2013 NAIAS The Most Important Auto Show Of All - Wrap Up
COMPLETE 2013 NAIAS PRESS PASS COVERAGE
By Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell
The Auto Channel
The Detroit auto show is not the oldest. That honor goes to either
New York or Chicago, depending on which promoter you believe. And,
it’s not the biggest. Chicago has way more square footage and draws
more visitors. But there is no question that our North American
International Auto Show in Detroit is the most important in influencing and
reflecting the worldwide industry, evidenced by drawing media attendance
from around the world like no other show.
Our many years covering this show mean we’re able to discern
the mood, the ambiance and the underlying theme of the show in addition to
evaluating the plethora of new production and concept cars and light trucks
that the world depends on for both transportation and for pure pleasure.
Though not entirely jaded we’re able to see through most of the
smoke, mirrors and hyperbole filling Cobo Center during all the press
Traditionally, the show kicks off with the announcement of the North
American Car and Truck of the year winners. Among the plethora of awards
this one is most respected because the jury is composed of independent U.S.
and Canadian journalists. The Car of the Year Awardsis the fast and cool Cadillac
ATS and the Truck of the Year is the Dodge Ram 1500.
Here are some highlights in no particular order, remember if the marque you are looking at is highlighted you can click to watch video of its hcomplete full length press event.
STEVE: Nearly every story you see about the 2013 NAIAS will lead
with Chevrolet's C7 (seventh generation) Corvette.
We apologize for following the
crowd, but there is a reason for the hoop-la. It is, perhaps, the most
important and newsworthy introduction at the show. Many, many years have
passed, with both Corvette and GM facing uncertain futures, since this
“halo” car has been fully redesigned. Chevrolet confidently
brought back the Stingray moniker from the most popular Corvette of all
time, the C3 (’63 to ’67) to grace this new one. I found it
stunning. The design brings America’s sports car fully into the
modern age with sophistication and drama we’ve not seen before. The
interior is just as beautiful and bold as the striking exterior. Under the
skin everything is new as well, except it still uses the iconic
“small-block” V8 that graced the first successful ‘Vette
in ’55. In those days, though, it would have been considered science
fiction to think we’d be getting 450 horsepower and 30 mpg from that
THOM: It’s not only that it has that kind of power-induced
street cred, but that it does so from an engine that continues to use
pushrods instead of overhead cams. Adding Direct Injection allowed upping
compression ratio while maintaining the option to run on regular
fuel—wanna try that in your Ferrari or R8?—and utilizing
continuously variable valve timing (VVT) and GM’s AFM active fuel
management for shutting off four cylinders. Sort of unnoticed in engine
analysis, unmistakable by naked eye are the four tail pipes.
STEVE: We’ve waited a long time for Acura
to come out with a
new version of the NSX mid-engine super sports car that was so far ahead of
its time in the early 1990s. They’ve teased us more than once with
concepts they said “may” become the new NSX. Last year we saw a
concept they promised “will” become the new NSX, so I expected
to see a preproduction version when they pulled the silky white cover off
the low-slung hidden treasure. What we saw, they insist, is another
concept, one step closer to promised production car coming in late 2014.
Low, wide and sleek, the proportions confirm the mid-engine layout and it
will be a high-performance gas-electric hybrid. Can’t wait for more
details on this one.
THOM: Looks almost identical to last year’s stunning car,
we’d have to have them side-by-side, which we do not expect. Does
anyone else wonder how this sleekly compressed teardrop emerged from the
same designers that gave us far blockier Acura models?
models have mostly been renewed and refreshed now
except the compact, white-bread Corolla. A hint of what shape Corolla might
take is embodied in the bright orange concept car called Furia, and
there’s nothing plain or simple about that. Let’s see how much
of that design panache makes it into production.
