By Graham Kozak, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Jan. 9, 2014) — It’s time for the 2014 Detroit auto show, when the Motor City opens its doors to the world and puts on an event competitive with the best anywhere.
Motown’s show is like Christmastime for auto enthusiasts. And this year’s event promises to be a good one, with everything from a new F-150 pickup to a new Lexus sports car to the mighty C7 Corvette Z06. Show organizers say they are expecting more than 50 concept- and production car world debuts in what will be the show’s 25th year as an international event.
Here are some highlights:
Audi will show a new crossover concept with styling we hear sheds light on future Audi Q models, including the Q1. The Detroit concept is thus far billed as a styling study, but Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said the Q1 will go into production in 2016.
The crossover concept has a traditional shooting-brake-like body with a long wheelbase and short overhangs. Also expect to see two long doors and an angled tailgate. Among the more prominent design elements is a new Audi single-frame grille wearing a quattro badge. The concept is 165 inches long, almost 8 inches shorter than the Q3.
E-tron identification indicates the concept will showcase a plug-in gas-electric hybrid system, most likely similar to that in the A3 e-tron -- the company’s first plug-in hybrid production model.
BMW will show the Z4 Pure Fusion, a special-edition convertible with new interior options including napa leather trim and specially designed sport seats in ivory white. The lower dash will also have ivory white leather, in addition to the armrests, door panels, and passenger pull handles. The dash also will feature a horizontal trimline made of saddle brown napa leather with bright contrast stitching.
BMW will also show the 2-series coupe, M3 sedan, M4 coupe and i-series. The 2-series will replace the 1-series coupes, conforming to the company’s naming scheme in which sedans have odd numbers and coupes have even numbers. BMW says it will be offered both as a 228i (240 hp) and a 235i (322 hp), meaning they’ll get the same turbocharged I4s and I6s as the outgoing 1-series. An M235i will sit atop the 2-series range, with go-fast bits from the other M cars.
The 2-series will launch in the first quarter of 2014, with a $33,025 starting price. Detroit will also be the first time most of us get to see the new M3 sedan and M4 coupe up close and personal. The Ms will debut side by side, sporting 425-hp, 406-lb-ft inline six engines, dual-clutch or manual transmissions and 0-60 sprint times in less than 4 seconds.
The Chrysler stand highlight will be a new 200 sedan. Word is the front-wheel-drive midsize sedan will share the Fiat-derived CUSW platform with the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee. It will also share the Cherokee’s nine-speed automatic transmission. The new 200 will also have stop-start, active grille shutters, electric steering, electronic parking brake and LED lighting, according to sources. Chrysler’s 3.6-liter V6 engine or 2.4-liter inline four will power the car. No word on whether Chrysler will produce a convertible version of the new car, as it does with today’s 200.
Ford will show a new version of the U.S.’s perennial best-seller, the F-150 pickup. F-150s have been America’s best-selling truck for 37 years, and its best-selling vehicle, period, for 32. Some 750,000 will be sold this year, so the new truck has enormous shoes to fill.
We hear the new F-150 will look a lot like the Atlas concept from last year’s show and that it will be aluminum. The company wants to demonstrate aluminum’s toughness and light weight to pickup buyers. In fact, Autoweek sister publication Automotive News reported that Ford asked Alcoa Inc., makers of aluminum blast shields for battlefield vehicles, to lend it some military-grade metal for the auto maker’s display.
At last year’s show, Ford COO Mark Fields said the company would take some 750 pounds out of its next generation trucks to meet tightening fuel-economy regulations. The next-generation F-150 will probably offer a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, part of a family of powertrains code-named Nano. Ford hopes the new full-size truck will approach 30 mpg on the highway.
The GM highlight will undoubtedly be the 2015 Corvette Stingray Z06. The car will sport more aggressive rocker panels and black multispoke wheels.
Horsepower? We don’t know yet, but we liked the 2013 Z06’s 505 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. If the new Z06 improves on the old one to the degree the C7 has already improved on the C6, we’re going to love this thing when it arrives. Production is expected in late 2014.
Also from GM, look for a Cadillac ATS coupe and a GMC Canyon.
Honda’s big news will be its new, third-generation Fit small car. Honda says the 2015 Fit will build on the car’s innovative packaging, flexible cargo capability and fun-to drive character. Honda also says the interior will be bigger and more refined and have “leading-edge connected car technologies.” According to Honda, the new Fit will be more fuel-efficient, though powertrain specifics haven’t been given. The platform is new, and Honda says it thinks the car will earn class-leading safety ratings. Automotive News says the new Fit will have Honda’s Earth Dreams 1.5-liter inline four producing 127 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque, as well as a CVT.
