The covers are off all the new cars at the Detroit Motor Show. CAR associate editor Tim Pollard makes sense of it all.
It’s been quite a motor show. We’ve posted details of 26 new cars on CAR Online in the past 48 hours, as manufacturers jostle for attention amid the hustle and bustle of the Cobo hall in downtown Detroit. The whirlwind of a show can make you lose all perspective of what’s really important, though. It’s a crazy timetable, with a press conference every half hour for two-and-a-half days solid; a game of corporate one-upmanship, as manufacturers vie for the attention of the world’s media.
But strip away the show glitz – the bright lights, the thumping soundtracks, the inane gimmicks and beautiful models hired to enliven each stand – and you’re left with what matters: a few dozen new cars. Some good, one or two great, and a whole heap of yesterday’s leftovers. Here’s our pick of the bunch.
The Big Three
The home manufacturers were on form this year at Detroit – despite the deep-set financial woes that beset all three. The Blue Oval stand had the Mustang-turned-moody-saloon in the Ford Interceptor; although it’s late to the party hosted by the Chrysler 300C, Ford could do with a halo saloon right now.
The Dodge Avenger is a similarly different saloon – and a production reality. It’s not quite as eye-catching as the Interceptor, but it’ll be a refreshing alternative to Eurobox saloons when it goes on sale later this year – so long as it’s better to drive, and better built, than its Calibre sibling.
Over on the GM stand, the Chevrolet Volt showed that the big American firms are catching up with the tech-obsessed Japanese. As the environmental question continues to vex car makers, the Volt is an interesting solution, with a dual petrol-electric powertrain that’s more advanced than even Toyota’s hybrid solution. But we’ve had the Prius in showrooms for nearly a decade, and yet still can’t buy a Vauxhall or Opel hybrid in Europe… And that sums up the problems the big western dinosaurs face.
British brands created a stir at Detroit this year, too. The Jaguar C-XF has split opinion (especially among CAR Online readers – check out the comments on our first news story) but I like its futuristic style. Yes, it looks like an Aston from some angles – but that’s like criticising a beautiful girl for looking like Kate Moss.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is quite an achievement, too. Its teak decking is a masterpiece, the sort of detail that’ll make you smile long after the initial ownership buzz is lost.
Star of the show
For me, the Toyota FT-HS hybrid supercar concept stole the show. From some angles (especially that snow-plough front end) the design is a bit clunky, but it looks like a credible successor to the Supra. The side profile is achingly gorgeous, with a hunkered-down purpose, and the hybrid powertrain makes it a sports car for the 21st century. I’m convinced they’re going to build this, or something very like it, within the next few years. Watch this space.
Unlike the Toyota, I thought the Honda NSX-replacing Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept was a disappointment. It’s grown into more of a GT than an out-and-out supercar, but I’m fed up with the will-they-won’t-they story of the NSX successor. We’ve had too many NSX concepts for too many years – and this Detroit concept didn’t move the game on.
The Nissan Bevel was a typically barmy concept affair, too; excuse my lack of excitement, but what good is a blocky one-seat monovan with room for your pooch in the back? I sometimes think design studios have more budget than common sense. I much preferred the Infiniti G35 saloon round the corner. It’ll come to Europe as a rather tasty 3-series rival.
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