PH DETROIT SHOW REPORT
Hand-picked highlights from the first International Motor Show of 2011
Now it's European marques coming to the fore, Detroit hosting several international debuts as the industry sees in the new year. Skipping such delights as the Americanised VW Passat, all-new Audi A6 and others, here's a more selective and PH-worthy view of the show...
The first time out in public, under the show lights at Detroit the 1 Series M Coupe looks, frankly, rather deliciously outrageous. Opinion seemed overwhelmingly positive too, the combination of 340hp and an American price point of $47,000 seemingly going down well with the Stateside crowd.
Also debuting on the BMW stand, the new 6 Series plays to a rather more mature crowd and having appeared as - officially - a concept at Paris is now here officially, sans roof. The distinctive buttresses remain when the hood is raised, ditto the glass rear window/wind deflector and the look has been toned down compared with its Bangle-era predecessor.
Power comes from a 320hp version of BMW's twin-scroll turbo straight-six for the 640i or a turbocharged 407hp 4.4-litre V8 in the 650i. Expect a diesel version when it comes to Europe too.
Built to take part in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) GT championship for 2011, Cadillac has unveiled this mean looking racer based on the CTS-V Coupe. The CTS-V race car's saloon-bodied relative already has two SCCA championships to its name so hopes are high the new version can repeat this success.
It's certainly a mean looking beast, the hunkered track stance, slatted bonnet and giant rear wing all working well with the Caddy's hard-edged lines. And of course there's a stonking great V8 under the bonnet, in this case a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 related to that found in the Corvette ZR1 and, in road trim, putting out 556hp.
Enough to go chasing the ever-present Porsches in other words, the Cadillac an eye catching and welcome addition to the diverse SCCA grid when it competes for the first time in March.
Of all the traditional Detroit giants Ford is about the only one you could say has survived anything close to fighting fit - Bill Ford somewhat curiously painting himself as "a lifelong environmentalist" while wheeling out all manner of electric and hybrid Focus and C-Max variants. Thankfully someone has also managed to sneak some more interesting vehicles onto the stand, including Ken Block's Gymkhana Three Fiesta and the cool-looking Focus Touring Car concept that offers a glimpse of what a next-gen RS could look like. Tasty, in other words.
Good to see Ford hasn't totally abandoned its old-school ways, giant F150 and F250 pick-ups somewhat incongruous among all the eco hyperbole, and more Mustangs than you can shake a stick at. The most PH friendly? Well, the 540hp Shelby GT500has obvious appeal but the 440hp, track-honed Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition doesn't look half bad either.
Like any motor show these days you'll hear talk of hybrids, alternative fuels and engine downsizing. But this is still America and when push comes to shove they're still in love with their trucks. Trucks with storage compartments for guns and fishing equipment. Trucks with chrome grilles as big as a house. Trucks with aggressive names like Ram, Super Duty or Power Wagon. Even a mud-splattered truck in the case of Dodge and a Call Of Duty Black Ops branded Wrangler over at Jeep.
Best of the bunch is this All Terrain Concept based on the 2011 model year GMC Sierra HD. This standing for Heavy Duty, obviously. Powered by a 397hp 6.6-litre Duramax V8 diesel pumping out 765lb ft of torque and standing tall on 35-inch tyres and uprated suspension fitted with fancy remote reservoir Fox dampers it is, even by US standards, something of a beast.
Shortened overhangs, underbody skid plates and that massive ride height underline serious off-road ability and even though it's officially just a concept it's not hard to imagine GMC owners taking it as inspiration for some homegrown upgrades.
Built for the SEMA show the Honda CR-Z Hybrid R concept really deserves a second look. Given that Honda's IMA hybrid system essentially works like a turbo to boost the output of the 1.5-litre petrol engine it's not a massive leap to then think, hey, why not go the whole hog and add a turbo as well.
Built by Honda Performance Development, this souped up CR-Z also features a limited-slip differential to help put the combined turbocharged, electrically assisted 200hp down effectively. That's a fair hike from the 124hp of the standard CR-Z and enough to make the dinky Honda coupe a much more interesting proposition, especially on HPD tuned springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. HPD also provides beefed up brakes and the bodywork additions, including a non-too subtle rear wing.
