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2014 Detroit Auto Show

18th January 2014

{cue the Sanford & Son theme song} Welcome to Detroit, where everything is for sale! Belle Isle…already sold to the state! Priceless art at the Detroit Institute of Arts…make an offer! You want a building downtown? Sorry, they’ve all been sold to Dan Gilbert! Oh, you want a car? Well, we’ve got those too! Thousands of them, just waiting to be adopted by a nice family…or you. Read on for the bios of the best of these lovely children just looking for a good home (or yours).

Ford
2015 F-150: new look with LED lamps, bold new grille. New engine 2.7L EcoBoost with start/stop. HP and torque are TBD officially, but expect about 325 horsepower and 350 torques. New features: 360-degree camera view, Integrated loading ramps, Remote tailgate, 8-inch LCD “productivity screen”, inflatable seatbelts for rear passengers, curve control, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and blind spot warning. A first in the segment, F-150 will now have an aluminum body. Seeking to cutoff criticism of aluminum at the knees, Ford calls it “High-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys – already used in aerospace, commercial transportation, energy and many other rugged industries”

2015 Mustang: first in-person look at the new Pony car, revealed late last year. The new ‘stang is instantly recognizable as a Mustang, but it’s all new at the same time. This is exactly what Ford needed to do with an icon like Mustang. The design is no longer retro, except for some of the switches inside. The 3.7L V6 and the 5.0L V8 carry on and are now joined by a 2.3L EcoBoost making over 300HP and 300 torques.

Ford Edge Concept: previewing the next-generation Edge, this crossover is larger than the current model, and really nice looking. It’s full of advanced technology, but who knows how much of it will make it to production?

2015 Lincoln MKC: we saw the concept last year. Now it’s time for the real deal. Maybe not quite as striking as the concept (but then when are any cars?), the MKC is still quite the looker. Available this summer.

Transit Connect: this homely commercial van is homely no longer. It’s actually downright beautiful compared to its predecessor. It’s also more powerful. Also new for 2014 is a passenger version. Ford is back in the minivan segment.

Toyota
FT-1 Concept: this concept’s “audacious” styling is very aggressive and a far cry from Toyota’s usual offerings. It is, however, a concept. While no specs are given, other than “front engine, rear drive”, if you squint, the shape evokes the Scion FR-S. Did the FT-1 start out like as the Scion? Not sure, but it certainly looks like it might have. Either way, it’s very cool and worth a look.

2015 Lexus RC F: high-performance version of the RC Coupe, already shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show late last year. The base RC, a rear-drive 4-passenger coupe, is based on the GS platform, and will come with either a 3.5L V6 (RC 350) or a 2.5L Hybrid powertrain (RC 300h). The “F” ups the ante with a 5.0L 32-valve V8, making “more than 450” hp and “more than 383” torques. Its styling is also amped up, giving it a much more aggressive look than its tamer sibling.

Toyota FCV Concept: really cool looking car, and it runs on hydrogen. Don’t look for it at a dealer anytime soon, as fuel cells are still a ways off from being commercially viable. The research continues though, and it’s nice to look at.

Chrysler-FIAT
Chrysler 200: redesigned inside and out. LED lamps (especially in the back) give the new 200 an Audi-esque look, and that’s a good thing. This is quite an upgrade from the present 200. Better in every way. Looks great inside and out. It has carryover engines, though now matched with a segment-first 9-speed tranny. The dirty parts are derived from the same place as the Dodge Dart. If you know what to look for, the 200 shares some styling / parts with the Dart. AWD is a new addition, and it completely disconnects from the rear wheels when not in use to save gas. Strange that in the unveiling, Chrysler brand CEO Al Gardner called the 200 Chrysler’s flagship. Don’t tell the 300. It might get angry, and you wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.

GM
Corvette Z06: menacing new looks with improved aerodynamics and “unprecedented” downforce, supercharged 6.2L V8, with 625 horsepower and 635 torques. Automatic tranny will be available, meaning that the 3-pedal-challenged among you can attain stupid speeds and risk your lives too. Three cheers for equality!

2015 GMC Canyon: the GMC twin of the Chevy Colorado already seen. Looks like a Sierra that shrunk in the wash. Available in extended cab and crew cab, 2 box lengths and 2 engines (2.5L I4 and 3.6L V6) at launch. A 2.8L Diesel engine will be available for 2016.

2015 ATS Coupe: looks pretty much exactly as you would expect, which is very good. The 2.5L I4 base engine from the sedan is not available with the coupe, making the excellent 2.0L Turbo (272HP / 295 torques) the base engine. The 3.6L V6 (321 / 275) is optional. A true, 3-pedal manual is available, but only with the turbo. The truly big news here is that the 2015 ATS Coupe will be the first appearance of Cadillac’s new…wait for it…badge! Honestly, if you make that big of a deal about a badge, you need more to do. And frankly, we don’t need no stinking badges.