THOM: Flamboyant, yes. But where the heck did that bowling
ball-stuffed butt come from? Other than that somehow oddly Pontiac
reminiscence, the car, oops concept, is about right for moving a mainstream
car into the future stream.
is desperately trying to refocus and redefine
themselves as a true luxury brand with a distinctive personality. To that
end the featured car on their stand, the Lincoln MKC Concept, a small
crossover based on the Escape platform, is packed with elegant and rich
details, jewel-like lighting themes and beautiful materials. We’re
assured by the PR staff that much of the high-style, including the artful
stitching throughout the leather-rich interior, will carry over to the
STEVE: Under the hot lights at the Cadillac
display we found the new
ELR, an upscale, full-zoot version of the Volt extended range electric car.
ELR looks much like the highly acclaimed CTS Coupe
with simple, sleek,
angular styling featuring vertical headlight and taillight themes following
Cadillac’s styling language.
THOM: Sadly, I don’t find the exterior as compelling as it
might be. Three or four years ago, prior to total familiarization with
Cadillac’s chiseled angular design language which debuted with the
1999 Evoq Concept, I would have. While Art & Design isn’t dead and
has a place in the market, it needs a firm nudge in my opinion.
showed nothing particularly dramatic or newsworthy.
The Dodge Dart gets a new GT version and the Jeep Grand Cherokee gets a
mid-cycle refresh, and lots more towing capacity. Without the current
version right next to it, I couldn’t tell the difference in the Grand
Cherokee. A couple of special models in the Chrysler display sported
mat-finish paint jobs which we thought might become trendy, but so far
appears only on specialty vehicles and the occasional exotic.
Thom: Well, that view excludes the return of diesel power to
Chrysler (Jeep) in the form of a 3.0-liter diesel that, when combined with
an 8-speed transmission that slots into all 2014 Jeeps, pushes fuel economy
to a guesstimated 30 mpg on the highway. Plus you can expect the Jeep
diesel to have hundreds and hundreds of miles of range and a bucket load of
torque for towing. And if you’re visiting there are face lifts of the
Patriot, Compass, and a special Chrysler 300 painted in the colors of
Chrysler’s turbine project.
PHOTO 3669 - 3667 3672
offering in the concept car category, a
flashy, swoopy, bright-gold, forward-leaning people hauler called
Resonance, is hinted to be a preview of what a new Murano might look like.
When the original Murano debuted it represented one of the first
“crossovers” and seemed mighty bold, indeed. If the new one
holds onto even half the drama of the Resonance, it will be a hit. Nissan,
by the way, presented one of the most dramatic new displays with spiraling
circles above an arrangement of cars on various levels. After a few years
absence from the Detroit show Nissan is coming back with a vengeance.
Thom: Let’s not forget the name changed small Infiniti,
Q instead of G. Their reasoning is to present a globally consistent name
and to expand the reach of what was essentially a product aimed at the USA.
INFINITI Q50 3337 3424 3426
put on another great show for their press conference,
this time in the hockey arena next door to the exhibition hall. Their
introductions were of truck products; including an awesome concept pickup truck called the F-150
Atlas, which reminded me of one of the best concept pickups of all time from Ford some
years ago called the Tonka Truck Concept. Ford also highlighted a renewed Transit Connect and revised E-series Utility Van.
I'm sure that some of the design elements that make them look both hard-working and
industrially-artsy will likely make it into the next generation of Ford
Thom: And after the success of Transit Connect as a small carrier of
tradesmen, cargo, and passengers the larger globally sourced full sized
Transit arrives to challenge traditional B-vans (which Ford also updated)
and Mercedes Sprinter.
STEVE: The Honda
Urban SUV Concept, a small, super stylish car with
multiple crisp character lines along its flanks caught my eye and even
caused a double-take. I was drawn in by design details around the headlight
and taillights that I wasn’t expecting from usually conservative
Honda. Smaller than the CR-V it is promised for production in 2014 focusing
on fuel economy and utility as well as what they call
Thom: At Acura
, the MDX is credited with generating plenty of
financial success and in holding on to families as they expand into their
child bearing years. This new “concept” is 38 mm lower than the
outgoing model with longer wheelbase and improved interior room. For the
first time an FWD model join the SH-AWD (super handling all wheel drive)
vehicle. It’s new engine displaces 3.5-liters and is direct injected
with variable cylinder management.
