine backed by a 40-kW electric motor and a secondary 85-kW motor acting upon the rear axle to provide Quattro-like all-wheel drive. Audi says the powertrain is good for a combined 319kW/640Nm.
VW Beetle Dune Concept VW says the concept is a “Baja Bug for the 21st century”, a reference to the Baja Peninsular playground for dune buggies in the Gulf of California. This isn’t the first time VW has put its reborn retrocar on stilts – back in 2000, it showed a New Beetle-based concept, also called Dune. A production version was said to be considered, but ultimately never came to be. Will this new concept see the same fate? VW isn’t saying, although observers believe it could prolong the life of the New Beetle. Whatever, the Detroit concept is slightly wider, taller and longer than the standard Beetle, and uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine mated to a six-speed dual-clutch driving the front wheels.
Volvo Concept XC Coupe Volvo says the two-door, four-seat XC Coupe’s design was “inspired by modern sports equipment.” The XC90 is due for replacement later this year and this concept provides a clue as to how the new big SUV will look. It follows on from Frankfurt’s Concept Coupe and, like it’s lower, sleeker forebear, sits on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). The new floating grille and T-shaped LED lights are likely to feature, as will a large iPad-sized infotainment screen using Volvo’s Android-based Sensus Connected Touch system. The new XC90 is likely to be unveiled at the Paris motor show in October.