Fuel efficient, electric cars continue to show the way of the future, but at Detroit's North American International Auto Show, more and bigger set the standard.
By Joe Hurley
Based in what we saw last week at Detroit's North Ameican International Auto Show (NAIAS), every detail seems to point to a healthy recovery in the automotive industry. Forget the crisis in the Motor City, the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, downsizing, or the electric car boom... All the problems seem to have vanished judging by the new developments exhibited this year. At Detroit, the manufacturers — especially the American— made a greater effort than ever to mark the beginning of the end of their particular crises.
The Detroit show was a look back concealed by small gestures to invite consumers to remain hopeful in the face of a new future: Ford presenting new, more efficient versions of its powerful Mustang and its magnificent F-150, Chevrolet boasting muscle with the new Corvette Z06 and Corvette C7.R, Toyota recovering the lost competitive spirit of the Supra with the FT-1...
Porsche 911 Targa.
And this trend has also been noticed among luxury manufacturers. The best example is the new Porsche 911 Targa, returning to its purest, classic essence. Convertible but, not cabriolet, the 911 Targa gets rid of the retractable glass roof of the previous generation to mount a removable roof that preserves the B-pillar (coated with a suggestive chrome bar) with a wraparound glass rear window. It will hit the market with two versions, both with all-wheel drive: the 911 Targa 4 with a 3.4-liter boxer engine and 350 hp (0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds) and the 911 Targa 4S, with a 3.8-liter and 400 hp engine, which increase the acceleration rate by four tenths of a second compared to the first.
Lamborghini took advantage of its visit to Detroit to showcase the new Hurricane LP 610-4, which arrives to replace the Gallardo. It will be the most accessible model from the Italian brand, but that doesn’t mean giving up the high level of sportsmanship and performance that characterizes the label: an atmospheric 5.2-liter V10 engine delivering 610 hp and 540 Nm of torque allows the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 202 mph.
Meanwhile, Bentley wanted to appear, at an almost symbolic level, to exhibit their latest creation, the Birkin Mulsanne. Limited to only 22 units, it is an exclusive version of the flagship of the super luxury British brand. Its unique design, 21-inch wheels, leather interior and an advanced infotainment system, which includes 8'' LCD screens for the rear seats, are just some of the elements that make this car (almost) unique.
Bentley Birkin Mulsanne.
At another level, Mercedes-Benz has also followed its traditional path in Detroit presenting, among others, two models related to its S-Class. First, thanks to an impressive 530 hp V12 biturbo engine, the S65 AMG is only second in power to the new S 600, available, exclusively, in its long body variant. But it has also been hinted that the new Mercedes S Class Coupé Concept, a futuristic and stylish prototype will probably end up being the replacement for the current CL. Not many details have been released, but we know that, for now, it has, inside, a V8 biturbo 455 hp and 700 Nm of torque.
Mercedes S Class Coupé Concept.
The main rival to the legendary Mercedes line, which also wanted to leave its mark in Detroit, has shown something more daring. Although it has proudly released its most suggestive models of the moment: the new M3 and M4, BMW has clearly stated its intention to go for leadership in the field of luxury electric cars. The i3 electric utility and especially the sports i8, a plug-in hybrid with 362 hp, are the brand’s real bet for the near future.
Audi´s attitude at the show has been slightly fractious: its only novelty was an original concept called Allroad Shooting Break. This is a prototype of what could be called a crossover coupe because it combines the aesthetics and qualities of a vehicle ready for off road with a very sporty design, without the B-pillar or short overhangs, and only two doors. It comes with a hybrid system that delivers 408 horsepower, and a total weight of 3,527 pounds allows it to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. The big news: it can travel up to 123.8 miles per gallon!
Mini John Cooper Works Concept.
But only those last avant-garde examples escape from the “bigger and bigger” fever. Even the Mini is no longer so mini as evidenced by the Mini John Cooper Works Concept presented last week in Detroit. Supported on the standards of the new Mini generation, this one also increases in size over its predecessor, though the firm, which belongs to BMW, promises to improve its agility thanks to optimized aerodynamics and a substantial weight reduction.
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