Mercedes-Benz
2015 C-Class: redesigned for 2015, the C moves up in size and price to make sure the CLA (See below) has room to maneuver. The C300 sports a 235 HP, 273-torques 2.0-liter turbo. The C400 has a 329 HP, 354-torques 3.0-liter turbo. AWD will be standard, though RWD is expected later. Much better looking inside and out. Production moves to the U.S. for this new model.

S-Class Coupe: why an S-Class Coupe? Why not? Mercedes, like its friends at BMW and Audi, continues to explore and fill niches that we never knew existed (and neither did they).

CLA: see niche comment above. New smaller sedan, starting at $30,000. Inexpensive is not the problem. The problem is that the CLA looks and feels cheap. That might fly in Europe, where M-B product spans a much wider range. Here in the U.S., they are taking a big risk with this product. The AMG model is way better and nicer.

GLA: see niche comment above. This is a small crossover version of the CLA. Only the AMG version is shown.

Hyundai
2015 Genesis: engines are the same, but that’s about all. The new Genesis moves up in styling and luxury, gets a new ZF 8-Speed tranny and AWD is now available.

Kia GT4 Stinger Concept: very stylish 2+2 coupe. The general shape seems to be channeling the Jaguar E-Type. Powered by a 2L turbo with 315HP.

Kia K900: Kia’s first entry in the large premium segment, following cousin Hyundai Equus. The K900 will be available early next year.

Kia Soul: minor update to the best-selling subcompact. Already on sale.

Honda
2015 Fit: fairly major freshening. It’s smaller on the outside and roomier on the inside. More power and better fuel economy (estimated to be 33 city / 41 city). Goes into production next month at a new plant in Mexico, marking the first time the Fit will be made in North America.

2015 Acura TLX: TLX replaces the TL and TSX in Acura’s lineup, and it goes on sale mid year. The TLX is a nice-looking car, despite retaining the ugly, guillotine grille that all Acuras have had for the last few years. 2 powertrains will be offered: a 2.4L I4 with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and Precision All-Wheel Steer™ (P-AWS) or a 3.5L V6 with a 9-speed auto and either P-AWS or Super-Handling All Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD™). I feel like a broken record, but Acura really needs to fire Wylie Coyote from their marketing department.

Nissan
Sport Sedan Concept: really cool looking car, stupid name. Maybe Nissan can hire Wylie Coyote? Though it looks more like Volvo’s current design language, this car is beautiful and Nissan says they expect to build it. Maybe the next-gen Maxima or Altima?

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept: a high performance version of the new Q50 sedan. I’ve never heard words like this used for a car introduction, “If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500hp and 600 lb-ft torque.” Anyway, it looks great, but maybe Infiniti needs to hire Wylie Coyote too? He likely would have consulted urbandictionary.com before deciding on the name.

Infiniti Q30 Concept: already shown in LA, the Q30 shows where Infiniti is headed next – into the compact luxury utility segment, along with…well…everybody.

BMW
M3 & M4: the new M is here…the new M is here!! 425 HP/406 torques, 3.0L twin-turbo I6, 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. What’s not to love?

2-Series: continues BMW’s new model designations, which move the coupes and convertibles to even numbers and leaves the sedans as odd numbers. The 2-Series is larger than the 1-Series coupe it replaces, and will offered as a 228i ($33,025 base price) and M235i ($44,025). On sale any minute now.

2014 Mini Cooper: the Mini Hardtop is new inside and out (but you wouldn’t notice it unless you really know what to look for). The base model now comes with a turbo 3-cylinder engine that makes more HP than the prior 4-cylinder engine (134 vs. 121). The Cooper S engine is bumped up from 1.6L to 2.0L, increasing power to 189 from 181. Mini expects 25% improvement in fuel economy from the base, which would make its combined number 36-37. Fuel economy on the Cooper S is TBD, but considering its displacement increase only results in 8 HP and a LOSS of 33 torques, fuel econ should be going up significantly as well.

Volkswagen
Audi A8/S8: mild freshening of Audi’s flagship sedan. Revised front and rear design, new technology and more horsepower for the 4.0L V8 (435 from 420). On sale this summer.

Audi allroad shooting brake Concept: a look at the upcoming 2015 TT? This looks like the offspring of an Audi TT and a Volvo C30 coupe, and foreshadows the design of the new TT, though the TT will not be a shooting brake/crossover/electric. Take the front design and the rear design and give it the old TT’s middle, and there you have the new TT. Capisce?

2015 Audi A3/S3: already shown in LA, the new A3 family includes the A3 sedan, S3 sedan, A3 cabriolet and A3 Sportback e-tron® gasoline electric plug-in hybrid. The A3 looks very much like a small, premium sedan – inside and out. Engines include 1.8L turbo, 2.0L turbo, 2.0L Diesel, 1.4L Turbo with the plug-in and a high output 2.0L turbo on the S3. Sales begin in the spring.