STEVE: Over at Mercedes-Benz
, where we are used to seeing exotic,
expensive, powerful and elegant cars, we found the new line of mid-size
cars – the E-Class. With 18 engine/driveline combinations –
diesel, hybrid, gasoline, all-wheel drive – M-B is proudly at the
leading edge of technology, design and price. The styling of the E-Class
will turn heads like no other E-Class yet, I’ll predict. It comes in
coupe, sedan, wagon, cabrio and super-car iterations as well. All were on
The other Germans all had beautiful stuff to show. Audi
touted a Q5
S performance CUV, a lovely A7 luxury coupe and RS7 sports car. Volkswagen
performance versions, known as R-Line, of the cute-ute Tiguan and Passat
along with a couple of concept vehicles, Diesel Hybrid Cross Blue and Cross Coupe, that
are expected to become production models. BMW
was in contention for one of
the design awards with its M-6 Gran Coupe and they poured maximum
embellishment into a show-off small car called 4-Series Coupe. And, MINI
offered a new John Cooper Works version of the Pacemen.
Thom: Let’s also note the unheralded arrival, a global debut
of the Porsche
Cayenne Turbo S, a car that accounts for a large percentage
of Porsche’s annual sales even as if fails to thrill those who see
the SUV as a dilution of the brand. However, with 550 hp, a top speed of
175, and 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds it still sounds like Porsche performance.
surprised us with the HCD-14 Genesis Concept, a big sedan
with a design both bold and polarizing. The vertical front fascia and
gaping grille seemed to put some critics off, but the wild and beautiful
interior, accessed through wide doors, impressed all. With rear-hinged rear
doors there is no B-pillar to obstruct access or the view of that amazing
interior. This one is not slated for production, I’ll guarantee.
THOM: Au contraire mon ami, I’ll bet this one is sending
chills all across Germany. Hyundai has a habit of sending out hares and
making hasenpfeffer of them. I’d have to call it breathtaking,
emotional content that reminds of Jaguar, elder BMW and Mercedes, even
Rolls and Bentley-like stateliness. I think you’ll see something very
much like that car within four years.
showed a much more practical plain but attractive sedan,
one surely slated for productions soon, called Cadenza, based on the same
large-sedan platform as the Hyundai Azera. That seems like an odd name but
at least it’s not alpha-numeric like so many uninspired car names
Thom: I’m surprised by the relative blandness of this car.
Hyundai/Kia’s head of design operations Peter Schreyer has overseen
recent vehicles like Forte and Optima, as well as notable work at Audi and
VW. While Cadenza sports a familial Kia cat nose, its side profile reads a
bit heavy and the tail only approaches modern luxury. If the object was to
be relevant for several years, they’re spot on. If it was to turn
heads? Not so much.
STEVE: Press days wrapped up with the traditional presentation by
the EyesOn Design folks honoring what their amazingly broad and respected
panel of judges – a Who’s Who of designers - designate as the
best production and best concept designs of the whole show. The production
car honor went to Cadillac’s sleek new ELR coupe. The concept car
honor was shared (first-ever tie) between the Nissan Resonance and the Ford
Atlas truck. All good calls, I say.
A new feature of the EyesOn Design closing ceremonies is their
Design Catalyst Award honoring those in the business who have empowered or
fostered great design. The first recipient, perhaps the most consistently
entertaining guy in the business and the guy with the most awards gracing
his mantle is, of course, the ubiquitous Bob Lutz. Often referred to as
“The Ultimate Bob,” he acknowledged that he is certainly no
designer but has always appreciated understood and demanded great design.
We agree and we never get tired of hearing him pontificate.
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