Over on the Acura side of the house, we expect to see a TLX sedan prototype. What’s the TLX? It will be the new name for Acura’s midsize sedan, replacing the outgoing TL and TSX. Acura says the TLX will have “more emotional styling with tidier, sports sedan proportions” and two new powertrains. The production version will launch in the second half of the year, when TSX sales end.
Acura didn’t give powertrain specifics, only saying two new direct-injected engines and a new transmission will be offered, and that the car will be available with front- and all-wheel-drive.
Hoping to capitalize on its Formula One involvement with Red Bull Racing, Infiniti will show the Q50 Eau Rouge concept. That’s a high-performance version of the Q50 and takes its name from the notoriously challenging Spa corner.
The Eau Rouge takes design cues from the aerodynamic styling of F1 racers, Infiniti says, with a new front air dam and sleek carbon-fiber side mirrors. No word on what lurks under the hood.
Kia’s Detroit concept, called the GT4 Stinger, was born at the auto maker’s U.S. design studio in Irvine, Calif. Kia says the rear-drive 2+2 hatch concept promises a 2.0-liter turbo four developing 315 hp. Nice!
Lexus will show the RC F coupe, the F version of the RC 350 coupe shown in Tokyo. The performance F is rumored to have some 460 hp. Toyota is being very tight-lipped about what it will bring to the show, just saying it is the debut of an “exciting” concept vehicle.
Mercedes will show the new C300 and C400 sedans. The car is codenamed W205, and it looks like a baby S-class. It will go on sale here in September, and it’s set to take on the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. Benz says the car has a new high-strength steel platform and mostly aluminum body. The auto maker also says the car weighs 220 pounds less than the car it will replace and should get 20 percent better fuel economy without any performance loss.
We haven’t seen the new car in person yet, but it sure looks pretty in pictures, with clear S-class hints in the bold front end. The new car is 3.7 inches longer with a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase and is 1.6 inches wider than the outgoing C. Base C300 4Matic models will have a 2.0-liter turbo four developing 235 hp and 273 lb-ft. The C400 4Matic will have a 3.5-liter turbo V6 with 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a standard seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Eventually we’ll see a wagon and a new five-door liftback to compete with the Audi A5 and BMW 3-series GT (the wagon is not for us, the liftback is waiting for a U.S. green light). Also expect a new C-class coupe and convertible -- the convertible tentatively scheduled for 2016. The new C-class will also spawn the new GLK, planned for 2015. Look for the mighty C63 by the end of the year.
The new Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) will have exclusive gray paintwork, red accents, new aerodynamics and new 18-inch JCW light alloy wheels.
Mini says the concept is lighter, but has a longer wheelbase and wider track than the outgoing model. Look for new air intakes in place of fog lights, and a general reworking of the bumper all around. LED headlights and a black grille surround complete the package.
The “Bright Highways” gray paint is made with a manufacturing process that gives it a brushed-aluminum look. Red stripes run across the hood and rear, and there are red accents on the wheels, calipers, turn signal surrounds and contour lines.
The last JCW Mini came with a turbocharged 1.6-liter making 211 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque, plenty for the 2,612-pound hatch. With upgrades all around, we’d be surprised if the engine compartment didn’t get a boost as well.
Nissan’s concept will be new sports sedan, and is in fact called the Sports Sedan Concept. The car is expected to hint at the next Maxima. It will be joined by the IDx Freeflow and Nismo we saw in Tokyo.
Volkswagen will show the new Golf R for the first time in the U.S. and will have two concepts: A Passat BlueMotion Concept, and something called the Beetle Dune Concept. VW says the Beetle Dune Concept looks like a modernized Baja Bug. It is raised a couple inches, has wider and flared wheel arches and skid plates.
Volvo will present a new concept car, called the Concept XC Coupé, and says the car will be a departure from the sleek coupe we saw a couple months ago at the Frankfurt show. The Concept XC Coupé looks to take styling cues from the C30, but the body is taller and more creased, and the car has more ground clearance.
The North American International Auto Show, known to most as the Detroit auto show, continues to serve as a barometer for the entire industry. This year, we’ll expect to see the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06, the 2015 Ford Mustang and the BMW M3 and M4. The 2014 Detroit auto show is held at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI and is open to the public Jan. 18-26.
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.