Porsche 911 Targa: just like legendary 911 Targa of yore, the new models feature the distinctive Targa roof bar, a movable front roof section, and a wraparound rear window. But unlike those classics, the roof segment can be opened and closed at the push of a button. The fully automatic roof system stows the Targa top behind the rear seats. Cool, yes? The Targa will be offered only as AWD models: Targa 4 and Targa 4S. The 911 Targa 4 will have an MSRP of $101,600, while the 911 Targa 4S model will have an MSRP of $116,200.

Porsche Macan: introduced at the LA Auto Show in November, the Macan is the “mini-me” to the Cayenne SUV. The Macan S comes with a 3.0L twin turbo V6, making 340HP / 339 torques and a 7-speed PDK transmission. 0-60 is achieved in 5.2 seconds. It has a base price of $49,900. The Macan Turbo has a 3.6L twin turbo with the same tranny. It makes 400 / 406, goes to 60 in 4.4 seconds and costs $72,300. While these stats are certainly awesome, and Porsche is likely to sell many of these, at what point does Porsche go too far with its product line breadth? When will customers forget what “Porsche” means and why it is so desirable? In other words, when will Porsche cease being Porsche? I’m not smart enough to know the answers to these questions. I just hope that Porsche management is asking them.

Others
Mazda3: introduced last summer and already on sale, the Mazda3 goes all SKYACTIV on us. It has SKYACTIV manufacturing, SKYACTIV engines and SKYACTIV transmissions. I’ve said it before, SKYACTIV might be the greatest thing since sliced roast beef, but it means nothing to customers. It’s just a word (sort of) that only confuses. Just give us the performance and fuel economy and leave it at that. All that said, the new 3 is a really nice car: it has great looks (like a smaller CX-5), performance and economy.

2015 Subaru WRX STI: the hot car from Subaru gets an update to a new platform, which promises even better handling for its 305HP. AWD helps too.

Volvo XC Coupe Concept: winner of the Eyes on Design award for best concept car, the XC looks a bit like a stretched C30 coupe, but with a radically different front end.

Jaguar C-X17: Jaguar keeps threatening to make a SUV or crossover, and now maybe they will. The C-X17 (great name, BTW) bears more than a passing resemblance to the Land Rover Evoque. This is not likely a coincidence, as they are part of the same company. Damn gorgeous though!

Jaguar F-Type Coupe: hardtop version of the beautiful F-Type. Already shown in Tokyo and LA, the coupe shares all of its mechanicals with its topless friend.

The 2014 Slandy Awards®

Slandy Best in Show: Corvette Stingray Z06
SBIS Honorable Mention: F-150, Mustang, Chrysler 200, Hyundai genesis, Nissan Sport Sedan Concept, BMW M3/M4, Jaguar C-X17
WATT: Mercedes-Benz CLA. Inexpensive is fine; cheap is not.
Bet the Farm: Ford F-150. The F-150 pays all the bills in Dearborn, so any large change better be right.
Oops!: CLA (see above)
Uh-Oh!: Kia K900. Kia enters yet another new segment, causing executives on several continents to up their dose of Mylanta.
Most Annoying Trend: the touchy-feely, pointless naming on some brands/cars. These are internal initiatives for these companies. They are not the type of thing that should be branded on the cars. Some MBAs needed more to do. These include the following, along with the companies’ own definitions of these initiatives in parenthesis:
• Mazda’s “SKYACTIV Technology” (SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY is a blanket term for Mazda’s innovative new-generation technologies that are being developed under the company’s long-term vision for technology development, Sustainable Zoom-Zoom. The SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY name is intended to reflect Mazda’s desire to provide driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance in its vehicles. To achieve this goal, Mazda has implemented an internal Building Block Strategy to be completed by 2015. This ambitious strategy involves the comprehensive optimization of Mazda’s base technologies, which determine the core performance of its vehicles, and the progressive introduction of electric devices such as regenerative braking and a hybrid system. All the technologies that are developed based on the Building Block Strategy will fall under the SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY umbrella)
• Honda’s “Earth Dreams Technology” (“Earth Dreams Technology” is a next generation set of technological advancements which greatly enhance both driving performance and fuel efficiency at a high level, using as its base advanced environmental technologies to pursue the joy of driving unique to Honda. It is a series of measures in which efficiency of internal combustion components including engine, and transmission, as well as electric-powered motor technology, is further improved)
• Nissan’s “Pure Drive” (“PURE DRIVE” is our action to improve fuel economy of engine-powered vehicles. A combination of advanced technology measures are prepared, from the comprehensive energy loss reduction from within the power train, the reduction of needless energy usage through idling stop, to the recovering of the wasted energy using hybrid vehicles. All of this advanced technology is being prepared in order to provide all our customers with good fuel economy vehicles)

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