Appealing then. But as appealing as the idea of simply putting a Civic Type R engine in instead, as some already have done? That's a twin-test somebody needs to arrange as soon as possible.
OK, Hyundai probably isn't high on the hit-list of many PHers right now (No sh*t... Ed.) but the quirky Veloster coupe unveiled at Detroit could change that. Imagine a VW Scirocco - even down to the lime green metallic paint - with an extra door and you get the idea. Only one extra door mind, the Veloster going all Mini Clubman and featuring rear-seat access on one side only. Hopefully the correct side at least, the Veloster's hidden rear door offering kerbside access for right-hand drive markets unlike the Mini.
There's a lot going on with the styling and the 1.6-litre petrol doesn't sound too thrilling but a dual clutch gearbox, the quirky looks and expected five-year warranty are all appealing. Making its world debut here in Detroit European sales are due later this year and we'll know more come the Geneva show in March.
Does the world really need a vaguely off-road looking Mini coupe based on the Countryman? Probably not. But Mini is making one anyway, the Paceman taking the Countryman basics and then going a bit X6 on it to give Mini a Juke-rivalling, Evoque-chasing faux SUV crossover.
Apparently celebrating 10 years of Mini in the US, and having started breaking down the Stateside prejudice against smaller cars it now seems Mini is going the other way and building bigger ones.
Press pack flannel describes the Paceman as a "Mini muscle car" while blending "lifestyle elements with premium quality", whatever that means. Who's it aimed at? "Young, modern, extrovert urbanites" apparently or, in other words, the kind of braying, iPad toting wallies marketing types seem beholden by every step of the way.
Under the skin it shares a platform and engine range with the Countryman, ALL4 four-wheel drive therefore likely to be available on range topping 184hp petrol Cooper S and 112hp diesel Cooper D.
An open invitation to Maranello to dust off its 599 HYKERS concept, bring it to Le Mans and initiate a new hybrid era in the age-old Porsche/Ferrari rivalry, the 918 RSR is simply too beautiful to look at to be consigned to the role of rolling laboratory.
That's what Porsche motorsport boss Hartmut Kristen says it is though, admitting the hybrid GT3 R racer unleashed last year simply didn't stand out among the crowds of regular 911 race cars it's shared the tracks with. Porsche's KERS-style flywheel generator technology deserves greater attention and what better way of achieving that than by pairing it with the screaming 10,300rpm, 563hp V8 race engine from the open cockpit RS Spyder.
With more than a hint of 917 in its lines Porsche needs to convince authorities to create a class in which it can run, Kristen clearly keen to see the 918 Spyder follow in the footsteps of great racing Porsches at evocative endurance races like Sebring, Le Mans and the Nürburgring 24-hour. Hybrid or not, Porsche would be cruel not to give us some sort of roadgoing version too.
Toyota sells more than just Priuses in the US, sub-brand Scion taking a more youthful and, dare we say it, interesting approach to its product line up and embracing the world of tuning and aftermarket hop-ups with a spectacular display of customised cars.
Combining American bling with Japanese influenced aftermarket tuning and styling, the Scion stand is one of the more eye-catching ones here at Detroit. The vivid Salty Dogs xB, complete with airbrushed octopus livery and ... portholes, was the winning entry in a contest between customising teams from the army, marines and navy. Meanwhile a rally-prepped xD in retro factory Toyota Castrol livery underlines the new-found Stateside passion for rallying inspired by the antics of Ken Block and others.
PistonHeads consensus following Riggers's run in the new Subaru WRX STI last year seemed to come down on the 'nice, but could do with a big spoiler' side. Well, get ready to be jealous because the US-spec model gets exactly that and, to be frank, looks the world better for it.
a scorching 7:55 lap of the Nordschleife last year, complete with scuffed, exhaust-stained bodywork and video of the lap on a constant loop running alongside. OK, he was on Bridgestone RE070s but it's still pretty impressive and counts as Subaru's fastest ever 'ring lap, the firm having honed its hot Imprezas there since 1992.